What you need to know before going wedding dress shopping

Are you ready to say yes to the dress? Before I went on my first dress-hunting adventure, I asked my Twitter followers for their advice to make the experience a great one. Combined with my firsthand experiences, I’ve pulled together a list of things to do before, during & after your first appointment.What to know before shopping for a wedding dress

What to wear:

Make sure to wear something comfortable! Trying on dresses is hard work and you might find yourself a bit hot and bothered after 5…or 20. You’ll likely have a robe to wear for the duration of your appointment, but having something easy to slip and out of between appointments is key. I wore a breezy, sleeveless and bridal-inspired white Pink Tartan dress and a cozy denim jacket for warmth.

Pink Tartan what to wear when you go wedding dress shopping

You will also want to wear any shapewear you would regularly wear under a dress or feel like you’ll want to wear for your wedding. I recommend Spanx (I prefer the ribs-to-mid-thigh shorts) and a bustier – everything will fall beautifully with the right undergarments!

What to bring:

Shoes! I wore a typical bridal shoe that I just happened to already have in my closet – the Jimmy Choo slingbacks. The stores will all have shoes, but I’d recommend bringing a pair in the heel height you think you’ll be wearing on the big day.

Sustenance. Seriously. Stock your purse with some chewy candies and mints – the sugar will keep you going, especially since you’ll probably be too nervous to eat.

An open mind. Everyone says this and it’s true: the dress you think you want is probably not the dress that you’ll end up with. You’d be surprised how differently wedding dresses fit than regular clothing.

A supportive crew. It’s tempting to bring along ten of your closest friends, but shopping for a wedding dress is confusing enough without the opinions of 10 other people. Kleinfeld recommends limiting your entourage to three, and I’d say somewhere between 3 & 5 should be your max. Make sure your group is honest but not *too* honest – you don’t want them to quash your favourite gown.


You will probably have a tougher time than you anticipated choosing “the dress”. I expected to have a more visceral reaction to the dresses, mostly in the sense that I expected to dislike many of them before finding “the one”. In reality, I liked almost everything. Be honest with yourself – are you going to be really unhappy in that super-heavy dress? Is the full-on lace dress even a little bit itchy? Is it impossible to walk with that Princess Diana-length train? Remember that you have to wear this dress all day.

Make sure you act like a bride in the dress. This means twirling, hugging, sitting, walking and picking up the skirt. I tried on a few dresses that I could barely turn in and that my stylist for the day, Elizabeth, was quick to point out would prevent me from getting within 5 feet of Mike the whole day. You want to be able to dance, greet your guests and generally not feel like you’re cemented in place. Oh, and be close to your hubby-to-be. That’s kind of the major one.

BridalMarket Theia

Take sneaky photos if you can. Especially if you’re torn between dresses or have multiple appointments in a day. It can be tough to remember which dresses you loved best and the photos can serve as a great refresher. They can also help you figure out which dress is the one – if you find yourself going back to a certain photo over and over again, it just might be your dream dress. Most places won’t allow photos until purchase, but there are ways around it. Train your mom/MOH/BFF in the art of sneaky photo-taking and use the times when the consultant goes to grab you a veil, bolero or glass of water to snap a pic. Just don’t be a jerk about it – no one wins if you do this then go get the dress made elsewhere.

Take extra care with your hair & makeup. One of the best pieces of advice I received before my appointment was from my colleague Caitlin who told me to doll myself up a little extra before the appointment. This piece of advice means that I can now look back on that photo of myself in my favourite dress and it looks like it could be my wedding day.

Easy Bridal Beauty Look

My picks for easy bridal makeup (in the order you should apply them): Urban Decay Sin and Mushroom eye shadow, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner, Benefit BadGal Mascara, NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, NARS Creamy Radiant Concealer, Lise Watier Blush Creme Satin, Hard Candy All Glossed Up Hydrating Lip Stain, Benefit Brow Zings

Make it as special and stress-free as possible. Whether you book a Luxe Shopping Experience like I did or treat your crew to some champagne before/after your appointment, it’s a big deal to be searching for your wedding dress and should feel like it! The #1 thing I would recommend that is attainable to pretty much anyone is to hire a car for the day if you have multiple appointments. Being dropped off & picked up was one of the most easily duplicated things that made my Luxe Shopping Experience so relaxing and stress-free.


What are your tips for first time wedding dress shoppers? Is there anything you wish you’d known that I left out? Let me know in the comments!