Here are some pointers on where to look for the perfect wedding gown and how to know when you’ve found it:
1. Experiment with a variety of foods.
You might go red hanfu wedding dress shopping with a specific silhouette in mind—or perhaps a specific dress—that you’re confident will look [insert 100 emoji here] on you. And you might be correct! But don’t miss out on the opportunity to see what else Wedding Dress World has to offer. Try on at least one dress in each silhouette (your [dress shop stylist will be able to assist you with this), and don’t be afraid to branch out and try on styles you wouldn’t ordinarily choose. This is vital because you won’t find the perfect dress unless you try on a variety of styles—your favorite dress could be a lace mermaid, but you’d never know if all you tried on were satin ballgowns.
2. Get a sense of what you don’t care for.
This suggestion complements Tip #1. If you don’t know what you don’t like, you’ll never be able to select a dress you truly adore. It may sound pessimistic, but it’s true! When I was putting on gowns, I knew I wanted straps but couldn’t decide which kind I wanted, so I tried on a variety of styles—thick straps, barely-there straps, halter-style straps, and so on. I discovered that wide straps swamped my frame and made me loathe the dresses to which they were attached, so I decided to only try on dresses with delicate straps from then on, which helped me narrow down my search and figure out what I wanted my gown to emphasize (my shoulders!). Eliminating entire dress categories, styles, materials, and embellishments can also help to avoid the “What if I had that dress instead?” moments that many brides have after purchasing a gown, when they see a lovely gown and wonder if they made a terrible mistake. That’s an easy trap to slip into, but it’s also a simple trap to avoid if you’re well-informed.
3. Shop as though you’re serious about it.
Don’t go dress shopping half-heartedly, because you can end up with nothing. If you’re thinking, “I’m just looking today,” or “I feel bloated and terrible today!” these feelings will work against your aim of finding the right wedding gown. The truth is that there is a stunning gown waiting for you. Within your financial constraints. For the sake of your health. There’s a big world out there. You’ll find it if you believe it. (And you should believe me because I’m telling you the truth.) Have you ever seen a bride walk down the aisle completely naked?) Showing up at the boutique with everything you need, including a strapless bra if you want to wear one, or even nipple pasties if that’s your thing, shoes in the height and general style you’re thinking of, and any accessories you feel are non-negotiable, such as heirloom earrings, is part of shopping like a pro. Is there another part? Feeling self-assured and focused. This could mean getting your hair blown out the day you go shopping, applying a little more makeup than you normally would on a Saturday afternoon, not going out too late the night before so you don’t feel hungover, or even going dress shopping alone if you’re worried that certain friends or family members will distract or overwhelm you.
4. Take photographs.
Duh! You’ll want to take pictures of all of your favorite outfits. Pictures allow us to see ourselves in a different light than we see ourselves in the mirror, and they’ll give you much to think about if you’re not quite ready to buy but have a strong preference for one or a few possibilities. It’s also vital to observe how a dress pictures since, while your wedding day is the whole point of the dress, it’s only one day—your it’s wedding images that will live on for generations. However, once you’ve decided on a dress, delete all photos of the other gowns you tried on—the worst thing you can do is obsess over the ones you didn’t pick!
5. Be choosy.
It’s inconvenient to request no cilantro at a Mexican restaurant. When it comes to wedding dresses, though, asking for no tulle in a bridal shop is a no-no. That’s simply obtaining what you desire. When it comes to dress buying, you can’t be too picky as long as you’re nice and practical with your consultant. But if you’re afraid of coming across as bossy or “bridezilla,” you might miss out on your chance to select the perfect wedding gown—and wedding dress shopping isn’t something you’ll get to do again! That said, be assertive, persistent, and make the most of your time at the wedding shop—believe me when I say that your dress consultant has seen it all, and it’s her job to make sure you get precisely what you want. So, do you want to try on the same outfit a fifth time? Do you want anything pinned in a unique way? Do you want to try on that veil with the sash and earrings? Do you want to try on that gown that completely contradicts what you said an hour ago? You certainly can and should—all you have to do is ask! (And don’t forget to say thank you and please.)
6. Recognize when it’s OK to say “Yes!”
When it comes to wedding gowns, as I mentioned at the start of this essay, I’m not convinced there is such a thing as “The One.” There was no great ah-ha moment for me, where time paused and a chorus of angels began singing and I looked in the mirror and realized there was no other outfit on the planet for me. Instead, the whole thing was much more subtle—I’d tried on a lot of gowns over the course of a month or two, I was overwhelmed and anxious, and I was juggling a lot of “favorites,” but none of them felt quite right. When we arrived at the dress shop, I’d just finished a nice lunch with friends, complete with a glass of champagne, and we were all in a good mood. I tried on my Leanne Marshall flowy dress and fell in love with the way it looked. I felt eager, gorgeous, and ready to finally get married in a dress that felt “mine.” After that, I tried on a few more, but I knew I’d made up my mind—I bought the dress that afternoon. Were there any tears shed? Is this a shrill declaration to the world? (“I’m going to say YES to the DRESS!”) Nope, just a lot of giggling, a little worry, and a lot of relief. You might not feel that explosion of passion they talk about on TV when you try on the dress that will eventually be yours—and that’s fine. You should feel attractive, ecstatic, and prepared. You should be ready to quit shopping, to make this commitment, and to make your grand entrance as a bride in this gown. If everything feels correct (extra points if your mother is crying somewhere in the changing room), you’ve discovered the perfect dress. If not, keep looking—I’m confident you’ll find it. It’s only a matter of allowing yourself!
7. Be in love with the person you’re with.
Wedding dresses, like your fiance(e), have dreadful, if not non-existent, return policies. So once you have it, it is yours. This can be both a liberating (“I’m done dress shopping forever!”) and dismal (“I’m done dress shopping… forever?”) sensation. Take it from someone who understands that this stage is ideal real estate for doubt, dress FOMO, and other general bad feelings to creep in and ruin your day. Even though I loved my dress after I bought it, I got a panicked sensation in my chest whenever I saw new releases announced from my favorite dress shops—was there something better there that I’d love more and now couldn’t have? To this all-too-common situation, the answer is: Too bad. All you have to do is love the person you’re with and do everything you can to keep doubters at bay. Stop reading wedding magazines and blogs, unfollow dress designers on social media, and erase photos of yourself in other try-ons from your phone, as I said previously. There’s only one dress you should be obsessed over right now, and it’s the one on which you’ve put a $1,000 deposit and which is presently being tailored to your exact dimensions at a tailor shop someplace. You can’t seem to get rid of the sense you got the incorrect one? Hacking the Mind: Consider your partner’s reaction when they first see you in it. Suddenly, it is the correct choice.