One of the first things I recommend a bride and her fiancee tackle after the engagement is Priority Listing. Set aside time to prioritize. This is key in creating a wedding that feels as special as you. The first and most important list to draft is: top three priorities for my wedding. (I say my because you will both need to make your own list.) Together, you will come up with your top five or six wedding must haves. More on this later when we discuss budget.
When my main man and I got down to business, the day we got engaged actually, (because that's how crazy? focused? wedding centered? I've always been...) we came up with these lists:
1. Intimate 1. Budget
2. Sacred 2. Alcohol
3. My dress... 3. Dance Party!
You can see from our lists who was in charge of party and who took care of ceremony details....
No really, this list determined most of the big decisions we made while in the planning process. The rest we either cut out or reconfigured.
This post is about my #3 priority. My dress....
I put in the order for my dream dress yesterday and let me just say, it feels incredibly fantastic!
And here for my dearest darlings, all my sweet brides to be is my plan for finding your perfect wedding dress:
Step one: know your budget.
This is a hard one for me to write about because I feel it is the most pressing issue of a bride today. But hello, thats what I'm here for right?!
Know that your wedding dress is an investment in your future reputation. You and everyone you know will be looking at you (not just the day of) in your dress...forever. The photographs of you on your wedding day will be judged by your future children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and the President of the United States!!!!!!! AAAAHHH. Okay not really but you get my drift. It's important.
People cannot tell if you spend $100 or $10,000. All they can see is your internal light and confidence. If you feel beautiful in your dress then you will look beautiful. Therefore, know your budget.
Each wedding will entail a different budget based your priorities. Please do not tell me that the wedding planning book that your future mother-in-law gifted you said that you should spend 10% on "apparel and beauty". I will throw it out a window.
And while I'm making requests, please please please, do not try on dresses that you can not afford. That being said, do leave a little wiggle room. If you love Jenny Packam for example, you can expect to spend anywhere from 5k - 8k. This is how much a Jenny costs. Never ever should the phrase, "just try this one on for fun!!!" enter your ears or leave your lips. You will put it on, you will love it, from then on you will compare everything to it, and then...you will hate me when I tell you the price.
Therefore, please know how much you are willing to spend and shop at places that are appropriate. There are lovely used bridal stores, online retailers like Once Wed, and or factory made dresses that offer great budget options. Better yet, anyone remember vintage stores? Cool, hole-in-the-wall, musty, treasure chests of fashion????? whatever happened to those...
This brings me to
step number two: Spend your researching places not Pintrest!
It is my personal belief that the only thing you need to find your dress is an open mind and a positive attitude. When you spend hours on the internet looking at models in designer dresses then come into a shop with that dress in mind you will leave disappointed. Instead, why not spend your time researching places that fit your ideas of a dream dress shopping experience?
Does the website appeal to you visually? Is it easy to navigate and inspiring? When you call to set up an appointment are they desperate to have you? or maybe curt and no fun? Is there a clear communication of what to expect?
When you walk into the store are you attracted to the feel of the place or repelled and uncomfortable?
Once you have found the shop that fits with your vision and makes you giddy with excitement to find your dress, let the experts do their magic. Every dress looks different on the hanger as it does on a human form. Likewise, every dress looks different on each individual human. Therefore, again, be open minded and stay positive. Don't be afraid to say no to the dresses, if a dress is pulled for you that you think is hideous on the hanger, let them know kindly what you dislike about the dress so that they can pull a better dress for you to try. Use your time wisely! It is better to try on six interesting on the hanger dresses (that then become amazing on the body dresses) than twelve just okay ones.
step number three: Be decisive and stay in the game!
When you are shopping for your wedding dress, always keep your goal in mind...buying a dress. This is the goal. It is why you are devoting your time to setting up an appointment, dragging your friends out of bed on a perfectly good Sunday morning and why you are reading this blog...
When you walk into a bridal salon, even the more casual bridal appointments (ahem JCrew...)your one goal is to BUY a dress. You are not there to "get ideas" or "see what you're liking" you are there to find "the one". It is not like dating where you are enjoying the process, trying new ones on for size until you eventually find Mr. or Ms. right. You do not take your mom, and aunt, and best friend from collage to each of your dates, no. You only enlist their opinion when it's game time. You bring them home for dinner and ask your family not to be too embarrassing because, "He/She might be the one!".
Shopping around at six stores, (more than two really) is exhausting, time consuming and confusing. Your brain will become full of a slue of the parts of many dresses, you will analyze the two-hundred images your BFF took of you in every single dress and you will be unable to make up your mind. (Please refer to step #2)
Therefore, know your budget, shop around for place not pintrest and then be decisive and stay in the game!
AND NOW, a note on knowing it's "the one":
When you are at your appointment here are some questions to keep in mind to help reinstate what you already know:
When you have the dress on do you feel AMAZING, and INCREDIBLE, LIKE YOU BUT ONLY A BETTER VERSION OF YOU?
Did you gasp when you first saw yourself in the mirror and think, "Oh laaawwwd look at me!"?
Was it the dress that you didn't want to take off? For example: You found yourself asking as many questions as possible to delay the process of removing said dress from your personhood?
Did you start day dreaming about shoes, and make-up and hair while in the dress? Feeling excited and seeing yourself in that dress the day of is a sure sign it is the one.
Shopping is fun but finding your dress feels better than you can imagine. Once your dress is chosen everything else falls into place! You are the star of the show that day so really bring it! This is your one chance to dress to the nines, go bold, wear a veil for heavens sake, you can take it off for the reception...
Relief and excitement are way more rewarding than going home empty handed. Take some of the pressure off your planning process by saying "yes!". Trust your gut and listen to your inner voice. Friends and family may have interesting perspectives but in the end you are the one getting married. Go ahead and choose the one you want, I promise you'll steal the show!
The last point I'll make in finding the right dress for you is: never settle for second best. When choosing your fiancee did you settle for "it will do" or "he's/she's nice...". NO NO NO you didn't! It might have taken some time, it might have been a head AND heart decision (shocking and taking you off guard...dare I say leaving your speechless?) but in the end, you knew, this is "the one". So when this amazing human being asked you to be their life partner, you said YES. You might have felt it in your gut, you might have cried, or maybe you just couldn't stop smiling but you knew it was right, and then you said YES.
Trust me when I say, this is parallel to your dress shopping experience. If you feel any other way, it is NOT your wedding dress.
****Wedding dresses, especially delicious and spectacular ones, take quite a while to make. Nine months is the recommend time for the entire process of ordering, making and shipping your dress to the store from which you purchase. A year to nine months is a perfectly reasonable and recommended time in which to buy your dress.
Breathe, design, heal.
Whitney R. White stays inspired by her love of historical spaces, nature, beeswax candles, hand-made objects, comedy, coffee and visual storytelling. She is a connector, brand ambassador, reiki practitioner, inspiration sparker, and new mamma! She lives with her husband and son in the San Juan Islands. She used to teach floral design classes, yoga, and one day she'll dabble in clay.