Buying a wedding dress is exhausting. Trust me, I know. I’ve worked in bridal for over a year now, and it’s been fun and tiring and rewarding. In that year, I’ve noticed that I have picked up some knowledge that I find myself repeating over and over to anxious brides, especially those first-timers and those who have had negative experiences. So, I thought I’d compile a list of some of these tips and things to remember for your first bridal appointment.
It’s not you; it’s the dress.
Sizing for women is entirely arbitrary. The numbers of your clothing should never make an impact on how you feel in and about your body, but know that they might as well have been picked out of a hat. In fact, I’m not entirely sure they weren’t at some point. Sizes are determined based on the measurements of certain parts of the body, but the numbers that are associated with each size are entirely arbitrary. That’s why you can be a size 12 at Banana Republic, but a size 16 in bridal. Your measurements didn’t change; the number associated with them did. That’s worth repeating: Your measurements didn’t change; the number associated with them did. Bridal attire tends to “run small,” but all that means is that the numbers of the “size” that are associated with certain measurements are higher than those of most other clothing providers.
Know also that you may be in different sizes within the same store depending on a variety of factors. Some fabrics, like chiffon or some laces, tend to be stiffer than others. Others, like mesh, tend to be softer and stretchier. The cut of a dress influences how it fits, as well. If you’re more well-endowed in the hip area than the chest, you may fit into a smaller size in a ballgown than in a mermaid-cut gown. Different closures influence sizing, too. A dress with a zipper or buttons has a lot less “wiggle room” or ability to be customized than a dress with a corset back. And, as covered before, the numbers assigned to sizes are arbitrary, so sizes will likely vary from designer to designer.
Be open to new things.
I can’t tell you how many people come in with one idea about what they want, then leave with something they never dreamt of but adore. It happens literally every day. For example, my sister thought she wanted an A-line wedding dress with cap sleeves, but when she tried on the dress the stylist brought – a strapless fit-and-flare with an A-line skirt made of lace and covered in beading ― she, our mother, and I all cried. She looked amazing; she felt amazing; and, she acted like herself in it.
The moral of the story: if you’re not sure about something but don’t have any strong feelings about it, try it on ― you might love it! Even if you do have strong negative feelings about something, be open to trying on something with that element if you like everything else. You’d be surprised how many different things are customizable.
Taking in is always, always easier than letting out.
I hear this every day, multiple times a day: “I’m going to lose weight,” or “I’ve been losing weight,” etc. To that, I say, great job, beautiful! I believe you can achieve your goals!
But, that being said, it’s important to pick what fits now. Let’s say you’ve been losing weight, but you stall in your weight loss, or you don’t end up losing as much as you thought, or losing any weight at all. I’m sure you’d rather have something that fits and that you look and feel amazing wearing than a smaller size for the sake of having a smaller size. Also, if you do end up losing weight, most places can take dresses in one or two or even sometimes three sizes down, depending on the dress and their abilities and policies. Frequently, there’s not much that can be done to let out a dress and make it larger, but taking away can almost always be accomplished.
The most important thing to remember is this: No one is going to ask what size you’re wearing ― and also, no one cares what size you’re wearing! ― but they will notice if you look uncomfortable or if something is too small.
You are the one wearing the dress.
I don’t care that great-aunt Margie used to work at Chanel and knows absolutely everything about everything. She’s not wearing the dress ― you are! If you feel beautiful, comfortable, and happy, that’s what’s most important. No one else’s opinion matters more than yours. Ooh, another one worth repeating: No one else’s opinion matters more than yours.
That isn’t to say that others’ opinions shouldn’t be taken into consideration at all. Of course they should; that’s why we bring friends and family with us. We invite people to bridal appointments because we want to include them; we want their input; and/or we want their validation. Sometimes, entourages raise valid points: these can be about fit, or logistics, or even just their knowledge of you and your reactions and desires. However, if they’re being petty, dismissive, insulting, or outright mean, they’re not even worth the gas, time, effort, or consideration that you gave to include them, much less worth your consideration of their opinion.
This is an exciting time! You’re engaged; you’re planning a wedding; you’re buying an outfit that makes you feel like you deserve to be crowned ruler of everything; you are going to spend your life with your favorite person by your side ― and have an awesome party to celebrate that with everyone you love! These are all wonderful things. Wedding dress shopping is a grown-up version of dress-up ― six-year-old you would be so jealous right now of the attention and the beautiful things you get to try on, so have fun!