Say "Yes" to the Dress and Love Every Minute of It: Practicle Dress Shopping Details

The ever popular TLC show “Say, Yes to the Dress” is the pinnacle of drama during wedding planning.  We love to tune in every week to see if Shawna goes against her BFF’s advice and says “yes” to the dress in which her BFF said made her look “short and chubby.”  The show prides itself on the cliff hanger moments in which the bride’s tears start to fall because mom doesn’t like the lace.  Only to return after the commercial and everyone agrees it is the right dress. I’ll admit, I love the show for the fashion. I dislike the show for creating drama when there doesn’t need to be.  But, who would watch a show without drama?  No one.  So, I get it.

Dress shopping can actually be fun. For most of us, it is the one time in our lives where we will get to try on numerous, amazing, elegant gowns of all different shapes and styles.  This moment should be savored and enjoyed.  Follow these guidelines for a fun, memorable dress shopping experience:

Take Two People

This can be your mother and your Maid of Honor.  Your sister and mother or any combination you desire.  But, limit it to two. Make sure these individuals mean something to you. Make sure their opinion counts, I mean, like TRULY counts.  The people who you know with 100% certainty, that they want to see you happy and will be gentle but firm.  While, you may be blessed with 8 bridesmaids who are all truly your friend…I am going to guess that there are really two that you are likely closer to than the rest.  Take them.

Call ahead-PLEASE!

Do yourself a HUGE favor, call the bridal shop to see if they take appointments. Many dress shops today will take an appointment.  They save you a dressing room and you will get a wedding dress consultant who will listen to your vision and help you find the right dress. Some shops are also offering “special experiences” where for a fee, you can have champagne waiting in the room for you and your small group.  I LOVE this idea. Many years ago, this was discouraged and salons wouldn’t even let you take a photo of you in the dress.  I am overjoyed with these loosened policies! It’s a once in a lifetime event, it should be celebrated with some bubbly!!! Of course, what SHOULDN’T be celebrated with bubbly?!

Give Your Dress Consultant the Benefit of the Doubt

If you get a seasoned dress consultant, give them the benefit of the doubt and allow them to go get some dresses for you.  This “dress fetching” is usually done after they sit down with you to hear about your vision and the day you desire.  A good consultant will learn your personality in the few minutes you chat with them.  They know their inventory and they can usually narrow it down for you in about 5-7 selections.  Now, not all dress consultants are created equal. Ask the store to if they have a veteran dress consultant that can assist you at your appointment. Trust me, this makes a difference. 

One Shop per Day

Seriously, there is no award for running a bridal store marathon.  It can get overwhelming and exhausting. Remember, this is supposed to be fun. Do a store a day. Enjoy each visit, take your time. This may be a good opportunity to rotate those special friends whose opinion you desire to have.  Take two maids to one appointment and the other two the appointment the next day. 

Keep An Open Mind

I was doing a styled shoot with a bride.  Her wedding was one month after the shoot.  So, it was a lot of fun for her to play a different bride and just relax without the pressure of the actual day.  I love styled shoots because I get to dress the bride in whatever I want that fits with the character we are trying to create.  I had picked a fitted, gold lace, strapless gown.  I will never forget putting her into the dress I had picked out. I zipped her up and she gasped. I think her breath may have left her body for five seconds.  I quickly asked what was wrong.  “Nothing,” she replied.  “This dress is amazing, it is what I never knew I always wanted.”  She loved the dress. I honestly think the styled-shoot dress could have been “the one” for her.  Then she mentioned that she would never have picked a gown like this off the rack. It wasn’t the style she thought she wanted.  It sort of broke my heart. She looked absolutely stunning in this gown.  If she had just tried on that particular style, maybe she would have been in a different gown on her wedding day. 

This is a once in a lifetime chance. Why not try all types of dresses?  Even if you have an idea of what you know you want, give the others a try.  I actually ended up with a different dress than what I thought I always wanted. All because my wedding consultant pulled a gown and asked me to try it. I fell in love immediately. 

You’ll Know When…

I have had the blessing to be with multiple brides when they find the one. Those of us in the industry can identify when THE dress has been selected. And, it isn’t like the reality show…this is real love.  It is raw, beautiful and all consuming. You will know when you find the dress. I always say, you will just know. And, you will never want to take it off.  If you feel like doing dishes, mowing the lawn, sleeping in it, wearing it to the party and letting it never leave your body…it is the one.  If you feel anything less than what I just described, move isn’t the one.  Promise. 

Take Your Time

Don’t rush to a decision. Process.  You will know when you find the dress. Take a day and come back, it will still feel the same.  I know the show makes people “say yes to the dress” but, you can say “yes” tomorrow. There is nothing that will prohibit you from purchasing the next day. Unless, you are attending a sample sale.   Then you should buy.  But, in almost every other situation, you can wait 24 hours. And, I think you should.  You want to be 100% sure. 


Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Try every dress like you would try every wine at a wine tasting. Enjoy, savor and relish this moment.  Best wishes!!!  Let me know how it goes!!!