10 Tips for Trying on Wedding Dresses

alternate wedding dress ideas

Brides-to-be often look forward to the trip to the bridal salon more than any other activity listed on their wedding to-do list. I recently had this experience myself.  Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your visit:

  1. Even if you typically forgo foundation, you may want to put on some foundation or tinted moisturizer that day and apply blush too.  I did this so I wouldn’t feel washed out while trying on white dresses.
  2. Do something with your hair. It doesn’t have to be fancy — it just helps if it resembles “event hair.” I put mine in an easy topknot, so I looked a little more polished and got a better sense of the full effect with the dresses on.
  3. If you plan on wearing shapewear, bring it with you. But if you find shapewear uncomfortable, opt for dresses that won’t require it.
  4. Bring two trusted friends or family members —  three max. Any more than that will likely confuse rather than clarify which dress best suits you.
  5. Inform the consultant when and where you’re having your wedding. For me that’s a log cabin in July, so I needed to avoid anything that would a) Look especially silly in a log cabin — a fully sequined gown, for example, and b) Was made of a heavy fabric that would be uncomfortable in the heat and humidity.
  6. Identify any designers you like. Even if the salon doesn’t carry them, they’ll likely be familiar with them, and this will give the consultant a good idea of your style. Also, note any details you do or don’t want in a wedding dress to give them another good starting point.
  7. Be open-minded and try on different styles of dresses, not just what you had in mind. I thought for sure I didn’t want a sleeveless dress, and I did want a white one, but when I tried on a blush sleeveless number, similar to the Mira Zwillinger dress above, it caught my breath. Remember that gown consultants are great gauges for determining the best dress for your figure.
  8. Remember that dresses you buy at wedding dress shops are being made from scratch — you can request minor adjustments. So if you love the cut and style of one dress but aren’t a fan of the sequins sewed into the skirt, ask for the sequins to be left off.
  9. Move in the dress. Can you sit in it? Can you dance? What sort of dancer are you? Personally, I am a full body dancer — anything that constricts my movement is not the dress for me.
  10. Be brutal with dress eliminations. I tried on all sorts of different dresses — I had a few lace ones I   liked and a couple of fuller skirted ones. The consultant made me choose my favorite in each group, so there were only two in the end. (Nope, I didn’t buy. But I am considering one in particular.)

And here’s something that surprised me: This particular salon didn’t allow you to take photos of yourself in the dresses. This makes things tricky if you’re considering the dress but are trying on others before making a decision. (My memory of how I looked in the dresses has already grown foggy.) The salon is likely concerned that someone will take a photo and ask someone else to make that dress for them, instead of going through the salon. So, prepare to flex your mental picture abilities in case the salon has a “no photos” policy.

We have some great short videos from a wedding gown expert that should also help:

Happy dress-hunting! And follow Robert’s and my wedding story here.

Photo courtesy Mira Zwillinger

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  1. I am starting to move into the mental consciousness of, “Oh man, I might actually want to start figuring out what I even LIKE or might want in my wedding BEFORE time to order/buy/make it…”

    Your list is very helpful, and that dress is beautiful!
    However, when I went wedding dress shopping with my cousin/bestie a few years ago, we had made appointments at several places a few days before, and not a single shop mentioned their no pictures rule, or any other policies they had until we were THERE.

    1. No pictures (maybe the salon owners should provide the service of taking pictures with a camera belonging in the store, to help that forgetful issue I know I even have trying on two pairs of jeans at ross)

    2. No makeup!! You would THINK this would have been a rather important thing to mention when we set up the appointments, but not a word until we got to our first appointment for the day and the woman flat refused to let her try on any dresses. Even if she offered to take her baby nephews wet wipes to her face and scrub it clean. Nope, had to reschedule our appointment and come back later.
    A few more of the shops required the same thing that day, so luckily she had the forwarning of the first one to remove her makeup.
    I can only imagine what a badly planned wiggle in or out of a dress could do to it.

  2. It’s so interesting to hear what rules bridal salons might have, Caitlin! I was wondering if the “no pictures” rule was normal. I’ve never encountered the no makeup rule, but I get why they wouldn’t want ladies to wear a ton. It can so easily get on dresses — though what a bummer for those trying on dresses! That said, I wonder if you could get away with tinted moisturizer because technically, it’s a moisturizer and the skin absorbs it. Foundation sits on the skin and can easily rub off….

    Thanks for sharing your experience — I’m happy to know all this!

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