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10 Things Bridal Consultants Want You to Know

From your first shopping trip to your final fitting, here's what the pros want you to consider before you hit the salon.
shelley brown - the knot
by Shelley Brown
shelley brown - the knot
Shelley Brown
Senior Fashion & Beauty Editor
  • Shelley writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in fashion, beauty, jewelry and accessories
  • Shelley writes and edits articles for The Knot magazine, as well as styles the magazine’s fashion and cover shoots
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Shelley was a freelance Digital Editor at Conde Nast’s Lucky Magazine and freelanced for FLAUNT Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, Backstage.com and Paste.com

Getting ready for your first wedding dress appointment? Before the fun stuff—as in, trying on dresses and finding one you love—there are a few important things to know in advance. 

1. Shop early.

Take note: A designer wedding gown is made to your measurements. It'll take months of work to create and a series of alterations to fit your body perfectly. In other words, it's not the kind of garment you can toss into an online shopping cart and have show up on your doorstep two days later—which is why you should go to a local bridal salon to shop for your gown. Book your first appointment 9 to 12 months before your wedding date. (Some designers can accommodate orders in six months or less, but even then, you're cutting it close.) If you're shopping closer to your wedding, you may be limited to samples or off-the-rack gowns. And smaller stores may not be able to accommodate last-minute orders.

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2. Always book an appointment.

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While you may get lucky and snag a salesperson just by walking in, scheduling an appointment is the only way to ensure you'll get a full hour of undivided attention. Also, plan to play hooky to avoid crowds. Going in on a weekday will allow you to hit the stores while crowds are at a minimum. You'll get much more attention from the sales staff if you shop on a slow Tuesday morning rather than a hectic Saturday afternoon.

3. Do your research.

Before you start shopping, think about what style you want. Consider your venue and body type to narrow that down. Then look through pictures of wedding dresses online and in magazines, and save the styles you like. The Knot Wedding Dress Gallery is a great place to begin—you can search thousands of gowns by style and price, and if you find a few you want to try on, you can see which local salons carry your favorites.

4. Hidden costs add up.

Your wedding gown budget includes more than the dress. Your veil or headpiece, shoes, jewelry, undergarments and alterations (and in some cases, steaming and storing your dress) will also add to your bottom line. Factor in these costs before you give the salesperson your final shopping budget.

5. Make requests. 

Just because a bridal salon carries your favorite designer doesn't mean it'll have the exact wedding dress you've been wanting to try on. But if you phone in advance and request a specific style, chances are that a salon staffer will be able to call in a sample of that gown ahead of your appointment.

6. Shop for your shape.

When trying on dresses, focus less on the size on the tag and more on the general shape and frame of your body. Your weight may be constantly fluctuating, especially if you're stressed out, so don't let that be the deciding factor in choosing your dress. Concentrate on finding a silhouette that accentuates the features you love and makes you feel confident.

7. Limit your entourage.

You may be tempted to invite all your friends and family to help you shop for your gown, but bringing a big group to the salon is a gown shopping don't. Enlist one or two of your closest friends or family members to help you start your search. This way you can find the gown that best suits you and your style and not feel pressured by too many conflicting opinions.

8. Trust is key.

Even if a gown doesn't look amazing on the hanger, that doesn't necessarily mean it won't look amazing on you. Be open to what an experienced consultant thinks will flatter your figure and work with your wedding style (after all, they've done this before). Bottom line: The dress you end up loving might be different than what you originally pictured, and that's okay.

9. Don't get discouraged.

There are hundreds of bridal designers out there with thousands of gorgeous designs, which makes your odds of finding a fantastic gown pretty darn good. We know that coming up empty-handed on your first trip can be a letdown, but don't give up. "The one" for you is definitely out there.

10. You're paying for an experience.

While shopping online for your dress may seem like the more convenient option, visiting a bridal salon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience with numerous benefits of its own. For starters, you'll get face-to-face interaction with a wedding dress expert to help guide you, taking the guesswork out of finding your perfect size and silhouette. Additionally, you have the opportunity to touch and feel the dresses you're considering, so you know exactly what you're paying for. Trust us, while dress photos may look dreamy online, there's a huge difference between high-quality fabrics and embellishments and low-quality ones in person. Practical aspects aside, your salon appointments are first and foremost a special moment. It's a chance to celebrate your upcoming nuptials and enjoy accomplishing a huge moment in your wedding planning process.

Find a bridal salon near you here

Ready to start your wedding dress search? Check out our dress gallery here.

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