So as many of you know, I said YES to the dress a couple months ago!! We had such a fun weekend, and I loved being able to share such a special moment with my mom.  This was by far the funnest wedding “activity” so far!

I’m not going to lie, though, I was definitely extremely nervous to go wedding dress shopping. Ask my mom, on the drive to our first bridal appointment, I was a complete WRECK. I was so anxious, I couldn’t even talk…my mom kept saying I just needed to relax haha. Anyone who knows me, will tell you I am EXTEMELY indecisive and I was afraid that I would find a dress, but not like it a couple months down the line.  I think that I put so much pressure on myself to find “the one” that I started to take all the fun out of it!  Fortunately, I can say with complete confidence that I absolutely love the dress I chose.  AND…it turns out that dress shopping was SO MUCH FUN!!  After I put on the first couple of gowns, my nerves relaxed and I really started to have FUN!  It was a truly magical experience, and I wish I could relive the day again and again!  I want to try on wedding gowns every weekend!

I know when I first started looking at wedding dresses online, I had no idea where to begin!  I mean, I hadn’t tried on a formal gown since high school, so needless to say, I was LOST!  So I thought it would be super helpful to share with you all, my top recommendations on how to say YES to the dress! I also tried to put these in the order of the steps I took!

  1. SET A BUDGET AND ONLY LOOK AT DRESSES IN THAT BUDGET-  I put this as #1 because this was the first step I personally did.  Within our entire wedding budget, I had a specific amount allowed for the wedding gown.  Its important to have this number in mind, because not only will the consultants at the bridal boutique ask you before your appointment, but you also don’t want to try on a dress, fall completely in love, only to realize its entirely out of your budget!  There are tons of beautiful gowns out there, so don’t worry, you’ll be able to find the perfect one for you no matter what your budget.

  2. MAKE AN APPOINTMENT-  most bridal boutiques don’t operate on a walk-in basis, and often an appointment is mandatory.  Once you form your list of boutiques, call 2-3 weeks ahead and book an appointment.  Also, don’t forget that the weekends are always the busiest time…so if you can make your appointment during the week, even better!  I made a majority of my appointments on a Friday, and at both botiques I was the only client so I was able to get the undivided attention from the bridal consultants!

  3. CHOOSE A CONVENIENT BOUTIQUE LOCATION-  I wanted to make an entire weekend out of the gown shopping experience, so originally, I wanted to go somewhere fun to shop for gowns. I considered Nashville, Charleston, and even Chicago!  But then I remembered once you find a gown, you have to take into account the fittings once it comes in.  As exciting as it would be to go to a cool location for your shopping experience, you might not want/be able to travel to that location for each fitting…so keep that in mind!

  4. HAVE IDEAS BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING-  this is when Pinterest and Bridal magazines are key!  Start gathering ideas of dresses that you like, and that also fit with the theme/setting of your wedding!  This will not only help you when looking, but will help the consultants guide you in the right direction.

  5. START LOOKING EARLY-  I made my first bridal appointments exactly 1 year before my wedding date, and although some of my friends thought I was crazy for looking so early, I’m glad I did!  Many gowns can take months to come in, especially if they are couture.  For instance, the gown I ended up choosing is going to take 7 months to come in.  Plus keep in mind the time for alterations needed!  

  6. LIMIT YOUR BRIDE TRIBE- on my shopping day, it was just my mom and me…and although you may want to include a few more people be careful not to invite TOO many people.  Since I’m indecisive, I knew I would need help in narrowing down my choices, but I also knew that too many opinions would be overwhelming and I might of ended up choosing a dress just to please the group verses something I actually loved

  7. PRIMP BEFOREHAND- I don’t typically do my hair and makeup all that often, but for this special day I took time to put on a full face of makeup and style my hair.  This will help you to visualize the entire “look” of your big day!  You could even consider getting your hair and makeup professionally done in a style similar to how you will look on the day of your wedding.

  8. STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE-  so I know one of my tips is the come with ideas, but in the same token, also keep an open mind to different gown styles.  I had a very specific idea of what I wanted before I started looking, but once I started trying on that style, I realized it didn’t necessarily look that great on my body shape/type.  I ended up choosing a dress that was 100% different then what I thought I origianally wanted!  So keep an open mind when trying on gowns, because your dream dress might not be what you thought!

  9. TAKE PICTURES OF EVERY DRESS YOU TRY ON-  ok so I wasn’t going to do this at first, but I am SO GLAD that I did!  It allowed me to go back through the pictures after the appointment and see what style I liked best on me.  

  10. WEAR THE PROPER UNDERGARMENTS- this might seem like a no-brainer, but its one tip a consultant gave me on the phone before one of my appointments, and I thought it was great advice.  For my appointments I made sure to wear nude underwear and a nude bra, and then in my bag I also packed a nude strapless bra as well as “pasties” that way as I tried on different styles I could change my undergarments appropriately.  

Last but not least, remember that whatever gown you choose you are going to look absolutely STUNNING on your big day!  No one is going to be comparing your dress to any dresses they have seen before, they are only going to see you and how beautiful you look!  While choosing “the one” can seem daunting, and maybe even overwhelming, just remember to have relax and take it all in!  Dress shopping is such a fun part of the entire wedding planning and engagement process, so soak up every last drop!  

I hope this helped all you bride-to-be’s out there, and don’t hesitate to ask me any other tips or questions!  Also, I just realized that I never shared our proposal story!  Would you be interested in me sharing how Nathan popped the question?  Let me know!