After announcing an engagement, a newly engaged couple will often find themselves flooded with a rush of well wishes, but also unsolicited advice. From must-visit honeymoon locations to money-saving tips that will keep their budget intact, engagement news usually promotes its fair share of exchanges—including conversations that start with“Why don’t you try…”, “Have you heard of….”, and “Maybe you should…”. For the most part, there are nuggets of wisdom in all premarital pointers, but there are also circumstances where advice can be unwelcome.
This is especially true when shopping for a wedding dress. In the same way that some silhouettes work and others don’t, there are some suggestions you should apply, and a few that you can overlook (respectfully, of course). Considering the number of gowns to sort through when shopping for the one, hearing from someone who has gone through the process can be invaluable—but just the same, too much input can be overwhelming.
For those currently searching for their dream gown, in the midst of navigating information from friends and family, we’re here to say that you’re not alone. We spoke with 10 real brides who shared the best and worst shopping advice they received while planning for their big day. Read on to see everything they had to say.
From trusting your instincts to keeping an open mind, below are some of the best pieces of advice real brides were offered over the course of their wedding shopping experience.
Trust Your Own Instincts
“The best advice I got is to trust my own vision — whatever that vision is! Don’t let people talk you out of it. At the end of the day, it’s your special day and your body. You have to honor that by doing what feels right to you.” – Jaye Falcioni, Toronto, Canada
Stay True to Your Personal Style
“The best advice I got was that your dress is for you — not for anyone else. Wedding dress shopping is a fun affair: A day out with the most important ladies of your life to celebrate you. However, more people mean more opinions (some of whom may not agree with one another, let alone your vision). Just remember, your wedding dress should be one that you choose, not one that is chosen for you. You want your dress to be a reflection of what makes you feel beautiful and confident. Your hubby-to-be will think you are a knockout no matter what.” – Jessica Sisco, New York, NY
“Don’t try to make your wedding look the riskiest outfit of your life, but try to be original.” – Claudia Fernandez, A Coruña, Spain
Consider the Wedding Locale
“Another piece of advice that I found helpful, was to consider the location and the elements. I was in love with this one Galia Lahav dress, but the girl I was working with emphasized that it would be very hot at my destination wedding [and] to take that into consideration. After taking that into account, I decided on another Galia Lahav dress that’s also beautiful but so light and airy that I’ll definitely be more comfortable on the big day. There are enough things to worry about on your wedding day without having to think about how you feel in your dress.” – Ksenia Edwards, Toronto, Canada
Keep an Open Mind
“I was told to keep my mind open to the different styles I may like because you never know until you try it on. I traveled to Chicago to try on what I thought was my dream dress and was immediately disappointed. It’s best to keep your mind open and know that your preferences may change.” – Maureé Bowman, Detroit, MI
“Don’t judge a dress on the rack. Trust the consultant and try it on. One of my top choices was one I would have never selected off the rack.” – Jessica Anderson, Toronto, Canada
“Try on different styles, even the ones you aren’t initially drawn to. Everything looks different on and you might just surprise yourself!!” – Anna Childress, Los Angeles, CA
Find a Great Tailor
“The best advice I received was actually a recommendation to a fine garment tailor. Though I loved the color and silhouette of my dress, it needed a lot of help to get it to where I wanted to be. My tailor was an absolute genius and added all kinds of subtle alterations to my dress to ensure it stayed put all day, and that I felt confident and enhanced in the best ways.” – Letticia Cosbert Miller, Toronto, Canada
Research, Research, Research!
“I’m so glad I listened when I was told to research the type of dress styles I might like before my bridal appointment. I knew I wanted sleeves and crystals, so going in I knew exactly what I was looking for.” – Gabriella Alvarado, Yuba City, CA
Ahead, the worst advice brides received while shopping for their wedding gowns. But before you dive in, it’s important to remember that what is deemed as “bad” advice for some may be helpful for others.
Listen to the Opinions of Others
“Taking too many opinions into consideration! Wedding dress shopping was one of the craziest experiences of planning my own wedding. It truly seems like everyone around you has an opinion on how you should look on your big day.” – Jaye Falcioni, Toronto, Canada
“I didn’t receive one notable bad piece of advice while dress shopping, but I do wish I never asked anyone for their opinion on the dresses I liked—especially when they hadn’t seen the dress on me in person. No one knows what you like more than yourself. These opinions confused me more than helped, and I think eventually drew me into wedding mania in a way I had been trying to avoid. Weddings and wedding dresses are polarizing as everyone has very different ideas of what they should be and look like. It’s so personal, so it’s better to go with your gut rather than getting swept up in other people’s opinions!” – Naomi Nachmani, Toronto, Canada
Stick to a Specific Silhouette
“I was told that I would look best in a ballgown with a dropped waistline because I’m tall — this is false. I don’t think anyone should be told what they will look best in until they try on multiple styles themselves. Your dress should make you feel your best, and you will know the ONE when you put it on and can’t stop smiling!” – Anna Childress, Los Angeles, CA
Say ‘Yes to the Dress’ Quickly
“I was told that when you think a dress is ‘the one’, don’t overthink it and just get it — this advice may work for some, but not for all. Dress shopping is exciting, emotional, and may be overwhelming. Feeling the pressure to rush into saying ‘yes’ to the dress may not allow you to take the time you need to explore your options and decide which one is the right one.” – Jessica Sisco, New York, NY
Size Up When Buying a Gown
“I was advised to buy the dress one size bigger because it will be an easy fix for my seamstress and will leave room for possible weight gain. This advice was horrible because I ended up paying double for my dress after the tailoring bill. The tailor basically had to reshape my dress because of all the extra fabric.” – Maureé Bowman, Detroit, MI
A White Wedding Gown is a Must
“Many people told me I would regret not wearing a white dress. I’m from the Caribbean, and my maternal grandmother was Indian and Hindu so I was used to seeing brides on that side of my family in red dresses (mostly in old photographs). While it wasn’t something I ever considered for myself until I was engaged, and in the market for a wedding dress, it immediately felt right. Aside from the cultural significance, I just felt incredible in it. Standing in that changeroom, I just knew that it would be a showstopper and that I would want to wear it again and again, which made it a winner.” –Letticia Cosbert Miller, Toronto, Canada
Bring a Group of Friends When Shopping
“I was told to bring an entourage and make it memorable, but I found that sometimes you end up with too many opinions and judgments. Instead, take the people who are honest, always have your back, and will make the experience about you.” – Jessica Anderson, Toronto, Canada
Try On as Many Dresses as Possible
“Worst advice I received was to try a lot of different styles because you never know what you’ll love. I tried to do that at the first bridal store I went to, and I found it to be incredibly overwhelming and discouraging. At the end of the day, I think you know what styles you love and what works on your body, so it’s better to be more efficient when you’re dress shopping. You’ll have a much more positive experience!” – Ksenia Edwards, Toronto, Canada
“The worst advice I got was to ‘save the best for last’. I tried on my favorite dress first and ended up choosing it! When you know you know.” – Gabriella Alvarado, Yuba City, CA