5 mistakes to Avoid while shopping for your wedding 

Guest blogger Rachel Stinson gives brides tips to avoid when shopping for a wedding gown

Shopping before you have a venue 

Okay, so you're sitting here wondering why it actually matters if you shop pre or post -venue shopping, right? I get it; I really do. However, we do think that there is a good reason you should wait for this. Let's say you're planning on getting married in six months, and you're having a relatively short engagement. You might feel that you are already late for the dress shopping party and that you might not be able to have the gown you want made for you in six months; so you go online shopping. It's an easy mistake to make. The problem here is that you've yet to secure a venue.

Now you have a dress and you go to the place you're dying to exchange your vows only to find out that they are booked solid for the next 7 years, and they simply cannot get you in for a wedding date even if you wanted to get married at 7am on a Tuesday. Now you have to pick a new venue. You run into the same problem at a few other backup locations and end up declaring that instead of the beautiful ballroom you wanted to celebrate your wedding, you're getting married on the beach.

The problem is that you already purchased a wedding dress that is perfect for a formal ballroom wedding, but it's not so perfect for a July afternoon beach wedding. It's all velvet and tulle and heavy and long-sleeved, and now you're exchanging your vows at 4pm on the beach. Do you see why you might want to choose your venue before you choose your dress? And by choose your venue, we mean sign a contract and put down a deposit so you know the place is yours. You want your dress to match the overall vibe of your location, and it's not always possible when you choose a dress and the venue.

Shopping right away 

This kind of ties into not having a venue beforehand, but it means so much more. I know it's so tempting to start dress shopping right away. In fact, it's like standing in front of cookie dough sitting on the kitchen counter just begging you for a bite (we know all about salmonella, thanks. but we like to live on the edge) . You have all the willpower for a moment, but the longer it sits there, the more you think about it. The more you think about it, the more difficult it is to just say no. Now you've deprived yourself far too long and you eat the entire bowl. It's a problem.

The same issue goes for wedding dress shopping. If you shop too early, you find yourself in a predicament. You find that your wedding is still two years away and you have a dress. That might seem like pre-planning and being on top of your game right now, but it's going to turn into "Why did I buy that dress a year ago when I'm still a year out from getting married and my whole style has changed so much since then?"

If you shop too early, your entire vision might change as you get closer and closer to your big day. You might not be the same woman you were when you were engaged. Perhaps you wanted nothing more than a fairy princess wedding when you got engaged last year, but now you are a year older, your tastes have changed, you've changed and you're stuck with a dress you already paid for that you no longer want. This is why it's best to wait a while, especially if your engagement is a long one. Wedding dress professionals typically advise that you do not begin the wedding dress shopping process until you are within a year of your wedding. 

Bringing everyone you know

Being a bride means getting to have an entourage, and that's kind of awesome. After all, how many times in your life do you get to be the most important person in a room every single time you go somehow with a group of people? Pretty much only when it's your birthday or your baby shower or your wedding parties, dress shopping and on your wedding day. Your girlfriends all want to shop with you, everyone wants to see, and you just cannot help but want all your bests there with you. After all, that's more people to compliment you on how gorgeous you are, and we are all just vain enough to want a piece of that.

Our advice is that you stick to two very close people. Ideally this would be people such as your Mum, sister, grandmother, best friend, aunt, future mother-in-law, etc. Its the people you are closest to in the entire world. It's the women - or men, really - who know you better than anyone else. Its the people you know have your best interests at heart and who are to afraid to tell you that you don't look amazing in that dress or that you aren't really going to love wearing this particular style all day long.

Furthermore, all the other beautiful ladies will be present on your wedding day. Don't you want them all to gasp with delight when you come into view at the end of the aisle as they all see you in your gown for the first time? You don't want everyone there to have already seen you all dressed up in your wedding gown, do you? No, you don't. It can be overwhelming to shop for a gown when you have too many, too much going on and too many people to try and make happy with their differing tastes and opinions. You tend to forget that you are the one who needs to be happy so listen to your own intuition and that everyone else is slightly less important to please. 

Trying on dresses you cannot afford

It’s wise to be transparent about your budget so the sales consultants can guide you in the right direction of designs you can afford. E mailing ahead to get an idea of the price of the gown you love or to ensure you can afford the designer or label is a good idea. Remember if you buy from artisan small couturier the price might be higher due to the individual nature of their business but you will receive something really unique made with skill and a true passion plus you will be keeping artisans alive in the local community. Often these companies will complete the gown for you and the cost of altering a cheaper gown can end up costing the same as buying one directly from an artisan once you add alterations.

Choosing a gown based on price alone can lead to regrets and some brides end up buying more than one gown when the budget could have been used on the one they loved in the first place. If you don’t look and feel amazing it comes at a price there are other ways to save like using shoes you have already loaning a friends veil etc.

Trying on dresses you cannot afford can break your heart. But still it can give you a realistic idea of what things cost and enable you to save for the goal. If you are not ready to make a purchase, do not even think about beginning the dress shopping process. Nothing is worse than trying on a beautiful gown you are completely in love with only to realize that you just cannot afford to begin dress shopping for another few months. You'll be devastated to leave it behind, worried that you will never find another, or that it will no longer be available when you finally come back. Save yourself the heartache and be transparent with the bridal consultant.

Looking to Please Others

Okay, so we just discussed shopping with everyone you know, and how that is probably not the best idea you have ever yea. Now we have to point out that shopping to please everyone else with your gown is a huge no-no. There are so many ways you might do this. Perhaps you have a mother who is ultra conservative, and you find yourself looking at discount wedding gowns because she's a very frugal woman and you don't want to disappointment her by purchasing a designer gown that costs so much more (even though you are paying for your own gown). Perhaps your grandmother is with you and you find that you don't want her to think you are promiscuous by wearing a dress with cutouts or sheer fabric anywhere, even though that's what you want.

Perhaps you think that you will find a dress that everyone will love, but you can't. We have two points to make. The first is that you can never, ever please every single person. There will always be someone at your wedding who hates your dress, didn't love it when you tried it on or doesn't like the style as a whole (it's probably not you in the dress, it's just the style of the dress as a whole). While everyone might throw out their opinion while dress shopping (you don't look good in that one), no ones going to come up to you on your wedding date when you are in your gown and tell you that it's not their favourite.

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Written by |  Rachel Stinson

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