Flower girls admiring their wedding dresses at Rio Pinar Country Club in Orlando, FloridaAs a wedding photographer and now, a soon-to-be bride, it’s opened my eyes to many experiences I see differently as we plan our own nuptials. This past weekend, I stopped into a few bridal shops and tried on gowns with some of my closest ladies. Having been through the process, I really wanted to share what I learned so that you can maxmize YOUR experience when it’s your turn!

1. Make an appointment.

Most, if not all, bridal shops require an appointment to try on dresses. If you stop in unannounced, especially during the evening or on a weekend, you will likely be turned away. Some may let you browse their selection and pick styles to try on at a later time, but most run their businesses the same way photographer’s do.. by booking through proper channels!

Per my experience, my morning and afternoon appointments were more exciting. The bridal consultants were fresh, excited to work with me, and hadn’t seen the same dress “I love” on everyone else all day. Plus, it leaves time for brunch!

2. Know your budget.

It’s super important to know what you want to spend for a dress, and to be clear on that. Don’t try on a dress that’s twice what you’re willing to pay.. you WILL love it. Furthermore, if your budget is lower-DON’T feel like the only place you can afford to go is David’s Bridal. Most boutiques carry an array of dresses in multiple price ranges and styles. Give them a try, or inquire over the phone to see that they can serve your needs. I was really surprised this weekend at some of the lower end options I was able to shop through!

3. Take your make-up and hair UP a notch!

You will likely be elevating your style with your new gown, so you might want to give your look some extra attention on try-on day. This can give you a more genuine feel for how you’ll look on your wedding day!

4. Your underwear matter.

I can say, shamefully, that I did not prepare well for this. I was a little focused on my broken foot, but if I had it to do over.. I would say rock a pair of nude panties, a strapless bra, and if you’re insecure about your midsection-consider taking a corset or Spanx.

5. Take people, but don’t take everyone.

Contrary to what people believe, there are no rules to “who to take.” It doesn’t have to be every family member, friend, or bridal attendee for that matter! For each person you invite, you invite an opinion. What you wear on your wedding day should reflect you and your idea of what you wanted to have. Sometimes, other folks can get in the way of that. Make sure you take the right people! I was so lucky to have such a supportive team this weekend. They made it easy for me to make the decision on my own.. with confidence.

6. You don’t have to say yes to the dress.

Just becuase you are dress shopping, doesn’t mean you have to buy a dress that day. The gown can be a huge part of the budget for many, and is commonly very important to a bride. If you don’t KNOW it’s the one, don’t commit. There are tons of movies showing us precious moments of hugs and tears around a bride that is certain, but it doesn’t happen like that for everyone. Be honest with your consultant, be gracious for their time, go back to them if it was right, but feel free to sleep on it.

7. Try it, again. And again, if you want.

If you’re sleeping on it, and you can’t stop dreaming about it, try it on again. Fresh eyes can equal a fresh perspective. I, myself, was super certain that I wanted a particular dress until I went out of my comfort zone and let someone else pick something for me. It ended up being “THE ONE” and I’m so glad I didn’t let my bridal excitement prevail. Brittany (Francesca’s Bridal) went out of her way to put me back into dresses a few times and kept me feeling confident about my decision without making me feel pressured to choose.

8. Buy for your body.

Know your body shape, and buy something flattering for it. If you aren’t sure, ask your consultant who will gladly help you. Trust her! You may be pleasantly surprised in something you hadn’t considered. (I did!)

Always purchase your gown to fit you now. The better the fit, the better you’ll look in it. Don’t count on losing weight in order to fit into your dress! Remember, they can always be taken in.. but are rarely able to be let out. You’re beautiful and he’s asked you to marry you as you are. Get that dress in whatever size fits you best and rock the hell out of it!

9. It’s the dress because YOU love it!

Remember that “the” dress is only THEE dress becuase you picked it. It fits your needs, your budget, your wedding, and your idea of how you see yourself walking down the aisle. Maybe it’s not Grandma’s favorite or what you pinned online, but if you feel beautiful in it and can’t stop thinking about it-imagine how much excitement will grow through the weeks or months you wait to marry your best friend in it!!

10. Follow up and thank your consultants.

Did you have multiple appointments? Was your experience good? Reach out to those ladies who surely gave you a business card and thank them. Maybe you didn’t buy from their salon, but letting them know how much you appreciated their time can really make their job feel fulfilling. Perhaps it’s not necessary and makes no difference in your wedding planning, but maybe it’s just nice to pay it forward.

Another huge shout out to Kelli of Betsy Robinson Bridal, Mia & Jessica at Garnish Boutique, and Brittany of Francesca’s Bridal for helping me find my perfect dress. I can’t wait to wear the Hayley Paige beauty I ordered and I could not have done it without your care, time, and expertise. Thanks, ladies!

– Ash


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  1. Jennifer

    March 2nd, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    This is all such great advice! It always makes me so sad to see brides in dresses that clearly don’t fit them well or only fit them if they are standing a certain way. You don’t stand still on your wedding day! You should be able to move, sit, dance and dare I say it?.. go to the restroom on your wedding day!

  2. ash10k

    March 2nd, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    RIGHT?! I plan on taking full advantage of our catering, bar, and dancing at the wedding.. Lord knows I’m going to be grateful I picked something it will be easy to slip off to the lady’s room in. ;)

  3. Alicia Wiley

    March 2nd, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Love this!!! Especially #8 because not every dress is for every body type and usually the moment that is realized is after you get your wedding photos, ha! I sure wish I had this list a few years ago :)

  4. Amanda

    March 2nd, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    These are all great advises!

  5. Michele

    March 2nd, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    You totally need to buy for your body. What I thought I wanted did not look good on me, and what did was something very form fitting… go figure!

  6. ashley eiban

    March 3rd, 2016 at 10:28 am

    These are seriously such great tips for finding the perfect wedding dress! I was so overwhelmed when I went for my wedding dress!

  7. Bethanne

    March 3rd, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Great post, girl! You can offer so much good advice for brides having recently gone through it yourself! :)

  8. Mahlia

    March 3rd, 2016 at 11:27 am

    This is seriously the perfect guide to wedding dress shopping