Wedding Dress Basics from eleGALA.com
Chances are, your wedding dress will be the most important clothing purchase of your life. Yes, you will only wear it once; but, will you ever wear another dress more anticipated and more talked about? And while this is indeed an important clothing decision, you have probably never gone through the process of purchasing a wedding gown until now. As your devoted wedding experts, we have rounded up useful advice to get you started on your way to walking down the aisle in the dress of your dreams.
1. Start Shopping for Your Wedding Dress Early
Time is of the essence. Most likely, you did not get engaged after a week of dating, so why would you want to rush such an important shopping decision? Planning a wedding is stressful, and the last thing you want to add to your worries is dress shopping. You need time. Not only do you need time to shop, but keep in mind that you will also need time to wait for your dress to arrive and time for fittings. Try to start looking for your perfect wedding dress soon after you are engaged. Browse bridal collections online, first, for inspiration. You should aim to purchase your wedding gown at least six months before your wedding date, as this will ensure enough time to wait for your gown to arrive and have it tailored.
Wedding only six months away, and you haven’t even tried on your first dress? Don’t panic. While shopping early is preferred, you can always try to buy a dress off the rack, and many bridal salons can turn a dress around more quickly if necessary. You just have to be quite a bit more flexible in your dress choice.
2. Educate Yourself on Wedding Dresses
Wedding dresses come with their own unique glossary of terms (or jargon, as you may want to call it). Before stepping foot into a bridal salon, try to brush up on your vocabulary. There are terms for gown silhouette (the basic shape of the gown), neckline, bodice, sleeves, trains, etc. Learn the basics and try to narrow down which options you prefer and which ones best suit your figure. Overwhelmed? No problem; we’ve done a lot of the research for you. View our Wedding Dress Styles guide for more detailed descriptions.
3. Envision Your Perfect Wedding Dress
Many bridal salons do not allow you to simply browse through all their wedding dresses. At Etain, our consultant first asks you a few questions about your wedding and your overall style and brings dresses that reflect your vision to you; therefore, it’s best to have an idea of what you want before you shop. After you have educated yourself on the various parts of a dress, think about what wedding dress style suits you. Always dreamed of being a princess? A ball gown silhouette is probably your best bet. Dream of showing off a figure sculpted by hard work at the gym? A sheath dress may be perfect for you. For more information, browse our wedding dresses styles guide.
4. Know Where to Shop for Wedding Dresses
The most popular choice is the bridal salon, known for a high level of customer service. All bridal salons are not the same! Some feature wedding gowns from multiple designers, others feature only gowns from one specific designer custom for their particular store. Price ranges vary as well. Etain’s current collections range anywhere from $700 to $5,000. Brides on an even tighter budget can try Sample Sale collections, which are sold off the rack as-is. Read more about this below under “Shopping for Your Wedding Dress”.
5. Determine Your Wedding Gown Budget
It’s best to have an idea of what you would like to spend before stepping into a bridal salon. This will save you the hassle of going to salons out of your price range or allowing the sales clerk to bring you dresses you cannot afford. The average cost of a wedding dress is around $800. Shop around online and in magazines to get an idea of how much wedding dresses cost and how much you want to spend. In general, your wedding gown shouldn’t exceed 10 percent of the cost of the wedding reception. Our wedding dresses savings guide offers tons of budget saving tips.
Shopping for Your Wedding Dress 101
Shopping for a wedding dress is slightly more complex than you might think. We’ll walk you through it.
You’ve done the research. You’re an expert on wedding dress styles and wedding gown designers. Now the time has finally arrived. It’s wedding dress shopping day! But before you begin, it’s best to know what to expect.
1. Decide Where to Shop
Independently owned full-service bridal shops, like Etain Bridal Boutique offer a full range of services for the bride and the wedding party, with designers and prices ranging from moderate to high end. Off the rack purchases are a challenge because stores typically special-order wedding gowns for brides and attendants, so you should be prepared to wait anywhere from 3-4 months just for your gown to arrive. You will also be able to purchase all of your bridal accessories, such as shoes, veils, undergarments, and jewelry, and we will recommend an experienced seamstress to consult with you on alterations.
Discount bridal outlets
Discount bridal outlets offer a mix of discontinued national brands and privately labeled or discontinued merchandise at reduced prices. But buyers beware! You will not find the same level of service found at privately owned bridal shops and a gown purchased off the rack usually requires significant alterations and/or cleaning.
Nationwide bridal chain stores
Bridal chain stores mass manufacture, import, and sell their own label wedding gowns. The style selection is more limited than in other types of stores and prices are actually not much lower after you’ve paid for every little extra. For instance, unlike independently-owned shops, these stores make up for slightly lower dress prices by charging for items like your garment bag, your dress steaming, or even to hold your gown at the store. And buyers beware! You should also be prepared for a lower level of service and pushy or pressured sales. However, nationwide chain stores like this do offer the ability to buy off the rack at a reasonable price, which can be your only option if you’re planning a wedding in a very short timeframe.
2. What to Expect Once You’re There
Make an appointment
…and, if possible, try to shop during a weekday. You will receive more attentive service if your sales associate can dedicate his/her time especially for you.
Consider bringing the lingerie that you will wear at the wedding. This will help you determine exactly how the wedding dress will look and feel on the big day.
Bring Trusted Companions
Bring someone with you whose opinion you respect and trust, but avoid bringing an entire brigade of “experts.” Too many opinions will distract you.
Communicate with Your Consultant
Many bridal boutiques will not simply allow you to browse through the selection of wedding dresses; rather, a sales associate will sit down with you to discuss your style and will bring you dresses that reflect your vision. That said, allow them to bring you many styles. While you may have an idea of what you want, you never know what looks best on your body until you try it. Not to mention, wedding gowns are hard to choose based on what they look like on the hanger! The consultant has a better idea of what each dress look like on. Let them help you.
Don’t Overanalyze the Fit
Most likely, you will not try on dresses in your actual size. Stores typically carry sample sizes, and the sales associate will clip it to your body. Once you decide on a gown, you will have to be fitted up to three times before your wedding dress fits you perfectly. Also, wedding dresses tend to run small, so be prepared to order a size that is larger than what you normally wear.
Trust Your Instincts
Go with your gut! If you need to be convinced that a wedding dress looks good on you, it’s probably not “the one.” But at the same time, if you are “in love” with it, you do not need to keep shopping. So many brides feel this is necessary, but it could simply result in getting overwhelmed, worn out, and confused by seeing too many dresses. You may also be offered some special discounts if you are ready to buy during your first appointment!
Alterations & Accessories
When determining the cost of your wedding dress, remember to factor in the cost for alterations (which typically run $100 – $200), the veil, and other accessories like the shoes, headpiece, etc. If there is a specific feature you want changed, you can usually request it. Keep in mind that any design changes will increase the cost of the wedding gown, but in the end it is worth the change to get what you want. And because your dress usually takes a few months to arrive, make sure you leave enough time for any necessary alterations.
Wedding Dress Deposits
Once you have found the dress and made your final decision, you will pay a 50% deposit to order your dress. At Etain, the remaining balance is then due immediately once the dress arrives. Or, you may also choose to make payments of any amount on your remaining balance while you are waiting for its arrival.