Want to avoid wedding dress regret? Here’s how.
Are you scared of picking the wrong dress? You’re not alone.
As a boutique owner and bridal stylist, I never want a bride to feel this way — especially because once a made-to-measure dress is ordered, a designer gets to work, the fabric is cut, and there’s no going back.
The truth is, wedding dress regret is 100% preventable if you approach bridal gown shopping with the right expectations and mindset. Here are the things I suggest all brides do to avoid dress regret and find a dress they love.
1. Research gowns before you shop.
Look at photos of dresses online and in bridal magazines. Notice the styles, silhouettes, materials, and designers that you gravitate toward. Use Pinterest or Instagram to gather all of your gown inspiration in one place. At Your Dream Bridal, all brides complete a Style Quiz before their appointment to help them think through their preferences and tag their favorite gowns in my inventory.
Think of dress shopping as buying a home—it’s hard to trust your gut when you fall in love with the first house you view, even if it is totally right for you. You need to have a sense of what’s out there before you can commit with confidence. Having an idea of what you like before you shop will help you feel less overwhelmed and more ready to say yes to a dress when you find one you love.
2. Set a realistic wedding dress budget.
Figuring out how much to spend on a bridal gown can be tricky. According to Brides, dress prices for most American brides range from $500 to $4,000—a huge range—based on materials, manufacturing process, level of customization, and more.
If you struggle to set your budget, here’s one way to get to a realistic number.
- Take a look at the average cost of the gowns you liked during your research online.
- Next, think about how much you have available to spend.
- Finally, consider how important your bridal attire is to you.
- Communicate with your soon-to-be spouse and your family (if they are helping to pay for your gown) to land on a number that feels right given the three factors above.
Remember to plan for the cost of alterations and other bridal attire and accessories. Tell your stylist your budget—and don’t try things on that you can’t afford. Overspending on your dress is a surefire path to regret and one that you can avoid by being transparent and sticking within your price range.
3. Decide what matters to you in a gown—then stick to it.
Your values matter, especially on a big day like your wedding day. If you want a sustainable gown, a North American-made gown, or a gown that can be customized to fit your style and shape—it’s all possible. Determining what you care about will help you narrow your search and find a dress that makes you feel beautiful, comfortable, and true to yourself.
4. Choose the right bridal boutique, and don’t overshop.
It can be tempting to schedule a dozen appointments thinking that the more you see, the more likely you are to find the perfect gown. In reality, though? Over shopping can become stressful and confusing. You may be afraid to listen to your gut because you know you have another appointment scheduled for tomorrow.
Beyond that, not every boutique is the right fit for every bride. Here are some things to think about when finding a shop:
- Will you have a private changing space?
- Who will be attending to you during the appointment?
- Is there room to comfortably accommodate your guests?
- Do they carry styles and designers that you like?
- Do you feel like you’ll be listened to and respected?
- Are they inclusive of all brides?
If a shop doesn’t carry the styles you like, don’t waste your time there. If you are uncomfortable changing in front of a bunch of strangers, choose a shop that offers a more private experience.
Read shop websites and reviews and choose a shop that fits your vibe. Spending time in a boutique that isn’t the right match may lead to you saying yes to a dress that isn’t really your style.
5. Bring the right people to the dress shop with you.
Bringing too many people, or the wrong ones, shopping with you for a bridal gown can spell disaster. Everyone will have an opinion, and you want to make sure those opinions don’t drown out your inner voice.
Bring people who support you and are going to make you feel confident, beautiful, and loved. If you adore a dress and Aunt Susan comments about your arms or reminds you that you have another appointment next week—suddenly you’ll find yourself second-guessing everything. On the other hand, if you aren’t super into a dress but everyone “oohs and ahhs,” you might make the mistake of choosing a style that pleases them but not you.
Be honest with yourself and your bridal stylist.
The more open and honest you are with yourself, your crew, and your stylist, the better when it comes to avoiding dress regret. Leave the people-pleasing at the door and be upfront about what you can spend, what you love, what you hate, and how the gowns you try on make you feel. While you are at it, try to be truly present.
Celebrate, then stop the search.
This one’s simple: once you purchase your dress, stop looking at other dresses. It’s such a mental game, but remember that you chose your gown because of how you felt when it was on. Are there other pretty dresses out there? Sure. But trust that you chose the one that made you feel amazing.
The secret is that there IS no wrong choice when you follow these tips. If you’re true to yourself, you’ll find a gown that makes you feel beautiful, comfortable, and completely YOU on your wedding day.
Once you’ve done your homework and are ready for a stress-free, comfortable wedding dress shopping experience, I’d love to help you find the dress of your dreams!