Some people dream of their wedding dress from the time they’re little, while others might not know where to begin. No matter where you’re at in the process, we have the insight on wedding dress shopping tips sure to help you have a seamless experience.
The Twin Cities has a vibrant and diverse bridal salon scene and we talked to four premiere shops about what you need to know before you embark on your dress shopping experience below. Keep scrolling for advice from Bridal Aisle Boutique, Ivory Bridal Co., Luxe Bridal Couture, and Emily Kaye Bridal!
First things first, it’s important to know how early you need to begin your wedding gown search. This varies by salon so we suggest doing a little research beforehand. All bridal salons agree that the sweet spot is 12 months from the wedding day. Shayna Clute of Luxe Bridal states that finding your gown can actually help set the tone for the entire day, so you’ll want to start shopping before you nail down the other details. “You also want to allow for time for the dress to arrive which some gowns can take up to 8 months, and then allow for alterations again 3-4 month process,” Clute continues.
Shopping outside of the 8-12 month window may subject you to rush fees if you find a gown that has to be ordered, “Most rush fees are $100-$300 if needed to get the dress in time for the wedding,” shares Emily Beutz of Emily Kaye Bridal.
If you have a shorter window, consider a salon with off-the-rack gowns is a fantastic option, “As an in-stock wedding dress shop, 95% of our inventory of over 2,000 dresses are ready to take home the day they say yes to their dress,” says Bridal Aisle Boutique. “This leaves more time to find an alteration specialist to fit your dress to you if you stick to the 9-12 months timeline.”
Be Aware of Time for Shipping and Alterations
This is one of the most vital wedding dress shopping tips. All bridal salons interviewed say their gowns take between 6 and 8 months to ship. Alterations can take up to three months for competitive markets like ours, as well. So, by the time you make your appointments, 12 months is the perfect amount of time.
Decide on a Price Point
In 2022, the average amount spent on the dress was $1,800. The conversation around money can be hard, but with the wide range of prices in wedding gowns it’s important to know your budget before you even begin making appointments. This can help narrow down which salons are right for you!
With their unique business model, Bridal Aisle Boutique is able to offer designer gowns at a fraction of the price. Their range is from $600-$2,500 with a majority being in the $800-$1,400 range. And if you’re looking for a true steal, they have gowns for $500 and under at their sister shop, Budget Bridal Outlet by BA.
Luxe Bridal, the area’s premier bridal salon for curvy brides, has gowns that range from $1,200-$3,000 while Emily Kaye Bridal’s inventory includes dresses in the $800-$4,000 range with the average gown priced at $1,600. Ivory Bridal Co. is for the bride that’s willing to splurge. You’ll see more of the mid-range pricing at $1,500 all the way up to $9,000 with most ranging between $2,200-$3,500. Though, they do have select gowns in stock at a discounted price of $900-$2,500.
Choosing the Right Salons
Now that you have your timing and budget down, it’s time to think about where you want to shop and who to bring with you. Every bridal salon has its own identity carrying different designers and varying price points, so we suggest doing your homework in advance. Chat with friends and family and look at the shop’s reviews to ensure an amazing experience. “Looking at each bridal shop’s designers and price points will definitely help narrow down to the stores that the bride will really have true success and great experiences at,” says Jessica Ballard with Ivory Bridal Co.
Who To Bring With
We’ve all seen TV shows where there are 15 people at the appointment and it can get a bit chaotic, so think about whose opinion you truly care about. Coming out of the pandemic, many shops still limit the number of people you can bring. “At Bridal Aisle Boutique, we have a guest limit of 4 or a VIP Appointment with a $100 charge to bring up to 10 guests. Picking those special people to join you on the hunt for your wedding dress is an important decision,” advises Bridal Aisle Boutique.
Shayna at Luxe Bridal says “Come with 1-3 special guests whose opinions you value. I’ve seen too many brides bring the wrong people or just too many and their experience finding the dress becomes stressful or tiring, not fun. Also, be prepared to say YES and find the dress that day! It’s a moment you can’t recreate.”
Preparing for the Appointment
“Do your research and save photos of your favorite gowns on Pinterest,” advises Emily Kaye Bridal. As your appointment approaches, you’ll want to get some general ideas on what you like and what you don’t like — color, fit, silhouette, fabrics, necklines, length, and skirt types to name a few items to consider. This will not only benefit your stylist, but your family and friends as well. “If you give your guests an idea of what you are looking for ahead of time, then they are more likely to back you up on what you truly envision rather than their own vision for you,” says Bridal Aisle Boutique.
On the day of, let go of expectations and be open! “Come with an open mind and rely on your stylist,” says Luxe Bridal. ”They have seen and helped a lot of brides and really want you to enjoy the process and experience of finding one of the most important and special gowns you will ever wear most likely in your life.”
Bridal Aisle Boutique suggests wearing nude undergarments and any shapewear you are considering wearing on the big day as well, “Most wedding dresses do have cups built in so if you are comfortable, we will typically suggest taking your bra off once you are trying on dresses.” They go on to say it might be helpful to style your hair in a way that resembles your wedding-day look so you have a clear vision of how the dress will look.
What’s Trending in Bridal
When asked what the trends in wedding dresses are, all of the salons had insightful answers. “Removable accessories like sleeves, bows, gloves, skirts and much more! Two in one looks or even a built-in-bustle to save money during alterations,” says Emily Kaye Bridal. Ivory Bridal Co. agrees saying fun gloves and capes to accessorize are in along with second dresses for the reception.
All salons agree that simple and clean is a look brides are wanting right now. “Some classic styles that we seem to always hear people are looking for are clean and classic — satin, mikado, silk — delicate full lace, dramatic tulle ball gowns, and intricate lace applique,” Bridal Aisle Boutique adds. They go on to say that they are also getting requests for plunging necklines, feathers, ruffles, bows, and colorful gowns.
Finding “The One”
Everyone assumes that each person will have a magical feeling when they find the perfect gown and be overwhelmed with emotion. While that moment can happen for some, it’s okay if you’re more relaxed about it. Go in with an open mind and trust your bridal consultant. “They are there listening to your likes and dislikes to help you narrow down the search, try their suggestions even if it doesn’t fit your original image you had in your mind,” advises Bridal Aisle Boutique “Most brides buy dresses they never would have imagined in the first place.”
Several salons also advise not to “over shop” by trying on too many gowns at too many different salons. This can lead to decision burnout and cause unnecessary stress. Ivory Bridal Co says that many brides actually find their dress within the first 10 that they try on!
Overall, the general consensus is to do your research ahead of time, don’t be too hard on yourself, stay in the moment, and to focus on feeling good about how you look in the dress as well. Emily Kaye Bridal says “Focus on your heart and not your head! Let the comfort and the beauty of the dress help guide you while shopping.”
“Finding your bridal dress should be one of the more fun items to check off your to-do list,” states Bridal Aisle Boutique. ”Try not to get lost in the details you cannot control, but rather focus on the fact that you get to marry the person of your dreams! At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the love you two share.”
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