As a former wedding dress consultant at a high-end boutique in the greater Washington DC area, time was always of the essence when it came to helping a bride find her dress. Whether it was finding the perfect casual dress for an upcoming elopement or helping a bride order an elegant wedding gown for a black tie affair, the appointment always began with helping a bride articulate her vision of the big day. Trying on a hundred different dresses with a bunch of friends and family for several hours on a Saturday may seem like a fun pre-wedding outing in the movies, but in my real-life experience, most brides found “the dress” at very focused, intimate, 1-hour appointments with a consultant and a best friend or family member. During these focused dressing sessions, I found a very successful formula. First, ask the bride time of year, venue and number of guests. Next, ask the price range the bride feels is reasonable to spend on her gown. Then ask, “What three adjectives describe your wedding?” or “What three words will your guests say when they see you?” Often I would get responses like:
“Fun, modern, chic”
“casual, intimate, lovely”
“timeless, classic, elegant”
“vintage, southern, simple”
“sophisticated, sexy, effortless”
Each of these questions were very effective, because although a dozen or so dresses could look amazing on my bride, once I had those 5 answers, there were only 5 or 6 dresses that truly fit the bride's style, needs, vision, and body-type. A one-hour appointment with 5 or 6 dresses perfect for the big day saved a lot of second-guessing and saved our busy brides a lot of time!
With that in mind, here is my A to Aha! list of tips for finding the perfect dress:
Appointment: Make initial appointments during the week when boutiques are less busy
Budget: Don’t try on dresses outside of your comfortable budget
Consideration: Make sure to take a shower, wear little to no make-up and wear appropriate undergarments.
Details: Know your wedding vision - time of year, venue, formal or casual, & budget.
Expertise: Let the consultant make recommendations, they're the experts.
Fit: Fit is everything it's important to find a great seamstress for your alterations.
Girlfriends: Keep your dress shopping party to a just a few, one or two, friends or family members. (Invite everyone to an accessory purchasing outing instead)
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