Whether you're ready to dive face-first into a pile of tulle or the thought of trying on gowns breaks you into hives, there are a few secrets that can benefit every gal as she begins the hunt. We asked the lovely Gabriella Risatti, owner of Gabriella New York Bridal Salon in New York City to share some of her expert tips for wedding dress shopping.
Do Your Homework: A-line, sheath, long sleeves, illusion neckline … holy cow there are a lot of choices when it comes to the wedding dress. Gabriella recommends doing some research beforehand (like browsing our wedding gown galleries!) to get a general idea of what you like and then find salons that carry that type of gown. And all of our lesbian brides, find out if the salon is LGBT-friendly. Nothing is worse than finding The Dress only to have it followed with some rude comment when you mention your soon-to-be wife.
Three Is Key: “I recommend starting with three salons and never going to more than three in one day,” says Gabriella. “The last thing you want is to go into an appointment burned out!”
Time It Right: Most bridal appointments will last between 60 and 90 minutes, so schedule accordingly.
Keep an Open Mind: It’s important to tell the bridal consultants you work with what your vision is, but also keep an open mind. “Remember that they do this professionally, so if they recommend a gown for you, even if it’s not what you thought you would wear, try it on! You may be surprised—I see it happen every day!”
Glam Up: “I recommend that brides take the time to do their hair and makeup before coming in for an appointment. You want to look your best when putting a wedding gown on so you can get a real idea of what you'll look like on the wedding day.” If possible, try to schedule your hair and makeup trial before the big shopping trip so you can get a sneak peek of the final look.
What to Wear: Be sure to bring any undergarments, such as shapewear or corsets, that you may wear to your appointments. Additionally, if there's a special accessory you want to incorporate, like a family heirloom, be sure to bring that as well. “It will be important to try it on with any gowns that are true contenders,” adds Gabriella.
Don't Forget the Feet: Most bridal salons have shoes, but if they don't (be sure to ask!) bring a pair of heels that are around the same height as what you want to wear when you walk down the aisle. “It will make a big difference in how the gowns look on the body.”
Limit Your Entourage: “Brides should try to limit their guests to two. I know this can be challenging, but it’s important to be able to focus on how you truly feel in each gown without a lot of other opinions,” says Gabriella. “I generally recommend that women come to their first appointment by themselves and then bring their guests to their follow up appointment. The reason for this is that it gives the bride the chance to figure out what she likes without being influenced by anyone else. She can then invite her guests to see the short list of dresses that she has developed. This is also a nice way to respect the time of your friends and family. By bringing them to the second round of dress shopping appointments, you are saving them from all of the gowns that didn’t make the cut!”
Budget Savvy Shopping: Looking to score a deal? Find out when salons are having sample sales and trunk shows. “Most bridal salons have trunk shows with different designers every month and during this time a discount is offered off of that designer’s collection,” says Gabriella. “If a bride fits into sample gowns, she can sometimes find her dream gown at a sample sale. Sample sale gowns are deeply discounted, so if they fit, they can be a great bargain. You'll still need to budget in cleaning and altering sample sale gowns, but it is usually still much less expensive than purchasing a new gown.” Another stylish and savings savvy options is to glam up a simple gown with accessories. “You may be able to borrow accessories, like earrings or a broach, from friends and family,” says Gabriella. “Even if you end up purchasing an accessory, like a crystal belt, this will spice up the gown and be less expensive than buying a beaded gown.”
Handling Pressure: “There are so many gowns to choose from, you can make yourself crazy!” says Gabriella. “Just go with the gown that feels right to you and that you can picture yourself walking down the aisle in. Try to tune out others’ opinions as much as possible and most importantly, have fun with the process”