About three months before my wedding is when I started to find new things to stress out about. It wasn’t enough to worry about the seating arrangements and the RSVPs and the wedding coordinator not responding to my emails within 24 hours (“She is getting them, right? Does she still work there? Did she get fired because she doesn’t respond to her client’s emails within 24 hours? Do you think she died?”). It seemed like every morning I woke up with a new (usually irrational) fear:
“What if I forget to do something?” “What if the photographer gets sick? Or the minister? Should I have booked a back-up minister?” “What if I don’t like my hair? What if it RAINS? ON MY HAIR?”
And the scariest (and most irrational) one of all: “What if I don’t like my dress?”
I bought my dress. I picked out my dress. I chose my dress in the middle of a store amongst hundreds of other dresses because I LIKED IT THE MOST. But that was six months ago. What if I liked it then, but I don’t like it anymore?
You would think – purchasing a dress that costs the same amount as a Louis Vuitton handbag – that I would be over the moon, head over heels, in LOVE with the idea of wearing that dress. But instead I was filled with anxiety. I’d chosen a dress that fell into the “strapless” category – which basically felt like a tube top in wedding dress form, but I’d seen photos of so many other brides with a similar body type to mine ROCKING these strapless gowns (AKA: slender with no boobs) and decided that I wanted to be one of those brides – so I bought a strapless dress. And from that moment on, I panicked about “arm fat” and how I didn’t want to look like I was “spilling out of it”.
Speaking as a fairly level-headed bride (for the most part), I knew that I had other – more important – things to worry about, but honestly: “arm fat” was higher on my list than the RSVPs. Even when I bought the dress, instead of asking the consultant about things like customization and fittings, I was saying things like “Do you think I would need to start doing arm work-outs?”
Rule of thumb #1 – do not ask your bridal consultant if she thinks you will need to start “doing arm work-outs”. She is not paid to tell you that you need to alter your body, she is paid to have the dress altered to your specific body measurements (no matter what those measurements are).
In case you’re wondering what kinds of questions you should ask at your dress-shopping-consultation-appointment, here’s a list of appropriate questions (as well as questions that you should have the answers to before making your purchase!). This will ultimately help you to sleep better at night when you’re three months out from the wedding, knowing that you still love your dress and will continue to on the big day.
- “How customizable is this dress?”
When I went dress shopping, I tried on at least three dresses that made me say “You know… maybe if it wasn’t so low-cut…”. For some reason they are making wedding dresses deeper and deeper in the cleavage area these days! I don’t mind showing some skin, but standing up on my wedding day (in front of God and a minister and my mom & dad), the last thing I want to have to worry about is a nip-slip. This is when I was told that they could “add fabric” if I wanted them to so that it would be quite so low cut.
If you find a dress that you love, but wish it had a different neckline, or different sleeves (or not sleeves at all), ask your consultant if they’re able to make these alterations to your specifications.
- “What accessories would you recommend with this dress?”
Like, maybe a veil? Certain veils look better with certain dresses. What about a hair piece? How would you wear your hair with this dress? What about jewelry? A necklace? Earrings? Dangly earrings or pearl studs?
Think about the accessory options you’ll have and try to imagine them while you’re trying on the dress. This will make it easier for you to decide later.
- “If I decide to wait and buy this dress in the coming months, would it still be available?”
Maaaaaybe you don’t want to buy it right now. You’re just looking. You’re just getting ideas. Dresses are a lot of money, and you’re (hopefully!) only going to do this once, so you want it to be right.
Don’t feel pressure to buy right away – take your time and sleep on it if necessary.
- “Is this dress available in ‘long’ and ‘short’ sizes?”
I’m 5’10”, I needed the “long” version. If you’re over 5’9″ (and plan to wear heels), or under 5’4″, make sure you ask about this. It could save you from a hefty bill in alterations.
- “How soon can I get this dress?”
You need to know this. If you’ve got a wedding date set – you need to know what that dress is coming in. Make sure you’ll have enough time for alterations as well (trust me, you’ll need alterations. I’ve never needed alterations on anything in my life, but when it came to my wedding dress, I was told it needed “alterations”). Most dresses take anywhere between 4-6 months to come in, and alterations can take weeks depending on your seamstress. Make sure your dress will be ready in plenty of time.
- “Are alterations included?”
Like I said, you’ll need them. The majority of bridal salons do not include alterations, but it never hurts to ask. If they aren’t included, try to get an estimate of how much they could be, that way you’ll have an idea going into it. (Mine ended up being $400, and I’ve been told that’s a pretty “normal” price point.)
- “How many fittings will I have?”
Also find out how many people you can bring to the fittings. Especially if your dress has a corset that needs to be threaded in the back, or if you need help getting into it. It’s good to have someone there who will also be there on your wedding day to help.
- “What kind of undergarments should I wear with this dress?”
Honestly, my bridal consultant asked ME this. “What kind of bra are you going to wear?”, and I straight up told her, “Oh I wasn’t planning on wearing a bra”…. first of all, I have a very small chest to begin with, and second of all, the material on the dress was thick enough that I felt comfortable not wearing one. Then she told me they could sew in cups… which seemed a little more classy then just plain old not wearing a bra.
Also consider if you’ll want to wear Spanx, a corset, or any other sort of undergarment and how it will work with the dress.
- “How will this dress ‘move’ when I’m trying to dance later in the night?”
Really think about this. Yes, it’s beautiful. But you still love it when it’s 9pm and you’re trying to dance, but this giant, heavy dress keeps getting in your way?
My dress wasn’t even that poofy, but I had no idea how heavy it was going to be after wearing it for 6 hours! And it was so tight with the corset that I was uncomfortable sitting down.
Get the dress you want, but keep those things in mind. Those wedding dresses get heavy, and corsets are super uncomfortable.
- “What happens if I change my mind?”
Just find out. Especially if you’re not 100% sold. The majority of shops will not let you return the dress once you’ve purchased it, so make sure you know what the stipulations are once you commit to that dress.