Dress shopping – it is hands down the best part of wedding planning. You get to try on dresses – pretty ones, expensive ones, and long, flowy gowns with sparkles and lace and trains… and lots of them.

But it’s one thing to try dresses on, and another to commit to THE dress. Opinions are involved, money matters and emotions run high. It’s an important decision, if not the most important one a bride makes, and when you factor commissioned bridal consultants into the mix, the whole process becomes overwhelming.

To help smoothen the process of dress shopping, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks that brides should be aware of before visiting their first bridal salon.

  1. Lower your budget. While you will be shown dresses within your budget, you will sometimes be shown a few that are $500-$1000 over your budget, one of which, not surprisingly, you will love. When you walk into the store, start with your lower end budget and move the entire scale down.
  2. Learn what impacts the price. Vera Wang gowns don’t come cheap. Silk satin will be more expensive than polyester satin. Ask your bridal consultant to not only show you dresses in different materials, but also explain the difference.
  3. Offer to buy the sample. Love the expensive dress but can’t afford it? Offer to buy the sample, assuming the sample is in good condition.
  4. Ask for extras. If the salon cannot lower the price of the dress, ask if they can throw in a veil for free or give you 50% off of hair accessories. If they really want to make the sale, they will be more flexible with the add-ons, as opposed to lowering dress price.
  5. Ask for a price match. Visit different salons. If you love the service of one particular shop, but found the same dress for less elsewhere, ask for a price match – because you would prefer to give them your business.
  6. Expect fees: Alterations, shipping, taxes, rush cut fees – these costs add up! For example, if your dress is not in stock – surprise – you could be hit with a rush cut fee. Ask what these things cost.
  7. Talk to the manager. Managers have the authority to make decisions when it comes to discounts and extras.
  8. Don’t be impulsive. Bridal salons will try to get you to buy the dress today. They might offer you a “one time only” 15% discount or ask you to lock a popular dress down with a deposit (only refundable for store credit). Don’t fall for this because in reality, if you leave, come back a week later and ask for the 15% discount, chances are they will give it to you.
  9. Beware of the “complete look”. There will be a dress that you want to try on again. It will probably be the more expensive one, and perhaps the one that your mother is not thrilled about. When you put it on again, the bridal consultant will probably give you a veil, some shoes and maybe even some jewelry to make the look complete. Your mom will cry. “You have to buy the dress”, she gushes. It’s a very effective tactic. Use it if you want to win your mother over. But be careful not to get caught up in the moment.
  10. Listen to your gut. Everyone is going to have an opinion – your mom, your bridesmaids, the bridal consultants. Be careful not to let them sway your opinion, especially if you are not 100% sure. At the end of the day, if you know what looks good on your body, and what you feel comfortable in, you will know what dress to choose – do an internal check and make sure you feel good when you decide to put that deposit down and place the order.

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