Wedding photographer, Starbucks enthusiast, and lover of all things romance and weddings.

MEET Andrea

Since I am planning my own wedding, I wanted to share some of my experiences with you! Planning a wedding can feel overwhelming and stressful, so it’s always great to have that extra help and knowledge. So, I hope to have this as a small series. If there are any particular topics you would want me to cover about the wedding planning process, let me know! Today, I wanted to share my best tips for wedding dress shopping! Wedding dress shopping can be so much fun, and I wanted to give you some insights into what it’s like!

(If you’re here to see a NEVER before shown on social media photo of me dress shopping – scroll to the end!! Spoiler: it’s not the one I picked!)

10 Tips For Wedding Dress Shopping1) Go into wedding dress shopping as open-minded as you can.

As in, be willing to try on dresses you wouldn’t think you would like.

It’s so important to try on a variety of gowns to see what you feel the most comfortable in. Oftentimes, you might fall in love with a style completely different than you thought you wanted! If you are dreaming of a lace mermaid, try on a ballgown or two just in case. Who knows, maybe you fall in love with a princess gown! Also, be open to different fabrics. Try on some lace, some satin, and even some tulle. See what you like! And don’t be afraid to play with different strap options. Some gowns even have detachable sleeves for two looks in one!

I went into the shopping experience knowing the shape I wanted. However, I still tried on dresses opposite from that initial shape I wanted. I did this because one, soak up the feeling of being a bride! Play dress up and try on dresses! You deserve to have fun!

But also two, I wanted to be certain of the style! I wanted to see what I looked like in more than just one style so that would help the decision process. And sometimes people surprise themselves and end up getting a ball grown when they thought they wanted a mermaid and vice versa!

10 Tips For Wedding Dress Shopping

2) Take people you ACTUALLY want there.

In my opinion, the fewer people the better because everyone has opinions, but what really matters is how you feel in your gown. You don’t want to be in a dress you love and feel great in and one person has a look on their face because it’s not what ‘they would pick’. You also don’t want to be pressured into a gown you don’t love, just because a friend loves it. Remember: this is your day! The only opinion that matters is yours!

10 Tips For Wedding Dress Shopping

3) Know how much you want to invest or spend on your dress/ veil and accessories.

If you’re working with a budget or price range, make sure you tell your consultant at the beginning of your shopping experience! Nothing is worse than being put into a dress that is 1,000+ over your budget and you’re left wondering where you’re going to fit this in your overall wedding budget.

Also, do some research on designer prices. Some brides fall in love with a gown on Pinterest, only for it to cost double their gown budget. Remember, you can find a gorgeous gown on any budget! Just let your consultant know when you are shopping. If you do decide to spend more, make sure you know how you will adjust the overall budget.

10 Tips For Wedding Dress Shopping

4) Wear something comfortable to shop in

I recommend something like a loose shirt and yoga pants or stretchy jeans. I went with a white top and long maxi skirt, because I love to wear dresses and skirts! My biggest tip is to wear a strapless bra! This is because whether you plan to go bra-less or wear a bra, at least you won’t have distracting red marks on your shoulders. It’s also a lot of work getting in and out of gowns, so being comfortable in between shops will make it more enjoyable!

Wedding gown detail shots

5) Do your everyday typical make-up – Don’t go overboard!

I wear light make-up in general. Concealer under my eyes/on cheeks, some bronzer on my cheekbones, and that’s about it. I might have curled my eyelashes, but not worn mascara. This is so I could focus on the dress on me and how I felt, not necessarily pick at myself in the mirror. We all have things we pick at ourselves for, but wedding dress shopping is not the day to do that! So, if you wear a full face of make-up, eye-shadow, brows, all that for every day, then wear it for your dress shopping. Otherwise, you will be picking at yourself in the mirror about your eyebrows not looking full, and not focused on the dress and how you feel. (Maybe just don’t do a crazy eye make-up look that day with that hot pink eyeshadow you’ve been wanting to play with.)

Personally, I even threw my hair in a low bun because I am thinking about an up-do for my wedding hair, and I wanted to see what that might look like with the dress neckline that I pick. So, if you have an idea of how you want your hair done on your wedding day, try to recreate something similar.

10 Tips For Wedding Dress Shopping

6) Skip the spray tan!!!

Do not, I repeat, do not spray tan/ lotion self-tan before going to a dress shopping experience. This might sound obvious, but it is out of respect for the bridal shop. You are trying on dresses, so you don’t want to have your ‘tan’ rub off into a dress, making them have to get the dress cleaned. You don’t want to risk having to pay for that!

7) Do not pay attention to the dress label size.

Wedding dresses tend to run small. I typically wear like an 8/10 in dresses, but the dress I got was a 14/16. If it flatters your body, who cares about what that pesky label number says.

How to prepare to shop for your wedding dress

8) Work within your budget

If you love a certain designer, but don’t necessarily care if the design is “last season,” here is the best tip I can share.

Be on the lookout for the phrases like “trunk shows” / “sample sale” / “trunk sale” from bridal stores because these are going to be your best friend! Typically, bridal stores keep dresses for only so long before they want to make room for the newest or latest designs in the industry.

When I found my dress I actually went to a “sample sale” for the particular designer that I love. I wasn’t expecting it, but basically, the dress originally was retailed for $4,750, which I absolutely never would have been able to even look at a dress that price. But with the sale, I got it for $950, which is wildly amazing!

Wedding dress details

9) Don’t think that the first time you go wedding dress shopping you have to find THE ONE

Take your time with wedding dress shopping. Your dress is a large expense, typically the most expensive thing you have worn. So, don’t feel pressured to buy a dress just from a one-time shopping experience.

Bridal gowns with long train

10) Don’t feel like you’re going to cry when you “find the one”

I feel like TV shows have made brides feel more pressure when it comes to wedding dress shopping. You may feel like you have to be overwhelmed with emotion, cry once you find the one. And I am a big crier! But when I found my dress, it was just being able to look at myself in the mirror and being like, “Yeah, I never want this take the dress off!” That is the feeling you are going for!

I hope some of these tips helped and that your wedding dress shopping experience is everything you want it to be! I had the most amazing experience at The Vow in Morgantown, WV! I was able to share my inspiration with the bridal consultant who helped me and she was actually the one to pull from the rack the dress I said “yes” to!

Be on the lookout for more around this wedding planning series! And if you are planning your big day, make sure to drop me a note to see how we can work together to capture your wedding day memories!

Here is an exclusive sneak peak photo of me during dress shopping!!
Now this is NOT the dress I picked, however I LOVED the sleeves!How to prepare to shop for your wedding dress


How to prepare to shop for your wedding dress


How to prepare for wedding dress shopping

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 Photography By Andrea Cooper Photography.

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