WEDDING PLANNING 101: Dress Shopping
Wedding Dress Shopping with Blue Bridal Boutique
After the engagement ring is on your finger, the wedding planning officially commences (though, if we’re being honest, it usually starts pre-engagement). One of the most exciting wedding to-do’s: dress shopping! There’s so many cool options for brides right now (bohemian lace, sleek minimalism, and bridal jumpsuits to name a view) so zeroing in on your personal bridal style can feel a little overwhelming. Don’t stress! This is the fun part. And we’ve brought in the big guns. Enter: Denver-based Blue Bridal Boutique’s Julia Scott to answer everything wedding dress related. From your what to expect at your first appointment, to what 2018’s biggest trends are, Julia’s giving us the the DL on what will most likely be the most expensive gown you ever purchase…and why you shouldn’t believe what you see on TV.
“Is ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ realistic? Mmm…not very. Feeling emotional and having the spotlight on you? 100%. But the drama of the entourage, the unhappy tears, the last minute alterations mistakes: definitely not realistic. It’s all in the editing and what makes good TV” – Julia Scott, Blue Bridal Boutique
WEDDING PRO CREDENTIALS: Julia studied apparel & merchandising at Colorado State University. “After interviewing in NYC for an internship, I decided I really didn’t want to leave my home state. I turned down the internship, and that night I had a dream that was in a bridal shop. The next morning I sent out my resume to Blue Bridal Boutique.”
WHEN SHOULD YOU START WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING?
You should start shopping for your dress at least 7-9 months out from your wedding, but a year out is encouraged. Most brides start looking on Pinterest before the proposal has actually happened, which is totally normal. There is no such thing as shopping too early. We love when brides are ahead of schedule so that there’s no stress for time. But if you do start dress shopping before you’re engaged, it can be hard to envision everything coming together.
What should you do before your first appointment? Determine your budget. Lay out your perfect day with your fiancé, and focus on what parts of your wedding mean the most to you (the dress, the venue, the music, etc.). That will help you narrow down a number that you’re comfortable spending.
How can you find your bridal style? I can absolutely tell a lot about a bride’s style from her engagement ring. If she has a simple princess cut engagement ring, she’s often looking for something simple and classic. If she has a vintage rose gold engagement ring, or an intricate engagement ring setting, she’s usually looking for that type of detail in her dress to compliment. We ALWAYS ask to see your ring and love to hear how you (or your love) picked it out.
Favorite bridal designers? I love Lazaro, Hayley Paige, and some Australian private labels. The more unique the better. I am a little biased to Lazaro, since we carry his Tara Keely collection in store, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him and Hayley. They’re both such nice people and love what they do!
WEDDING GOWN TRENDS FOR 2018
This season we’ve been seeing a lot of clean, silk fabrics, overskirts and detachable trains, draped sleeves, colors (champagne, but even gray and layered shades are popular) and organic lace embroidery. A little something for everyone! There are two seasons for NY Bridal Fashion Week: and it’s so fun to see what magic the designers have been creating for the past 6 months.
What wedding dress trends are falling out of favor? I’m a little over the ruffled bottom mermaids and heavy, strapless ball gowns. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well-made strapless dress, but I’ve been appreciating the lighter, airy fabrics. I think they’re so romantic. I just want every bride to be comfortable, not restricted. History repeats in the fashion industry, so styles usually come back in a few seasons.
Wedding dress trend you’d like to see make a comeback? I’m a fan of classic and ethereal – I love floral embellishments, and a soft, textured skirt. A lot of designers have been putting their own spin on ethereal, and to see new takes.
“Bridal sizing is a whole different beast, and it’s not the friendliest. Bridal runs small, it’s going to be off about a size or two than your regular jean size, so don’t be alarmed!”
Are there any gown styles that are universally flattering? Everyone’s body type is different. Some brides have shorter torsos; some are longer, so it’s a bit of a façade to say that one style works for everyone. The most important part of the dress shopping process, with the help of your stylist, is to rule out shapes you don’t like, and discover the ones you that you do love on your body. That being said, you really can’t go wrong with an A-line: it cinches your waist.
What do you recommend for non-traditional brides looking for a unique wedding dress? Bring in examples of what you define as “unique” – everyone’s interpretation is different. Show your stylist what elements you are drawn to on these styles. Don’t become frustrated though if you’re not seeing exactly what you want, it may even boil down to customizing and creating the look in alterations. This is part of the fun, since you will be creating a dress that NO ONE else will ever have!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING
The time frame and the price point of dresses. I do believe Pinterest is a blessing and a curse. We have brides bring in photos of dresses they’ve fallen in love with online, but we have to gently break it to them that those exact gowns fetch couture price tags. The great thing is that we have super similar styles for different budgets. We also get brides that contact us 2-3 months out from their wedding, and they are upset we cannot order anything new, just off rack options. Trust those timelines on The Knot, they are helpful!
Should you ask for your fiance’s opinion before you go shopping? If they have strong opinions, you should take them into account, but I don’t think that it should coerce you into choosing something you don’t love.
What to Expect at Your Wedding Dress Appointment Your first appointment is about one hour and fifteen minutes. Some brides feel strongly about finding a dress at their first appointment, at the first shop. Others feel the need to evaluate ALL of their options before committing to “the one”. It really depends on what kind of shopper you are. There’s no set number in how many dresses you should try, just how many you want to try.
What questions should a bride ask at her appointment?
- How long will it take for my dress to come in?
- Do you offer alterations in-house?
- What if I don’t like my dress in a few months, can I return/exchange it?
- What if my wedding is sooner than the 7 month timeline, can we still get alterations done in time?
- What if I can’t decide on my accessories now, can I order them later?
Do most brides end up going with the style they thought they wanted? Sometimes yes, but usually no. A lot of brides end up choosing a style that they specifically said they didn’t want, or choosing something they never pictured. This is a common frustration brides encounter, because for some reason it gives this false sense that you don’t know yourself. Of course you do! You’ve just never tried on wedding dresses before; you’re not supposed to KNOW exactly what you want before you find it. Just like how you found your fiance! Trust your gut and your heart, it’s about feeling beautiful and amazing in whatever you find!
How do you know you’ve found “The One”? Some brides will have that big moment and others won’t. It’s another fantasyland ideal that “Say Yes to the Dress” has established. Don’t feel bad if you don’t bawl your eyes out when you find it. Some definitely do, but it depends on your personality, who you have at your appointment, and how you’re feeling that day. The only thing that matters is if you feel great enough in it that you can picture yourself walking down the aisle. Stay true to yourself and if you need to take a night to sleep on it, please do! It’s a big decision.
Do you really need to order your gown a size up? Yes. Bridal sizing is a whole different beast, and it’s not the friendliest. Bridal runs small, it’s going to be off about a size or two than your regular jean size, so don’t be alarmed! Ordering a size up is the safest bet. It’s not so we can charge more in alterations (which we DO NOT do) it’s so that if your body changes in those 4-7 months, that we have the wiggle room to work with. We can always take a dress in, we can almost never let it out.
ORDERING YOUR WEDDING DRESS
It typically takes 4-7 months for the gown to come in. We know. It sounds crazy, but each dress is made to order. Meaning, your dress is being cut, sewn, and embroidered, for YOU. Designers typically do not carry back stock, so it is a bit of a wait after placing your order for the designer to create your dress!
And then you’ll need 3 months for alterations.
Do all brides need alterations? Almost always. Even if you don’t need much done, the dress will not fit perfectly until the seamstress works her magic.
Which is why we recommend ordering sooner, rather than later, so that we have time for your fittings!
When should you have your first fitting? About 3 months before your wedding. We require 3 fittings before the wedding, so we can pace out the work, and so the bride doesn’t feel stressed about any sort of nutrition regimen/workout routine in that time frame! You don’t NEED to lose weight, but if you want to, this is why! If you lose weight, we take in the dress! No problem! If you gain, this is why we try to have you order a size up: that wiggle room in the gown is all we have to work with.
Do brides usually second guess themselves after settling on a dress? We try to ensure that all of our brides feel 110% confident in their dress decision, and we ask lots of questions to eliminate any doubt. If you’re happy, we’re happy! If it gives you piece of mind to take a day to finalize your decision, we support you! With that being said, some things can play games in your head. If you obsess over photos of your dress after you purchase it, you can drive yourself crazy with “imperfections” that might not actually exist. Just wait until it comes in, or call us if you have any concerns. We are here to help!
Should you let your fiance see your wedding dress before the wedding? I’m fairly traditional, and think they should only see your dress the day of. Whether you choose to do a first look or surprise him walking down the aisle, I just think this should be the best kept secret of your relationship! The element of surprise and anticipation to see you is just that much more special.
“I do think that Kate Middleton’s train was gorgeous, just a little unpractical for any “normal” wedding – but you do you, princess!”
Do most brides wear veils? It’s about half and half. Some brides love the look of a veil, the extra feeling of being a bride, the little bit of tradition it adds to the dress. Other brides want a simpler look, maybe with flowers or a comb in their hair, which is lovely, too. We’re of course always veil advocates, because it’s just such a special feeling and it’s the one day in your life when you get to wear one.
What’s the deal with bustles? HA! A common misconception is that a bustle is going to look like a Cinderella step-sister poof on your bum…wrong! If your dress has a train, it is highly recommended that you have a seamstress install a bustle to pick up, and protect your dress from being tripped/ripped in your reception. If you don’t have a bustle installed, that’s up to you, you just risk ripping and damaging your train when you’re dancing the night away later.
Speaking of trains, on a scale of 1-Kate Middleton, how long is too long? Another personal preference! A train is any fabric that hangs longer in the back of your dress, so not the same length all the way around. Your dress will be hemmed in the front, so you will not trip on the train, unless you don’t bustle it! I love long trains! I think they’re super elegant trailing behind you down the aisle, whether it’s an indoor or outdoor ceremony. It’s another feature you can’t really get away with any other time in your life. There are different train lengths; puddle, sweep, chapel, cathedral, etc. It just depends on what style you are going for. I do think that Kate Middleton’s was gorgeous, just a little unpractical for any “normal” wedding – but you do you, princess!
SHOULD BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES MATCH THE BRIDE’S GOWN?
Ultimately, I believe the bride should stand out! Similar elements could be incorporated in the bridesmaids dresses, but I don’t think they should match the style of her wedding dress exactly. Go for a different material/textures – Ex: if the bride’s dress has a tulle skirt, the bridesmaids should wear chiffon or a printed fabric so they don’t blend in photos as much. Again, just a personal opinion!
Bridesmaids wearing white. Thoughts? I was in my best friend’s wedding last year, and us bridesmaids wore ivory separates, and the bride wore a blush dress. It was absolutely beautiful, super unique to her style, and it made a statement. To each their own, but I love the non-traditional aspect of ivory bridesmaids!
What do you love about Denver brides? As a Colorado native, this is a question dear to my heart. Our Denver brides are so down-to-earth and so happy, they could get married tomorrow if they could! Getting to work with such amazing brides is why I love what I do, and it’s a dream to come to work every day.
Are there trends specific to Colorado? There’s a common trend of bohemian, mountain elegance that has circulated in Colorado for years. I love how it’s evolved with different elements and venues over time, but it’s a very timeless trend for our beautiful state.
What’s a good dress for a Denver urban wedding vs a mountain wedding? Whatever you love!!! I think brides do get a little hung up on making sure their dress matches their venue, and vice versa. If you love your dress and you love your venue, they automatically suit each other! It’s your choice, and sometimes it’s hard to envision the day without it all laid out in the same place, but there’s no specific style that I would place with a certain ceremony space. It all comes together little by little!
What makes Blue Bridal Boutique different? Our customer service, the overall experience, and in-house alterations set us apart. Every bride, regardless of budget or what they’re looking for, is given the same amazing experience. Our consultants are genuine, and trained to help you find your dream dress, and even help customize it to make it unique to you! We offer a curated selection of styles in a range of prices in order to be respectful of each bride’s budget!
We specifically choose our designers based on quality and price point and our collections range from $900-$3,000. It’ll look like it cost $5,000 but it’s our secret that it didn’t! Julia’s wedding gown shopping expertise is just one in a series of Wedding Planning 101 from Abby Sparks Jewelry.