8 Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping That No One Tells You

Straight from bridal experts

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Captured with Galaxy S23 Ultra

Ever wish you had a fairy godmother to help you plan your wedding? Enter our new video series, Aide of Honor, dedicated to helping a young couple, Kaitlyn and Matt, navigate the planning process with ease. Created in partnership with Samsung, the series showcases how the new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the best way to immortalize wedding planning milestones and memories, as well as help you stay organized and make decisions along the way. Watch the full video on Kaitlyn’s wedding dress shopping experience here.

You’ve likely thought about your dream wedding dress from the moment you got engaged (OK, let’s be real, way before that). While guests typically only see the finished product as it’s gliding down the aisle, a lot goes into selecting the final look. Aside from the standard tips like saving countless inspiration photos and poring over bridal lookbooks, there are a few expert-level considerations that make the whole process more seamless. We spoke to three bridal experts to demystify the wedding dress shopping experience and make finding the dress as stress-free (and dare we say, fun?) as humanely possible. Get your Samsung Notes app ready…

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Captured with Galaxy S23 Ultra

1. Do Your Research

If you’re like us, you already have a Pinterest board and Instagram folder for dress inspo. But when it comes to the shopping experience, Malinda Macari, owner and stylist, Your Dream Bridal advises picking two to three stores, max, that are in line with your budget and vibe. Julie Sabatino, professional bridal stylist and founder of The Stylish Bride adds, “You want to make sure that what they carry is a good fit for you in terms of sizes and price point. If the information isn’t readily available on their website, I suggest calling to find out. There is nothing worse than showing up to a wedding dress appointment and learning that there isn’t anything there that fits your needs.”

2. Be Open-Minded

Your aforementioned Pinterest board may be stacked with inspiration of exactly how you want your dress to look. But it’s important to try on a range of styles and shapes, even if you don’t initially think you’ll like them. “Wedding dresses are different from anything you’ve ever purchased before and you might be surprised at what you end up gravitating towards. I can’t tell you the number of times a bride has selected the exact thing she said she didn’t want,” says Sabatino.

It’s also important to consider the location of your ceremony when trying on dresses, because your original vision may not be practical. Certified Wedding & Event Planner Emily Coyne says, “If you’re getting married in the mountains, a lace dress is likely to attract leaves and sticks. Similarly, a long veil may prove challenging in a windy, outdoor setting. A fuller style with many layers can be too toasty for a hot summer ceremony.” Being open to other options will ensure you’re set up for success on the big day.

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Captured with Galaxy S23 Ultra

3. Honesty Is the Best Policy

Be honest about your budget, if/where you have shopped before, your favorite dress, whether you’ve already bought another dress, if you have more appointments or even that you have zero intention of buying a dress that day, notes Macari. In other words, nothing is off-limits. “Telling us that your budget is more than it really is, or saying you are unsure just because you want to try on dresses is a recipe for heartbreak. Falling in love with a dress over-budget isn’t fun for anyone” she adds.

It’s worth noting that you should also be honest with yourself about your total dress budget before beginning, which means the gown itself, fittings, veil, undergarments, shoes and accessories. “They’re often more expensive than you’d expect,” says Coyne.

4. Wear the Right Undergarments

“This is important for a few reasons. First, your own comfort. Your stylist will likely be helping you with the dress, so consider wearing something you don’t mind being seen in,” states Macari. “Second, opt for full-coverage underwear or boyshorts versus a thong. Fuller coverage styles are more sanitary and help dresses slide off and on more easily if you’re prone to nervous sweats.”

And when it comes to color and fabric, nude, seamless and high-waisted are the trifecta. “This will help to prevent any lines, bumps or grooves seen through a fitted dress or a dress that is too small,” she adds.

As for a strapless bra? Macari advises to leave it at home, because you won’t ever wear one with the dress (most have cups sewn in during the alteration phase). However, pasties are okay if you prefer to cover up a touch.

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Captured with Galaxy S23 Ultra

5. Use Photos to Your Advantage

After a while, all the dresses can start to blend together in your mind—it’s beneficial to take photos of them all so you can remember each. This is where the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra comes in handy. It comes with a 200MP camera, the highest resolution on a phone to date. This is key when photographing dresses in order to pick up on all the small details (lace, beading, buttons, etc.)

Sabatino’s pro tip: “Take [photos] from the same angle and position whenever possible. This makes it easier to compare looks when you move on to the next.” She also advises using a collage app to compare photos side-by-side. “This is an invaluable tool when comparing and contrasting what you like about each,” adds Sabatino. “You may be surprised by what is revealed.” (P.S. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has this feature built right in!)

6. Come Feeling Pretty

You may not have a clue about what you want for wedding hair and makeup at the time of your dress appointment. But coming a bit more made up than usual can help you visualize your dress. “Unless you know for sure you're wearing your hair down, put your hair up in a nice pony or bun. That way it's also easier to get dresses off and on without your hair getting in the way,” says Macari. She also advises wearing very light makeup and avoiding any foundation or concealer on the neck to keep the dresses clean.

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Captured with Galaxy S23 Ultra

7. Invite Three People, Tops

Scoring a seat at a bridal appointment is the ultimate honor, but if you’re the bride, make sure you don’t go overboard with the invitations. Lots of people equals lots of opinions about what looks best, and it can get overwhelming for the bride-to-be, who already has their own opinions and desires. “The best appointments are the ones where the most important top three people are there. That way, the opinions you get are of your closest and most trusted,” says Macari. Our tip: If anyone’s missing, you can always video call them in!

8. Consider Tweaks, But Keep Them to a Minimum

Once you find a dress you love, Coyne suggests asking how it will look bustled. “There is more than one way to bustle a gown, and each with a different look, so it’s advantageous to ask what all the options are,” she says. “It’s also completely okay to get the opinion of multiple tailors.”

Some tweaks, like bustling, are necessary. But Sabatino warns against going crazy. “Whenever possible, we advise our clients to select a dress that they love as it is. Minor tweaks here and there are fine, but don’t try to make too many changes. If you find yourself trying to redesign it, it probably means it’s not the one.”

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Brianna Lapolla formerly held the role of Senior Commerce Editor at PureWow covering all things shopping across beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. Now, she's putting her 12 years of...