By JENNIFER THOMPSON
DRESS UP: The most important element of preparing for a wedding is finding the perfect dress. Photographed are James Graham and Ellen Falling who were married July 17 at Harwelden Mansion.
What to do when you get engaged? First and foremost tell your family and friends. Everyone will be excited to see the ring and congratulate you.
Next, pick a date, find a ceremony site and then a reception site.
Now for the important part: finding “The Wedding Dress.” Sometimes brides think this is fun and sometimes they find it a daunting task. It can be fun if you know the do’s and don’ts of wedding shopping.
First thing’s first, do not start dress shopping if you are not engaged to be married. I know, this sounds like a no brainer, but it happens all the time. It is pointless to look for a dress if you are not engaged or just thinking about being engaged. Styles change and may not be around when you really do get the ring.
Along with this, do plan on shopping when you are prepared to purchase. There is no sense in finding the perfect gown if you cannot order it. You run the risk of it getting discontinued and being disappointed. Do plan on shopping with enough time to order a gown.
Brides magazine recommends purchasing your gown a year before the wedding. At most bridal salons, nine to12 months is a good timeframe, unless you plan on buying off the rack.
Wedding gowns take about four to five months generally to order. Then you need time for fittings. If you decide to do a bridal portrait, most photographers want to do that about a month before the wedding so all that takes time and scheduling.
Do your homework, ask friends, family and do research on bridal salons through the Better Business Bureau to see what stores are reputable and how long they have been in business.
Do look at the websites of Bridal Salons. If you have a particular designer in mind, go to the website’s store locator and only purchase from a bridal salon that is listed.
These are authorized retailers for that particular designer. Do make an appointment when you are planning on going shopping. This helps reserve a consultant and a fitting room. Be prepared to spend about one to two hours for a bridal appointment as not to feel rushed.
Do research styles that would work best for your particular body shape. Bring pictures to show the consultant. Ask for help. The consultants are very well educated in styles and what will work and what will not. They also can give you great ideas on accessories and changes that can be made if you want a gown redesigned.
Do wear appropriate undergarments as most consultants will help you dress and they probably do not want to see any bare necessities.
Definitely eat before shopping as not to faint or have to cut the appointment short because you feel ill.
Do take someone you feel will be encouraging and helpful in the picking process, not more than two though, sometimes too many opinions just cause confusion. No entourages or committees please.
Do not bring a camera, most stores protect their designs and do not allow picture taking. On that note, cell phones are discouraged, keep them in your purse, texting and talking on the phone during an appointment is not very courteous when a consultant is helping you.
Do not try on gowns out of your budget. If you fall in love with a gown out of your price range, you may head into debt over it, or never find a gown that is comparable. Tell your consultant your budget and they will find what you are looking for in a more reasonable price range.
Once you have decided on a gown, stop looking. Some brides continually keep looking and that again causes confusion. There are a lot of decisions and details to work out. Move on to the next item.
With that said you can look at tuxedos and bridesmaids dresses once you have made your gown purchase, especially if the Bridal Salon is a one stop shop. This will help you in the long run. You only have one store to work with, one telephone number to remember and one consultant who can answer all your questions.
Do not bargain shop for your gown, this is the most important garment purchase of the wedding. Your gown will make an impact. It is the forefront of the ceremony so do not devalue it. If you keep within your budget you do not need to find a discount. Do not be lured by bridal discounters. If they are discounting there is something terribly wrong. The store could be in trouble financially or they could be selling knock off dresses, which are poor quality and ill fitting. You just have to be careful. If it’s too good to be true it definitely is not for you. Do not be fooled.
Head to a full service bridal salon, where you will be well taken care of. The bridal discounters will make up the money somewhere down the road, nickel and diming you all the way. Sometimes they do not even produce a gown, leaving you with not enough time to get a replacement. I have seen that all too many times. Buyer Beware, great quality and service is worth the price.
Do plan on making a day of your bridal shopping experience and come with an open mind because you will know when you have found the right gown the moment you try it on and it will cause you to “Say yes to the dress” Happy dress shopping!