Monday, February 3, 2014

W is for Wedding Dress Shopping

Happy Monday, it sure has been an exciting one for me! Ready for another week full of informative posts, giveaways, free printables, and pretty bridal fashion eye candy?  As I was swooning over this year's newest Wedding Dresses I started to wonder how it would feel to wear one.  This led me to wonder how it would feel to try them on.  I have to really be in the right mood for clothes shopping and usually leave a regular store feeling frustrated, annoyed and a little fat.  Would trying on a wedding dress be a better or worse experience?  I went on a mission to find out exactly how this process worked and how to take the anxiety and stress out of it. Read on to get a free printable Wedding Dress Shopping Checklist, lots of helpful tips and check out my adventure trying on a dress...

My first step was to seek out a professional.  After asking around I was sent to Strut right here in the adorable neighborhood of Bixby Knolls.  This store specializes in plus-size wedding dresses.  The moment I walked in I was greeted by the owner Ann, what a doll!
I felt my comfort level go way up as we continued to chat.  It was interesting to learn she is originally from Arizona, where the first Strut is located.  When Ann herself was engaged she went looking for a dress to flatter her curves and struck out.   This led her to open her own Plus Size Bridal Boutique in Phoenix. Strut was such a success she has branched out to open her second location here in Long Beach.  Her personality will immediately make you feel at ease and her mecca of information will confirm you are in the right hands.
Just like most other unwed gals, I had never tried on a Wedding Dress. I didn't know what to expect, bring or wear. After picking Ann's brain I want to share with you...

11 Tips to Stress-Free Wedding Dress Shopping

1. Call ahead to find out if the Bridal Shop has the Style, Size and Price Range you are looking for before you make an appointment.  When you show up to an appointment at Strut, Ann has you fill out a questionnaire and does a verbal interview.  If you don't know the answers in advance it will be hard to start the finding process.

2. Choose no more than three people to come with you.  This is a highly emotional experience so choose wisely the people you share it with.  If you can't pick between several sisters or Bridesmaids just bring your Mother.  

3. Don't measure yourself before you go, or have preconceived notions of your size.  You may be a size 10 in one designer, 16 in another and 12 in yet another.  When trying on my tester gown Ann simply clamped the back with red clips to get an accurate idea of how the dress will look. The bridal consultant will measure you after you have selected a dress that fits correctly.

4. Bring your wedding heels if you have already bought them or if you are buying a Tea Length Dress.  If not, don't stress, barefoot works just fine.

5. Bring appropriate undergarments.  It's best to bring the Spanx you plan to wear with a strapless bra.  If you don't plan to wear Spanx at your Wedding wear underwear you feel comfortable others seeing you in.  I opted for a pair of cute granny panties and a zebra strapless bra.  It worked great.

6. Pop the Champagne... with permission!  Most boutiques don't mind if you bringing in a bottle of bubbly and your own glasses as long as you call ahead for permission.  Sometimes a glass can relax you enough to get in the trying on mood.  

7. Eat a full meal before you come.  Appointments usually last 1 1/2 hours plus travel time.  It really helps your energy level and focus to have a balanced healthy meal in your belly.

8. Fix your hair, skip the makeup.  It is important to feel pretty in the dresses you try on, but also important to not ruin these one of a kind pieces of art with concealer and lipstick (the hardest thing in the world to get out of a white garment).  I put on a lightly tinted moisturized but left the mascara, lipstick and eyeliner at home.  Having my hair slightly curled made me feel pretty.

9. Have an open mind and don't judge a dress by the hanger.  When I first looked at the gown Ann chose for me to try I wasn't impressed.  Then hanger made it appear much bigger and less attractive than it actually was.  Once on I loved it and was reassured she really knew what she was doing. I never actually doubted you Ann;)

10. Have your checkbook handy. Not literally, I know must of us use credit cards, but only go shopping when you are ready to buy.  It's pointless to go shopping without a clear budget and without the money to buy when you find the dream dress. Window shopping only sets you up for heartache a few months later when you return to all new styles for the next season.

11. Start now!  Ann suggests to order your dress a year before the Wedding.  This may sound extreme but there is good reason.  She shared with me two horror stories that really happened.  Not long ago a designer Strut carries was shipping 15 handmade dresses via Fed Ex and the plane crashed in the South East, destroying all the dresses.  Even more recently a shipment of gowns coming into the Port of Long Beach were held for months just 2 miles off shore due to a strike.  These are the worst cases, but better safe than sorry.  Natural Disasters take place, orders get mixed up and unfortunately even the most precious merchandise sometimes gets damaged.  Do yourself (and your stress level) a favor and order 12 months in advance.

I have condensed these tips into an easy Check List that is printable by clicking here:

This sure was a fun adventure.  Thanks to Ann and the Strut family I'll be able to help other ladies have a worry free experience.  If you need assistance calling around to find who has the best Styles and Sizes in your price range or have other planning needs please contact me at Your Last Hurrah.

Did you follow these guidelines when shopping for your dress?  Have any helpful tips to add?  Share with us your wedding dress buying experience!


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