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Tips for the Indecisive: How to Avoid Becoming a Two-Dress Bride

April 16, 2010

DISCLAIMER: These tips are based on my personal experience. Obviously not everyone is the same and some things may work for you that didn’t work for me, and vice versa.

I was talking to a friend the other day about how I think when you’re first engaged, you shouldn’t be allowed to make any wedding purchases/decisions for the first 2 months. Sure, you could research your little heart out, but no deposits, no purchases, nothing permanent! Looking back, I made some decisions and purchases for our wedding before I had a clear idea of what I wanted, and I came to regret them. My first dress (http://www.weddingbee.com/2010/03/30/a-tale-of-two-dresses-2/)  is an example of this, so I wrote this post with the hope that it may help someone else avoid becoming a two-dress bride/regret buying the “wrong” dress.

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It goes without saying that you can avoid becoming a two dress bride by…um… not buying two dresses? Duh. This is pretty obvious. However, I believe there are some things you can do ahead of time, before you even buy your dress, that will help ensure that you won’t come to regret it later. Please, learn from my mistakes people! Here are my tips for brides who are embarking on their bridal gown search:

1. Don’t shop too early. Research all you want, but if you’re indecisive I wouldn’t recommend actually shopping for a dress until, at the very earliest, a year before your wedding (7-8 months before is even better). I have a 19-month engagement, and I made the mistake of going dress shopping 18 ½ months before my wedding and bought a dress on my first trip. I’ve learned that this is very common. Girls get excited about the prospect of shopping for a gown and they end up prematurely buying one without enough thought, and later regretting it. One thing that bummed me out about buying my gown the first day I went shopping was that the entire dress shopping experience ended too soon. If you see value in the dress shopping “experience” itself, I strongly suggest leaving your credit card at home on your first trip so you’re not tempted to buy.

2. Don’t feel pressured to buy on your first trip. Don’t let salespeople pressure you into buying a dress you’re not 100% sure about. Most of the stores I visited offered a 10% discount if you bought the dress that same day. I fell for it the first time, but with Dress #2, I stood my ground. I wanted to be SURE. And guess what? When I came back to visit the dress for the third time, they were still willing to honor the 10% discount, because they really wanted to make the sale. All I had to do was ask.

3. Only bring 2-3 people dress shopping with you. Have you ever seen an episode of Say Yes To The Dress (heretofore known as SYTTD, and also, my obsession) where a bride brings in her entire family or a gaggle of girlfriends? Isn’t it always painful to watch? The more people you have with you, the harder it will be to please everyone. I suggest bringing only 2-3 people, and making sure they are people whose opinions you really value or whose style you tend to agree with. Make sure the dress you pick is the one YOU love, because if you love it, so will everyone who cares about you because you will be happy in it.

4. Don’t be too swayed by price. We all have budgets and I’m not suggesting that you ignore price. However, if you find yourself feeling pressured to buy a dress that’s a “great deal,” think about what is motivating your decision. If you love the dress and the price, then score! Go for it. But if you’re only getting the dress because it’s a great deal, then seriously think it through. It may be a great deal now, but if you’re going to change your mind and buy another one later, it’s not really a great deal after all.

5. Take a break. Along the same lines, if you’re not 100% sure about a dress but you’re tempted to buy it (perhaps due to an awesome price), take a lunch break and mull it over. Come back to it a few hours later, or if need be, a few weeks later. If you can’t stop thinking about it, then maybe it’s meant to be.

6. Keep your venue in mind.   This kind of relates to Tip #1, but I think it’s a good idea to have your venue settled before you begin shopping for a dress. Once you know the setting for your venue, it’s a lot easier to find a dress that fits with the vibe you’re going for – whether it be ballgown or beachy, modern or vintage. Although I liked my Dress #1, it seemed more apporpiate for a ballroom wedding than a winery wedding. Also keep in mind how the dress would mesh with other elements – like bridesmaids dresses. If you’re dead-set on satin bridesmaids dresses, then certain fabrics work better with those than others.

7. There’s something to be said for “the feeling.” I hate to echo the cliché that “when you find the one, you just know” or to suggest that finding the right dress must result in waterworks, because I didn’t ever see myself as one of those girls. And I’m sure that many girls out there never cry or get some fuzzy feeling, but you know what? I didn’t with Dress #1 and I did with Dress #2, so maybe there’s something to be said for it. You know yourself better than anyone, so trust your gut.

What did you learn from your bridal gown shopping experience?  Do you have any tips for brides shopping for dresses?

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