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dress shopping-what to expect

I live 3,000 miles away from my mother and sister and I will be flying home at some point to go dress shopping.  I will really only have 1 shot to do this and a limited amount of time so I want to go shopping as prepared as possible for what to expect.  I already have a few dresses that I've seen online that I love, but I'm not sure how the whole dress shopping thing goes.  I've seen things about needing appointments?  Should I call a bridal salon that carries the designers and make sure they will have the dresses?  How long will I be there?  How many salons can I get to in a day?  Are appointments necessary or is it possible to schedule something at one or two places and then go to others if I don't find anything?  I am so nervous about this because my time will be limited.
I married my best friend on July 8, 2011

Re: dress shopping-what to expect

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     Most places recommend appointments. I would recommend going to the local board of where you will be dress searching (see left side of screen) and asking if they can recommend dress shops.
    I wouldn't try to go to more than 2 dress shops a day (I got really worn out stopped being able to see the dresses on me), but you can definitely go to more shops while you are there.
    Also, try on other dresses besides the ones you liked online. If I had looked at the picture of my dress online, I might not have ever tried in on. And, sometimes dresses that are beauiful online, look off in person.
    Appointments run about 1.5-2 hours; some places you can just walk in (this works better if its during off-peak hours).
    Don't stress yourself out. Even if you don't find anything while you are with your mom and sister, you can always look by yourself (sometimes this makes it easier because you can focus on what YOU like and not on everyone else's opinions.)
    Good Luck!
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    edited August 2010
    It all really depends on you.  Many people I have talked to only tried on 3 or 4 dresses until they found "The One".  If this happens you may only have to make one appointment and it'll be pretty easy.  In my case, I've tried on over 50 dresses.  I've spent 3 hours at a time in one shop alone and gone back the following week.  My dream dress I found online, looked terrible in person.  I'm actually taking a break from looking because I think I'm on dress overload right now.  Make a couple appointments and see what happens.  If you don't find anything, look locally and send pics.  I know it's not quite the same, but don't buy something you don't love just because you have limited time to go shopping with your loved ones.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    slubkinslubkin member
    First Comment
    edited August 2010
    Definitely make appointments.

    Look online for bridal shops in the area and see what designers they carry.  You might get lucky and find a salon that carries several designers you like.

    Be prepared for a store to not have a dress you like in the store for you to try on, even if they carry that designer.  Some stores have limited stock, and especially if the dress is from last year's collections, they might not have it there anymore.

    Consider checking online reviews for these salons on yelp, weddingwire, or other sites where people give feedback.  Some salons have a reputation for good customer service and others do not. 

    Be willing to consider driving a bit farther to go to a salon that has more designers you like or better customer service.  If you are on a short time frame, you might be more efficient than driving all over the place to see different places and potentially getting bad service at some of them.

    Print out pictures/style # of the dresses you like and bring them in to show the consultant.

    Be very clear about your budget so they don't pull dresses you can't afford.

    Take only a few people with you whose opinions really matter to you- the more you take the harder it is to get everyone to agree on one dress you all love.

    Consider making a list of likes/dislikes to share with your consultant- they can be specifics like lace, beading, silhouette, neckline or they can be more general style characteristics like couture, romantic, sleek, etc.
    "Plus who needs a purse when you have a wedding dress? Those things are like walking hobo bags just waiting to be stuffed with surprise treasures." -Wedinator.com image
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    I agree w/ PP:  Definitely make appointments

    where are you going shopping?
    i made 4 appointments in one day....in NYC.  i was in the same boat as you...i live in San Francisco, and my mom lives in NY.  so i needed to find the dress in that one day.  i made the start of each appointment about 2.5 hours apart from eachother to allow for travel time and any other hiccups, but i actually didnt need that much time at each appointment. i finished early and i was at the next place early/on time

    what happens is, after the first place...you'll have more of an idea as to what you want and you'll narrow down the amount of dresses you try on at each place.  i actually found THE dress at the first place i went.  i went to all of my other appointments to confirm it was THE dress.....but when i went to the other places, i only tried on that same style b/c i knew thats the look i was going for.
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    Where are you shopping for your dress bc if it is in nyc you DEFINITELY need an appointment. Ideally, it's best to start at the small boutiques first to get an idea for what you like, and then when you have that in mind you can go to Kleinfeld. I would say to avoid starting at Kleinfeld just bc it can be overwhelming if you have no prior experience.  But once you get an idea for the shape that you want, etc going to Kleinfeld is great because they have an enormous selection.  

    In any event, it will really depend on what city you are looking for the dress in - if you answer that then i'm happy to help you out :) good luck! 
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    Thank you so much for the advice.  I live in Alaska (I have 2 bridal shops in my city one of them being David's Bridal and I have never had good luck with them in the past, so going home is my best option in order to have a variety to try on).  I'll be shopping in Michigan and thankfully I'm familiar with a few bridal salons from being in weddings in the past.  My fingers are crossed.
    I married my best friend on July 8, 2011
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    I just had my first dress shopping experience today so I totally understand where you are coming from on the uncertainty. I went in with a general idea of what I liked and what I didn't. I didn't want to confine my consultant to much because I was really open. The bridal salon I went to allowed my mom and I to go into the stock room and look with the consultant and that was great, not sure if that is normal or not. I started off by picking 12 dresses and found a dress that I think might be the one after about 3 or 4 dresses. After having on the possible "one" I tried on several others but then wanted back into the other. I was in the salon for right at two hours and I honestly can't imagine having gone to another salon or two after. I really want to just sit and think it over.

    After getting home I realized how much the dresses ran together in my mind, expect for the ones on the short list and my top pick. The others were forgettable because they weren't what I was looking for even if they did look nice.

    My best advice is to eat breakfast, take a bottle of water, a notepad and your camera. Some salons will let you take pictures and if they will take them .  .take lots and take some zoomed in of the details. I was so happy when I got home tonight and had pictures of the details to look back at.

    Don't feel pressured to buy when though you are on a short timeline because of your trip. I didn't buy today and I'm glad I didn't.

    I didn't go crazy looking on the net for dresses by certain designers that I might have liked . . I really went in with an open mind and a few key ideas. It's what led me to trying on the dress I did.

    Good luck and have fun!!
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    Oh and a few other thoughts - wear full coverage underwear and take a strapless bra, if you have one. And don't be afraid to be in your underwear with a stranger .  .they have seen it all! I was joking with my consultant today and she made the comment that she was so happy I was even wearing underwear! Laughing

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    Most salons are much more laid back than on "Say Yes to the Dress" and will be upfront with you and very helpful.  I found my dress after going to just two bridal salons, although unfortunately my mother and sisters live out of state and couldn't be there to share the experience.  I was glad I brought a strapless bra and shoes approximately the heel height I intended to wear.  And it will help to do your homework on the internet of which shops carry the designers you like so you can save yourself time and hassles that way.  1.5 - 2 hours per appointment seems like a good estimate.  Good luck!
    Whoever said it was supposed to be happily ever after is a big fat liar.
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