Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

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Set a Budget

Shopping without a cutoff point is like driving without a gas gauge—trust us on this. Plan to spend about 10 percent of your overall budget on your dress. But consider this number a starting point. If fashion is more important to you than, say, flowers or music, increase your dress spending and scale back in other places, says Mark Ingram, owner of Mark Ingram Atelier, in New York City.

celestial-studies-mwa109265_vertDo Your Research

Before you hit the shops, think about what kind of dress you want. Keep a folder where you can stash tear-outs, fabric samples, and anything else you love, and use your smartphone or tablet to swipe through Pinterest boards. “At most salons, the majority of gowns aren’t out on the floor,” explains Ingram.

Start Early

It takes about six to 12 months from the moment you place the order to when you can bring the gown home, so once you have that ring on your finger, it’s game on. “The designer needs four or five months to make it, and then you’ll want to schedule three fittings, about one month apart,” says Ingram. Giving yourself ample time also guarantees that you’ll be able to fit in a variety of shopping experiences, from appointments at bridal boutiques to designer trunk shows.

entotageLimit Your Entourage

On reality shows, brides always bring a whole crew of friends and family members to join in on the shopping fun. And every single time, there’s loads of drama. Less is more when it comes to companions. Bring one or two people whose input means the most to you. Otherwise, you’ll spend too much time trying on gowns they picked out and steering the conversation back to what you want.

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