Dress Shopping Secrets with Desiree Hartsock
July 7, 2016
You know her as the season 9 Bachelorette, but today fashion expert and new author Desiree is sharing her bridal industry insight with tips all brides need to know. We're welcoming Des as a regular contributor on our SMP pages (look back at her own wedding right here!) and first up she's talking everything you need to know before setting foot in the bridal salon. Believe us, this girl knows her stuff.
From Desiree... Wedding dress shopping is a magical experience, one that many new brides have dreamt about since they were a little girl. There is nothing else quite like a blushing bride walking down the aisle to her groom as her beautiful gown floats elegantly behind her. It makes me tear up every time!

With over a decade experience working with brides, I've seen it all. I have witnessed the tears, the frustration, the joy and the overall significance a wedding dress holds for a bride’s special day. Sorting through the ivory tulle and sequins can be overwhelming and why it's so important to know what to expect, what to bring with you and which questions to ask prior to wedding dress shopping to make sure it’s an experience you will always remember.

What to Expect:

  • Make Appointments | Bridal salons only have a certain capacity and availability on any given day so make sure you’re prepared. It would be unfortunate to plan a trip with your mom or bridesmaids to only have to reschedule.

  • Bridal Sizing vs. Retail Sizing | Wedding gowns are created with different measurements in sizing than what are used to from retail stores. Don't be alarmed if you don't fit into your normal dress size. Most often brides will fit into a size or two larger.

  • Sample Sizes Only | Stores will only have one dress in each style for you to try on. These sizes can range from a size 4 to a size 12. Your bridal stylist will have clamps or other ways to make sure you see the overall fit and silhouette of a gown regardless of your size.

  • Expect Stylist Help | A bridal stylist will be in the fitting room with you to help you get into dresses. Since the gowns are delicate and many with multiple layers, a stylist will be assisting you throughout your appointment.

  • Budget Your Time | Appointments will last between one to two hours. This will vary from salon to salon but be mindful of the time so you make the most of it with dresses you really want to see.

What to Bring:

  • Shoes | Bring a pair of heels with an approximate height heel you will be wearing for the wedding. This will allow you to see the gowns for how they will really look on a wedding day.

  • Undergarments | Bring the right bra and undergarments for trying on dresses and for your comfort level. Keep in mind a stylist will be in the room with you so wear undergarments that meet your modesty level.

  • Hair Tie | If you plan to wear your hair back for the wedding this will allow you to get a better feel for the overall look while in the dresses and may help you make a better decision.

  • An Open Mind | You may be surprised by what you end up liking so be open to trying on different styles and silhouettes. You never know what could end up as ‘ the one’.

Questions to Ask:

  • Price Tag | Always ask what the price is for each dress you’re trying on. You don't want to get your hopes up to only find out your dream dress is completely out of budget.

  • How Long Will it Take to Get The Dress In? | Gowns can take up to 6 months and can vary depending on the designer so this is a very important question to ask depending on your wedding date.

  • Discounts or Additional Costs | Many times trunk shows take place during the weekend where a designer will showcase a new line of gowns. Often times there can be discounts during that time. Also, always see if there are additional costs for lengthening the gown or expediting if needed.

  • Fitting and Alterations | Find out how much alterations will cost once your gown arrives or find out from a seamstress once the dress is found to understand the cost and be able to budget appropriately.

Now that you know what to expect, what to bring and what questions to ask, you are well on your way to walking down the aisle to wedded bliss.

Happy shopping!


Photography: Brandon Kidd Photography