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I'm based in Grand Junction, CO and capture the story & scenery of your favorite day. Serving Crested Butte, Ouray, Moab, Aspen and beyond!

I am so excited to share a guest post today from Judy with Victoria Rose Bridals (now out of business —  check out Annelise Bridals downtown GJ)! I’m happy to share her wisdom about the dress shopping process!

SIX THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE SHOPPING FOR A WEDDING GOWN | Victoria Rose Bridals & amanda.matilda.photography

Now that he’s put a ring on it, its time to start the quest for the perfect dress!

Hold on. There is more to finding the gown than pinning a dress on Pinterest. Before you ever step foot in a boutique, do your preliminary research!

#1 Budget

wedding dress | Palisade wedding photographerThe first thing you need to do is discuss the budget and who will be paying for the wedding. When you have that pinned down, move on to booking the venue. Now you are ready to dive into the really fun part, choosing your gown. The gown typically costs 10% of your total budget but allow for alterations, veil, headpiece and jewelry. The average price of a dress is $1900.

#2 Do Your Research

Set up a group pinterest board and invite the people closest to you to pin any ideas they think you might be interested in. Keep in mind that dresses look different on these models than they will on you and many of them are $10,000 plus. The point is, usually there is a pattern to what you like and that will be helpful when you begin shopping.Wedding at Powderhorn Ski Resort on the Grand Mesa, Colorado Wedding Photography

Decide where you want to shop.  You can purchase on the internet, in a big-box chain, or an intimate bridal boutique. A wedding gown is something you absolutely need to try on and the experience of shopping in a relaxed atmosphere with the most important people in your life is priceless.  You take a chance of getting ripped off on the internet and the big-box chain is generic in style and quality. If it is important to you that you look and feel beautiful on your wedding day, then it is best to choose an independent bridal boutique. A bridal boutique has inventory from many different designers so you will have a much larger choice of styles to choose from.

Most brides are taking a full year to plan their wedding. It can take four to five months to special order the gown in your size and color. We recommend shopping for the gown eight to twelve months before the wedding. Once the gown is ordered, the rest of your planning can fall into place much easier.

#3 Book an Appointment

Plan on 90 minutes for your first appointment. If you are someone who wants to include everyone in the process, please plan the first appointment with the two people you trust the most. Narrow your choices down to three dresses at the most and then invite the entourage to come and give their two cents. Ultimately, you shouldn’t let anyone be overly influential. No one knows how you feel in the dress. This is one occasion when you need to listen to your intuition.

Be open-minded. Ninety percent of brides leave with something different than what they had in mind. It’s impossible to tell what a dress will look like on your body just from seeing it on a hanger.  Even if you love the first dress, try on a few more to be convinced this is your dress. Once a dress is ordered, it is your gown. You don’t want to wake up the day after and wish you had tried more. On the other hand, you can try on too many. Then you just get confused and could end up with the wrong dress. So, try enough to be sure but not too many.

#4 Ordering the Gown

Getting Ready| Palisade Winery Wedding PhotographerYou’ve decided on your dress. Now you need to decide the color and size. There are gowns that come in five different colors. Just choose what looks best on you and compliments the wedding. As for size, buy the size you are now. Most brides say they are going to lose weight and it doesn’t happen. It is easier to take it in than let it out. Bridal sizing is smaller that retail sizing so get good measurements and order according to the chart.

Make sure you understand the policies of the store. Most will take half down and the balance when the dress arrives. Just realize the store is extending credit to you, it is a final sale. Gowns cannot be canceled, returned, or credit given.

Make sure you receive a receipt with the name of the gown, the color, the size and your wear date. It is a legal contract and is binding on the store as well as you. The store has an obligation to deliver your gown, without damage, as stated.

#5 Alterations

Some stores hire a seamstress and charge enough to pay her plus a profit. At my store, I recommend an independent contractor. She comes to the store for your fittings and she sets the price. I am not adding anything to the cost. Some stores will take a month or more to complete the work. My seamstress normally finishes in two weeks.

Before you decide on a gown, get a general estimate on the cost of alterations. They can vary greatly from store to store. If you decide to take it outside for alterations, it can be hard to find someone to do them.

Only let an experienced seamstress work on your gown. A well altered gown will make a big difference.

#6 The Extras

Be aware of the added services you will need! You will need a garment bag to transport the gown without getting it dirty. You need a place to keep it from the time it arrives until the wedding. You will need a final pressing on the dress. 

Now that you know the workings of the bridal world of dresses, take a look at the shops near you and have some fun trying things on!

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