Wedding dress shopping can be one of the most exciting yet overwhelming times in your life. After all, there are many considerations to make before your big day, and understanding the measures it takes to ensure your dress looks picture-perfect may feel exhausting.
But don’t worry– we completely understand that sentiment, so we’ve taken the time to break down the most important questions to ask during your wedding dress appointment!
Before Your Appointment
Prior to booking your appointment, you’ll want to make sure the store you plan on visiting has the right selection of dresses in stock and that they’ll fit within your budget. Calling ahead of time is the best way to scope out a store and decide if it’s worth booking an appointment. So, what other questions should you ask? Here are a few of our favorites!
Which Designers Do You Stock?
Many boutiques only stock specific designers, so it’s crucial to know if a store carries the lines of designers you like. If you haven’t researched the names of lines, that’s okay! Asking this question will generate a list of names you can explore later to determine if their boutique is right for you.
Likewise, you may wish to go online and research a store’s list of inventory before calling. If there’s a specific dress you’re looking for, make sure the shop carries it before you book an appointment.
Do You Carry Wedding Dresses Within My Price Range?
This is a simple yet crucial question in the world of wedding dress shopping, especially since many websites don’t directly list their dress prices online. Staying within your means and not making an expensive impulse purchase will keep you from having financing difficulties in the coming months of wedding planning. Setting a budget and finding a store that will work within it should be one of, if not the most important, factors to consider before booking an appointment.
When Can I Book an Appointment, and How Many Dresses Will I Have Time to Try on?
While this may seem like an obvious question, you’ll need to book an appointment to try on your dresses, so don’t forget to ask. Plus, most bridal boutiques have specific hours, and getting a timeslot for your appointment may take a while, so the sooner you book, the better.
Additionally, some bridal boutiques charge money to book your appointment, which comes from the cost of your dress once you’ve purchased it. Ergo, booking at multiple bridal shops could end up costing you money in the long run. If your chosen shop has a wide variety of dresses and you feel like you’ll likely find the right match within their selection, then don’t be afraid to book multiple time slots to try on a wide variety of dresses.
What is Your Deposit and Payment Plan?
Most places require a 50% deposit for the gown and payment for the remainder of the dress once it arrives. However, not every store has the same policy, and it may depend on what type of gown you’ve purchased (made-to-order, bespoke, off-the-rack, etc.).
Most bespoke gowns will require full payment upfront, so don’t hesitate to ask the essential financial questions upfront to prevent hiccups down the road. Furthermore, look for RBA-accredited wedding shops, which guarantee that your deposit will be returned should they go out of business after you’ve purchased your dress.
During Your Appointment
Aside from general styling questions during your appointment, there are a few brass tacks to sort out before the final purchase. It’s critical to understand your payment and deposit options along with the fine details of how to put on the dress and bustle. (Hint: always record it!)
How Long Will It Take to Receive My Dress?
Lead time is the time it takes between placing an order, making it, and physically receiving it. A bespoke dress, which is a garment that is unique and customized to meet a person’s design requests, can take up to nine months to make, so more time is needed to create these types of dresses.
Ready-to-wear, off-the-rack, and made-to-order dresses require less lead time but still require enough notice to make the appropriate alterations. Nevertheless, plan to shop several months in advance to allow yourself cushion room to receive your gown in time for the big day.
Do You Offer Alterations?
Don’t forget that most dresses require alterations to fit your body correctly. Since most shops don’t factor in the cost of alterations into your wedding dress price, you’ll need to ask what’s included in the final price to ensure you stay within your budget. Some shops offer in-house services, so you’ll also need to know if you need to find a sewist. Typically, you’ll need to plan for the cost of two to three fittings in total.
What Happens if My Weight Changes?
Girls, let’s face it— our bodies change on a monthly basis, and sometimes life brings us unexpected weight gain or loss. If you know your body is prone to weight fluctuations, make sure to ask the store associate how easy or difficult it is to make last-minute alterations to the dress just to play it safe.
Can You Demonstrate How to Put on the Dress and Use the Bustle?
A bustle is a term for the buttons, hooks, or ribbons attached to the dress that make it possible to lift or tuck the train up. If you plan to wear a dress with a long train to the after-party, a bustle prevents you and others from stepping or tripping on it.
Because buttoning, lacing, and pulling up your dress can be more complicated than it appears in person, it’s also valuable to ask the sales associate to show you how to put on your dress and work the bustle. Even better, have someone film the process, so you can easily show others how to do it during the day of your ceremony.
What Kind of Undergarments Work Best with My Dress?
While shopping online for bodysuits and lingerie may seem like the best option for your big day, the old adage is true—you never know what you’ll get when you buy online. However, the associates at most wedding boutiques are well-versed in what kind of undergarments go best with various dresses, so don’t hesitate to seek their advice. Trust us when we say that finding the right bras to go with different busts and backlines can be challenging.
What Happens if I Change My Mind?
It’s not unusual to get cold feet about a dress, especially if there is a persistent nagging thought that it isn’t the perfect one. Sometimes loved ones can lead you to choose a dress that they love rather than the one your heart was set on. So no matter how you feel at the time of your dress fitting, always enquire about your boutique’s refund and cancellation policies. And keep in mind that most bespoke dresses likely won’t be refundable.
Shopping for a wedding dress is a once or twice-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, so it’s not unusual to be confused about the number of new concepts, rules, and considerations that go into shopping for one. After all, it is a significant financial purchase, so take your time and invest in asking the right questions. But no matter what, don’t forget the most crucial detail of all: have fun and enjoy the experience!