FAQ: Wedding Dress Shopping

FAQ: Wedding Dress Shopping

Hello friends! 

Happy August! Is anyone else wondering how it’s August already? You may have noticed there’s been quite a delay since our latest blog post – sorry about that! Clearly, time has gotten away from us! But we’re back, and we’re ready to answer your most important questions!

First things first – we wanted to let you all know that for the whole month of August, we will be offering 15% off ANY purchase! It’s our way to celebrate the summer, and it’s a great offer to take advantage of because we rarely (if ever!) offer 15% off wedding gowns. Make your appointment now!

Now, back to business. A couple of weeks ago, we asked our followers on Instagram to tell us all their questions about shopping for a wedding dress. We know from experience that many brides come in for their first appointment nervous and a little overwhelmed, and we want to help ease that anxiety by answering your questions and helping you prepare – not just for your appointment, but for the whole experience. The questions we’ll answer below are on wedding dresses and wedding dress shopping in general, but if you want more specific answers to questions about preparing for an appointment at Harbor Bridal or about the gowns we carry, please browse our website, as there is lots of information about our gowns, our price point, and our experience throughout the site!

Here goes on some of your pressing questions:

I just got engaged! When should I start shopping for a wedding dress?

First of all, congratulations on your engagement! This is an extremely exciting time, and you should enjoy every minute of it! The first thing that brides (and their future hubbies!) do after getting engaged is pick a wedding venue and pick a wedding date. That’s usually a great place to start! It’s great to have a date before shopping for a bridal dress because it gives us a timeframe to work with. Although this varies greatly, most brides order their bridal gown about 9 months to a year before their wedding, and sometimes it takes a few months to make a decision, so we recommend keeping that in mind when planning out your timeline. Wedding dresses take about 4-6 months to create (they are custom made FOR YOU!), and we like to leave about 2-3 months for alterations, so in order to avoid rush fees and unnecessary anxiety, we recommend ordering your dress at least 9 months before the wedding. If you’ve already passed that mark, don’t worry! There are definitely options available to you – you can rush your gown (there is an extra fee for this which is why we try to avoid this option, but sometimes these things are necessary!) or you can buy a sample that we have available off the rack.

How do I know what looks good on me? What silhouette should I wear?

We’ve noticed that this is a big concern for brides. After all, you have (most likely) never worn a bridal dress before, and they definitely fit differently than off-the-rack clothes. So how do you know what you want to wear? A lot of brides start by looking at pictures online or in magazines. That way, you get an idea of what you think you want to wear based on what you think looks beautiful in photos and on other people. That’s a great place to start. And then when you come in for your bridal appointment, you try on those silhouettes (or fabrics or styles) and see if you were right in what you thought you liked. Trying on is the BEST way to decide what looks good on you. After all, if you don’t put it on, how will you know? We do always advise – if you come in thinking you want a fit-and-flare, that’s great! – but try on a different silhouette, too. Sometimes, what you like will surprise you! Some brides are right on target with what they want, and some brides end up going in a completely different direction.

We also want to note – a lot of people ask us: What will look best on my body type? While there are definitely specific recommendations for each body type, we’ve seen brides of all shapes and sizes and heights look beautiful in a variety of silhouettes. Do you know what we think makes a gown look beautiful? The look on a bride’s face when she realizes she’s wearing “the one”. 

That was a long-winded answer to that question, but in summary: do some research, come in with some ideas, and try it on! Be open-minded! And always remember, we’re here to help!

Will strapless dresses REALLY fall down all night? 

Confession time. This wasn’t a question asked on Instagram, and it’s not usually a question asked in our boutique. It’s usually a statement made by a bride and/or her guests. The statement usually goes something like: “I hate when brides wear strapless dresses. The brides are usually picking up their dress all night.” We’re here to tell you that strapless gowns should NOT need to be held up all night. And you should not worry about your dress falling down. Here’s the thing about strapless dresses – most people aren’t used to wearing them. And on the rare occasion we do wear something strapless, we have that natural inclination to pick it up, cover ourselves up a little bit. But that’s what it is – just a feeling, a natural inclination that carries over to brides on their wedding day wearing their strapless dress. If you have a good seamstress and your dress fits properly, it should absolutely stay up the whole night, no matter how much dancing you do! That being said, if you are worried about picking it up all night, you probably will do that regardless of if it fits perfectly or not (habits are hard to break!), so you might want to stay away from strapless options!

What should I bring to my bridal appointment? 

The short answer to this question is this: all we want you to bring to your bridal appointment is yourself and your trusted loved ones. That’s enough. If you’re the kind of person who likes to be prepared, there are a few other things that you can bring, but that are not required or necessary. Bring photos of what you like. That way, we know where to start and what to show you. You can also bring a pair of shoes that you feel comfortable in and in a heel height you like. If you don’t have shoes, no worries! We have heels at the shop for brides to wear when trying on gowns! One another thing you can prepare with is undergarments. A strapless bra is usually really helpful, and if you feel great wearing Spanx, wear or bring those, as well! Read a more detailed answer here.

What’s the deal with bridal alterations?

Bridal dresses are, yet again, very different from regular clothing in that you ALWAYS need alterations on your gown. It’s a difficult topic because many brides are spending a lot on their wedding dress and don’t understand why there’s an extra fee to alter it, but it’s a very necessary part of the process. While we will take your measurements and order the perfect size for you, there will still be some necessary adjustments. This is mostly because you want your wedding dress to fit more perfectly than any other piece of clothing you’ve worn before. You will also need an adjustment on the length of the dress, because most brides haven’t picked out their shoes at the time of ordering your dress. Lastly, alterations is the time when a bustle is added to your gown. What’s a bustle? This is the addition to the back of your gown that allows you to dance all night without tripping on your gown by picking up the train and making the back of your gown floor-length! The great thing is that our wedding dress designer Modern Trousseau offers alterations at their headquarters for a flat fee that is super reasonable, and all brides leave there with wedding dresses that fit like a glove!

How does the sizing work with bridal gowns?

Bridal sizing is another difficult topic because it is, yet again, very different from regular clothing. Wedding dresses run about 2-3 sizes SMALLER than regular clothes. This goes for bridesmaids dresses, as well. So, if you wear a 6 in a regular dress, chances are you will be a size 10 or 12 in a bridal gown. Why is this? To be honest, we have no idea. It’s a source of a lot of stress for brides, but we like to tell all of our brides that it really doesn’t matter. We very rarely tell a bride what size they are (unless they ask). And with our designer Modern Trousseau, we don’t order you a size. We take your measurements and have the dress made to these specific measurements – no size required! We’re here to tell you that this is an amazing opportunity and one of the perks of Modern Trousseau. Many bridal designers will offer something called split sizing (where you can order the bodice in a 6 and the skirt in an 8, if necessary), but they all charge for this option. Modern Trousseau provides this option to every single bride at no charge. All wedding dresses are made to you. And while we do have to order sample sizes for our store (most of our gowns are a bridal size 12), we do our best to make sure our brides are able to envision what their dress will look like when it actually fits!

These are our most frequently asked questions, but if you EVER have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to us at info@harborbridal.com or submit a form here. We are here to help in any way we can and would love to help you find your dream wedding dress!

Enjoy the rest of your summer! We’ll be back soon!



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