July 3, 2015

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress

As soon as you get engaged, your mind begins to race…there are so many decisions to make and things to do. Most importantly, that ring on your finger means that you finally get to start trying on wedding dresses! Shopping for your wedding dress can be one of the most fun, yet stressful parts of planning your wedding. So, I went on a mission to get the scoop on how to shop for your wedding dress, leave the stress at home and have an awesome experience finding “the one”!

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress J Bridal Boutique wedding dresses photo by Pure in Art Photography

Photo courtesy of Pure in Art Photography

J Bridal Boutique is a pretty little shop located in Plaza Colonial, across from La Encantada. They have stunning wedding dresses by Tara Keely, Wtoo by Watters, Ti Adora by Alvina Valenta, and Mikaella (and they’ll be adding the Hailey Paige line soon!), but more importantly, they’re all about making your experience incredible. The owners, Katie and Emily, pamper brides with wonderful service and, more importantly, champagne!

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress J Bridal Boutique photo by Pure in Art Photography

Photo courtesy of Pure in Art Photography

These girls know their stuff, so I met up with Katie to ask her some questions, and she dished on all of the details you’ll need to know about how to shop for your wedding dress:

How should brides decide who to bring with them to their appointment? How many people is too many?

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress who to bring wedding dress shopping

Many times we find that brides get really excited about shopping for the perfect dress. They start inviting so many friends and relatives and, before they know it, they have a huge entourage that wants to come along! When you’re deciding who to invite to your appointment, keep in to your closest friends or family members. You want to bring people whose opinions matter most to you, and who you can’t imagine shopping without! When you bring more than 3 people, it can take the focus off of you. The more people you bring, the more opinions you get, which can leave you confused and unable to vocalize what it is that you want! I recommend coming back with your entire entourage after you have already found the gown. Then, you can show them how great you look and feel in your incredible wedding dress!

What’s the one question or piece of information that you wish brides would ask/tell you when you speak with them for the first time?

It’s so important that brides to be upfront and honest about is their budget. Sometimes, girls may not discuss this with their parents or fiancé prior to the appointment. I want to know so that I don’t put them in gowns that are out of their price range, which leads to them falling in love with a wedding dress that they can’t afford. If you come in knowing exactly what you are budgeted to spend, you will have a better chance of finding exactly what you want!

What should brides wear to try on dresses? What else can they do to make sure the come to their appointment prepared?

I always recommend that you bring the proper undergarments (i.e. strapless bra, spanx, corset, etc) and heels to your appointment. We have several pairs of heels for you to use if you forget yours!

The best way to explain to your consultant what it is that you like is to bring pictures of dresses you have seen on our website, in magazines, on Pinterest, or that you have tried on elsewhere. You’ll also want to tell your consultant all about your venue and theme, so that they can help you choose gowns that fit within the style and formality of your wedding. Most importantly, bring an open mind: don’t be surprised if you find “the dress” on your first visit to J Bridal. You may even surprise yourself on the style you choose!

When it comes to wedding dresses, gowns can cost anywhere from $500 to tens of thousands of dollars! What advice can you give on setting an appropriate budget for your gown?

When you are deciding on the budget for your wedding dress, more often than not you can find your range by using a percentage of your entire wedding budget, usually 8-10%. This is just a general rule, and can change depending on your priorities for the wedding.

Obviously, a big factor in the price of a dress is the quality. What are the major differences between buying a dress off the rack and ordering a designer gown made just for you?

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress Hailey Paige Lennon Gown

Hailey Paige Lennon Gown

Once in a while you’ll meet someone whose best friend’s sister-in-law’s cousin found an amazing wedding dress right off the rack and it fit perfectly! While this may happen on occasion, it is very rare that sample gowns are a perfect fit. When you purchase a brand new designer gown ordered just for you, you will be ensured that the fit is closest to your measurements. There are times that you will have color options and/or length options that can make the gown “custom” for you! When it comes to the quality of the wedding dress, you can tell just by touch. As you shop, you will feel the weight of a lower quality gown, or maybe a roughness in the lace. When you try on a quality designer gown you will immediately feel the difference in the way that the gown moves and fits to your body. You truly get what you pay for!

Since most of us don’t wear gorgeous gowns on a daily basis, what’s the best way to determine the perfect silhouette for your body type?

When you are trying to find the right silhouette for your body type, you’ll want to follow the basic rules that you would with your everyday wardrobe. You want to be the “Bridal Version” of you!

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress Wtoo by Watters Pippin Gown

Wtoo by Watters Pippin Gown

Curvy– Love your curves, don’t hide them! Some girls are afraid to wear something fitted, but in reality, wearing a wedding dress with structure and shape creates a more slimming affect. Trumpets and Mermaids/Fit and Flares are a great silhouette while large ball gowns can look too bulky and cause you to appear larger.

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress Mikaella by Paloma Blanca Style 2017

Mikaella by Paloma Blanca Style 2017

Athletic/ Broad Shoulders– Athletic builds can wear most shapes, but if you have broad shoulders, you will want to stay away from cap sleeves or any sort of detail that is going to accent your shoulders. A ball gown can add a lot of volume on the bottom, which may compete with the wide shoulders on top, causing you to look larger than you really are overall.

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress Wtoo by Watters Elouise Gown

Wtoo by Watters Elouise Gown

Apple– This can also be in line with “busty”, as you are more top heavy. Instead of a strapless gown you should lean towards a nice “V-Neck”. The eye will be drawn down and inward, adding a slimming affect. You do not want to choose a wedding dress that is hugging the trouble areas and hiding the assets; you will want to stay away from trumpets and mermaids.

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress Tara Keely TK2556 Gown

Tara Keely TK2556 Gown

Petite-“Fun sized!” You want to reach for something that is elongating….every time! Just about every shape will work on your figure (see above if more than one applies). The one shape you may want to avoid would be a FULL ball gown. The excessive amount of material and volume will just swallow you.

What advice can you give to brides getting married in the warmer months about how to stay cool in their wedding dress?

I know you’ve seen countless rom-coms and wedding movies where the bride is planning a spectacular outdoor ceremony in the middle of June, with the birds chirping and the sun glistening. In reality, during the middle of June in Tucson there are NO birds (they are hiding in the shade) and the sun is sweltering. You can plan an unbelievably beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony in the warmer months, you just need to plan accordingly.

Light-weight gowns are going to be your best friend! A soft, flowy A-Line allows for more of a breeze than a mermaid would, since you’ll have some extra leg room. You’ll want to avoid satin at all costs, since it’s not a breathable material.

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress for a summer wedding Photo of bride in two piece Tara Keely wedding gown

Photo courtesy of katrina wallace photographers

Some designers even offer a fun two-piece dresses. Being able to make an entrance with a beautiful gown but have the option to remove layers for the reception is also a genius decision! If you want to wear something fitted, you’ll want the gown to have structure so that you’re not reaching for your spanx and adding extra layers.

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress for a summer wedding Photo of bride in beaded Tara Keely wedding dress with keyholeback

photo courtesy of pure in art photography

A wedding dress with a low back gives you the best excuse to wear your hair up! Having your hair out of the way and skin open in the back will also help keep you from becoming a melting bride.

Are there any big faux-pas or mistakes that brides should avoid when purchasing their wedding dress?

First, don’t put too much emphasis on having a “Bridal Moment”. More often than not, girls won’t cry when they find “THE ONE”. If you put too much stress on having a moment, you won’t have any fun!

Just like your mother always told you, “wear clean underwear”. Don’t wear undergarments that you would not want to wear on your big day. If you have loose “Granny Panties” or no underwear at all, you’ll end up with a pretty embarrassing moment for you and your consultant, who will be helping you into the gowns. The bulkier the underwear, the more material you have to cram into the dress, which can create ugly underwear lines, and keep you from getting a good idea of how the gown fits you. Keep it simple, clean, and classy.

Lastly, always be open minded to a wedding dress that your consultant suggests. After all, we are professionals in this department!

The dress may be the biggest part of a bride’s wedding day look, but there are so many other little details that come together to make up her unique vision! Do you have any tips on how to find the perfect veil & accessories? Should you buy a veil when you buy your dress, or wait until the fitting?

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress accessories Photo of bride in birdcage veil

photo courtesy of sunstreet photo

Finding the perfect veil and accessories is the easiest part! Sometimes girls know that they want to wear a family heirloom as their “something old”, or use the veil that their best friend wore last spring as their “something borrowed”. Either way, if you know you want to tie something in that you already have, please be sure to bring it! When it comes to finding “something new” to compliment your beautiful gown, have some ideas and inspirations that you can show your consultant. More often than not, we are able to help girls create their ENTIRE look in one appointment. This also helps brides find “THE ONE”. You’ll have a chance to get a sneak peak of your entire wedding day look, and truly feel like a bride! It makes the most sense to purchase all of the pieces at once, but if you need some time to think about how you want to carry out your theme (ie. formal, semi-formal, casual), it’s okay to hold off on ordering your accessories, as long as you keep your timeline in mind. All of our accessories are custom made when ordered, which is what makes them so special! It also means that you’ll need to order them in advance, so that they’re ready by your first fitting.

Above all else, what are your Top 5  Tips to finding the perfect dress, and having an awesome experience?

  1. Know your budget, and don’t try on gowns that are completely out of your price range
  2. Keep an open mind – you may surprise yourself when it comes to your perfect dress
  3. Don’t bring a large entourage- you will have too many opinions and people to please.
  4. Take your time! When you hustle around town trying to make it to one appointment after another, you lose focus and are’nt able to enjoy yourself. You may just zoom right past your “Bridal Moment” trying to make it to the next appointment.
  5. Don’t forget what it is all about. This is about you and your fiancé celebrating your shared love! It’s a once in a lifetime, emotional experience. Don’t get caught up in the small stuff that doesn’t really matter. It is all about the ride, not the destination! Absorb all of the love and support during this fun-filled time in your life.

I hope that all of this great information helps you have a totally awesome experience shopping for your wedding dress! If you want to find out more about J Bridal Boutique, or make an appointment to check out their stunning dresses, visit their website at!

Next week, I’ll be hanging out with DJ extraordinaire Josh Osteen! Have questions about how to keep your guests dancing? Leave a comment below, and I’ll be back next week with some answers!





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