Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping from a Wedding Photographer

The tips in this article are based off interviews I’ve had with women who have gone through the process, my 11 years as a wedding photographer, and my own experience dress shopping for my wedding.

Oh by the way, I’m getting married.

Working in the wedding industry definitely helped me get clear before the dress buying process. The most important thing to me was that:

1. I felt good in it.

2. It fit well.

3. I wouldn’t regret wearing it years down road.

I looked online, went to 3 shops (Lovely Bride, Lovella, Shop Gossamer), and overall the experience was fun! I can see how the process is something that can easily become stressful, and if my mind started to go there, I checked myself.

My tips:

– If the dress fits well and you feel good in it, you will not regret it. The wedding day is not about the dress, it’s about you and the way you feel (ok fine, your partner too). I have NEVER heard someone say, “Thank god I wore THIS dress for my wedding. THIS made my wedding what it was!.” After all is said and done, no one remembers the technical details. They just remember how they feel.

– There is absolutely no need to over think it. A wedding is a celebration. The process should be fun and if it’s not, why are you doing it?

– The energy you bring to planning is more important than the planning itself (thank you Jason Goldberg for this!).

– Know your body type. My body is pencil (no curves), so I knew A-line or ball gown skirt would be most flattering. This pancake ass doesn’t need a tight dress around it!

– Go alone the first time or if you want to bring someone, bring one person who knows you well. Too many opinions will make you second guess. Out of everyone, YOU know what works best for you. My bestie came with me my first time and she said, “They’re all pretty, but this one is very you.” Choose someone who understands you (and who has good taste).

– Once you have found one, STOP looking. There are a MILLION versions of a white dress, and you are asking to go down an endless hole.

– Choose a style that has longevity. Timeless may feel “boring,” but keep in mind you will be looking at these photos for a long, long time. Will you be glad you went with a particular dress because you saw it on a wedding blog?

Image: Afternoon special.

So that this blog post isn’t one-sided, I asked women who have had a wedding – What was your experience dress shopping? Did you have an easy or hard time? About how many dresses did you try on? Do you still love what you chose or do you wish you went with something else? What is the #1 tip you would give for someone in the process?

Here are some of the most popular answers:

Make sure to feel your best. Rested and relaxed. Not stressed. Always try on a few you would “NEVER” pick out or think you would like/wear. It’s always surprising! If even it solidifies your love for another or could end up being the dress of your dreams. Veils can end up being a different color (sooooo many whites) so if wearing one, try it on with the dress. If the shop doesn’t have one, make sure to test it with the dress at some point. – Whitney

I told the woman helping me that I absolutely didn’t want a satin dress. She brought one for me anyway, I tried it on first and ended up loving and buying it! I guess the lesson is to have an open mind and you’ll know it works once you’re in it! – Catherine

My #1 tip for anyone is to know your body type and know what you’re most comfortable in…. don’t try to make things complicated. Go with a timeless piece of dress rather than what’s trendy. – Sanaz

Know what works for your body type! Once I knew what shape/style dress I wanted it made it so much easier to sift through the dresses and narrow down. Having a down-to-earth, non-pushy sales girl helped immensely as well. – Tamara

Before going I already had an idea which stores I want to try. Once I tried my dress I pretty much knew it was the one. I could not get it out of my mind even after trying other dresses. I did wait a few days before handing over my credit card just to make sure it was the dress I really wanted. So I have 2 pieces of advice: 1. Do a lot of online pre-shopping / Pinterest 2. Let it go and if it keeps coming back to your heart then get it! – Charlene

Bottom line?

Choosing your dress is a lot like choosing your life partner. Stay open, feel good, and when you know, you know. When do you know? You know when you feel comfortable and at ease.

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Christine Chang
Christine Chang is a Destination Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer based in Los Angeles.
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