10 Things to Know Before Wedding Dress Shopping + Bridal Portraits Sneak Peak!

Romantic Delicate Lace Low Back Wedding Dress and Cathedral Vail - Austin Wedding Photography - The Bird & The Bear

Eeeek! I’m so glad to be finally back to blogging after the honeymoon and wedding! I wanted to share a sneak peak of some of my bridal portraits before we get our wedding photos back! Everything about our wedding was an absolute dream from the dress to venue to details. I learned quite a bit while dress shopping, so I wanted to share 10 things to know before dress shopping and some behind the scenes of my own dress shopping experience! I hope this is helpful for all of my bride-to-be’s!


1. Start Shopping Early

Weddings are stressful to plan, y’all. You don’t realize how much goes into planning until you’re getting married, so the last thing you want to be stressed about is whether your dress will be here in time! Most dresses are going to take 6-8 months to come in, so shop early! Don’t put it off just because you’re trying to lose weight, etc. You can always make alterations closer to the big day to fit it perfectly to your body! Also, keep in mind that you will need time for alterations. You will more than likely have multiple fittings, so it could take a month for the entire process (I personally had 3 fittings, then came back a 4th time to make one last minor change after wearing my dress for bridals and realizing I HATED having cups built into the dress, so I got them removed)! If you decide to do bridal portraits, those are also typically taken a month or so before the wedding, so your dress will need to be altered and ready to go even sooner! We bought my dress almost 10 months out, and we were still cutting it close! Moral of the story – shop early!

2. Always Look at the Price Tag

This one is a biggie. I can truly not say this enough. Do NOT try on a dress unless you know you can afford to buy it. After watching 973,495,251,038 episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, I knew this rule. I saw so many brides fall in love with dresses out of their budget and get heartbroken when they couldn’t find a way to take it home. When you see a beautiful dress hanging on the rack in front of you, it really can be hard to say no to “just trying it on.” DON’T – just don’t! After trying on maybe 20 dresses and 3 stores later, I walked into Julian Gold with my mom to continue my search for “the” dress. I saw 2 dresses I really liked at the first store we went to, but it was the first store after all, so what did I really know? The dresses at Julian Gold were absolutely STUNNING. Totally my style, so I was excited! I asked the consultant how the dresses ran price-wise, and she responded, “They start a little over 3 and go up to 14.” *Gulp* Me and my mom both gave each other that look of “We are at the wrong store.” Our budget was $2,000 before veil, shoes and accessories, but I knew I could probably stretch it to $3000 if I cut other places. So we looked. I b lined for the dress I had envisioned when I pictured the dress I would where on my wedding day. I knew not to try on dresses without looking at the price tag, so I did. 7 thousand dollars. And then something possessed me to be stupid enough to “just try it on.” Dress up is fun, right? And then of course, I fell in love with it. It was exactly what I envisioned and it fit like a glove! Dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I wrestled with the thought of shelling out the rest of the $7,000 my parents hadn’t budgeted for the gown, but I just couldn’t rationalize $7,000 for a dress I would wear only for a few hours. Luckily, I later went back and tried on one of the dresses again at the first store that I had loved, and it grew on me more and more. I ended up falling in love with it – and the $1,300 price point. I’m not sure what I would have done had I not already found a dress that was at least a contender. I would’ve felt completely defeated. Always, always ONLY put dresses on your body that you can afford. You’ll notice a quality difference, and you’ll more than likely fall in love with it. Definitely the biggest mistake you can make when bridal gown shopping!

3. Bring the Right Undergarments

Whatever you plan to wear on the wedding day – bring it! It will help you get an idea of exactly how the dress will look on your big day! I wore this adhesive bra and highly recommend it! It’s the same one I wear with all of my backless outfits. It is super adjustable, so if you need help in the cleavage department like me, it will be your saving grace!

4. Do Your Research

Know what you like and don’t like before you come in. If not, you will be really overwhelmed and like a lost puppy in a sea of white dresses. Do you want strapless? Lace? Chiffon? Tulle? Ruching? Embellishment? What about the shape? I had a really clear vision when dress shopping, so it made it easier to stay focused and find a dress I loved!

5. It Doesn’t Hurt to Try it On!

Although you may have a clear vision of what you want to wear, don’t rule anything out if it’s recommended to you by your entourage – especially your mom. Nothing will make your mom happier than seeing her little girl in a dress that she picked out. What’s the worst that could happen? You hate it, and you’ve wasted 5 minutes of your life to make momma happy? Tragic. I always thought dresses that had a sheer bodices were pretty, but could easily look trashy. Straps? They make my shoulders look broad. Not for me. And blush? Pretty, but very trendy, and brides are meant to wear white…duh. Definitely not for me. So guess what my mom picked out! Haha! Turns out I ended up really liking it, and it was my runner-up to the dress I ended up choosing! You never know, your vision could change once you get into the store! I was pretty dead set on a strapless dress, but when looking at Pinterest wedding gowns with Dylan, he aways pointed out dresses with ultra low backs. Every time I told him, “You know I want strapless though!” You can’t have a dress be strapless AND have a low back. There won’t be anything to hold the dress up! I did want to try on one dress though with a low back though for him – just to say I eliminated that option. Which meant, hello straps! Ugh. Alas, I put it on my body, and it was beautiful. It was also blush. And it was the dress I fell in love with. The open back made me feel sexy, yet classy. The blush color made it on trend, yet the delicate lace and stunningly long train made it so timeless. It was perfect. And it made it even more special knowing that I picked something with him in mind that he would love…I couldn’t wait for him to see me walk down the aisle! I knew he was going to be completely surprised in the best way!

6. Keep Your Entourage Small

Too many opinions can become overwhelming, and they may even start to overpower your own. I went shopping with only my mom, which made the experience really special. We narrowed it down to 2 dresses after trying on 50+ gowns between 5 stores, and then we brought my matron of honor and her mom (my aunt, who has been basically a second mom to me my whole life) to show them the final two and get their opinions! I finally said “yes” with 3 of the most important people in my life in the room, and it was so special! We all cried!

7. Get Dolled Up Before Shopping

Do your makeup. Curl your hair. You want to feel pretty when trying on dresses, and it will help to get more of a picture of what you will look like on your wedding day!

8. Consider the Venue and Other Wedding Details

Is your wedding timeless and elegant? Shabby Chic? Boho? I knew the vibe of my wedding and venue was going to be elegant, grand, and romantic, so I wanted to wear a dress that mirrored that. The delicate lace, long train, open back, and cathedral veil couldn’t have been more perfect to match my vision for the big day.

9. Shop Around & Sleep on It – You Can Always Come Back

This was a big one for me! I knew I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I felt like I had seen all of my options in the Austin area. I’m so glad I shopped around, and it just helped further confirm how much I loved the dress I tried on at the first store I went to! All of my later appointments went really quickly, because I tried them on and tossed them out as an option the second I had it zipped. I slept on it after 2 days back to back of dress shopping and 5 stores, and I had so much clarity which dress I was going to wear on my wedding day. Sometimes you just need to go home, sleep, and realize what dress you can’t stop thinking about when you wake up the next day!

10. Take Photos in Dresses You LOVE!

Take lots of pictures! You get to the point where you’ve tried on so many similar dresses, it can be hard to remember exactly which ones you loved! Take pictures in any dresses that are a contender, so you can look back and compare them when trying on dresses at other stores. It will be so helpful!


Photography: The Bird & The Bear

Romantic Delicate Lace Low Back Wedding Dress and Cathedral Vail - Austin Wedding Photography - The Bird & The Bear Romantic Delicate Lace Low Back Wedding Dress and Cathedral Vail - Austin Wedding Photography - The Bird & The Bear Romantic Delicate Lace Low Back Wedding Dress with Long Train - Austin Wedding Photography - The Bird & The Bear Romantic Delicate Lace Low Back Wedding Dress and Cathedral Vail - Austin Wedding Photography - The Bird & The Bear Romantic Delicate Lace Low Back Wedding Dress and Cathedral Vail - Austin Wedding Photography - The Bird & The Bear

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