How to Try On Wedding Dresses

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Shopping for your wedding dress can be the most exciting, and also the most challenging, part of planning your wedding. Every woman wants to have the perfect dress and look her best. An important step in achieving that is knowing how to try on wedding dresses to find the best style, fit, and overall look that you're hoping for.

Things You'll Need

  • Bridal undergarments
  • Dress shoes
  • One or two friends who know your style
  • Water-based make-up

Go Where the Sizes Are

  • Go where the sizes are. Some bridal shops only carry samples of each wedding gown. Make some calls and find out what sizes they carry. If the samples are only in a size 10, and you wear a 2 or a 16, there's no way you'll get a proper image of what that dress will look like on you. Find the stores that carry a full range of sample sizes or off-the-rack dresses for you to try on.

  • Give yourself time. Trying on gowns can take hours, so be sure to set aside a whole day. The more time you have, the more dresses you can try on, and the better decisions you can make.

  • Bring a friend, not an entourage. Having one friend who knows or shares your sense of style is far more valuable than a pack of relatives and friends who all have differing opinions on what dress to get. Ten conflicting views will just confuse you more than help you and will waste valuable time. Many brides like to have their mother or sister along, but if their style is very different from yours, be sure to bring a bridesmaid or other relative along who shares your taste.

  • Dress the part. Wear the style of undergarments, stockings, and shoes that you expect to wear on your big day. If you don't have a strapless bra for all those strapless gowns you want to try on, consider buying one, or ask the store ahead of time if they have foundation garments available in your size to try with the dresses. Wear heels that are the height you'll feel comfortable in. Even though many dressing rooms have a raised platform to simulate heels, it's not the same as actually wearing the shoes. The whole carriage of your frame changes depending on the height of your shoes and can completely alter the appearance and fit of a dress.

  • Skip the lipstick. It's good to look the part when you're trying on a gown, including make-up, but keep it on the low key side. Try to stick with water-based make-up and leave off the lipstick so that you don't inadvertently stain the dresses you're trying on. If you're wearing foundation and/or powder, be sure to always keep the fabric of the dress away from your face when you pull it on. When you can, step into the gown carefully and avoid going near your make-up.. If you need something for your lips, stick with a clear gloss or lip balm.

  • Start by trying on several different styles. Search yourself or ask the saleswoman to bring you dresses with a variety of styles you'd consider wearing. Try a strapless gown, an off-the-shoulder, a full gown or a a slender shift. One or two gowns in each style will help you decide right away which direction you'd like to go in. Styles that look great in magazines may not be at all what you expect when you try it on. Eliminating styles that won't work for you will help you narrow your search down right away, and save time and effort.

  • After you try on each gown, put it into either a "no" or a "maybe" pile. If you find a dress or two that you think are your favorites, you might want to create a third pile, but don't eliminate the other "maybe" candidates yet. Have the "no" dresses taken out right away so you don't accidentally mix up the piles.

  • Try on all the remaining dresses again. Now that you've seen your options, you'll see your choices more clearly. You should be able to discard more of the "maybe" dresses into the "no" pile. Repeat the process until you have two or three strong candidates.

  • Get the complete picture. Once you've narrowed down your choices, be sure to see the dress exactly as you would wear it. Do up all the buttons, laces, and fasteners. Try out the bustle if there is one. Get a veil to match, and try possible accessories if the store carries them. Knowing how the complete ensemble will look helps you make the right choice.

  • Value the opinions of others. Ultimately the decision is yours, but remember that other people can often see us more clearly than we see ourselves. Our own imagination may make a dress we want into a better option than it is, and it's important to listen to your friends and even other ladies in the dressing room if they tell you it's not the best choice.

  • Sleep on it. If you can't make the final decision, give it another day. If the dresses are off-the-rack, ask the shop if they'll hold them for 24 hours. For stores only showing samples, it's no problem to come back the next day and try them on again. Walking away from the decision can help reduce the pressure and give you much-needed perspective when you return again. You might also visit another store to see other options. Often you'll know right away if the dresses at the other shop were the right ones or if you should keep looking.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't obsess over the dress decision. There are so many beautiful bridal gowns and you'll look gorgeous in a large number of them. Don't worry that there might be some mythical perfect dress "out there". After a certain number of dresses, it will all start to blend together and become frustrating and you won't be happy with and choice. Give yourself a good selection, narrow it down, and then make a decision. This will free your mind to take on other wedding tasks and you'll be able to relax because you've got the dress.
  • Treat all dresses with care! Don't yank on buttons or pull too hard on lace sleeves. Try not to step on the fabric when getting into the gowns. These are delicate, expensive items and, for off-the-rack items especially, it's important not to ruin the gowns for other prospective brides.

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