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How To: Go Wedding Dress Shopping

While I am not the one getting married, I am the Maid of Honor for my best friend’s wedding this October! Coming from a large family with a ton of cousins, I’ve seen my fair share of weddings. Plus, I was a bridesmaid at my older brother’s wedding two summers ago and was able to help out with some parts of the planning process. However, this was the first time I was ever able to go wedding dress shopping and while I was a little stressed out before the weekend started, it definitely was a ton of fun to see my bestie as a bride. The bride lives in Nashville and flew home for the weekend just to go dress shopping with her mom, a couple of the bridesmaids and me. I told her and her mom that I would handle booking all the appointments to make the weekend easier for them.

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My research started about a month prior to her trip home. I started by searching on Yelp for any bridal salons in the area and reading only the latest reviews. It was important to me not only that the bride find her dress but have a fun time doing so. Seeing what experiences other people had at certain places really helped narrow down my options.  Once I had my list of possible bridal salons, I spoke to the bride and got her budget and began calling each boutique on my list. With each call, I made sure to ask 3 questions, do you have dresses in this price range, can you ship to Nashville and can a dress be ordered in time for an October wedding. It’s really important to ask if they can have the dress in with enough time for alterations. It was really surprising the number of salons that said 7 months wasn’t enough time to get a dress in. After creating a list of places that were sure to have a good selection in her price range, I started checking out the designers that the store carried. I learned quickly that a ton of stores have trunk shows at least once a month. While most boutiques will carry a few style dresses from a designer’s fall or winter collection, they usually don’t have every dress designed for that season. That’s what makes trunk shows so awesome. They bring in a designer’s entire collection for that season and usually give you a decent discount if you purchase one of those gowns (usually 10-15% off). TIP: make sure to make these appointments as soon as possible. Stores holding trunk shows, especially for popular designers, book up fast. The bride and I share a pinterest board dedicated to all things related to her wedding so I already had a basic idea of the types of dresses she was looking for. I made sure when I called to book the appointmets that they had a good selection in those styles. I booked all appointments about 2-3 weeks in advance which allowed me to pick just about any time slot I wanted.

Here was our schedule for the weekend:

Friday: David’s Bridal @ 6pm

Saturday: Country Bride & Gent @10am; Bijou Bridal @ 1pm

Sunday: Darianna Bridal @ 12:30pm

Kicking off the weekend at David’s Bridal was definitely the smartest thing we did and I totally recommend starting here for any new brides. It was my friend’s first time trying on a wedding dress and while she had an idea of what she wanted, she couldn’t be sure if the dresses she liked in photos were going to look the best on her. Starting at David’s Bridal allowed her to try on different styles of dresses and see what shape she loved the best. Doing this helped her to know exactly what kind of dress she was looking for when we went to the smaller more “bridal experience” boutiques,

We all cried when she put on her first dress. While it wasn’t “the one,” it did make the fact that she was getting married so real.We left David’s Bridal 2.5 hours later with two dresses that were definite possibilities. The prices for the dresses were very reasonable but the quality was not spectacular which didn’t surprise us. We finished the night with margaritas to relax and go over our options including what we liked and disliked about the dresses we saw. It was a great way to end an emotional night.


Bright and early with our Starbucks in hand, we walked into Country Bride & Gent ready to find the gown. The women I talked to over the phone were so kind and extremely helpful and their customer service was just as wonderful during our appointment. We shared the bridal gown room with two other brides which was not a problem once everyone knew exactly which podium they were supposed to be at. We showed our consultant the dresses from David’s Bridal that we liked. They have their gowns organized by style and then again by price. They let us pull dresses for the bride to try on which was a ton of fun. The only negative was one of the other brides was looking at the same style dress so we kind of felt like we were fighting to pull dresses before the other one did. After about 10 minutes of pulling dresses, we had more than enough for the bride to try on. She put on the first dress and it was a homerun, knock out beautiful gown. The gowns we were deciding between at David’s Bridal were instantly blown out of the water. She tried on a few more dresses and the consultant was great about getting her out of dresses she didn’t like quickly. While there were a few nice ones, my friend kept comparing every one to that first dress. After putting it on one more time and adding a veil and earrings, we all looked upon our friend teary eyed knowing this was her gown. While I can’t go into complete details about the dress she purchased, I can say that she looked like the most beautiful bride I have ever seen and I could not be more honored to stand by her side on her big day.

We considered canceling our appointment later that afternoon at Bijou Bridal. But after a quick phone call to Bijou, they were extremely accommodating and allowed us to switch our appointment from a bridal appointment to a bridesmaid appointment. TIP: Most salons offer a discount for either the bridal gown or bridesmaid dresses if you buy them both at the same place. Bijou had an amazing selection of bridesmaid dresses and our consultant was really great about pulling dresses that would look good alongside the wedding dress. Because the wedding dress was a bit different than the bride had imagined, the bridesmaid dresses we were looking into originally would definitely not work anymore. Bijou’s giant selection made it easy to find and try on dresses that would match the style of the wedding dress. We left Bijou without buying any bridesmaid dresses but had a definite idea of the style we would be looking for.

We canceled our Sunday appointmet at Darianna. However, I did communicate with them through email and they were really great about getting back to me quickly and answering all my questions. Overall, the weekend was a hit. So now that we found the gown, let the countdown to October 18th begin!



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