How to choose your dress and the best Bridal Shop by Kersten Moe of Palm Bridal

Chances are good that you’ve seen at least one episode of ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and generally know what to expect when it comes to a bridal appointment: You and your honorary Bride Tribe make your grand entrance, you scan the racks, pick out your favorites, put on a little fashion show, get jacked upand excitedly proclaim “Yes to the Dress” through your tears of excitement, right? Well, not exactly… Much of what you see on reality wedding shows is true, but there is also a bit of tv magic and pressure that happens, too.

As a somewhat recent bride myself, and more importantly a real person and the owner of Palm Bridal, I caution you to take what you see with a grain of salt! I’m here to share some of those ‘behind the scenes’ moments that you don’t see and offer some peace of mind to brides shopping for their wedding dress!

Before the Appointment

When to begin shopping

Traditionally, the rule of thumb is to begin shopping twelve to nine months prior to your wedding date. Some gowns can take as many as six months to arrive and it’s wise to always leave at least eight weeks for alterations. In the same breath, many modern engagements are in fact shorter than that! There is no need to panic though—there are still many options available! Here at Palm Bridal, we carry collections that generally can facilitate a ‘rush order’ albeit for a small charge. While most all of our wedding gowns are custom ordered, we will always consider selling a sample ‘off-the-rack.' Like most stores, we also have a ‘sample sale’ section that allows you to take a gown home with you the same day! Our motto: It is never too early to begin dress shopping, but there is a such thing as being too late!

Consider the size of the store

When deciding which bridal store to visit, know that each store offers a unique experience and a different level of personalized service. As a quaint 900 square foot boutique, we are able to give our full attention to a bride who has set up an appointment. Our shop becomes a private viewing area for the bride and her guests. While your gown selection may increase at a larger-scale bridal store, know that it is entirely possible that you will be sharing your momentwith other brides and their guests.

Who to bring:

Trying on wedding dresses is a big deal. Maybe you’ve dreamed about it forever, or maybe you never thought the day would come…it’s exciting and scary, exhilarating and nerve-racking all at the same time! While some bridal stores may limit the number of guests you bring to your appointment, others may not. Know that it may be in your best interest to self-limit the number of guests you bring with you. At Palm Bridal, we generally advise for you to bring just those whose opinions you cannot live without, and happily encourage FaceTime-ing with those not in attendance when you have found a dress you love (or to arrange a second appointment to come back and show them)!

Will I be able to try on my size?

Like most bridal shops, we at Palm Bridal have the ability to fit brides of all shapes and sizes. While it is likely that each bridal boutique will carry samples in a variety of sizes that work best for them, our bridal samples range in street size 6 to 22. We have worked with brides from size 2 to 32, and do our best to make the samples fit as close to your size as possible by clipping you in. Of note—depending on the manufacturer, ordering a gown above a certain size may require an additional fee.

At the Appointment

Be honest

It is imperative to be honest with yourself and with your consultant! We want to help you find YOUR dream dress and are best able to do that if you share your likes and dislikes. Yes, we have hand-selected the gowns in the store, but you won’t hurt our feelings if there is something about a gown that you don’t like, so don’t be shy!

What to wear

The best thing to wear to your bridal consultation is your confidence! You are beautiful the way you are, and as a bridal consultant, we simply want to bring the bridal-version of you to life! While doing that though, chances are good you will bare it all in front of us, and that’s okay!  At Palm Bridal, we recommend bringing a strapless bra with you but recognize many times dresses have cups built in or open backs that you want to appreciate! At Palm Bridal, we have a robe for those brides who prefer a bit of privacy in the fitting room, and even have curtains that can be pulled to give a bride total privacy while changing if she prefers. As a bride, if you ever feel uncomfortable changing with a consultant in the room, just let them know! As for panties, we recommend a neutral shade of whatever style you’re the most comfortable in (but know that we’ve seen every color and shape imaginable, and that there is no need to be self conscious)! We recommend that you bring a pair of heels with you, especially if that is what you will wear on your wedding day, so you can be as true to your wedding-look as possible!

Let your imagination wander

Some brides like expressing their personality and altering the dresses they try on…and that is perfectly okay! Especially at our boutique, we encourage brides to ‘customize’ their gowns if they desire! Know that while some gown manufacturers do not offer customization, others do! Don’t hesitate to ask if there is something you would like to be different! And know that if the dressmaker can’t do it, a local seamstress typically can! On that topic—make sure you budget for your alterations! Even dresses that are custom cut to your measurements will require alterations. Alteration expenses can range greatly, so budget more than you think, and then you can feel like you saved money in the end 😉

Last but not least…The ‘Moment’

Remember when we mentioned tv-pressure back at the beginning? We love watching Randy and crew ask each bride, “Are you saying YES to the dress!?!” as much as the next gal, but I want you to know that at the end of the day, they are producing a tv show that needs ratings to survive. I may take flack for saying that, but in the spirit of being honest and real, I want brides to know that each bride’s “moment” is as different as they are. Some brides willcry; some brides willjump up and down; some brides willget chills; some brides willknow as soon as they put the dress on, but many WILL NOT! As a bride, you put a lot of stress on yourself to find the perfect dress, and expecting a certain reaction will only add to that! At Palm Bridal, I like to ask brides how they knew their future spouse was “the one,” and often times…that same little-voice, that same pit-of-your-tummy feeling, will be present when you’ve found YOUR dress 🙂

Shopping for your wedding gown is an experience to celebrate, a memory to be made, a time to cherish. I sincerely hope you enjoy the process, as it can be just that—a process. Be brave, be bold, be confident, and above all, be yourself!

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