**Choosing a wedding gown can be a really complex process. So many considerations to keep in mind– other people, the tone of your wedding, how you want to feel and be seen… Alyssa Woitach, owner of True North Bridal, kindly offers her words of wisdom on this amazing and challenging process!! You can find her on Instagram @truenorthbridal or on the web. Wherever you shop and whatever wedding gown you choose, we want you to feel beautiful from the inside out!
Guest Post by: Alyssa Woitach
Wedding Gowns by True North Bridal
All True North Bridal Shop Images by Jen Brister of Story & Gold Weddings
Bride & Wedding Images by Nicole Nero Studio
Wedding Gowns – Thinking Ahead
Planning a wedding comes with this crazy list of things to do, think about, consider, get advice on, and get done. And unfortunately, finding the perfect dress can become just another “to do” on that list. But if you take time to slow down, look inward, and remind yourself why you are doing all of in the first place… finding your dream bridal gown can be less stressful than you think.
It takes a bit of work upfront, but it will make the whole thing run smoother. Taking some time for yourself is so important during the entire wedding planning process, but I think it’s most important during the wedding dress hunt. It’s the part that truly is all about you and how you want to feel on your wedding day.
First things first… it’s okay to not have a picture of your dream dress in your head (in fact, that’s the norm!). However, if you spend some time really thinking through what I’ve outlined below, you’ll create a mental compass for yourself as you search for the bridal look that is just right for you.
Get Your Head Right
Set aside some time to think about your priorities in a wedding gown. Have some fun with this! Maybe go for a nice walk or play some music, light a candle, and get cozy. It might help to do some visualization, vision-boarding (Pinterest is great for this), journaling, or all of the above! This time in your life is so exciting and so you should take some time to yourself to celebrate and get clear on what you want.
Now, most of the time everyone’s mind goes right to budget when shopping for a wedding dress and I get it. That is a very important piece of this priority list. But if you have a strict budget, then getting clear on your priorities outside of that is even more important.
I always go back to “how do you want to feel”. If we played a drinking game and you had to drink every time I said “feel”… you’d be very drunk at the end of this post. But that’s because it’s THAT important. It will guide everything.
How you want to feel in your wedding dress can come into play in a few different areas. Consider each of these to start and others unique to you might pop up which is great. Do you!
Notice I didn’t say shape, silhouette, fabric, materials… just think about style. This will hopefully help to cut down on overwhelm. As I mentioned, it’s okay to not have “the dress” in your head. Which makes sense right because it’s likely that you’ve never worn a wedding gown before! If you’re scrolling Pinterest or flipping through magazines and some photos tend to jump out at you, notice what is similar about them. Are they all clean, classic, and elegant? Romantic and bohemian? Or modern and unique? Maybe they are they a mix of all of these?
Try to find the underlying themes of the styles you are drawn to! But don’t feel like you need to put yourself in a box either! Have fun with this part and don’t overthink it.
I can’t tell you how many brides jot this down when I ask them how they want to feel in their gown and I am so here for it. But not every bride has the same aspects that make something comfortable for them. In any case, comfort inspires confidence so just keep this in mind. What level of comfort is right for you in your bridal gown? Will you be hiking up a mountain to say your vows so you want something you can move freely in? Or do you feel more comfortable in a gown with some structure? There is no right or wrong answer here, but how you want to feel might help you narrow in on a particular gown silhouette or fabric when it comes time to try them on.
This might seem a bit vague but it’s the best way I could sum up some other things to consider. Do you plan on going crazy with jewelry or do you want the dress to do the talking? Are shoes something you’d want to show off? Do you want your gown to match the vibe of the venue you chose? Are there other decor or styling elements to your wedding that you might want to compliment? Do you have an idea of what your partner might want to wear? Do you want to feel like yourself on your wedding day or do something a bit more unexpected? Again, as with most of these prompts… you can know the answer to all of them or none of them and that is totally okay. This is not meant to feel like a test. They are just to get you thinking!
In summary, just make sure you’ve spent some time thinking about what is truly important to you. Maybe even write it down. It might shift and change as you start to try on gowns or as you go through wedding planning, and that’s great! But if you do the upfront work to reflect on it, and write it down, you always have that to keep coming back to if things feel like they are getting crazy.
Find Dress Shops that Feel Like “You”
Once you’ve spent some time narrowing in on what you might be going for with your bridal look, it’s important to also take some time to think about where you want to shop. So many of us just go to places recommended to us or with good reviews and while those things are great, it might not be the bridal shop for you. Whether you dream of having that “Say Yes to the Dress” experience or would rather try on gowns in the comfort of your own home, here are some things to consider:
The Customer Experience
What is important for you during your dress buying experience? What sort of environment will help you feel your best? What do you love about the other places you shop at day-to-day? Could you find that in a bridal shop? These are all things to think about when choosing where you want to shop! Do your research and make sure you are choosing spaces that will make you feel the most comfortable. Remember comfort inspires confidence.
The Business You are Supporting
The whole voting with your wallet thing is only becoming increasingly important and so it is something to consider when wedding planning. Maybe supporting local businesses and makers is something that matters to you. What about how the dress is made? Where is it made? What is the designer like who creates the wedding gown? Finding the dress is one thing, but supporting businesses and makers you care about along the way can make it even more special.
Make sure you feel aligned with the places you choose to shop at and who you choose to support. That way, you aren’t just going to a shop because it’s where other people went or it came up first on Google. Again, a bit of research comes into play here, but it makes all the difference in the type of experience you will have. Plus, it will make the whole thing more personal and unique. It will be part of your magical wedding story.
Choose Your Crew Wisely
One thing that I think tends to get a bit overlooked is who you bring to your appointment. At True North, I suggest no more than five people. But it’s not just a numbers game! Wherever you shop for your wedding dress, take some time to consider who you want to bring with you and why. This will help you to control your own environment. If you can, be a little selfish here!
Prep Your Crew for Wedding Dress Shopping
So in either case, I think it’s a great idea to have a conversation with your crew about how they can best support you. For example, maybe you don’t really want their opinion unless you ask for it (crazy concept, right?). When I went dress shopping I only brought my family, but I still wish I took the time to talk through this. Think about it… It will also make their experience so much more enjoyable because they will know exactly what you need throughout the process. If you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you really appreciate the guidance?
Mantra- How I Want to Feel in my Wedding Gown
Emotions will run high during your appointment, and that is totally normal. So even if you do select your entourage carefully, situations may still get a bit sticky. When this happens, go back to your mantra “it’s all about how I want to feel” (the dressing room is a great place to do this). And remember no one knows you as well as you do.
Tips for your Appointment
Okay, so you’ve done all your homework. Now it’s time for your appointment and you have no idea what to expect. Here are some tips!
Know What you are Getting Into
Hopefully, you’ve covered this in your pre-appointment research but this is just a reminder to be prepared. The more prepared you are the less stressed you will be! Most shop websites should have an about us page or an FAQ section, so read up! If you have questions beforehand, don’t hesitate to ask them.
What to Bring/How to Show Up
Show up as yourself! I suggest minimal makeup and hair that can be easily switched around if you want to play with different looks in gowns. This way you feel natural you and also don’t have to stress about getting makeup on the gowns! You really don’t need heels as most shops have little podiums for you to stand on. Undergarments are totally personal preference but you should wear something easy to get on and off so it’s not distracting in any gowns you try on. Bra-less is honestly easiest… but do what makes you most comfortable!
Get a Good Feel for the Gown
I personally encourage taking photos. But it’s important to remember that your amateur iPhone photos (most of which will probably be taken without you knowing, looking, or smiling) are not always the best representation of the gown. How you feel when you look in the mirror is key! Remember to move around too and not just stand there like a statue. That way you can get a good feel for the comfort of the gown and see how it looks from all angles.
You Won’t Hurt our Feelings
As a bridal shop owner, I had to squeeze this part in. You won’t hurt our feelings! In fact, the more honest with us you are the better. We truly don’t care if you don’t like a gown! We want you to find what is perfect for you and honesty is the best policy. But remain positive. You know the saying… good vibes only.
If you Need to Sleep on it, Do It
Don’t feel pressured to buy a gown. In most cases, once you place an order, it’s done and there is no turning back. So do what you need to do to feel absolutely sure. I think this gets tricky because a lot of brides want that “this is the dress” moment. If that’s the case… most shops should let you come back for a shorter appointment to try the gown back on and make the final decision. Plus then you’ll most likely have even more time to celebrate!
Remember, it’s all about how you want to feel. DRINK!!! Just kidding… but seriously after reading this, I hope you feel a bit more empowered when it comes to the wedding dress search. Even if you don’t end up coming to see me at True North Bridal, my hope is you take some of these learnings with you and keep them in mind throughout the process. The main one being “do you”. Continue to focus on what you want and how you want to feel. And remember why you are getting married in the first place. Your mindset will make all the difference.
Lastly, when you find that dress… celebrate! You freaking deserve it.
** Special Thanks to Alyssa from True North Bridal for her helpful hints for shopping for a wedding gown!! Thanks to Nicole Nero Studio for showing us how good a wedding gown can look in wedding photos! And thanks to Story & Gold Weddings for the beautiful tour of Alyssa’s shop! Now go confidently in the direction of your wedding dress!
You can find Alyssa and a wedding gown at her shop- True North Bridal at 25 Hudson Avenue in beautiful Chatham, NY. Last time I was there I got a really great lunch right in town too. If you go see her, let us know!!!