Once you got the dress handled, it’s all downhill from there.  – Helen Hunt in “What Women Want”

Okay, maybe planning your wedding isn’t all downhill, but it can sure seem stressful especially after you are over the thrill of picking out your gown.

For many newly engaged brides, dress shopping is a fun and exciting experience shared with mothers, best friends and possibly, the mother-in-law. But there are also some things you need to think about before running out to the local wedding boutique.


Many brides rush to the store before finding their venue. What happens if you fall in love with a dress with a cathedral length train, but then book a barn or decide to have a beach wedding? Your dress length, fabric and style should be compatible with your setting.


Dresses come in different types of fabric and some are lighter weight than others. Think about the temperature, humidity and whether your venue is inside and climate controlled or mostly outdoor. Brocade and Damask are both printed materials, but Brocade is heavier and more suited to cooler weather, while Damask is lighter and better for summer.


Yes, it’s true. Many brides will come into the store going commando. Many wedding dresses have a lot of fabric, can be complicated to get into, and require assistance. Not only will you be showing your private parts to the person helping you, it is also very unsanitary. Please wear underwear.


I caution any bride to order any dress, hers or her bridesmaids, online. Even if you try on a “similar” dress in a store, sizes can vary. Most dresses must be ordered one or two sizes larger than your normal size, but some dress makers are moving to “American” sizing. Also, you may not be getting the same quality fabric or stitching. It generally takes 4 to 6 months to make a dress, so you might not have time to order something else if you are disappointed.

Written with help from Dana Garris, owner of the bridal shop Carolina Bride and Groom