I wrote this post for an online wedding planning forum, and it got such a great response that I decided to share it here as well.
I started working in a bridal shop this past January, and while I absolutely love it most days, there are some things I wish more brides knew before they started wedding dress shopping. As a bride myself, I'm so glad that I started this job before I went dress shopping- it really put a lot of things in perspective for me!
Anyway- here's my advice...
-Ignore your tunnel vision. You're beautiful. Stop worrying about your arms, your back, your hips or your stomach. While you're focusing in on your 'flaws', everyone else is seeing the whole picture and realizing just how gorgeous you really are. I can sincerely say that all of my brides have been beautiful, whether they were in a size 0 or a size 28.
-Size for now. " I'm in the process of losing weight, so I want to order a size or two down."- that's almost canon in the bridal gown industry. The size of your dress doesn't determine your worth or beauty. If that number bothers you so much, cut the stupid tag off and go on with your day. With all the stress of planning a wedding, why would you add on the possibility of not fitting into your wedding dress? You can always take a dress in, but letting it out can get tricky. I want you to air on the side of caution because I want to make sure you have a wedding dress- not because I want to help the alterations department make money. Plus, weight-loss and dress-sizing do not go hand-in-hand. It all depends where your body loses weight from, and what that translates to in inches. Fyi- all of this is especially true for your bridesmaids- they're the biggest 'process of losing weight' culprits and it makes me incredibly nervous for you- the bride - every time they insist on ordering down. (One horror story involved a girl that ordered a dress 3 sizes down from her current size because she was convinced she could lose the weight. She didn't, and with only a week to go before the wedding there was nothing that could be done to let out the dress or get a new dress ordered.)
-Everyone 'knows' it's the dress in a different way. So you didn't cry? That doesn't mean it's not your gown. If you feel comfortable, confident, and like a bride you're probably in 'the dress'. Can you imagine wearing this on your wedding day? Are you envisioning the wedding pictures of you in this dress? Does it put a little smile on your face when you see yourself in the mirror? Don't get obsessed about having the 'right' reaction to a dress. Trust yourself. And if you need time to think about it- TAKE TIME! The worst thing isn't taking time to think, it's getting pushed into buying a dress (by mom, by a sales consultant, by spur-of-the-moment panic) that you'll later regret. It always makes me a little sad when I have a bride come in to the store that has already bought a dress but later realized it wasn't 'her gown'.
-Bigger isn't always better. So your mom, aunt, fmil, cousins, bridal party, sisters, 10 closest friends and grandma all decided to come wedding dress shopping with you? I can't tell you the number of times a bride has wanted to hide in the dressing room or call it quits because she is too overwhelmed by all of the opinions waiting for her on the other side of the door. You don't need to please everyone. They'll all love the dress that YOU love, and if they don't, then too bad for them. I suggest going with a small group of people you really trust to make you feel confident in your choices. Once you find your dress, you can invite anyone else to the fitting, or just have them wait until the wedding!
-Quality, not quantity. I'm here to listen to what you want in a dress (shape, design, budget, etc) and then go find that dress for you. If we're communicating well, I can usually do that in under 10 dresses....but when your mom/sisters/friends/etc start to wander off and then come back with arm-loads of dresses, things can get complicated fast. They pull the wrong size, go over your budget, or pull something that is absolutely not what you want. And 30 dresses later, you're overwhelmed, exhausted, and can't remember what any of the dresses looked like. Pump the brakes, and if you do want to try on 30 dresses, just don't do it all in one appointment.
-Be nice to 'the help' and remember that we're only human. Believe me- I don't want to waste your time. I want to be respectful of your budget, your vision, and ensure you have the best possible experience dress shopping. One of the reasons I love my job is because you're trusting me to be a part of one of your biggest life events- how cool is that? So, I absolutely don't want to screw that up for you. I'm trying my best, but sometimes things are out of my control...the options in your price range, the dress sizes we have in store, the order time on a dress, the seating available in the store that day, etc... The appointment isn't fun for anyone when you or your party comes in with a 'it's totally fine to be a bridezilla' mentality. That being said, there are some consultants that you might not click with, so instead of enduring a frustrating appointment, go ahead and request to work with someone else. This appointment is all about YOU!