Throughout the seven years I worked in a bridal salon, I saw brides make a few common mistakes.
A lot of brides focused too much on the qualities of a dress and not enough on hair and makeup.
Some brides didn't know what they wanted and relied on the opinions of others when picking a dress.
While working in bridal, I witnessed some of the most joyous moments in brides' wedding-planning journeys — but I also saw a lot of stress.
Hunting for one's dream wedding gown isn't always a euphoric experience, and I saw a lot of brides have fraught feelings over mishaps they feel they made throughout the experience.
Here are eight of the biggest mistakes I saw brides making:
One of the biggest mistakes brides make is not buying their favorite gown due to the opinions of others
As consultants, we watched this happen in real-time from outspoken guests sitting on the couch. Other times, brides came in already primed with what they felt people wanted them to buy, whether that was the preferences of their fiancé, future mother-in-law, or friends.
Regardless of how this happens, the result is the same: a disheartened bride who is unhappy with their gown choice. Setting boundaries and understanding how you want to feel in a gown will help you trust your gut in the process of finding your dress.
Some put too much emphasis on the gown and not enough on hair and makeup
This may sound like unlikely advice coming from someone who sold bridal gowns, but one of the overwhelming mistakes I heard brides express after their wedding was discontent over their hair and makeup.
Some brides said they spent so much time focusing on the "perfect" gown, they neglected to think about how hair and makeup would make them feel on the day of the wedding, and for years to come while looking at photos.
When it comes to your bridal glam, ensure you feel like a version of yourself that you're comfortable with and is beautiful to you. Take this into account during your hair and makeup trials and don't be afraid to shop around for those services like you would your gown if you don't get it right the first time.
Having too many bridesmaids can make it harder to shop and plan fittings
Some brides think large bridal parties are essential. You can avoid uncomfortable conversations of telling people they aren't in your bridal party, you get the buzz of all your friends surrounding you on your big day and at all of the celebrations, and the idea of perfectly curated bridesmaid dresses in photos is beyond appealing.
But toward the middle to the end of the dress-hunting process, many brides express frustration with the logistics of so many people being in their bridal party. It can be very stressful to organize fittings with everyone's schedules, deal with friend fallouts, and coordinate with bridesmaids who live far away and can't shop with the rest of the crew.
Forgetting about the other expenses in the bridal-gown process can be a costly mistake
A bride isn't done dealing with dress-related expenses once they buy their gown.
Dress alterations can be a high-ticket additional expense and the majority of brides need a thorough workup of tailoring, which can be costly.
Additionally, there are the prices of any undergarments, accessories, shoes, and a veil. Keep these costs in mind when setting your overall gown budget.
It's hard for a bride to feel satisfied if they don't know how they want to feel in a gown
So many brides are admittedly not "dress people" in their daily lives, so it's completely understandable when they can't explicitly describe their dream gown.
If brides can't express their ideal qualities in a gown, they should at least be able to identify how they want to feel on their big day. Comfortable, formal, classic, beautiful — whatever the buzzword is, this will help guide both the bride and the consultant.
When brides let other people guide them or don't express any preferences, they can feel like they made a mistake choosing their dress.
Unrealistic dress-alteration expectations can leave a bride disappointed
One of the bridal-related DMs I get the most reads something like, "Do you think I'll be able to change this aspect that I hate about my dress in alterations?"
Brides often make the mistake of relying too much on the process of alterations to correct features of a gown that they don't love, whether that's a skirt shape they don't like, sleeves they're not a fan of, or even the way a gown moves when they walk.
Alterations are not a cure-all, and having the idea that tailoring will transform a gown a bride is iffy on into her dream dress can create a dissonance between expectation versus reality.
Talk through this with your bridal consultant early in the process, preferably before you buy the gown. Discern which features you do and don't like, and don't be afraid to ask what realistically can or can't be done to remedy them.
Waiting too long to start shopping can be another expensive mistake
Many brides put off shopping for a dress, whether it's due to anxiety over the experience, wanting to lose weight, or not being familiar with typical wedding timelines.
Though not all brides have a long amount of time between engagement and event, it's generally recommended to buy your gown nine to 12 months ahead of your wedding day. Gowns can be rushed in or even bought off the rack, but the closer you get to your wedding day, the more limited dress options may be.
If you have the luxury of time, don't make the mistake of delaying the shopping process, as it can create avoidable stress.
It's easy to forget to have fun throughout the process
Wedding planning can be stressful and anxiety-inducing, and in that mix of emotions, brides often forget that this is supposed to be fun.
I've watched a lot of brides take the process too seriously and not allow themselves to be present. Allow yourself to soak up all of the celebrations and enjoyment that picking out your wedding gown has to offer.
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