Self-Love While You're Buying a Wedding Dress

I have been a bridal stylist for nearly 6 years now, and I love it. I love the giddy feeling when a bride prances around in a gown because she feels so incredibly herself and perfect. I love when a mom starts to cry, hugs her daughter, and they toast with champagne. I even love when a bride tries on a dress she hates and we can all have a good laugh, chuck some awkward poses in the mirror and move on. However, something I’ve noticed over the course of my experience in a variety of shops across the globe, is how hard it can be for a bride to love herself while she’s going through the process of picking a wedding dress. I’ve had too many a bride assure me she’s going to lose weight, or insist she needs a dress to cover her arms, or actually begin to spiral because a zip won’t do up.

And I get it, there is a lot of pressure to find the right dress, and at the beginning it can seem incredibly daunting. It is a garment you will only wear for one day, while you are photographed the most in your life. You want to glow and you want to feel like you never have before. I am someone who has always been between sizes, has always had love handles and always just felt like my truest, skinniest form was just out of reach. And I try on a lot of wedding dresses, and let me tell you this: I still spin around and prance and feel giddy when I try on a dress I purely just like. It doesn’t happen in every dress, but it does happen more than you think. So, on this Valentine’s Day, I’d like to encourage you, bride (or anyone like me who sometimes avoids mirrors and wearing anything besides leggings) to have some love for yourself.

Image via Laudae Bridal

 Here are my tips:

 1. Vocalize only positive things about yourself

Here you are, your first bridal appointment. You have done your Instagramming and Pinning. You feel confident you want something fitted, strapless, probably some cool lace, but you’re open to trying a variety! After your stylist zips up the first gown and you hop up on the pedestal, to begin to pick yourself apart. You may want to assure everyone around you  (and yourself) that you’re going to lose your stomach fluff over the next 8 months, that your triceps will be toned by then, and you’ll have a killer ass. Just stop right now, do not give those thoughts life by bringing them up. The point of your appointment is to find you YOUR dream dress, not to run through the laundry list of changes you’d like to make to yourself. We all have that list, and we can all tuck it to the back corners of our brain and let it collect dust. Look in the mirror and tell me if you like the neckline. Have a walk around the shop and see if you can dance. Decide if you like the dress on you, not yourself in the dress.   

2. Understand how sizing works, and then ignore it

These days, many bridal shops are taking steps to be size-inclusive in the ranges that they carry (and the shops that aren’t will probably not find it sustainable). That being said, it is impossible for most bridal shops to carry a full size range of all of their gowns. If you are a size 10, you could be trying on anywhere from a size 6 to a 16, shops have their own tricks of the trade to get you into almost anything. Please don’t be discouraged if they bring out clips, elastic, extenders or anything. Keep in mind you are just trying a sample: its not even technically a real size anymore! Gowns in shops have been tried so many times they are stretched in bizarre places and usually need to be adjusted to represent an accurate portrayal of what the gown will look like.  Focus on the big picture and ask the stylist to clarify something if you’re not sure if it’s a fit or style element.

Image via Pinterest

 When you do purchase a gown, unless you are buying a custom gown, they will take your measurements and assess what size they need to order according to the designer’s size chart. This can be very subjective, as designers all have different size charts and systems according to where they’re based. A size 6 Australian is not a size 6 US and so forth. Most consultants are happy to show you the size chart and what size they feel is best. If you are between sizes, the rule of thumb is always to go up, because everything can be altered down. Even if you lose weight, this is still the safest option. You never want a gown to come in too small, you have much limited options that way. Essentially, put the concept of what size you identify with aside and rest assured knowing your gown, once altered, should fit you better than anything you’ve ever worn.  

3. Only bring your cheerleaders

This one’s easy! If you know someone ‘doesn’t sugar coat things’ or ‘has no filter’, and that is going to bother you, maybe don’t invite them to your wedding dress shopping day. At least, it may help to do the first few appointments alone to ensure you’re not too overwhelmed. This even goes for family members that can stress you out. Mom doesn’t have to see every single dress on you- she can just see your top three and help you choose! It will make it easier for you to be a bit nicer to yourself if everyone you have with you is unequivocally team bride. 

 4. Come as you are, and as you like

In order to make this whole love yourself thing easier, come to your appointment feeling good. Do your makeup, do your hair (ugh, I know) and wear an outfit and underwear you love (I do not care if its hot pink if you don’t). Get your favourite coffee on the way, or have a quick mani beforehand. Indulge in some self-care and ride that feeling through your appointment. I guarantee it will better help you shrug off a bad dress , and double your excitement for a good one.

Image via Glamour

5.  Appreciate the experience for what it is!

Image via Pinterest

This goes for even if you had the best time shopping for your wedding dress. Your actual wedding day will not even compare to the feeling of putting on your dress in the store. Our goal as consultants is to find you a gown that you are psyched to wake up and put on the morning of. If you leave the shop without feeling like you’ve found the one, that just means you get to delay the gratification a bit more and keep shopping until you do! If you have a negative experience somewhere, take some time away from white dresses and try again somewhere fresh. In any case, let yourself remain present enough to enjoy the experience for what it is, and, above all, be kind to yourself!

xx GJ