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  • Writer's pictureTracie Smith

Pro Tips When You Are Wedding Gown Shopping | New Orleans & Baltimore Wedding Photographer

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

So you're looking to Say Yes to the Dress! I couldn't be more excited for you! I wanted to take some time to give y'all a little advice from a girl who said her "I Do's" not too long ago when it comes to wedding gown shopping. Here are all my Pro Tips to make sure you have the BEST experience when it comes to finding your dream dress!

Pro Tip # 1: Not all dresses you find on Pinterest will be current nor will they be the most flattering on your figure. Pinterest is an amazing place to be able to organize your thoughts. I went into wedding gown shopping with one main thought in mind. I wanted incredible beading that gave a feeling or Art Deco /1920's without it feeling dated. I didn't care what style of dress ( Fit & Flare, Mermaid, A-Line, etc..) I started searches for gowns that had that detail that I wanted and from there I discovered the current designers that were creating those gowns. Pinterest was great for this! For me It was Eliza Jane Howell, Jenny Packham and Maggie Sottero at the top of my list. So if your vibe is a layered tulle dream, a ballgown, a chic slip of a dress or something giving you Megan Markle vibes, start finding images of gowns that fit your aesthetic, then find a variety of designers that do it best.

Pro Tip#2: Be okay with your first choice gown not being in your budget. We all know how expensive weddings can be and the amount you spend on your wedding gown may very well be one of the biggest ticket items for your wedding day. Set your expectations at a level that is manageable from the beginning. For me, it was realizing that a $4,000.00 gown from Eliza Jane Howell was NOT in my budget. As much as I LOVE every single one of her gowns, I just can't justify or afford to spend that much. I set myself a dress budget. From there, I could manage my own expectations of what I could afford versus what my heart was telling me to get. Give yourself options as I suggested in my first Pro Tip. For me, I found the designers that were designing with incredible beading and crystals and I searched out their price points from the designers websites and weeding out the options that were too expensive. Therefore setting myself up for success for the next step.

Pro Tip #3: Make appointments at Bridal Boutiques that carry the designer that is creating the style of gown you are looking for. There isn't a much worse feeling than striking out at every bridal shop you make appointments at; so do your homework. Visit the bridal shops websites and find out what designers gowns they carry. Not every shop carries every designer, so make your appointments with great intention. In my journey, I found that there were certain shops that carried EJH dresses and dresses similar to hers. I made appointments intentionally at those shops to ensure maximum opportunity for success. I first went to Kleinfeld's in New York thinking I'd have maximum opportunity to find what I was looking for, but struck out there. My second appointment was at Pearl's Place in Metairie, Louisiana because I researched what stores carry what I'm looking for, I ended up finding THE Maggie Sottero gown I wanted for $650.00 under my $2,500.00 budget AND I received the most incredible service and care from Pearl's Place.

Pro Tip #4: Make your dress appointment a solid year before your wedding date if you can. Gowns can take upwards of 6 months to be made and delivered to the bridal salon, especially if there is a large amount of hand beading and sequined detail. I ordered my gown at the end of February 2019 and it arrived at the salon in August/September of that year. My wedding date was in January of 2020. By making my appointments and submitting my order when I did, I had ample time for any needed alterations and time for bridal portrait sessions to take place without stressing me out.

Pro Tip #5: When ordering your wedding gown, order the correct size. Let's face it, the fashion and beauty industry really screws with us girls. We can be a 12 in one designer, a 16 in another, a 14 in another and still wear a medium in others. It's crazy! All of the yo-yoing sizes give us a fair amount of stress, anxiety and body image issues. My advice is simple: Stop letting numbers dictate your life. They are just numbers. Gowns in general will be a solid 2 sizes up from your street size. I wear a 12/14 these days and my gown size was a 16. I HATED hearing that, but, I had to remember it's just number and it in no way dictates who I am or how I value myself or what my worth is. So, make sure you get the correct size to ensure your gown fits you perfectly and you look your absolute best on your wedding day.

Pro Tip#6: Shapewear, Shapewear Shapewear! So your gown arrived!!! Congratulations!!! You're taking it in for alterations so that it fits you as if it were MADE for your curves! One last piece of advice.....invest in good shape wear! From Spanx, to strapless bras make sure you have a great foundation to allow for a smooth seamless look. You're going to be photographed from just about every angle and you want to look your absolute best in your dress. When I was in college, a good friend once told me, without a good foundation, your clothes will not fit and look right on you. I learned early on that investing in good lingerie and shape wear was one of the best things I could do for myself in my daily life and even more so on my wedding day! I found some great options at Nordstrom Rack that didn't break the bank or my budget. The best part, I could BREATHE in them! Shape wear y' changing!!

Regardless of your wedding day style or your budget, there is a dress out there that is PERFECT for you! And....When you are ready to book your wedding photographer to document all the incredible moments of you , your fiancé and that killer gown, we got you covered there too! From Elopements in New Orleans, along the Gulf Coast or back East in Maryland to Indian Weddings that span three days,I serve both areas and offer collections for all! My style is bright, vibrant capturing all the Joy & Love on your wedding day!

8 hour Wedding Collections start at $2,500.00 and come with a complimentary Engagement Session.

Message me HERE to set up your FaceTime consultation and booking session. I can not wait to meet you and hear about your dream wedding day!

Bridal Gown Designers:


Mori Lee

Maggie Soterro

Pnina Pornai

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