5 Tips to Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress

by Paula Varsalona

You look down at that sparkling symbol of your love for one another on your finger and dream of the moment you’ll say “I do”. The moment where all eyes will turn towards you as you walk down the aisle is finally approaching! Of course now that means that you’re on the hunt for the perfect wedding dress. But for most, choosing a gown is not an easy task. There are several tips I would like to share with you from my personal experiences as a bridal fashion designer to help make this process a pleasant one.

5 Tips to Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress - set a realistic budget
Photo by: Robert Evans Studios

First and foremost, set a realistic budget. Discuss your wants and desires and think about what you may be willing to sacrifice to achieve your dream dress goals! Brides have come to me, asking to make their dream dress fit their budget; however, a $16,000 dress cannot be made for $2,500.

5 Tips to Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress - find a reputable bridal salon
Photo by: Anastasiia Photography

Once you are set on a budget, it is important to search for a reputable bridal salon. Check reviews and find personal references from friends and family that have had a positive shopping experience to help narrow down your choice salons. It is important to connect with the salon and its consulting staff. He/She will be guiding you through this process. Remember that they are experts in their field and you should feel comfortable and open to their suggestions. Also, be sure to ask about the salons alterations policy and pricing. Does the store do the alterations in house or will they send you to a private contractor outside the salon?

5 Tips to Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress - factor in all of the details
Photo by: Christine Bentley Photography

Before your first appointment, be sure to have the following details in hand…

  • Have you set your wedding date? Will there be a hot summer sun or a cold winter day?
  • Where will the ceremony & reception take place: in a hotel, on a beach, a restaurant etc.,
  • What time of day will the festivities take place, will this be a black tie affair… this can determine the overall look and feel of your dress.
5 Tips to Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress - shop smart
Photo by: Robert Evans Studios

Once you are armed with a proper budget, and details about the look, feel and location of your wedding day…it’s time to start the exciting process of trying on dresses! Be sure you come to your appointment on time and well prepared to look your best by wearing the proper undergarments and heel height that is most flattering and comfortable for you. These two important details will allow you to see how the proportions of the gown look on your figure. It is also preferred that you are mindful of the amount of makeup you are wearing to avoid any staining of the sample gowns.

5 Tips to Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress - brides beware
Photo by: Christine Bentley Photography

Congratulations, you have finally chosen a dress!! However, you have a little homework to do! Be sure the salon is an authorized dealer of your choice dress manufacturer. Beware of imposters; you can log onto most any manufacturer’s website to see a list of authorized store locations that carry that designer’s line. It is very common in the fashion world to come across “pirated goods” as a savvy shopper and one of the most significant fashion purchases you will ever make, it’s important to be “in the know” and a few steps ahead of the rest!

Good luck on your search for your dream wedding dress!



About the Author

paula varsalonaPaula Varsalona, internationally recognized as one of the principal couture designers of bridal apparel, has been a leader in the fashion industry for over 40 years.  As the designer of and manufacturer of the Paula Varsalona Group, Ms. Varsalona offers unique and personalized fashion statements for every bride. Paula is an adjunct associate professor who teaches upper division fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC.