Dress Shopping Lessons

When I applied for college I only applied to three schools. After visiting several universities, when I toured Howard University I instantly knew I’d be a Bison. I applied to two other colleges as back-up, but at after graduation I went with my first choice.

My bridal dress shopping experience was no different. I spent months looking at dresses online until I visualized the exact dress that I wanted. To my luck, the bridal shop down the street from my job was having a sample sale so I decided to look through their inventory. Low and behold, the dress I visualized was right there luring me in through my laptop screen. I immediately emailed the store to set up an appointment for the sale.

About 5 minutes into my appointment, the store manager revealed that the dress I wanted wasn’t a part of the sale. Since I was already there I decided to still try on dresses, but I knew I wouldn’t be going home with anything despite the amazing prices. The next week, I was back in the same salon who kindly arranged for the dress I wanted to be shipped from their Orange County location for me to try. Again, I entertained a few other dresses “just to see” but nothing felt right until I stepped into the one.

As you can imagine, I ended up purchasing the dress that initially stopped my internet scrolling dead in it’s tracks.  What can I say…when you know you know. Despite knowing what decision I was going to make long before I walked into the shop, there were a few things I didn’t know that I wish I had before I went dress shopping.


  1. The sizing chart is B.S. I think this is the most important thing I learned after my experience. Once I decided that I found my dress, the girl helping me took my measurements. Usually, I wear a size 6-8 in dresses. My size “recommendation” was a FOURTEEN. Understandably, the shop has to order one size and then I get it tailored, however, my bust measured at a size 4-6, my waist a 10-12, and my hips a 14.  Meaning, I would need to order a size 14 and tailor the top down to more than half it’s size for it to fit my proportions . Long story short, I ended up ordering a size 12. My point here is a.) size means absolutely nothing in the world of bridal gowns and b.) order what makes the most sense for your body despite the numbers.
  2. Wear the proper undies. A lot of the dresses I tried on were sheer or had a low back. Although I planned ahead and wore a strapless black bra, the black underneath the sheer made it difficult to envision what it would look like. I also made the mistake of wearing bright blue panties that were visible underneath a lot of the dresses.
  3. Wear your hair how you will on the big day. Although a lot of people may not plan as far ahead as I do, it’s important to be able to visualize how you’ll look on your wedding day. Since I already have an idea of how my hair will be, I made sure to wear my hair down so I could fix it appropriately when I tried different dresses.
  4. Do what YOU WANT TO DO. I was very opposed to making a huge spectacle out of dress shopping. Although I LOVE wedding shows like Say Yes to the Dress, I didn’t want to bring a huge group and little signs where everyone votes on each dress. I felt it would complicate things and I wanted to be able to get exactly what I envisioned myself in. Therefore, I made it as simple as possible and went to the bridal shop right after I left work with my mom.

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