Nervous About Wedding Attire Shopping? You are not alone.
Sparkles, tule, dresses, friends, champagne... dress shopping in the most movies, looks like a dream. However, after the initial excitement fades and reality sinks in, many people are filled with dread, nervous butterflies, and stress at the thought of finding a wedding day outfit
These feelings can stem from a variety of places whether as a result of body dysmorphia, body image trauma, eating disorders, financial stressors, family stressors, unhealthy or unhelpful social media influence, anxiety, or worrying about what others may think. Regardless of WHY you feel this way, know you are not alone. Below I have laid out what you can do to help prep for shopping as well as a BFF and family guide to supporting YOU while you shop for your wedding dress, reception dress, suit, or attire.
What you can do as the bride or groom:
Let's chat about strategies to help minimize the stress!
To start, reflect on what you feel may be the main contributors to any stress you may experience. You may do this through journaling or discussing with your partner, a therapist, a trusted friend, a family member, or a fellow bride.
There tends to be three major categories that contribute to stress for a majority of the individuals I work with and I will provide strategies for each.
1 Body Image
2. Financial stress
3. Toxic Friends and Family
1. Body Image
If you recognize that your body image may play a large role in your dress-shopping experience here are a few tips I recommend:
Get on the offense- create a plan and strategy for how you will tackle negative body image thoughts not only when they arise during dress, suit, or outfit shopping but also leading up to shopping.
Create a positive mantra or motto to say out loud or in your head
Do the mental work BEFORE you go. Try not to wait until the last minute or push the feelings aside.
Make a relaxing morning plan before you go so that you are relaxed and ready and not sitting ruminating in your thoughts until you go. Perhaps brunch, a walk with a friend, yoga, meditation, or anything else you enjoy.
Bring a team with you that will be HELPFUL (you only need to bring you who feel will be supportive)
Be aware of your "trigger points"- If you know you will NOT feel comfortable with a low back or a dress that hugs your tummy then consider avoiding those dresses and instead select trying on dresses that you feel more comfortable in.
Know when to step away or take a breather. If you look in the mirror and know it is not the dress, no need to stand staring in the mirror, allowing your mind to spiral. Acknowledge it is not the dress for you and that the dress you love is still to come.
2. Financial Stress
It can be challenging to stay within budget, especially with $10 000 dresses popping up on our newsfeeds! Here are some strategies to help you find your DREAM dress without blowing your budget.
Be upfront and clear about your budget with your consultant. Be clear that you will not interested in trying on any dresses above your limit.
Before opting for new dresses first start looking for a second-hand dress on Facebook marketplace, second-hand dress shops, reputable online dress shops, or searching sample sales.
If you find a dress you LOVE, that is out of your budget pin point WHY you love it, "a-line", "lace", neckline, etc, and highlight those key elements when searching for a more affordable alternative.
3. Toxic Friends and Family
Whether our loved ones' comments, actions or energy is intentionally or unintentionally toxic or unhelpful we want to jump on it as early as possible. Here are some items to start with.
Set boundaries, lay out your expectations, and communicate if you feel someone has crossed a boundary
Ask your consultant to help you. They can be an amazing buffer when strong personalities or unwelcome opinions pop up.
Do not forget. You are in control of who is there.
At the end of the day do not forget it comes down to your opinion. If you want, you can try on other people's options and hear other peoples opinions without attaching yourself.
If people are saying things that you are NOT comfortable with shut it down. Whether you speak up yourself or you simply walk away to the change room, you speak to the consultant, you have a code word with a trusted friend who can speak up and shut it down.
Of course, this is just a start but take some time to reflect and make your shopping experience as positive as possible.
What you can do as a BFF, bridesmaid or family member:
If you have been invited to join a bride or groom in selecting their wedding event outfits you play a pivotal role in creating a safe space and enjoyable energy. Here are some tips to be the best dress-shopping support!
1. Ask what they are looking for!
Have an idea of what your friend or family member is looking for. If you have an idea of what styles, budget, and fabrics they love and why you can help pick out dresses and options, or send things their way if you see something online!
2. Ask if they would like you to take photos or videos
Ask the bride or groom if they would like photos or videos of any of the dresses.
3. Provide advice or feedback when asked
If the bride is asking about a specific fit, style or fabric definitely provide your thoughts and feedback. Remember to be honest but be kind. Another good rule of thumb is to wait until asked what your thoughts or opinions are... As opposed to jumping in with what you love and hate about each dress before the bride has had a chance to process their thoughts.
4. Ask questions
As the bride what her thoughts are on different dresses and what she likes? Perhaps take a few notes so the bride can refer back to them when comparing various options (especially from different places).
5. Be available and supportive
As much as possible, be available for shopping, dress fittings or to bounce ideas off of and to celebrate when she finds "the dress"!
Hopefully, at some point in the future, we can create a world and societal environment where brides, grooms, and couples do not even have to think about this. It will take a lot of work to get there, so in the meantime, let's work together as a community to support each other.
Wishing you happy and successful dress shopping!