Bridal Gown Shopping Etiquette 101

Bridal Gown Shopping Etiquette from Taylor's BridalOriginally posted on

If you are a first time bride, as many are, congratulations! Your fianc√© has popped the question and you are excited to begin the dress shopping journey. We couldn’t be more happy for you, and we cannot wait to welcome you to the salon. As a first time bride, we understand this may be an exciting, and sometimes confusing time as you figure out exactly what to expect during this wedding planning adventure. You may think binge watching “Say Yes to the Dress” will prepare you for this; but unfortunately, television does not always accurately reflect the true experience.

Below are five simple rules of etiquette to consider when you begin your dress shopping journey. Remember, this can be an extremely emotional time for you and your loved ones. Your appointment should be an enjoyable time to make life long memories with your friends and family.

1. Make an appointment

Providing White Glove service is the number one goal of Taylor’s Bridal. In order to provide the best experience for you, we appreciate being able to dedicate the time to help you. Scheduling an appointment allows us to focus solely on your needs, and help find you your dream gown. While it may seem like a good idea to simply “pop” into a store to take a look, this could take away from another bride’s experience. It can also pressure a stylist into feeling they need to let you try on gowns, even if they don’t have the time.

It is extremely important to schedule an appointment if you’re wanting to come in, in the evening or on the weekend. It is even more important if you are coming in from out of town to set up appointments prior to arriving. This will help to avoid being turned away if the salon is too busy. It is the respectful thing to do for both your shopping experience, and for the salon you want to visit. A lot of salons are requiring appointments, so make sure you do your research, and plan appropriately.

Tip From The Shop: Saturdays and evenings are the busiest days of our week! We constantly fill up with appointments and we sometimes even have to start wait lists. If you walk into our salon with a large group of loved ones expecting us to be able to accommodate you, unfortunately, we won’t be able to. We have brides who come from all over Canada and the world to shop with us, and it isn’t fair to cut their time short when they took the time to schedule an appointment. With this said, we kindly ask that you book an appointment.

2. Maximize Your Time!

There are lots of ways this rule applies to your dress shopping experience, so we have broken it down into three sections.

Don’t wait until the last minute

It takes between 8-12 months total from the moment you start your shopping experience to the last alteration, so don’t waste time. To ensure that Taylor’s can alter your gown, you must order your wedding gown a minimum of 9 months prior to your wedding date. As soon as you get engaged, and you have narrowed down an approximate date for the wedding, start planning. Schedule appointments, look at magazines to get an idea for what you want, and purchase your dress. Not only does waiting too long possibly limit the selection of gowns to choose from, but it will avoid additional expenses such as rush fees, and could save you hundreds of dollars.

Start shopping when you’re serious about buying

There is nothing more disheartening to a stylist than when a bride comes in and immediately says they’re here to “look.” Do not waste your own time or the time of the salons’. If this is the first time you’re trying on, and you just want to get an idea of different silhouettes, book an appointment for a weekday when salons are slower, and be up front with the stylist before you arrive. This will allow them to schedule accordingly, and not take away from another bride who is ready to find the one.

Arrive on time to your appointment

Salons schedule appointments in time blocks so each bride gets the perfect amount of dedicated service from their stylist. Keep this in mind when scheduling multiple appointments in one day, give yourself enough travel time, and always arrive on time for your scheduled appointment. If you are running late, be courteous. Call the salon to let them know, but understand that if you arrive late, the salon may not have time to extend your appointment. It isn’t fair to take away from the appointment following yours.

If you booked multiple appointments in one day, and find the dress early on, make sure you call the other salons and let them know so they can open those appointment times for another bride. If something comes up, as happens with life, and you need to cancel your appointment altogether, make sure you provide as much notice as possible. It is the respectful thing to do, and the salon will appreciate the gesture.

3. Arrive fresh and prepared

While it seems common sense, it is a rule which must be said. Out of respect for your stylist, and the other brides who try on the samples in the salon, make sure you wear proper undergarments. For example, shape wear such as Spanx, underwear, and a bra. We also recommend that you be conscious of your hygiene, and try to wear a minimal amount of makeup. Some dresses require that you step into them, but some may need to be put on over your head. If you’re wearing a lot of makeup at this point, it is possible that it can get on the dress.

Tip From the Shop: Taylor’s Bridal is primarily a special order store therefore most gowns are ordered and brought in brand new. However, for our brides that do not have time to order a new gown due to a shorter time frame, we offer samples to be purchased out of our show room. This is why it is important to us, and our customers, that we keep our samples as clean as possible. Some of the many ways we ensure our gowns are kept in top condition is by asking our customer to remove their outdoor shoes at the front of the store, as well as taking a hand wipe to remove any lotions and natural oils that may be on the customers hands. While we do spot clean and treat our samples with care, it is always appreciated when our brides treat them with the same respect.

4. Be 100% honest with your stylist

Your stylist is going to be your best friend in your dress shopping journey, and they want you to feel beautiful, confident, and sexy. They are not there to set you up for failure, and sometimes encourage you to go outside your comfort zone. However, it is vital for you to be 100% honest with them about what you love or hate when trying on gowns. This way, they can point you in the right direction. No one ever wants you to say yes to a dress you don’t love. The more honest you can be the better your appointment will go, and the more likely you are to find the perfect dress for your big day!

5. Order the correct size

We hear lots of brides talk about how they want to tone, lose weight, or adjust their dress size prior to their wedding. If that’s the brides desire or goal, we support her 100% and could not be happier! However, we will take your measurements upon ordering, and help guide you to choosing the right size that will fit you at that time. With this being said, it is always easier to take a dress in than it is to let it out. Let me repeat this phrase. IT IS ALWAYS EASIER TO TAKE A DRESS IN THAN IT IS TO LET IT OUT! Almost all gowns can come down at least two sizes, and that can be an overall difference of 6-8 inches, which is a significant amount. By purchasing a dress you know will fit properly, you can only look better in it if you tone or lose weight. There is nothing more defeating than ordering a gown smaller than your measurements, and not being able to fit into it when it arrives. Take the advice of the salon, and order the proper size. This will ensure you have a positive experience, and if the gown is too big when it arrives, that is a much better feeling!

Buyers beware

We love our brides and we want to make sure that everyone is taken care of and given the best services possible. That is why we want to give you some tips of things to be aware of before saying yes to the dress!

Ask all the questions

When purchasing your dream gown, you are not only buying your gown, but you are also buying into the service of the salon, so make sure you ask all the questions. If you are uncomfortable with the salon when you are shopping, you may continue to feel that way throughout the fitting experience. You want this to be relaxing from start to finish. Some key questions and things you will want to keep in mind are:

What is included?

There is nothing worse when purchasing your gown and find out there are all these hidden add on’s your associate “forgot” to mention. Every salon is different and offer different packages that come with the gown, so ask what is included when you purchase your gown with them, i.e. Is steaming included? Does the salon store the dress? If so is that free/or included in the price?


Alterations are another aspect to purchasing your gown that you need to keep in mind. Alterations are a separate charge on top of the price of the gown, but every salon is different so make sure you ask about them and get an approximate range of alterations. I suggest you ask approximately how much the alterations will be and whether or not there is an in store seamstress or whether alterations are done at a separate location. A lot of salons do not have an in-house seamstress and have a seamstress who comes in just for the day and takes the gown home with her. Find out the expertise of the seamstresses they offer, and ask about the alteration process; how many fittings you will need. It is very important to know when the final fitting is because if you take your gown home too soon, you could change in size and your gown will not fit the day of the wedding. You should also ask what you need to bring and so on. Asking these questions will help you determine, based on the answers received, your comfort/trust level with the salon and whether you want to proceed any further with purchasing your gown.

Don’t pay before you purchase

This may sound obvious, but sadly, caught up in the moment, brides have gotten tricked into situations where they were persuaded by a salon to place a non-refundable deposit down on a gown just to hold it until the bride is ready to purchase. They will put you on a list and call you if the gown is going to be discontinued. However, they may not refund the deposit if you choose to order a gown at a different salon and you could be out anywhere from $200-$500. This causes brides to loose out on money that could have gone towards something else. We want brides to be aware of high pressure salons that will do anything to get a sale. You should never feel pressured to buy or give anything before you are ready to commit to the gown. We all know finding the perfect dress isn’t always easy and can take time, so make sure you are comfortable with every purchase made. Do not allow salons to bully you to place money down. You should never put money down until you are ordering your gown.

Friends and Family

Friends and family are a big part of your special day. They are the people who love you and care for you and have been with you through the good and the bad. However, this doesn’t always mean they all need to be with you when you find your gown. When it comes to shopping for your perfect gown, it is recommended that you bring your nearest and dearest members; the people you can trust and will support and help you in finding your perfect gown. Typically, we recommend anywhere from 1-2 guests. This way your voice is heard as the bride and it is a comfortable and relaxed environment. As great as TV makes the shopping experience look, with 5 or more guest it tends to become overwhelming for the bride as more opinions start to overtake her own. This is how many brides purchase a gown they don’t really love because of unintentional peer pressure from friends and family. Don’t allow your guests to steal your spotlight. You are the bride and it is your day, so you wear what makes you feel the most beautiful. We have had brides come into Taylor’s who have purchased another gown elsewhere that they did not love, but their family and friends convinced her it was “the one”. We want you to love the gown you walk down the aisle in.


When going to a bridal salon, plan ahead. If someone in your group, or you as the bride have small children, it would be more suited to have a friend/family member or babysitter watch your kids while you shop for your gown. A bridal salon is not a great place for a child, as they must sit still and quiet for a long period of time. Also, when children come into the store, they tend to become the focus of the appointment rather than the bride. This can also make another brides experience less than wonderful and take away from their consultation. For everyone to have a relaxed and fun time, if possible, it is best to leave your kids at the comfort of their home. With this being said, we understand life happens and sometimes there is nothing you can do but bring your child to your appointment. If this is the case, we recommend you call the salon to give them a heads up. Also, we ask that you keep in mind there are many white dresses, so food and drinks are not allowed in a salon. With that being said, if it is near lunch time, allow your kids to eat before the appointment.

About Taylor’s Bridal

Taylor’s is a small-town bridal boutique located in Elmira, Ontario. They can help you find the dress of your dreams and outfit your entire wedding party, providing first-class service and all for a good price.

At Taylor’s they have a large selection of in-stock gowns from most major manufacturers.

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