DO your research! A few places I found on Yelp were NOT wheelchair accessible. Regardless of the fact that myself and some of my wedding party required accessibility, I struggle to give my business to places that are accessible to all. I had a list of places I wanted to go when the day came. Come to find out, we only needed one! We went to Luv Bridal in Denver, and they were fantastic from beginning to end. You can read my full review here.
DON’T bring a ton of people. No really. I invited my mom, my sister (Maid of Honor) and one of my bridesmaids who was local and it was perfect!. I did not ask people to fly in, or invite the entire bridal party. Let me let you in on one of the biggest wedding planning secrets you’ll need. When you invite people… you also invite their opinions. This place happened to have a limit of how many people could join you, but I just advise bringing people who know YOU and that YOU want to share the moment with. If that’s everyone, great, but you can also meet up with your crew for bottomless brunch after and let them be surprised just like everyone else!
DO advocate. Ugh. So annoying right? I’m the bride, everyone should KNOW what I need! When you have a disability, you are no stranger to advocacy. Well guess what? You don’t get to put that away when you’re planning a wedding. I took a few minutes to call the bridal salon I had an appointment with and explain that I was not of average height, and what they were working with. I did NOT do this to ask permission to shop there, or create any sort of pity party. I wanted them to be aware so they could make informed choices when choosing dresses and make the most of my time AND theirs! They were so wonderful, and acted like this was business as usual for them!
DON’T pop bottles. I know… I know…. how can I possibly be giving this advice? I imagined my dress shopping experience to be welcomed with glasses of champagne because, duh… wedding. But it was BYOB, and we didn’t, and I am GLAD! Have you ever decided to have just “a couple glasses of wine” and ordered some weird stuff from Amazon? You want to be in your BEST state of mind. Also, for my ladies with disabilities, standing on that round circle in dresses that don’t fit, you don’t need anything else impairing your balance! Trust me, there will be PLENTY of champs in your future!
DO stick to your budget!
I was terrified to buy a dress. I know people spend four times our wedding budget on dresses and I was afraid to even try one on! I was transparent about our budget from the beginning and guess what? My dress was UNDER our budget! It all worked out. And if it hadn’t? I probably would have kept looking. I know this is a big day folks, but my wedding motto was also “it’s ONE DAY!” You have to pay rent after the wedding! Stick to your guns! I also shopped around for alterations and found an amazing deal going through a local seamstress vs. what the salon wanted to charge me! Yelp is your friend!
DON’T limit yourself to your comfort zone. I went in thinking I knew exactly what I wanted based on what had always worked for me, and what wouldn’t work, but guess what? I tried on a mermaid fit, and guess what? It looked amazing!! It wasn’t what I wanted for the day, but I was shocked to see that something I never thought would work for me kind of did!
DO be HONEST. This is your day and your body, and your emotions. I told my consultant at the very beginning that I was feeling nervous, and dress shopping was not always a positive experience for me. I was NOT looking forward to this day. Because of this, she was always checking in and making sure I was having a good time. If there is a dress you don’t love, SAY IT! You’re the customer! What don’t you like about it? Be specific, so your team can help find what you love!
DO try a veil. I was CONVINCED I was not going to have a veil, but you see people on these wedding shows put on a veil, and get “all jacked up” and then everyone cries? THAT IS REAL! My consultant found me a veil, and I put it on, and shoot! I was a bride. I definitely took it off for the reception, but it added that touch of glamour I just never imagined. Even if you just try one one….trust me, your mom wants you to.
DO let your consultant do their job. Seriously. It’s great to have ideas and Pinterest photos, but this girl knew what she was doing. My dress was the last dress she pulled and when I came out of the dressing room, the whole salon gasped and went “THAT ONE.” Now here’s the thing, when I found the stock photo of my dress on the model, I NEVER would have even pinned it. It was nothing like what I had on my “Let’s Get Married” wedding board, but it fit me like a dream. Not only did it fit me, but I could move in it! I could go to the bathroom by myself, and DANCE! It was MY DRESS.
DO enjoy every moment! After my day with my “Bride Tribe” I went back to pay off my dress, and pick up my accessories, and I went by myself. My consultant brought me different tiaras and took photos, and that was when I felt it. My mom cried as soon as I put on the first dress I tried, but I’m a tougher crowd. Here I was, buying a wedding dress. This was happening! It my first “bridal” moment.” And I just let myself have it.
Of course everyone’s day will be different, and it may not be that simple. Maybe you do want to go more than one place (frankly I was sad we only had to go to one store because it was so much fun) but just remember, at the end of the day, whether it’s mermaid, or a ballgown, or a pantsuit whatever make YOU feel beautiful on your big day will be the right choice!