The Ultimate Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping #SayYestotheDress

Wedding dress shopping can feel a bit crazy. Alright, a LOT crazy. Trust me I know. I just went for myself!

Sharing my own wedding planning process is going to be fun and hopefully full of information for YOU. Lets kick this adventure off with my first dress shopping experience at The Dress Theory. I’m sharing all the deets about shopping for the perfect wedding dress.


 You want to look fantastic, feel amazing and reflect back on wedding pictures with nothing but “Dayum girl!” feelings.

As a wedding photographer and fellow bride-to-be, I’ve created a road map to find your dream wedding dress.

Choose Your Venue First

Choose your venue first! (Or, at least have a hyper-clear vision).

Trust me on this one.

A cohesive theme for your wedding will create a seamless, overarching experience. Envision:

  • A modern gown for a chic, urban venue
  • A regal style for a lost abbey or destination wedding
  • A boho style dress for an outdoor or garden wedding

Book Your Wedding Dress Appointment

Most bridal boutiques and wedding dress shops are appointment only. (the best ones anyhow!) Reserve your spot 2 – 3 weeks beforehand.

In that time, gather inspiration to bring with you:

  • A Pinterest board of wedding dresses you like
  • Your wedding venue (If not booked, know the venue vibes you’re thinking)
  • Additional wedding inspiration (Such as flowers and so forth)

Expect about an hour for your appointment. It can feel a bit rushed. If they are straight up pushy, don’t bother getting your dress from there. Plenty of wonderful wedding dress boutiques will keep you on track and feeling at ease. 

My Favorite Bridal Boutiques in Southern California 

The right place will help you find the right dress.  If you like their branding, interior design and boutique aesthetic, it’s likely that you will like their wedding dress selection too! Some places I vibe with are:

Keep the Wedding Dress Shopping Intimate

As much as I love the girls (nothing better than a group of fierce femmes, right??), going with a lot of friends can be :

  • Distracting
  • Overwhelming due to different opinions
  • Make you feel pressured to buy a dress on the spot 

I find it ideal to have 1 – 2 friends who know you well & whose opinions you genuinely trust. (And as much as we love Moms, try the first trip sans. Make sure your confident in your direction first!)

Go with an Open Mind, Not a Buying Mindset

Go on your first trip with the mindset of an explorer. You’re trying out styles and seeing what’s out there; there is no pressure to buy on the first excursion!

An open mind is especially key. Remember that :


  • What you pinned on Pinterest may look different when on. (Body types can shift the look of a dress.)
  • Something that looks “okay” on a hanger can be amazing, flattering, holy hotcakes-good when on
  • Trust the person you made your appointment with, share your inspo and let them make suggestions.

I encourage you to try on one silly poofy dress just for the heck of it!  I sure wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity haha. 

Take Photos of the Wedding Dress (& You In It!)

Imagine you’re at the boutique.

You try on a wedding dress and look in the mirror.

Naturally, you stand up super straight. Posture perfect.

Gown looks fantastic on that upright bod. (Meowwww!)

Let’s throw some more natural (and perhaps awkward) angles into the mix.

See how the dress stands up.

  1. Walk around and have a girlfriend video and take photos of you. How do those shots look?
  2. Think you’ve found THE dress? Take a TON of photos from different angles. 

Here’s why: Your wedding day is fast paced. Don’t pick a dress where you’ll need to focus on posture or “sucking it in”. Take time to find a dress that, even if bent over or giving hugs…It looks rockin.

Main takeaway: Review photos of you in the wedding gown, alone in the comfort of your own bed, BEFORE making the big purchase. That way, you’ll get the right wedding dress with total Beyonce confidence.  When I looked back on these photos that my friend Frank Vinyl took I was actually very surprised with what looked more flattering in pictures. 

Scope Out Deals : Shop Wedding Dress Sample Sales


Let me tell you how great sample sales are.

New styles are constantly coming out, so last season’s styles tend to go on sale. This means big markdowns, which can be up to 50% off!

That’s more money towards yer dream wedding cake. And champagne, lovely and bubbly champagne!

Follow the Wedding Dress Alteration Rule

There’s a standard wedding dress rule : If it needs more than 3 alterations, it ain’t the right dress. Say farewell! 

Add Sleeves to a Wedding Dress? It’s Easy!

Good freaking news.

You can add sleeves to almost ANY gown.

(Some beaded dresses or delicate lace dresses are exceptions. Ask your girl at the shop for more info!)  

Secret Wedding Dress Shopping Tip : Adding a Skirt!

Let’s say you fall in love with a more straight-lined, tight dress – but you want more OOMPH!

Good news, girls : You can add a skirt over almost any gown!

That’s my plan. The best part: It’s two dresses in one: A dress for the ceremony & one for reception.

My favorite skirt looks are the detachable ones. They are open in the front but add a little volume to the dress on the sides. It creates a nice illusion and silhouette.

The Dress Theory San Diego didn’t have anything like this at the time but Rhiannon helped me visualize a custom alteration. We used pins and different dresses to create the look. LOL! It actually looked legit.


My Favorite Wedding Dress Designers :

Liz Martinez Bridal




One Day Bridal


Rue De Siene


Leto Bridal 


Tara Lauren


Pallas Couture




Maison RIme Arodaky


Ballin’ on a budget?

Me too sister. Stillwhite.com is a great resource for all you out there ballin on a budget. You can gently used wedding dresses by epic designers at a fraction of the cost.

 The Dress Theory & Rhiannon, thank you for helping me find the perfect dress! 

Would Love More Advice

I gotchu. 

Let’s make sure you avoid these common mistakes on your wedding day.

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