12 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips I Wish I Knew Beforehand

    I did not, in fact, say yes to the dress (at least, in person).

    Warning: Some discussion of body image.

    It was upon getting lunch with one of my editors, when I'd asked her to print out a return label for one of the many wedding dresses I'd returned, that I thought, "Hey, maybe this whole experience wasn't quite what I'd imagined" — i.e., the Say Yes to the Dress moment where my loved ones weep over my beauty in a well-lit room.

    I knew I wanted two things: a short, simple courthouse dress and a more traditional, sleeved ceremony dress. I had a pretty good idea about what I wanted for the latter, given that I have pics of wedding dresses on my phone dating back over a decade.

    Bride in lace gown smiling as person adjusts her veil by a mirror, surrounded by wedding dresses

    So, here's what I learned on my quest to say yes to...two dresses:

    1. Sample sizes can be a struggle.

    Person in a bridal shop trying on a lace dress with off-shoulder sleeves, another person seated in background

    2. Some dress styles can go out of stock very quickly.

    Person in a fitting room wearing a white lace dress with sheer sleeves and black boots, standing in front of a mirror

    3. You (probably) need to make an appointment.

    A person tries on a pleated dress in a mirror, another person seated in background

    4. It's okay to be a lil' stressed.

    Woman in white dress examines her reflection in a full-length mirror

    5. It's good to try on a wide variety of dresses.

    Person taking a mirror selfie, wearing a white vintage-inspired dress with ruffle details, holding a phone

    6. People will probably think you look good in a lot of things.

    Person in a white short dress with a ruffled hem and a sheer veil, standing indoors

    7. You can wear whatever you want.

    Woman in a dress with heart details taking a mirror selfie

    8. The online wedding dress market is pretty amazing.

    Person in mirror taking selfie in a white v-neck wedding dress with a high slit

    9. Return policies are your friend.

    Person in a white dress takes a mirror selfie, phone covering face

    10. But being overwhelmed by choice is very real.

    Young woman in a white strapless wedding dress, smiling slightly

    11. It's worth going to a tailor to get your measurements professionally taken.

    Summary of a measurements list including bust, waist, hips, bicep, sleeves, skirt length, and height for potential wedding attire sizing

    12. I did have a moment where I tried on the dress that made me feel amazing — but it was in my room, shortly after an earthquake.

    Bride in a strapless wedding gown with layered skirt browsing dresses in a bridal shop