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Shopping for Your Wedding Gown

So many choices! How do you decide on a wedding gown?

Bride is strapless wedding gown

Knowing what you think you want gives you a place to start. The journey is an exciting one for most brides. It means days of visiting salons and nights of searching on line or flipping through the latest Brides magazine.

And it can be overwhelming!

What About Style? Are you dreaming of a very modern wedding, set in a loft with minimal embellishments? Then you probably shouldn't pick a frilly ballgown. The style of your dress needs to complement the vibe of your wedding unless you want to create an uncomfortable mix. Most bridal shops will offer you a variety of flattering style selections - and some of those may not be even close to what you thought you liked. Don't be afraid to experiment a little. Experienced staff can recommend; the final choice is still yours.

Budget will help you to narrow your search, and protect you from falling in love with an impossible-to-pay-for choice.

When you start shopping, be up front about your limits. Salon staff should honor your boundaries - or you could be in the wrong shop!


Even a "free" gown won't be entirely free. It will likely need to be hemmed or adjusted, at least slightly. And a borrowed dress either fits or not - no permanent alterations allowed. Cleaning is another cost to plan for.


Second hand boutiques can be wonderful - or totally frustrating if you find a gown you love and it's NOT in your size. If you like to treasure hunt, two of my favorite places in the Willamette Valley are First Hand Seconds (by appointment) in Albany* and New to You in McMinnville. You will definitely get more for your money at a place like these, usually about half the price of the same dress, new.


Shops similar to David's Bridal are great choices for budget minded brides. Not only do they have a great selection, but sometimes you can find something right off the rack. That's a wonderful perk for brides who are short on time.


If you require an ultra-special experience and excellent customer service, or your wedding gown is the MOST important part of your wedding day, consider a true wedding boutique like Merrime Bridal here in Albany, Oregon. These shops are usually owned by passionate and knowledgeable people who LOVE weddings and really enjoy helping brides find the perfect outfits for themselves and their wedding party. The experience may be a highlight of your wedding planning and worth every penny, if it's a priority for you.

Reselling your dress is one more way to cut costs. If you love it, someone else probably will, too. It takes a bit of effort, but you will have lovely pictures to show how beautiful it is.

*Nonprofit benefiting Mercy House International, helping survivors of domestic violence

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