Hi blog fam,
I’m so excited to share with you, Mckenzie with Plume Bridal out of Bozeman, MT. She is here to share ALL ABOUT wedding dress shopping and I’m not gonna lie, I wish I had this knowledge 6 years ago when I got married. So, take it away Mckenzie!

“Yay, you’re engaged!

Let me welcome you to what should be one of the most enjoyable parts of planning your wedding.  By way of introduction, I’m Mckenzie, the owner of Plume Bridal in Bozeman, Montana.  Plume is a smaller boutique featuring major brands such as Essense of Australia, Allure as well as custom creations.  We are turning nine (9!) this year, and I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned to help you have a successful shopping experience, after all this is the one thing for your wedding that is truly 100% about you!

Do your research
Not every store is going to be the perfect fit, so set yourself up for success by doing a little research before booking your appointment.  What do you imagine yourself wearing? Is there a brand showing up more in your Pinterest than others? Did your friend or sister have a great experience somewhere?  You can learn a lot about a store from their Instagram feed and their website.  Take a moment and see who carries the brands you are noticing, what their price range is, and if they have good customer service.

Shop Local
Contrary to popular belief, your local stores are often the same price as chains or brands that sell online.  When you shop local you are gaining an ally for you and your wedding vision, someone that you can specifically talk to about your concerns and they already have the resources to help you correct those concerns.  You want sleeves?  I have the perfect seamstress to make them.  A skirt to go over your fitted gown for your ceremony?  I have that too.  Are you wanting to make a veil from your mom’s gown to match your dress?  Done.  If you are concerned about your budget or finding a gown for what you feel is a hard to fit size, just give us a call or email.  I am always thrilled to help educate brides on what we offer, after all, most brides are doing this for the first time!

I understand the allure of shopping online, there are online retailers offering gowns for $99, or ‘custom options’ that are the same as ordering from Amazon.  But keep in mind that not all seamstresses are willing to work on gowns that are purchased online, and you do not know what you are getting.  Some people get really lucky, and a lot of people have to come buy a new dress. For example, Ms. K. decided to purchase a ‘customized’ gown at an online retailer who prides themselves on creating the perfect gown for less than your local bridal shop.  This company sent Ms. K. a dress that was too short the first time, and didn’t  have any structure or support when they sent the replacement which is necessary for strapless gowns.  Her total cost for this gown and a matching veil was $1800.  Ms. K came to the store saying: “I’m sorry, I made bad decisions, please help me,” needing to find a replacement gown, showed us the sketch of the gown she had ordered and we had an identical gown that was available to ship to us immediately, in the correct size, and a veil, for the total price of $1500.  I wish I could say that this experience is uncommon, but it isn’t.  By choosing to buy local you are supporting a local woman (in general) in her dream of being an entrepreneur, and are allowing yourself peace of mind in your shopping experience by having a real live person to work with on every detail.

What to expect
When you are shopping for your wedding gown a fellow store owner likes to say that ‘if you wouldn’t want them in the delivery room, you don’t need them to shop with you.’  There is some truth in that statement.  The most successful appointments have less than five guests and include the person that is most likely to impact your ability to commit to a gown.  We recommend starting shopping a year in advance of your wedding or as soon as you get engaged if you will be getting married in less than a year.  This allows us to order your gown in your preferred style, color, and with any specific customizations while still allowing 6-8 weeks for alterations.  Your consultant is going to inquire about styles, your budget and timeline.  This allows them to help you find gowns that match your criteria and vision for your wedding; but remember to trust your consultant.  They know every gown in the store and are listening to everything you say you like, dislike, the way you act in a gown. Frequently your consultant will be the person who actually picks the gown you say yes to.  By shopping early, you are allowing yourself peace of mind, as well as wiggle room for alterations, shipping dates and so on.  Are you getting married sooner than later?  Keep reading.  We’ve got you. 

Sample Sales
Buying a bridal sample is essentially purchasing a ‘floor model.’  These gowns are generally being sold at a discount to make room for new inventory, because the dress was discontinued, or because the store has decided to discontinue their relationship with that designer.  Samples are great for brides who have a short timeline until their wedding date, have a limited budget, and/or are a fairly typical size.  Samples generally found in sizes between 8-14, with some exceptions depending on the store.  It is normal to find some wear and tear on these gowns which can be mitigated with a dry clean and some alterations, keep in mind that gowns can be adjusted up 1-2 sizes, and down 2-3.  Sample sales are also a great way to wear a gown that may be last years model but can be super chic with a few alterations or additions, it will be the gown of your dreams.  For example, you found a strapless gown you love, but you had your heart set on a dress with a low back.  With alterations you can add a strap and make the perfect low back.  Add a belt, a strap, a sleeve or jacket, the benefit of sample gowns is that you can get an amazing base and customize until your heart is content!

Say Yes!
After all, isn’t that the goal?  Do not feel obligated to go to every store in town or the state, you are allowed to decide on your gown at the first store!  Statistically, you are most likely to pick one of the first 8 gowns you try, given you have done your homework and are shopping at the right store for you.  Just think, if you find your gown, you get to go celebrate with your group and check a major item off of your list!  Here’s to you and your marriage!

Feel free to reach out for more ideas or clarification by contacting Mckenzie at plumebridal@gmail.com

Blog photos by @ingridsvarephotography