kara evans


The Ultimate Guide for the Perfect Bridal Appointment with Elite Bridal

The ultimate guide for the perfect bridal appointment with guest blogger Elite Bridal and Chicagoland Wedding photographer Kara Evans Photographer.

June 18, 2019

I’m Kara.
When I'm not photographing weddings, you can usually find me in my home office with snuggly puppies at my feet! Grab a drink (a cup of decaf, mojito, or a glass of rosé if you're like me), kick up your feet, and stay awhile!
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Happy dancing! Help me welcome my gal pals from Elite Bridal to the blog where they’ll be sharing the ultimate guide for the perfect bridal appointment!

The ultimate guide for the perfect bridal appointment with guest blogger Elite Bridal and Chicagoland Wedding photographer Kara Evans Photographer.

Click the photo to see more of Marissa + Michael’s wedding day featuring Elite Bridal attire.

Congrats, Bride! You said ‘Yes!’ to your significant other, now it’s time to say yes to your wedding dress! Finding a wedding dress can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’ve been dreaming of your perfect bridal look since you were twelve, or your bride tribe has been urging you to get in for an appointment ASAP, this guide is for you!

1) Do Your Research

Styles – Prior to your first appointment, it is always a good idea to browse the web for wedding dress styles you like best. We recommend Pinterest and Instagram to start. Keep in mind, your favorite style may change during your appointment. So, keep your mind open to trying different styles!

Price Range – Establish your price range, including the minimum and maximum amount you can afford spending on your dress. The more you learn about how much the specific styles that you like will cost, the closer to an exact number you will get. If you’re on a tighter budget, you’ll be able to find something that will fit your vision and your price point as long as you are open to a little variation in the style you’re looking for.

Designers – Look at each designer that the bridal salon carries. Many bridal salons, such as us, have a list of designers on their website, along with photo galleries of the styles they carry. We keep our website up-to-date as we receive new styles and get rid of old dresses, so that you can take as much time as you need browsing our full wedding gown collection!

Call the bridal salon to see if the designers you like fall into your price range. Even if the styles you like do not fall into your price range, don’t get discouraged! As long as you show your consultant a photo of the dress you like, they can go to work finding the perfect dress that is similar, yet fits in your budget.

Appointment Info – Call the Bridal Salon or visit their website to get some basic appointment info.

Here are some important questions to address…

  • “Do you require appointments? Do you take walk-ins?” At Elite Bridal, we will take walk-ins when possible, but we always recommend making an appointment so there will be a consultant waiting to help you when you arrive.
  • “How long is the Bridal Appointment?” Bridal Appointments typically range anywhere from one to two hours. At Elite Bridal, our Bridal Appointments are 90 minutes.
  • “Is there an Appointment Fee?” At Elite Bridal, we do not charge a fee for any standard appointment, but it’s good to double-check with other salons you might visit!
  • “Can I bring outside food and beverages?” In case you and your group were planning a toast with champagne when you find your perfect dress, be sure to check with the bridal salon to ensure they allow outside food and beverages.
  • “How long does it take for wedding dresses to come in?” If your wedding is in two years, there is no need to worry about this one. We recommend ordering your bridal gown seven to nine months before your wedding to stay in the “stress-free time zone”, which ensures you’ll have enough time for alterations once your dress comes in. If your wedding is six or less months away, be sure to ask about your purchasing options given your limited time frame. For example, most of our designers offer rush options, as well as in-stock options, both of which would be doable with a wedding date closer than 6 months away.
  • “Does your store do Alterations?” Some stores offer in-house alterations. Often that price is built into the cost of the dress itself, while other times the cost of alterations is kept separate and paid for after the alterations are completed. We do not have an in-house seamstress. However, we do have several seamstresses that we recommend regionally to cater to both local and out-of-town brides.
The ultimate guide for the perfect bridal appointment with guest blogger Elite Bridal and Chicagoland Wedding photographer Kara Evans Photographer.

Click the photo to see more of Chloe + Kyle’s wedding day featuring Elite Bridal attire.

2) What to Bring

The People You Need Most – Having too many opinions is often overwhelming for the bride. Think about the people whose opinion you need to hear before you say yes to any dress. Those are the people to bring to your appointment!

Undergarments – This is one of the main questions we get from brides! The answer has two parts: 1) Brides do not typically need to wear a bra with their wedding dress on their wedding day. The reason is simple – the dress has been altered to fit the bride, and there is typically boning in the bodice of the dress, as well as bra cups. This works as a functional bra. With that in mind… 2) Brides may wear a bra, preferably strapless, during their appointment if it makes them feel more comfortable. Our store keeps a variety of extra bras in-stock for brides who want them. Be sure to bring specific undergarments you think you will want, such as slips and Spanx.

Any Shoes or Accessories – If you know what shoes or accessories you would like to wear, bring them! If you have a veil that is special to you, it will only make it easier to pick the dress that it goes perfectly with.

Pictures – Similar to when you go to the hairdresser and show a picture of what you want, it is always helpful when a bride shows her consultant photos of styles she likes. A picture is worth a thousand words!

Half of Your Wedding Gown Budget – While brides will visit the bridal store to browse styles, it is a good idea to have half of your wedding dress budget prepared if you plan on saying yes to your dress at that appointment. This security allows you to jump on any weekend trunk show deals, or secure a sample gown so no one else can purchase it off of the floor.

The ultimate guide for the perfect bridal appointment with guest blogger Elite Bridal and Chicagoland Wedding photographer Kara Evans Photographer.

Click the photo to see more of this spring styled shoot with Elite Bridal.

3) The Appointment

Be honest and open with your consultant when it comes to…

Vision – The benefit of sharing your vision with your consultant can be summed up in this example:  If you share your vision of a simple, laid-back backyard wedding, your consultant won’t be surprised when you aren’t loving the head-to-toe bling. (Unless that’s your thing- If so, tell them!) 

Budget – When a bride is upfront about her budget, it makes it easier for the consultant to help pull the right dresses. We’ve worked with bridal budgets of all price points, so whether your budget is $500 or $5,000, we’ll be able to help you find your dream dress as long as you’re honest with us about how much you are able to spend! Sharing your maximum budget with your consultant will ensure they fill your dressing room with gowns you can fall in love with… and still keep your budget for chivari chairs. Win-win!

Specific Requirements – Be sure to share any specific requirements you might have with your consultant. For example, if you have a tattoo you would like to show off, or if you are not a fan of lace!

As you try on dresses…

Feel free to be totally honest with your consultant as you try-on different styles. A bride’s first appointment is all about figuring out different styles, silhouettes, and necklines she loves. Being open with your consultant about things you like and dislike will better allow them to introduce new gowns and take away gowns as needed.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself with Too Many Dresses – We recommend starting with 5-7 dresses, which leaves room for your consultant to pull more dresses during the appointment, based off of what you’re liking (or not liking). 

Keep an Open Mind – We’ve had brides who initially envisioned themselves in a ballgown and ended up falling totally in love with a fit-n-flare. Sometimes, you just try on a dress that somehow ends up beating out all of the other options! It is natural to have an initial idea of what you want, and then discover that you would prefer something else while you are trying on different styles. It is simply a process of elimination – you got this!

The ultimate guide for the perfect bridal appointment with guest blogger Elite Bridal and Chicagoland Wedding photographer Kara Evans Photographer.

Click the photo to see more of Marissa + Michael’s wedding day featuring Elite Bridal attire.

As you try on dresses, ask yourself…

  • “Why Do I Like This Dress?” A bride can put on a dress and smile for 100 reasons. She could smile because it reminds her of her fiancé or her curtains! When you put on a dress, ask yourself what you like about it. If you like a dress because your figure looks on-point, then you may want to put that one in the ‘maybe pile.’ Identifying what you like about the dress can help you separate the gowns you look great in from the final favorites that could really be the one!
  • “Can I Picture This Dress in My Setting?” Whether you are having your ceremony in a backyard or hotel ballroom, try to envision yourself in the dress at your own wedding/venue. A beach bride may typically look for something low maintenance and casual, but there are also other aspects of your wedding that can help in making decisions. For example, if you are unsure about the color of your gown, picture it next to your bridesmaids’ dresses.
  • “Does it Meet All of My Checkmarks?” Even if you have changed your mind on the silhouette you wanted, does your dress match your vision of feminine and romantic?
  • “What Alterations Need to Be Made?” This is a great question to ask during your appointment. If you are buying your dress off-the-rack, ask your consultant about what alterations would need to be made. If you are ordering your dress, each designer has a standard measurement chart. After the appointment, our consultants will ask the bride to change back into her clothes, take her measurements, and determine what size she falls into. It is more common than not that the bride’s measurements will not fall perfectly into one size. So, this is when the consultant will let the bride know what part of the dress will need to be taken in.

When narrowing down your favorites…

Identify What Makes Them Different – A bride may find that she loves two gowns that fit into what she wants. This is a good time to identify the differences between the gowns. For example, if a bride loves two lace gowns, but one of them has beading and the other one does not, this can be a decision-maker!

Weigh the Pros & Cons – Sometimes the dresses you have narrowed it down to are totally different. Weighing the Pros & Cons of what each dress offers can help tip the scale in the right direction.

PRO TIP:  It is always easier AND more cost effective to have a seamstress take the dress in, rather than try to let it out!

The ultimate guide for the perfect bridal appointment with guest blogger Elite Bridal and Chicagoland Wedding photographer Kara Evans Photographer.

Click the photo to see more of Alison + Brandon’s wedding day featuring Elite Bridal attire.

 4) Saying “Yes!” to Your Dress

Listen to the People You Value Most – If you’ve always looked to mom for her opinion, this shouldn’t be the first time that you don’t. With that in mind, sometimes your special someone will not feel the same way that you do. Take a step back from the appointment and think about what they are saying, versus how you are feeling. Maybe mom loves the way the dress looks on you, but still has a concern. Do you agree with the concerns? If you agree, but still love the dress anyway, then say “Yes!”

If this is your dream dress, talk to your consultant to see if they can help this person realize how perfect this dress is for you. For example, if grandma is purchasing your dress for you, and you can tell she is not digging the simple, satin ballgown that you love because she wants sparkle on everything- tell your consultant! She could jack-up the dress with a blingy belt and veil that could help grandma see the same vision you do. Once everyone is on the same page, you get to say “Yes” to the Dress!

Are You the One?! – Everyone reacts differently. Sometimes there are waterworks, sometimes there are a lot of smiles! Don’t hold yourself to any one type of reaction, and simply tune-in to how the dress makes you feel. Does it make you feel like a bride? Does it make you think of your fiancé, or fill you with excitement? This may be the one! If you end your appointment with more doubt than excitement, take a night to sleep on the decision. It can be an exhausting shopping day, especially if you visit more than one store. Sometimes a little shut-eye, and fresh eyes can make all the difference in helping you make your decision.

The ultimate guide for the perfect bridal appointment with guest blogger Elite Bridal and Chicagoland Wedding photographer Kara Evans Photographer.

Click the photo to see more of Samantha + Nick’s wedding day featuring Elite Bridal attire.

Whether your bridal style is trendy or classic, finding your bridal gown is one of the most magical aspects of planning your wedding. Finding your bridal gown is also one of the most relieving things to check off your wedding ‘To Do List! You’ve already begun your preparation (kudos!)… Now, go find your dream dress!

XOXO, The Team at Elite Bridal

Thanks for sharing the ultimate guide for the perfect bridal appointment, Elite Bridal!







P.S. – Looking for more wedding planning advice from Kara and her favorite wedding vendors? Read more here!

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Chicagoland wedding photographer based in Kankakee, Illinois