February 13, 2020

All photos by Michelle Lange Photography

I recently sat down with the owner of Lily Saratoga, Laura, to talk tips for shopping for your wedding dress. We discussed when you should start looking for your dress, what to expect from that first appointment, how many people to bring with you, and much more!

I absolutely love Laura and the Lily Ladies – they are so kind and welcoming to everyone in the shop. They make their brides feel really comfortable which is invaluable during the wedding dress shopping process. They’ll be honest with you and really guide you during this experience. 

Regardless of where you’re shopping, if you’re starting your wedding dress search, I hope you find this information helpful! And if you’re shopping in Upstate New York – Lily Saratoga should certainly be on your list to make an appointment. Besides wedding dresses, they have an incredible selection of bridesmaids dresses with a great space for you and your girls to have an afternoon of shopping!

Q: When a bride comes in for a bridal session, where do you begin?

A: Ahead of appointments, bride’s are sent a survey that asks when and where they are getting married, how many people they are bringing to their appointment, wedding dress budget, vision for your wedding day and dress, etc. When they come in for their appointment, we review the survey with them, determine if the bride is set on a style, review photos they might bring with them, and talk about budget. We are really careful to point brides in the direction of designers that fall within their budget. Because the shop has open inventory (meaning you/your family can pull gowns in addition to the gowns your consultant pulls for you), we want to make sure you are looking at dresses within your budget.

Q: How long is a normal bridal session and how many dresses should a bride expect to try on during that session?

A: Normal sessions are an hour and a half. Consultants start by pulling six dresses. In an average appointment, the bride will try on around ten dresses. If the bride is decisive and able to make decisions quickly, you’ll move through more dresses than someone who needs a little more time to consider the options. After 1.5 hours, if the bride hasn’t been able to narrow it down to a few favorites, an “ivory haze” sets in …this is where dresses start getting mixed up, you’ll be drained, etc. At this point, we’ll recommend you come back and we’ll start fresh.

Q: How many times do you see a bride try on a dress before making a purchase?

A: 38% of brides make a purchase their first time out, others will decide to have their measurements taken and they’ll sleep on the decision, and then there are brides who will come back to try on their final 2-3 options in a second appointment. We encourage brides to take photos in the dresses they try on in the shop because it helps them remember what it looks like. Dresses look different when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror versus in a photo which is why it’s important to take them while you’re here.

Q: What is the ideal number of family members and/or friends to bring with you to an appointment?

A: This totally depends on the bride’s personality but three to five people is the sweet spot. Some brides want to include a lot of people but are overwhelmed with the opinions of others while some can hear their own voice regardless of opinions. Either way, it’s important to know yourself and remember to keep it to the people you really trust.

Q: When should a bride start shopping for her dress?

A: On average, most start looking 12-18 months from their wedding. Keep in mind that shops are booking appointments (especially for busy days like Saturdays!) months out so don’t wait to call to make an appointment.

Q: Is it possible to start shopping too early?

A: This depends on the bride’s personality – if you are going to have trouble not looking elsewhere, don’t start too early. But we’ve had brides purchase two years from their wedding.

Q: Understanding all designers are different, what is the general timeframe for ordering, receiving, alterations, etc.?

A: From the time you order, dresses will take 3-6 months to deliver to the shop. Once the dress arrives, you’ll have your first try-on which is when you’ll see your dress in the proper size and color. This is when you’ll be able to get a sense of the alterations needed and is a good time to start looking at accessories. We’ll store your dress from the time of arrival to when alterations begin (2-3 months before the wedding). Remember that if you’re getting married during a busy season (like June or the Fall!) you’ll need to get your alteration appointments scheduled early!

Q: What are your tips for traveling with a wedding dress before the wedding?

A: First, speak with your destination hotel or venue to confirm if they have a steamer onsite. We can advise you on the dress fabric and the day-of prep that’s needed. We can also work with your planner on coordinating with a local shop that could assist in steaming/prep if you’ll have time upon arrival. If you’re flying, we will prepare your gown in an opaque garment bag and will not stuff the dress so you can fold it nicely into a carry-on bag. If you have a veil, pack it separately from your dress so it does not get crushed. If you would like, bring your carry-on bag to the shop and we’ll pack it for you! This is safer than laying the gown in the overhead compartment and many airlines are doing away with the closet towards the cockpit (or at least letting guests use it). Once you arrive, hang your gown high (the highest point/hook that will hold your gown) and remove from garment bag. If you’re local, we’ll prep and stuff the gown – try to time your pickup so you are going right to your getting ready location. Once again, hang high and remove from garment bag.

Q: Final words of advice for brides!

A: Try not to overthink and over-analyze. There should be an emotional reaction to your wedding dress and that’s something we encourage our brides to go with. Once you have the feeling – stop looking!

Another big thank you to Laura for taking the time to provide us with such great insight! Remember to make an appointment to see these lovely Lily Ladies!

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Shopping for Your Wedding Dress with Lily Saratoga