1. Choosing a dress that doesn't suit you because it is just so bridal-y that
you can't resist.
The best (and most under-utilized) source of wedding dress inspo isn't Pinterest or bridal magazines; it's your own closet. Pull out your favorite pieces. What do you like about them? Those are the things you should look for in a wedding dress. If you've never worn a beaded top in your life, why wear one on your wedding? Yes, it's a special day and a special dress, but you're still you. If lace isn't your thing, then don't get lace. Don't even try on lace. The best wedding dress for you is one that expresses your personal style, not a mash-up of wedding clichés.
2. Bringing too many people with you to the bridal shop.
Your whole extended family does not need to come with you to pick out your dress. What's that? They really, really want to? Too bad! It's not about them, it's about you. Shopping with other people can be fun, but the more people you bring, the more opinions you are going to be forced to listen to. Do you really care if your aunt Sylvie likes your dress? Of course not! Aunt Sylvie wears puppy socks and fanny packs. You'd sooner take fashion advice from a pigeon. Instead, try limiting yourself to a couple close friends or family members.
3. Bringing the wrong people with you to the bridal shop.
A lot of women go wedding dress shopping with their moms, but you don't have to. If your mom is kind and supportive and always on your side, then great, bring her along, but if she's a judgmental biddy who's always throwing shade about your clothing choices, then leave her at home. The same thing goes for siblings, friends, and anyone else you might consider bringing. A good wedding dress-shopping buddy is one who puts your needs first. Maybe they don't have exactly the same taste as you, but they know what you're looking for and are determined to help you find it.
4. Letting the salesperson pressure you into getting a dress you're not sure about.
Most salespeople work on commission, which can make buying a wedding dress a high-pressure situation for everyone involved. Take a step back and remind yourself that you're the one making the decisions. If you sense that a salesperson is pressuring you, make sure you give yourself extra time before you make your final choice. Another good way of dealing with a pushy salesperson is to deputize one of your friends to run interference on your behalf. The salesperson might not like losing control by having to talk to your friend instead of talking to you directly, but it's your money, so if you want her to stay out of the dressing room, keep her opinions to herself, and deal with your friend instead of you, then that is what she should do.
5. Going way over your budget.
No matter how awkward it might feel to tell a stranger about your personal finances, it is essential that you be clear with your salesperson about the budget you are working with. This is another place where your deputy can be a big help. Tell her (or him!) how much you want to spend and just how much wiggle room you have, then let her liaise with the salesperson to make sure that you only see dresses that are actually within your budget.
6. Not taking the cost of alterations into account.
Some bridal shops charge a flat fee for alterations, but not all. And if you need to have serious work done, like having structure built into the bodice of a strapless low-backed dress so your boobs are actually supported, you can end up paying way more for your dress than the price on the tag. It's also a good idea to factor in the cost of accessories like shoes, jewelry, specialty undergarments, and veils when choosing your dress.
7. Waiting too long to go shopping in the first place. Most of the time, the dress you try on in the salon is just a sample, so even when you find the one you want, it can take a few months for the thing to actually get made and sent to you. Then there are the fittings, which can take another few months. If you start looking a year in advance, then give yourself a few months to make your final decision, you should be fine.
8. Looking at other dresses after you've already found one you like.
Don't give yourself a chance to second-guess your decision. Once you've bought your dress, do your best to turn off that part of your brain and move on; otherwise, you'll make yourself crazy.
9. Showing your dress to too many people before the wedding.
The more people you show, the more likely you are to encounter someone who not only dislikes your dress, but isn't very good at hiding it. They'll be like, "Oh … that's … nice.” They won't mean to hurt your feelings, but you'll feel like shit anyway and start second-guessing yourself. Eventually you'll say you don't care what they think, but the seed of doubt they've planted will be difficult to forget altogether. Best not to even risk it.
10. Putting too much pressure on yourself to find the perfect dress.
What to wear on your wedding day is a big decision, but it's not the defining moment of your life. If you find yourself falling down a wedding dress rabbit hole with all night Pinterest binges and appointments at every bridal boutique within a 50-mile radius, slow down, take a step back, and remind yourself that this is supposed to be fun.