My Sister Picks a Wedding Dress


This past weekend, I fulfilled the first of my maid of honor duties by traveling to Atlanta to help my sister pick a wedding gown.

I’ve already described my surreal experience shopping for my own wedding dress here and here — and this was my first time on the other side of the dressing room. (I’ve only been a bridesmaid one other time, and that was a decade ago.)

Choosing a wedding dress is emotional, stressful and expensive. Here are three tips to make it a seamless, productive and fun experience.

This... wasn't the one.
If the bride’s face looks like this, you know she hasn’t found the one.

1. Encourage the bride to try dresses early — just to weed out non-options. Before my mom and I flew into Atlanta, my sister tried on several dresses with a couple of bridesmaids, just to “test the waters.” This helped her cull out several options she knew wouldn’t work, so she saved precious time once we arrived to really hone in on her final options.

(I also encourage any bride-to-be to steer clear of Pinterest — pinning dresses makes you skip over viable options completely and worse, you may gravitate toward dresses that won’t work on you at all. I chose my dress based on how it looked on ME alone — and if I had seen it on Pinterest first, I would have glossed over it completely.)

Some animated inspiration.
These pictures were in the bathroom of one of the salons.

2. Guard your bride from over-thinking. After a dozen gowns, my sister turned from the mirror and asked, “I love this dress — but is it really me?”

A lot of brides wonder this when they shop for the their dress. In my opinion, no gown could ever be as multi-faceted, wonderful and unique as the bride. And no dress will ever encompass everything she is as a person. Take the pressure off the bride — the only goal is to find a dress that makes her look and feel great.

She didn't pick this one either.
She didn’t pick this one either.

3. Back up any critique with illustrative examples. Not every dress is going to speak to “the entourage” the way it may initially speak to the bride. Critical feedback is fine, but you need to support it clearly. My sister tried on several sweetheart necklines that seemed too severe — and when my mom and I mentioned that the shape reminded us of Jessica Rabbit instead of a bride, our critique was completely understood with zero drama.

Any other tips I missed? Let me know in the comments.