What you should (and shouldn't do) when shopping for a wedding gown

Beautiful wedding gowns in all styles can be found at Alyssa's Bridal in Sackville, Nova Scotia.

Beautiful wedding gowns in all styles can be found at Alyssa's Bridal in Sackville, Nova Scotia.

We spoke with the expert

We recently spent the afternoon with Tracey, owner of Alyssa's Formals, a bridal boutique in Sackville, Nova Scotia about what a future bride should be looking for and how to go about picking out a wedding gown. 

Get your best dress

She's been in the wedding gown industry for over 20 years. She spent years managing a bridal shop in the same building she is in now. The opportunity came up for her to purchase the store and she jumped on it. The result?  A beautiful boutique full of current and en-vogue wedding dresses, it's just the shop you were looking for. 


The perfect little bridal shop

When looking for a wedding dress shopping experience you want to be comfortable. That's exactly how you will feel when you walk into Alyssa's Classic Formals. From the moment I entered I felt welcomed and relaxed. I met Tracey, the owner, and we took at seat on the vintage chairs in the back of the shop near the floor to ceiling mirrors (of which there are many, you'll never miss an angle!)

Styles come and go, find something you love

90's is in... minus the puffy sleeves and shiny fabric. Cinderella does it best!

90's is in... minus the puffy sleeves and shiny fabric. Cinderella does it best!


Consult with the experts. Tracey makes it simple: "Lace is huge, dresses are moving away from strapless and towards more coverage on top."  


Don't make your dress decision based off of social media or television. While it's a great idea to take wedding inspiration from online sources, your dress is something you should see in person. For several reasons. Tracey explained to me how more and more brides are ordering their dresses from an online shop, which leads me to our next point.

Take away:

Feel inspired! There are so many different styles of gowns to choose from, find something you know you are going to be happy with. Are you a trend setter? Tracey can tell you what styles she see's coming down the pipe that are going to be huge in the years to come. She carries a huge selection of Stella York, which is dominating the wedding gown market right now.

You wouldn't buy a car without seeing it, but a wedding dress?
get your butt into an actual brick and mortar store!


shot of wedding gown detail

Get your butt into a store. Shop. Boutique. Whatever you want to call it, just get there. So much of the wedding experience, especially the leading up period to the day, has to do with planning. Not all of the planning is stressful and emotionally draining. A lot of it is fun, and it's meant to be done with your family and friends. Bring your entourage down, "We can accommodate groups of ten, and the brides always really enjoy it" Envision a shop full of brides, just like you, trying on dresses, just like you. It's the best experience because you not only have your family and friends there to help you decide, but other brides who you can trade advice and tips with. What better place to network and talk about your rentals, stationary, or other wedding plans. Still need a great cake? You will definitely be able to find a bride who has a great cake person. 

Should not:

Stay at home and shop from your sofa. Really. You're only going to get to plan your wedding once in your life, you need to make sure you enjoy every minute of it. Not only that, but there are some hidden problems with ordering your dress online. Often, the online shop you are ordering from is nothing more than a fancy website with a 1-800 number. If you find a place that actually delivers a dress, it might not even be the right one. Tracey told me about a time when a bride went through an absolute nightmare when she ordered her dress online. She explained how the bride had ordered this dress from some overseas vendor. She got the dress, but it was the wrong size. She sent it back. She got the dress again: right size, wrong dress! This happened two more times with different degrees of errors when the bride had enough and came to Alyssa's.

the takeaway:

Sure you might save a few bucks if you order online (might) but what you can be sure of it you will not get any customer service, any help with alterations, assistance with exchanges, any help at all. A professional will be able to make sure the dress you pick is going to work for you with the alterations you are seeking. A professional has a network, a team, of support people who they can reach out to for assistance when you need it. A lot of this will happen behind the scenes without you even realizing. Everything from alterations, to cleaning, accessories and final fittings. You won't get any of this from an online retailer.

It is time to look for a dress? are you Engaged?


it's never too early to have an idea of what you want

Every style you can think of can be found in this beautiful bridal shop

Every style you can think of can be found in this beautiful bridal shop

No time is too soon to start looking for a dress. Let's be real, it's on the mind of every little girl as soon as she understands what a wedding is, or as soon as she see's her first disney princess get married. It's never too early to have an idea of what type of wedding dress you are going to end up in. You should think about the style you like and what you feel comfortable in. Speaking with Tracey she told me this bit of wisdom, "So many brides come here looking for a certain dress, and I show that to them, but it isn't until we do a few different dresses and I suggest a slightly different style that they come out with the dress they've always dreamed of." It's clear to me that someone with 25+ years in the wedding industry gets people. She is able to figure out what dress you want sometimes even before you do. It's that expertise that is able to put the bride in the dress.

ShoulD not:

Get hung up on what's in style or what's on the television

Sure it's nice to wear something that is the hottest style or trend, but there are a lot of styles that are timeless. These types of dresses never go out of style and if you see yourself in a Cinderella type ball gown and don't want a mermaid dress, then don't get stuck with a mermaid dress! You shouldn't base your decision on what anyone else other than you think is best. Take advice, but take if for what it is. You know what you feel comfortable in and what you want to wear on your wedding day. 

Take away:

It's your dress. The impression I got when I sat down with Tracey was that the dress buying experience is a magical one, and when a bride finds her dress it's nothing but smiles and tears of joy. Don't be afraid to try on many different dresses over a long period of time. We talked about how decades ago brides would try on gowns, take photos in them, send them off to be developed and then mail them to their grandmothers, aunts and family friends for input on their best dress. This also provided some time for reflection on exactly what dress to go with, which results in a beautiful glowing bride happy with her decision.

Make sure you have the best wedding experience

From day one of planning to stepping on the plane for your honeymoon. There is so much to do and see between now and your wedding day it would be a shame if you didn't get every last ounce of joy out of it. Some advice from Tracey, "Don't struggle with the details, remember what the day is supposed to be about." We talked at length on this topic, photographing weddings we see this all the time. Wedding's can be stressful and if you are going to get hung up on a small detail that doesn't go exactly as planned, you're going to have a bad time. Go with the flow! You are going to be surrounded by your friends and family, sitting at a table with the people closest to you. Get the right dress and be happy with your decision!

take away (for me)

I learned a lot by sitting down with Tracey. First off, the wedding dress experience is one that is a huge part of the wedding planning but often overlooked by photographers. It makes some sense, typically a bride will book her venue, then buy her dress, and then book her photographer. It's such a great event we are going to try and get down there on a busy day and document this awesomeness, it would fit in perfect with the entire wedding story. It's inspiring talking to someone who has been in the industry for so long and was so positive about it. Anyone getting married should take the time and meet Tracey. She's so easy to talk to and has loads of insight and advice about weddings. I can't wait to get back to Alyssa's Bridal!