Trying on wedding dresses is an experience most brides look forward to, but with so many beautiful gowns hanging on the racks at the salon, it's easy to want to try on everything—even those wedding dresses that exceed the budget you set for yourself. That begs the question: Is it ever a good idea to try on a gown that costs more money than you planned on spending? We asked four industry experts to weigh in. Surprisingly, the responses are pretty mixed!
Lanie List, founder of Lovely Bride, says, "The quickest way to heartbreak is falling in love with a dress you cannot afford." She suggests only trying on wedding dresses within a realistic range of what you are willing to pay. If you find yourself dreaming about a dress you can't justify buying, List suggests getting creative and seeing if you can spend less money on other aspects of the wedding to put that money towards the gown or asking if family members might be willing to pitch in as a gift. "I think the dress is the cornerstone of a wedding," she says. "It's the one piece you'll talk about for a long time after and celebrate in every photo. Don't skimp on that, you deserve it!"
Anna Walsh, owner of anna bé Bridal Boutique, suggests working closely with your consultant so that you can consider options that are reasonable for you. "When we work with a bride we always ask if there is a price point that she wants to stay within. If she has a budget, we will first focus on gowns that are within it," she says. "But, if there is a dress that is outside of her initial budget, we will absolutely let her try it on! I believe in transparency and being upfront, so I will be very clear with the bride about the price of the gown and ask her if she is really ready to try it on." As long as you know the cost before you try any wedding dress on—and you're sure you're comfortable with the fact that you may not be able to buy it—Walsh says there's no reason not to at least see what it's like.
Bridal stylist Maradee Wahl agrees that there's nothing wrong with trying on a gown that's a bit more expensive, but only if you're willing and able to reassess the wedding budget and find a way to reallocate your funds to cover price tag if you absolutely have to have it. If that's not going to be the case for you, don't waste your time trying on a gown that is completely unrealistic. "When setting up the shopping day, avoid boutiques that start at your top price," she suggests. "It will be too easy to fall in love with an unattainable and unnecessarily expensive gown. It's better to shop at a boutique where your budget falls in the middle of the range so you have many styles to consider without temptation."
Selina Howard, owner of Vainglorious Brides by Selina Howard, thinks that brides should take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime experience and try on anything they want. "It's not every day that women get to try on beautiful gowns. It's typically a once in a lifetime experience so she should do what feels good. You would be surprised how many brides can come up with an extra couple thousand dollars or so once they set their mind on a particular gown," she adds.
The bottom line? It's best to try on a dress outside of your budget only when you'd be willing to move funds around or compromise on other aspects of the big day in order to make the price tag work. In the end, you want to feel good about purchasing a wedding dress that you absolutely love without the guilt of having to completely nix another one of your big priorities. If you've already fallen into the trap and can't justify the extra expense, our pros suggest asking your salon to see if they can help you track down a sample, which will save you money. It may have some wear and tear from other brides-to-be trying it on, but the money you save is often well worth it. You could also see if any brides who have previously worn the gown you're thinking about are selling theirs. Again, expect some wear and tear, but plan on working with a tailor or alterations specialist to make any necessary adjustments.