Nine Tips For Navigating Downtown Fargo-Moorhead Wedding Gown Shopping

Kayla Van Eps, MSUM Multimedia Journalism Major

It’s the day of every young girl’s dream; marrying the love of her life.

Fueled by Disney fairytales, and later, Pinterest boards, a bride-to-be sets out on a quest for the perfect dress for the wedding day.

Like many young girls, “Cinderella” was the movie that started my wedding dreaming.

I’ve dreamed of a fairytale-style outdoor wedding with rustic charm — nothing modern or flashy — just simple and dreamy. Even when I was young, I knew I wanted a simple lace gown. After getting engaged and starting the wedding planning, I avoided the hunt for a dress. The thought of trying on and buying a wedding dress terrified me.

Shopping advice for a wedding dress is confusing, and much of it is contradictory.

To clear the air, attendants at bridal shops in Fargo-Moorhead helped me compile a list of nine tips for a fun, stress-free search for the perfect gown.

1. Shop during the week. Dedicating a day off to looking for the perfect gown not only allows you the time to look around, but the shops will be quiet and the attendants will be able to help you exclusively without having to run to the front when other customers come in.

2. Appointments are not necessary, but helpful. I didn’t make any appointments the first day my mom and I went shopping. Some of the attendants in the stores seemed a little offset by the walk-in but both stores were more than willing to fit me in. I made appointments for the second day and told the stores what I was looking for. When I arrived they had already pulled some dresses they thought I would like, as well as some of their favorites.

“We prefer appointments because it allows us to get some information from the bride beforehand to get an idea of what they are looking for,” said Janna Peterson of Alan Evans Bridal in downtown Moorhead Minn. “Then we can pull some dresses and see what you like and don’t like, it makes the whole day a little less stressful.”

3. Go after a bridal show for great sales. The Bridal Fantasy Show was held two days before our shopping excursion and many stores had great sales and discounts that had been held over from the show. The dress I bought was discounted $300 and had an additional $150 store credit for accessories. Almost all of the stores we went to had held-over sales.

4. Be willing to try on something you don’t think you’ll like. At Alan Evans Bridal, I picked out a bunch of beautiful lace dresses, but the dress I wound up liking the most was a chiffon dress with a single shoulder strap that at one point I had deemed “an ugly toga” before trying it on.

“You wouldn’t believe how many brides say a dress is ugly or that they would never wear it. Then someone in their party urges them to ‘just try it on’ and, what do you know, (the bride) love(s) it,” Peterson said.

5. Don’t get discouraged. Our first stop was at LeAnn’s Bridal in Fargo, N.D. While the store had many dresses and options, none of the dresses fit me well enough to get an idea of what it would really look like after it was altered. I was very discouraged and wanted to give up and leave, never to return again. The next store was a whole different experience, though, and I found myself more relaxed and began to enjoy the experience.

“There is a good chance that you won’t find THE dress on your first outing,” said Joy Swenson of Wedding Elegance in Fargo. “We have people come back two, even three times, before they finally make a decision. It is a big deal and a lot of money that people spend, so you want to get something you are satisfied with.”

6. Bring a camera. If you aren’t sure what style you like or if someone whose opinion you value cannot be with you, snap some photos to look over later. Even though my sister couldn’t come with us, my mom was sending her pictures of dresses all day to see what she thought. It was nice to have another opinion, even though she was 100 miles away.

7. Know your budget, and know your budget. If you have a tight wedding budget, choosing how much to spend on the dress is stressful in itself. Finding a dress that fits into your budget is a whole different level of stress. Before you strike out, know your ideal budget and also the tippy-top amount you can spend without hitting the depths of buyer’s remorse or sending yourself into excessive debt. If you start looking early, you will have extra time to find a great sale or visit other shops to find the perfect dress at the perfect price.

8. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” I grew up in the land of “Minnesota Nice” where if you didn’t have something nice to say, you didn’t say anything at all. But in the land of wedding dress shopping, you have to be a little more assertive. I had a hard time telling the sales associates when I didn’t like a dress — even the one that looked like the skirt had been caught in a paper shredder — and my shy nature led to us wasting time the first day trying on dresses that I just didn’t like. Remember you aren’t hurting anyone’s feelings.

“It’s funny how many brides I see that apologize to me for saying they don’t like a dress,” Swenson said. “If it’s not for you, or just not the style you are looking for, just move on and we will find you something that fits exactly.”

9. Enjoy your day. You are selecting your wedding gown, relax and enjoy the day! If things become too stressful, take a break. Grab some lunch and talk about something other than wedding plans. After the break, re-evaluate what you liked and didn’t like before you continue. This is where those photos you took earlier come in handy.

After choosing the perfect gown, the next step is accessorizing.

Video courtesy of AOL Howcast wedding experts Barbara Esses and Ruthie Hecht

Bridal shops in the Fargo-Moorhead area:
















This video offers more tips on choosing a gown that will dazzle in your venue. 

(Edited by Jessica Jasperson, MSUM Mass Communications and English)

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