Bridal Guide: What are your guidelines for the bride who is about to start shopping for her wedding dress?
Mara Urshel: It's said that the bride should set aside 10% to 15% of her overall budget for her dress. However, that should be adjusted based upon the importance of the dress to the bride. One bride's attitude may be, "I'm only going to wear it for five hours, so I don't want to spend a lot," while another will say, "I want everyone to remember how fabulous I looked, so it's of upmost importance." You have to know how you feel in order to set your price point.
BG: What is the worst dress-shopping mistake a bride can make?
MU: Not having a budget when you start is a huge mistake — and the most common one. Another big problem is not realizing that the dress isn't the only thing you have to pay for. Headpieces and veils and jewelry are part of the equation. And don't forget the extra fee for alterations. Your dress size with also affect the price of your gown; some designers offer up to a size 16 without extra cost, but otherwise it can cost 10% to 20% more.
BG: If a bride comes to Kleinfeld with a photo of a dress she can't afford, what will the sales consultant do?
MU: Our consultants try never to go over a bride's budget, and ninety percent of brides respect that. But there are always one or two who insist on trying on that $20,000 gown. Then it becomes very difficult for her to consider anything else! It's as if you tour a two-million-dollar house and then you look for one-third that much — trying on a dress you can't afford is unrealistic and disrespectful of whoever is planning on paying for it.
BG: What's your advice on customizing a gown?
MU: Almost every bride wants something done — more beads, a longer train, a sweetheart neckline, straps, a bolero jacket — because she wants to "makes it her own." Brides want to be unique, but do be sure to figure customizing into your budget.
BG: Elaborate beading and other decorations will up the cost, so it makes sense to go for a simpler dress. But what if a bride dreams of bling?
MU: Compromise. Consider a belt — that's the simplest way — or get a headpiece with bling or some dazzling jewelry. A dress doesn't have to be the most expensive one to be beautiful.
BG: How can friends and family help — or hinder — your attempts to stay on the financial track?
MU: I've seen a bride's friends or family members pull dresses that are not right for her style or her budget. Only bring people with you who are respectful of your lifestyle.
BG: What is your best piece of advice for brides?
MU: There's nothing worse than when wedding guests look at the bride and ask each other, "Who is that?" When this happens, it usually means the bride is wearing too much makeup or the wrong hairstyle or she's chosen the wrong dress. My advice is to be yourself — the best, most enhanced version that you can possibly be for your big day.
Photo courtesy of Kleinfeld