Best Advice For When You Can’t Find Your Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Hello, beautiful bride-to-be! Isn’t planning your wedding supposed to be about love, joy, and fun? It is but, in reality, it is more like a stressful treasure hunt. Did your hours on Pinterest and browsing dress shops leave you exhausted and hopeless to ever find the dress of your dreams? Just take a deep breath and be calm – because you are in the right place. In this guide, we’re bringing you all the tips and tricks you’ll need to overcome these difficulties. No matter if you went through every salon you could or spent countless hours on the internet, you’re not alone in this.

Wedding Dress | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Know Your Frustration

Feeling frustrated is the most natural thing in the world when you can’t find the wedding dress of your dreams. You have tried on many dresses, but none feel just right in your gut. Or maybe, you have a specific vision in your head and nothing you see comes even close to it. Either way, before moving forward it is crucial to recognise and understand your frustration. Furthermore, there are so many options out there, which can make the whole process feel overwhelming.

So, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s normal to feel this way. See if you can pinpoint the cause: why are you so frustrated? Is it possible because there are so many different options? Are you disappointed that none of the dresses you’ve tried on seem to be “the one”? Once you find the source of your frustration, it will be easier to come up with a plan to deal with it. Maybe you’ve gotten a bit off track, and a little refocusing is all you need to find the perfect dress.

Wedding Dress | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Assess Your Expectations

The truth is, most of the time, in your head you would already have a specific image of your dream dress. For example, from fairy tales, from a favourite movie or a celebrity, or even your fantasies.  However, it is always important to remember that sometimes the dream dress is not the best choice for you in reality. 

So you may need to take a step back and ask yourself: Are my expectations based upon false standards or social pressures? Am I open to a variety of styles and choices, or am I locked into a specific look? After you have answered these questions, you will be ready to start your dress hunting with an open mind and reasonable expectations.

Next, consider your preferences. What are you most comfortable and confident in? Do you prefer to look elegant and sophisticated or shiny and modern? While it is okay to have a vision of what you want, it is just as important to consider alternatives. You may find it surprising that a dress you hadn’t expected on you looks incredibly good, or a particular detail you wanted doesn’t suit you.

Wedding Dress | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Take a Break

It’s okay to take a break! Sometimes a pause from the madness can provide you with much-needed space. Here’s why and what you can do during this time:

Relax and Recharge: Planning a wedding can exhaust a person. The never-ending search for just the right dress can be stressful, too. Taking some time off gives you a chance to have a rest, physically and mentally.

Gain Perspective: Leaving dress shopping for a little while will give you a new outlook. When you’re not constantly surrounded by dresses, you’ll be able to think more clearly about what you want.

Focus on Other Details: Use this time to focus on other aspects of wedding planning. Maybe you can finalise your guest list, look for a venue, or taste new cake flavours. Distracting yourself from different tasks can refresh you and renew your energy for dress shopping.

Exchange Ideas with Others: Sincerely ask for the advice and assistance of your parents and close friends during this time. Share with them your experience of looking for a dress. Listen carefully to what they have to say. Sometimes, an external view can be a great source of insight and guidance.

Set a Clear Plan: Before beginning dress shopping again, give yourself a clear plan of action. Reset your budget, reconsider what style suits you best and make a list of the specific characteristics you are looking for in a dress. Having a step-by-step approach will help take away some of the difficulty.

Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Seek Inspiration

It happens to all of us. Sometimes we get so frustrated, looking for something, that the only solution is to be inspired by the unexpected things. Inspiration can open doors you haven’t seen before.

Look Beyond the Obvious:  Sometimes the answer is right under your nose,  but you do not see it because you are too fixated on what ‘must’ be the solution. Step away from the usual and conventional. For instance, visit a vintage shop, walk in nature, or even look at a piece of art you like.  You don’t know what might make your mind go “Aha!”.

Make a Vision Board: For your wedding dress, choose your favourite pictures, colours, and textures and put them on a vision board. Whether it’s a Pinterest board or a physical one, looking at images of your dreams can help clarify what you want and provide direction when searching for something to match.

Use Your Imagination:  Feel free to get creative and think outside of the box. Mix and match different styles, fabrics, and accessories until you get something you’ve never seen before. Consider putting personal touches or significant symbols into your dress design.

Explore the Past: History is just waiting to share its secrets. Take a trip to the past and explore different eras and cultures. What did brides wear in ancient Greece or medieval Europe? What about elsewhere in the world? By learning from the past, you may find something that perfectly matches your bridal look.

Wedding Dress | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Expand Your Search

Think Outside the Bridal Boutique: Of course, the first thought that enters your head is to buy a dress in a wedding shop. Still, there are many other places where you can buy unique and incredible dresses, such as department stores, special dress boutiques, or even online marketplaces. Who knows, maybe that fantastic dress is waiting for you somewhere else.

Go online: The biggest advantage of shopping for a wedding dress online is the unlimited selection. There are hundreds of online retailers selling beautiful dresses of all styles, sizes, and designs. Take your time to browse the diversity of options. You can do it from home while sitting comfortably on the couch. Just read reviews and the return policy before making a purchase.

Find a Different Designer: If you’ve been obsessed with only one designer or brand, it might be a good time to check other designer’s collections. Perhaps, you will see alternatives you have never thought of.

Think Beyond White: White is the most common colour for wedding dresses, but it does not mean it is the only option. You may look at ivory, champagne, rose, or even bright colours like blue or pink. Opting for a different colour is a great idea to stand out and distinguish yourself from other brides.

Try Secondhand: Consider buying a preloved wedding dress. Your wedding dress is an outfit that you will only wear once. So, it is likely to be in good condition. Moreover, you can get a designer dress at a lower cost than its retail price. You can look at consignment shops, resale websites, or commutation in your location to find the dress of your dreams.

Wedding Dress | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Make Your Alterations

Keep exploring: If you have tried on dozens of wedding dresses without finding “the one”, do not worry. Keep shopping for dresses with elements you love, even if they’re not all in one dress. For example, you may like the neckline of one and the skirt of another. Then, a talented seamstress can always help you combine them to make a perfect one. 

Add Personal Touches: Most bridal shops offer brides the chance to customise dresses, which means you can enhance a particular style to better fit your vision of a perfect wedding dress. For example, you can add sleeves to a sleeveless one, change the neckline or make it shorter.

Peace of Mind: The most important benefit of alterations is the peace of mind they give. When you’re having trouble finding “the one,” it’s easy to feel disappointed and upset. But when you recognise that alterations can help make every dress just the right one, you can relax.

Pressure to please: Family and friends have your best interests at heart, but they don’t always understand that their comments, suggestions, or concerns put more stress on you. You may feel compelled to pick a dress that they will love rather than the one you love the most.

Wedding Dress | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Don’t Take Many People With You

As you shop for your dream wedding dress, it is natural to look for advice and support from your family and friends. However, you will begin experiencing stress once you start getting numerous opinions. That said, there are several reasons why you may consider going through the journey alone or with just one or two of your friends:

Distractions: It can be challenging to focus on what’s important to you while everyone else’s opinions and preferences keep distracting you. As a result, you might get a dress that pleases everyone else rather than one that will make you genuinely happy.

Conflicting opinions: Everyone has their version of the ideal wedding dress. As a result, when too many opinions are given, it becomes close to impossible to make a decision. What one person loves, another one will hate, leaving you feeling stuck between different opinions.

Self-doubt: When you hear negative feedback or criticism from people who are close to you, you will start to doubt yourself and lose confidence. So, you may not rely on your intuition and begin to question if you are on the correct path to make the right choice.

So, what can you do if you decide to go alone or with just a few close friends?

Make it obvious to them what you are looking for, and let them understand that despite it being important to you to hear their opinion, the decision is yours alone. Focus on how each dress makes you feel rather than getting others to tell you which one looks best. You can take as much time as you want. Don’t rush things. Try on all the dresses you want until you find one that feels right for you. And remember, it’s perfectly fine to walk away and come back another day. Not everyone can make the final choice on their first visit.

Wedding Dress | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Seek Professional Help

If you feel lost and cannot find your dream wedding dress on your own, it’s time to get some expertise. Whether it’s a bridal consultant at a local salon or a stylist at a bridal expo, working with a professional will make your dress shopping more fun and help you find the dress that’s perfect for you in the end. Believe me, it is worth a try!

Professional bridal consultants and stylists are pros who have general knowledge about every style, fabric, and designer. They will take you through the confusing bridal fashion world. Also, you can get personalised tips that work best with your preferences and body type. They will view your wedding day through your eyes and help you find a dress that fits you like a glove and makes you feel stunning.

Moreover, many bridal salons have access to exclusive collections and designers that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. You’ll have more options available to you, increasing your chances of finding the dress of your dreams.

Let’s face it! No one needs an extra reason for stress while planning a wedding. With a professional, you can take some of the stress off your plate and enjoy finding your dream dress without all the worry.

Wedding Dress | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings

Rental or Borrowing

You don’t have to buy a new wedding dress just to be beautiful on your big day. Wedding dresses can be really expensive. Renting is a more affordable option if you are working within a tight budget. You can still wear an elegant good quality dress without the heavy price tag. As a result, you can use your budget elsewhere in your wedding, such as the venue, catering, or honeymoon. It also puts less stress on you knowing that afterwards you just send your dress back and move on with your life!

Rental services often have a wide range of styles and sizes to choose from. Whether you are looking for something traditional, modern, or bohemian, there’s something for everyone. In addition, you may have access to designer dresses that you wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.

Borrowing a dress can add sentimental value to your big day. Wearing a dress passed down from a family member or borrowed from a close friend can make your wedding even more special. It’s like carrying a piece of loved ones with you as you walk down the aisle.

Of course, there are a few things to remember when renting or borrowing a wedding dress. Make sure you read the rental agreement and understand all terms and conditions, such as cleaning fees or charges for any damage done. It’s also a good idea to try on the dress well before your wedding day to ensure it fits perfectly. This gives time in case alterations are needed and still leaves plenty of time for the final fittings.

Wedding Dress | Portugal | Photo by PEDIPortugal Weddings


So, to sum up, do not think that the world of wedding fashion is too complicated, and the dress of your dreams is impossible to get. Sometimes the best solution to any problem is to take a deep breath and concentrate on what truly matters to you. In addition, professional help or searching for alternative options can be a great idea. Keep your mind open and true to yourself, and regardless of anything, be confident, comfortable and beautiful on your special day. With patience and persistence, you will find the perfect dress. The one that will make you feel like the bride you deserve to be!

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in one day, nor is finding your perfect dress. Stay positive, be patient and trust me, the dress you’ve dreamed of is out there waiting for you.

I’m so grateful that you came on this journey with me. If you liked what you just read and want to see more of my work, then please check out my portfolio here. I’d love to hear what you think. Thank you for your support!

Pedro Cruz

Wedding photographer and videographer from Lisbon, Portugal. Here is Pedro Cruz's short bio.

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