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The Top Questions to Ask Your Bridal Boutique Before Making a Purchase

Once the engagement ring is purchased, it is time to find the perfect wedding dress. Wedding dresses are a high-ticket, once in a lifetime purchase. While there are a collection of reality shows and articles sharing the inside scoop on what is in trend and what is not, there is still a lack of professional advice on the gown purchase process. I know it’s way more exciting talking about things like Bridal Fashion Week; however, my hope is every bride enjoys the dress process from beginning to end. Buying a wedding dress can be an emotional process. The more knowledge you have going in will make things more enjoyable and less stressful. After fifteen years as a bridal industry expert, I’m here to share my top questions every bride should be asking before they say “yes”.

The Top Questions to Ask Your Bridal Boutique Before Making a Purchase
Photography: Kristen Weaver

What is your return policy?

Every boutique is different; however, most boutiques operate as “final sale.” Whether it be an off-the-rack dress or a special order gown, “final sale” is a standard. Most designers do not have a storage facility to hold onto returns. Bridal designers are in many ways very small businesses unlike our go-to ready-to-wear online boutiques. From a bridal boutique’s perspective, it could take a store owner months or years to find another bride for the dress. There are a handful of online bridal sites offering returns, but the challenge is they may hold onto your money for up to a month. Look at the final sale policy as a positive. You have to know when to stop shopping and enjoy the dress you found.

Do you have an in-house seamstress?

Every boutique operates differently when it comes to alterations. Often bridal boutiques hire seamstresses as full-time employees while others have partnership agreements. Occasionally, you will see bridal boutiques not offering in-house seamstresses. Instead they provide their clients with a list of recommended seamstresses in the area. If the dress you are considering needs extensive alterations or custom changes, it may be best to work with a full-service boutique offering an in-house seamstress option.

What does “special order” mean?

Kristen Weaver
Photography: Kristen Weaver

When we hear special order, we think custom. Special order in bridal does not mean the dress will fit you like a glove when it arrives. Your bridal boutique will measure your bust, waist, and hip. They will plug these measurements in the designer’s size chart to determine the closest size. You should still expect alterations. Designers do offer custom gowns for additional fees. When you hear a stylist say “special order,” this is the perfect time to ask what they are meaning by the term.

Where is the dress made?

This question is for those needing peace of mind. If you are special ordering a wedding dress, knowing the location it is being produced in is incredibly important. Dresses made in the U.S. or Canada tend to not run behind as there are less parties involved and shipping is quicker. If a dress arrives with a flaw, the resolution time is faster given it doesn’t have to be shipped overseas. Depending on your wedding date, this question can have more value. Peace of mind is everything when you are weeks away from your wedding.

Is it possible to order extra material from my dress?

Whether you are looking to add a capped sleeve or create a flower girl sash, having the option to order extra material is incredibly helpful. Some designers do not sell the fabric from the gown. This is a concern when it comes to alterations. There are many reasons why a seamstress may need additional fabric. For example, when the CrossFit trend started, we saw brides getting toned while gaining inches of muscle. In this case, a seamstress may need to replace a panel to give you more room.

How long has the designer been in business and do they have reputable stores?

We have all seen the horror stories of bridal boutiques closing without notice. What we don’t always hear about are the designers. There are new bridal designers entering the market every week. Unfortunately, not all of them will make it. Check to see how long the designer has been in business and who their other retailers are. If they are carried in established boutiques that is always a good sign.

The Top Questions to Ask Your Bridal Boutique Before Making a Purchase
Photography: Kristen Weaver

Tali Gallon is an owner and stylist of The Bridal Finery located in Winter Park, FL. The boutique offers a new concept to luxury bridal.

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Wedding Emergencies….They Happen! Are You Prepared?

After years of wedding planning, I have seen it all.  We’ve had a wedding guest pass out from heat stroke and dehydration, a pregnant maid of honor go into labor during a reception, and a flower girl suffer an allergy attack from a bee sting (thank you, EpiPen!!). From broken bones to broken down vehicles, emergencies can happen, even on your wedding day.  So when you are preparing all your Pinterest details, planning your layout, and meeting with your vendors, you need to ask yourself… if an emergency happens at our wedding are we prepared?  If you don’t know where to start, we can help!  Here is a short list to get you prepared:

Wedding Emergencies
Erin Morrison Photography


Stop the emergency before it happens by having some security and standards in place.  Many wedding venues require security, such as an off-duty police officer, to make sure the event runs smoothly and there are no issues with unruly guests or damage to the property.  Is security common?  Yes!  Are these issues common? No (thankfully!).  The presence of security alone is usually enough to deter wedding crashers, drunk drivers, and family drama that has gotten out of hand.

Limit Alcohol

Wedding Emergencies

Repeat after me: No one will take shots on my wedding day.  Now say it louder for the people in the back (especially the groomsmen!).  Over indulging in alcohol can make your wedding turn into a party that you were not intending to have.  Hiring a licensed and insured bartender is key.  They will not only limit alcohol for guests that have over done it, but they will also institute rules like no shots or keg stands (hey, this isn’t a frat party) so your guests don’t get too far gone in the first place.  Oh, and that million dollar liquor liability insurance policy they bring should definitely help ease your mind as well.

Erin Morrison Photography

Take Care of Your Guests

Wedding Emergencies

Food allergies, heat stroke, bee stings… all of these can happen, but they are more likely to happen if you don’t take good care of your guests in the first place.  When choosing your catering menu, ask around for any food allergies or diet restrictions you need to be aware of (sometimes I see this on the RSVPs!).  If you are having an outdoor summer wedding have fans, cooling stations, and plenty of water.  Talk to your venue about their policy on pesticides and spraying for bugs (most commercial venues have a routine for this) and see if you need to offer your guests bug spray or have citronella candles lit outside.

Hospital & Emergency Rescue Locations


I once had a wedding that decided to spoil the kiddos with a bounce house during the reception.  It was great, until the 4 year old ring bearer bounced right out of the house, on the ground, and broke his arm.   Making matters worse, we were in the mountains with no cell phone service and all of the guests were from out of state and unfamiliar with the area.   Because I was knowledgeable about the location of the nearest hospital, I was able to tell the parents directions to the nearest ER.  Do a quick online search of facilities near your venue, or ask the venue owner, and have the address handy or printed directions if you won’t have service or wifi.  During an emergency, minutes matter, and getting someone medical attention as fast as possible can make all the difference.

I hope these getting started tips help you feel a little at ease so if something goes wrong, you know you have it covered!

The Photographer and Venue Credits:

Juice Beats Photography at Cardinals Nest Wedding and Events | Instagram: juicebeats1 | Instagram: cardinalsnestweddings

JoPhoto at Dara’s Garden | Instagram: jophotos | Instagram: daras_garden

Erin Morrison Photography at Dara’s Garden | Instagram: erinm_photography

Leah Moyers Photography at Grandview | Instagram: leahmoyersphotography

Lindsay Ruggieri owns The Bride Link, a wedding advice and planning website, and also owns Custom Love Gifts, Events, & Prints, an event planning company that specializes in wedding details such as invitations and gourmet wedding favors.

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Budgeting for your wedding

You’re engaged!!!  Congratulations! Some of you may already have had your wedding all planned out since you were 5 and some of you probably never gave it a second thought.  Regardless, you have a lot to do from this point on.  Beginning with one of the most if not the most important part of your wedding planning – the wedding budget.

Whether you are having a simple intimate wedding for 30 or an extravagant lavish wedding for 300, the first thing to do before any pinning on Pinterest, is to determine your wedding budget.

Budgeting for your wedding


Determining and agreeing to a wedding budget will save you and your fiancé lots of heartache and stress throughout your wedding planning journey and also keep you focus on what is more of a priority for both of you. So how do you figure out your wedding budget?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much can we save on a weekly basis from now until 2 weeks prior to the wedding?
  • Is anyone else contributing to assist with the wedding cost? If so, ask them if they wouldn’t mind letting you know what the amount will be so that you can accurately budget for your wedding.

Once you determine what the total wedding budget number is going to be, know that half of that budget will most likely go into your venue space and catering.

Let’s use $15,000 as an example budget for your entire wedding.  A minimum of $7,500 will automatically need to be allocated for your venue and catering.  If you have 100 guests, that is a total of $75 per person.  Know that your venue and food budget has to include gratuities, tax, etc.

The other $7,500 will need to be divided among everything else (invitations, wedding attire, DJ, cake, flowers, photographer, etc.).  Now that you have a basic idea what the rest of the budget will go towards, you need to decide what is more important to you and your fiancé.  Maybe it’s a $2,000 wedding attire or maybe it’s beautiful flowers.  Whatever is most important to both of you determines how you spend the rest of your wedding budget.  Just remember that if you spend too much on one thing, you will probably have to sacrifice on another.


Well, that’s the quick and dirty version on budgeting for your wedding.  Just remember that planning your wedding should be a fun and stress-free journey to the rest of your wonderful life’s journey.  Whatever your budget is, use it as a guideline. Know that it can always run a little over and if you are lucky, a little under.  The point is, don’t make yourself too crazy.  Best of luck in your wedding planning journey!


Romantic at heart, Jolie Colon is the owner of i do events and party rentals. Also owner of Le Fluer Atelier of i do events…
Published, award winning and innovative planning and floral studio was founded in 2007 and is based in Central Florida.
Globally recognized for providing luxury wedding planning, floral for weddings and events. Weddings are our passion – quality is our trait.

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Your Pre-Wedding Night Packing List

Everything you’ll need to be ready for your big day

Image Credit: Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

Wedding planning revolves around checklists and in the days leading up to your nuptials you’ll need them more than ever to make sure everything gets done! Between breaking in your shoes, last minute check-ins with coordinators and submitting your final shot list, you’ll have enough on your plate without worrying about forgetting to pack something the night before. That’s where this guide will come in handy, to give you peace of mind that you’ll have everything you need for your special day.

Essential toiletries & tools

Image Credit: Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Makeup and brushes – even if you have a makeup artist coming, bring your everyday and best cosmetics. This way, if you end up not liking your look, you’ll have your favorites at the ready for last-minute fixes.

Face mask – choose one that you know hydrates your skin and has no chance of causing a reaction. Do not risk using anything new on your skin in the days leading up to your wedding.

Skincare – pack everything you would usually for a night away. Make sure to have make up remover that can cope if you are wearing heavy-duty coverage.

Toothbrush – toothpaste, floss and mouthwash for fresh breath all day and all night.

Hair care – hardcore hairspray, heavy-duty shampoo and conditioner to wash away hardcore hairspray, dry shampoo, bobby pins, hair bands, hair brushes, any styling tools you’ll be using and heat protection.

Body – shower gel, razor, shaving gel, body mitt, deodorant, moisturizer, perfume.

Extras – Remember to pack your favorite items from your gorgeous bridal subscription boxes, as well as a nail file and tweezers for any hairs that may have escaped waxing or surprise chips in nails. Plus, if you are wearing false lashes, keep the glue close by!

Bridal clothes & backups

Image 3

Image credit: Jeremy Wong Weddings on Unsplash

Wedding dress – of course, plus any accessories such as detachable skirts, second outfits and shrugs/cardigans if it’s going to be cold.

Underwear and PJ’s – something comfy and color coordinated for the day and something special for the night, even if you do both end up passed out in your pajamas after all the celebrating!

Bodice/Spanx – make sure to pack the undergarments you have already tried on with your dress to ensure that you don’t have visible straps or lines.

Tights, socks + extra pairs – even if you are wearing bare legs, having a pair of back up tights and socks is a good idea in case your shoes rub, or you get chilly in the evening.

Shoes – your wedding shoes and any flats for the evening for when your feet get tired.

Veil – and any other hair or headpieces.

Second outfit – everything you’ll need for your evening change of clothes.

Must have accessories

Image 4

Image Credit: Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

Something old – something new, something borrowed, something blue… and a silver sixpence for your shoe!

Jewelry – your earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces for both your wedding and the day after, ideally kept safe in a travel jewelery case to avoid any damage before your big day.

Regular clothes

Casual clothes – For the day after, remember you’ll probably be hungover so have some comfies at the ready and get that #wifey t-shirt packed too. Equally, if you’re doing a post-wedding brunch, make sure you plan your outfit in advance ready to pack.

Underwear – bra, pants, socks, tights and double up on everything so can rest easy.

Weather protection – sunnies and sun cream if it’s hot. Coats, under clothes, hat, scarf and umbrella if it’s not.

Bathing suit – and goggles if you’re planning to use any pool facilities.

Image Credit: Clay Banks on Unsplash

Final thoughts

Sewing kit – for last minute tears.

Safety pins – see above.

Band-aids – for cuts and blisters.

Shoe cushions – in case they rub.

Painkillers and tampons – should you need them.

Birth control – if you use them.

Any medications – that you need to take.

Cash – just in case you need to get a taxi or a drink for any reason.

Charger – to keep your electronics juiced.

Headphones/speaker – for watching movies, shaking it out in your room.

A book – for relaxing the night before.


Don’t forget your other checklists! You should be able to just relax and get ready when you wake up on the morning of your big day, but just in case make a final list of everything you need to check up on and make sure to bring it with you so you can relax fully when you get into your PJ’s for the last night of unmarried life.

And relax

The night before your wedding should be a little nerve-wracking, but mainly super exciting. Ideally, by this time all loose ends will be tied up and by following this guide you should have everything you need to be able to just chill, run a bubble bath and unwind before one of the biggest days of your life!


Nat is a fashion-conscious blogger with an interest in all things wedding related. Having been married for over four years, Nat is still running her wedding blog entitled Help! I’m Getting Married. Her other interests include health and beauty, family, travel and hanging out with her cat.