What to Do If You Experience "Wedding Dress Regret"

How to handle second-guessing your wedding gown purchase.

Worried that you didn't choose the absolute perfect dress? Here's advice on how to avoid dress regret and ease your anxieties.

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Photo: DH Photo

In a world where there is an entire television franchise based on shopping for wedding dresses – we're looking at you "Say Yes to the Dress" – brides feel a lot of pressure to make sure they’ve chosen the absolute perfect wedding dress. Unfortunately, that leads to a lot of women with “wedding dress regret”: fretting that they have made the wrong choice of bridal gown. Wedding dress regret often occurs when brides let their shopping entourage (mother, best friend, bridesmaids, etc.) over-influence the decision for which wedding dress to purchase. Other times it’s because they rushed into the choice of wedding dress, whether due to a great sale or buying the first dress that looked good.

Having to purchase the bridal gown months before the wedding leads to plenty of time to second-guess your choice. For brides who have had to postpone their wedding day due to Covid, the wedding version of buyers remorse – wedding dress included – can be devastating. What once may have felt like the perfect choice may now be questioned due to style changes or even a new wedding date or venue.

Wedding dress regrets come in many different patterns – and if you can, it's best to avoid even having to think about other wedding gowns. If you already have a dress you love, we recommend not looking over pictures of the latest bridal fashions and designer wedding dresses while continuing wedding planning in order to avoid thinking the grass in greener on the other side. It’s important to remember that while there are hundreds upon hundreds of beautiful dresses and a million ways to find "the one" dress that's right for you, not every bridal gown looks great on every body type. If you look and feel great in the wedding dress you bought, feel comfortable in that decision.

However, all of the above is just advice on how to avoid wedding dress regret. But what if the regret has fully set in? If you are saying to yourself, "I hate my wedding dress... What do I do?" luckily for you, we have tips for brides experiencing that phase of dress regret while wedding planning as well:

Ceremony + Reception Wedding Dresses

Photo by Ben Finch of Finch Photography; From Real Wedding: Backyard Tent Wedding at Groom's Family Lake House in Tennessee

What to Do If You Feel Dress Regret Immediately

If you feel dress regrets immediately, you are probably better off canceling your order right away while you can likely get your deposit back. You can always order it again if your dress regrets continue and you change your mind!

Whatever you do, just be sure to look over the policies before purchasing – if you're prone to fashion regret, wedding dress regrets can be much easier if you have that tendency in mind while purchasing. For example, you definitely wouldn't want to buy a final-sale item if there's even a slight chance that you won't love the gown weeks or months later.

There's a Chance It's Just Separation Anxiety

With the time it takes for a bridal gown to come in from the designer, and then the time it stays away for alterations, your second thoughts may just be separation anxiety. If you're experiencing the feeling of dress regret, remember what you loved about the gown when you tried it on the first few times.

Also, we can't stress this enough, do not continue to shop for bridal gowns once you've found your wedding dress. There was a reason you said "yes" to that dress, and continuing to shop will just make your life more stressful. Of course, there are plenty of gowns that will look great on you, but it's important to commit to the gown you loved so much.

What to Do If Your Wedding Dress Has Already Come In

If the bridal gown has already come in, give yourself some time before deciding to buy another one. You may just need a second opinion to help you feel more confident in your decision. Bring someone to your fitting for reassurance if that will help you decide. This is a personal decision, but sometimes it's nice to have a confidant who knows your fashion tendencies. They may be able to help you make an informed decision – and not keep a gown to avoid an inconvenience and then later lead to you saying, "I hated my wedding dress!"

If you're still unsure, oftentimes there are little tweaks that can be made to a bridal gown to help it feel like the perfect one. Did you choose a strapless gown, but now you're wishing you had some sort of strap or sleeve? Take your gown to a wedding dress alterations expert to see what's possible for embellishing the dress you're beginning to regret to one you can't wait to wear!

We also encourage brides to experiment with different veils and jewelry, try a belt or sash, remove some hoops to make a ball gown less voluminous, or add a petticoat to make an A-line dress more princess-like. There are so many options to make your dress your own – so don't give up just yet!

What to Do If You're Truly Regretting Your Wedding Dress

Once you find yourself quite literally losing sleep over your bridal gown shopping regrets, then it may be worth it to try a second dress. Listen to yourself – and if needed, consult with your wedding planner. He or she has likely had other brides who have experienced the same thing and can offer wisdom on the subject!

If your deposit cannot be refunded, sometimes you may be able to use the deposit for a different gown at the same salon. Be direct and ask nicely – you never know! If not, be kind to the bridal salon and accept defeat on this particular purchase.

While you may not get all of your money back, selling your first choice will help fund a new one as well as provide another bride with a dream dress she might not have been able to afford! While it's not the perfect option you may have imagined, it can be the best of both worlds if you really feel strongly about purchasing a new wedding dress!