By Sharon Townsend

Most people don’t frequent bridal salons; so odds are you will walk into your first bridal appointment feeling a little nervous. You will be choosing the most important garment you will ever wear, and you don’t want to make any rookie mistakes. Therefore, it might seem like a good idea to bring your mother, sister, mother-in-law and seven bridesmaids to your appointment to help you.

And there it is — your first mistake.

Before you know it, you’re thirty minutes into your hour and a half long appointment and looking at a stack of gowns you don’t even like. They were pulled by your overzealous bridesmaids who know these gowns are not your style but just want to “see them on.” And now two of them are making weird faces and shaking their heads at your first pick.

To get the most out of your appointment at any bridal salon (and possibly save yourself the time of having to make a second appointment), eliminate the entourage and invite as few guests as possible. Newly engaged brides often get excited to share wedding-related moments with all of their friends and family, but keep in mind that you will have other opportunities to celebrate with them, and those events won’t involve them offering unwanted opinions about the gown you really love.

It’s about quality, not quantity. Bring your closest friend and/or family member. Bring people you know will support you. You may love your best friend, but something about the way she said she wouldn’t be caught dead in your favorite new boots last year might make you think twice about inviting her. Go with your instincts. No rule states that the maid-of-honor must be present, especially if she’s very vocal and opinionated. Simply tell her you want to make this a special moment between you and your mom, but you”™ll definitely need her there when you start your search for bridesmaid dresses.

Still feeling obligated to bring a potential troublemaker along? Perhaps your sister thinks all wedding gowns look like frosted cupcakes, but your mom insists she tag along. Give her a job! By keeping her busy taking pictures or making a list of your favorites, she”™ll have less time to contribute her special brand of negativity.

Mike Topham Photography
Mike Topham Photography

No matter who you end up bringing, remind them (and yourself) that you want to find a gown that makes you happy and compliments your own unique style. They may be asked to contribute their thoughts when you are unsure, but they shouldn’t offer unsolicited advice based on what they would want or think you should wear.

Don’t feel like you can say it? Your consultant will act as your ally! She can remind them directly, or she can subtly steer the conversation in your favor, asking them to talk about the best feature of your favorite gown or building the case for a gown you really like before you even step out of a dressing room. Plus, she won’t let anyone bully you into trying on a stack of gowns you don’t like — we promise!

Sharon Townsend is the owner/manager of TIffanys Bridal & The Groom’s Corner, a Richmond tradition since 1969.   To learn more, visit

Featured image: Sean Holder Photography