Wedding dress shopping is a complete experience. We say yes to the dress, just like we say yes to getting married, and there are so many special emotions tied to that dress. I could go into a list of all of the reasons of why wedding gowns are special and why we place so much importance on them, but for the purposes of this blog all it really boils down to is that it’s your dress and wedding dresses should be celebrated.

I love how much people recognize wedding dresses as being special. Whether I’d found my dress yet was one of the most popular wedding planning questions I got and I had a lot of fun with the shopping experience. I also love talking to my friends that are getting married about their own wedding dresses. But, as much care as I put into choosing the perfect dress to say yes to, by the end of our reception it was absolutely filthy. I’ve always had the mindset that clothes are meant to be worn and getting dirty is just a part of that, so I wasn’t too worried about it and saw it as proof that a good time was had in it.

You can absolutely clean your dress after your wedding day. You can store it for the future, transform it into something else, or sell it to get some of your money back. There is no wrong answer. But before you can do any of that, I want to make sure that you get the most out of your gown. That you make it more special than it already inherently is. That you enjoy the heck out of it. That you have memories in it that you will never forget. That you have photos of it looking its best the moments before you started the rest of your forever.

Which is why I was stopped in my tracks when I was scrolling through Breelan’s wedding photos.

Her dress was stunning, yes, but she figured out a way to make it even more special on her big day by taking getting ready photos inside the chapel. They embraced her wedding dress. It was buttoned by important women in her life in the exact same spot that she was about to become a wife. That’s special. And the beautiful photos truly speak for themselves.

So, what can you do to get the most out of your bridal gown?

Take Bridal Portraits

We love bridal portraits because not only do they give you an opportunity to test run your dress and see yourself as a fully done-up bride for the first time, but they also let you get more wear out of your dress and have another way to show it off. Beyond that, bridal portraits are just a ton of fun and they’re so special because taking them makes everything feel more real. If you’re still not convinced, check out our blog post on the top four reasons you should take bridal portraits.

Get a Pretty Hanger

Whether you want an ornate hanger, one that says “bride,” or one that shows off your new last name, pretty hangers make photos of your dress look more custom than the plastic hangers dresses normally come with. As an added bonus, you can reuse the hanger in your own closet after the wedding is over so you get a little reminder of your big day every day.

Pose with Your Dress 

If you’ve seen our post on how to stay calm on your wedding day, one of my recommendations is to have a getting ready outfit that you love. Before you switch from that outfit to your wedding dress, take a moment to pose with or appreciate your wedding dress. It lets you get both outfits you wore on your wedding day in one photo, plus you’ll be so excited about the fact that it’s almost time to put your dress on that your joy in the photos will be so evident. Whether you leave your dress hanging and look up at it or hold it up while smiling, it’s also a chance to show off that pretty hanger you chose. Detail photos are great – and we really love them – but detail photos that also have you in them are even better because they’re more personal.

Style Your Getting Ready Photos 

Getting ready photos, like Breelan’s, are pretty common in the wedding day shot-list, but you can do a few things to help ensure that you have the best getting ready photos possible. First and foremost, make sure whoever is helping you get dressed is already completely dressed with their hair and makeup done. If you’re getting ready in the bridal suite, you might also want to pick up a little and make sure there isn’t any extra clutter that would be seen in the pictures or in the mirror. Finally, you may want to kick out anyone that isn’t specifically there helping you get dressed (or taking photos of the moment). It can be tempting to have all of your girls looking on, but if there are more people in the room you’re more likely to get photos of you looking off at them or talking, which don’t make for the prettiest photos. It also lets you just focus on what’s going on. If you want to take your getting ready photos up a notch, you can also consider “faking” them somewhere else. Get fully dressed, but head outside or into the hall for photos of someone special primping you, zipping you up, or doing final touches. These can also be fun to take with your bridesmaids after you’re fully ready.

Have First Looks for YOU

Whether you’re planning on doing a first look with your groom or not, this type of first look will have a different feel. While one with your spouse is about focusing on your love for one another, excitement, and anticipation, doing a first look designed just for you is about making you feel gorgeous and getting to focus on how you feel in your dress. You can do a first look/reveal with your dad, mom, grandma, sisters, bridal party, really anyone special to you. Their reactions are always priceless and it will be a memory you’ll never forget. It also gives you an opportunity to have all of the focus on you and that gorgeous gown you chose, which should just make you even happier by the time you’re walking down the aisle. Remember, happiness multiples on your wedding day!