At the very beginning of your search for the dress of your dreams? Don’t make a move before you read our ultimate guide to dress shopping!
Ladies, it’s an incredibly exciting dress-filled world out there. We know you’re chomping at the bit to go go go, but trust us: wedding dress shopping is an art as well as a complete joy. Perfect your craft here with us before you’re dazzled and delighted and pick up some absolutely essential top tips. Master this fine art of dress shopping and to the victor, the spoils…
Before you shop:
1. Do your research
Before you start shopping, take some time to think about how you want to look on your wedding day, so you won’t get overwhelmed by all the choice in the boutiques. Get your hands on your favourite wedding magazine (Love Our Wedding, naturally!) and take a look through the fashion pages, making a note of the designers and shapes that you love. Online is also a great source of inspiration – websites like Find Your Dream Dress can help you narrow down all the latest designs by silhouette, fabric and style.
2. Set a budget
Unless you’re working with an unlimited budget, it’s important to have a top spend in mind when it comes to dress shopping. Bear in mind that the average bride spends around £1,385 on her wedding dress, and don’t forget to include your alterations and accessories in your bridal budget. Once you’ve got a top number, stick to it – do NOT try anything on over that price, as you risk falling in love with it, and either blowing your budget or being heartbroken over a dress you can’t have.
3. Give yourself plenty of time
Wedding dresses can take longer than you think to order, so this isn’t a trip you should leave until the last minute. Aim to shop no closer than 9 months away from your wedding day to give yourself plenty of time to shop and get the order in. If you’re in a time crunch, then don’t panic – boutiques can accommodate rush orders if you let them know your date in advance.
Making your appointment:
Now you’ve got your bridal budget sorted, it’s time to find boutiques to suit you! Don’t make the mistake of just visiting the bridal boutiques closest to you – be sure to check that they have dresses to suit your budget and your size before you make an appointment, to avoid being disappointed. You can also check out the boutique directory on Find Your Dream Dress to find out where your favourite designers are stocked.
2. Pick your dates wisely
Bridal designers tend to release new collections twice a year – once in Spring, around March, and once in Autumn, around September. Keep an eye out for sales at these times as boutiques clear space for the new designs on their rails.
3. Gather your posse
Forget everything you’ve seen on Say Yes to the Dress! Instead of a 15-person strong entourage, invite just two to three important people to come dress shopping with you.It doesn’t necessarily have to be your mum or your maid of honour, either – pick people who you know will be honest, but not blunt to the point of hurting your feelings, and who will respect your tastes and budget.
At the boutique:
1. Wear nice underwear
We warn you now: a bridal appointment is no time to be prudish! You’ll be half-naked with a consultant you’ve just met, so bear this in mind when you’re picking your underwear for the day! Leave your granny pants or lime-green lace thong at home, and instead choose light-coloured underwear that you don’t mind being seen in and that won’t show through the dress. A strapless bra is very handy, too.
2. Don’t be afraid of colour
It’s a common misconception that all wedding dresses are white. In fact, there are plenty of shades of white – off-white, ivory and champagne – as well as pastels like blush, topaz and misty blue, all of which will wear differently on different skin tones. Don’t shy away from anything that’s not pure white because you’re afraid it won’t look ‘bridal’ – we promise you, no one is going to miss that you’re the bride on the day!
Things to remember:
1. Don’t count on weight loss
We can’t stress this enough: buy your dress in the size you are currently, rather than the size you’re hoping to be on your wedding day. That is exactly what fittings and alterations are for, and it is FAR easier to take a dress in than it is to let it out. It also means that you won’t be putting undue stress on yourself to lose weight in the lead up to the wedding, which can lead to anxiety and dangerous crash dieting. If you’re determined to lose a large amount of weight before the big day, let your consultant know this, and she can advise you on which size to order.
2. You might not cry
Everyone always says that you’ll be able to tell if your dress is ‘the one’, but sometimes it’s not that simple! You might expect to burst into tears the minute you see yourself in the perfect dress, and that both your mother and your bridal consultant will be sobbing in the corner, but a lot of the time this just doesn’t happen. Three signs that you love your dress are: you can’t stop smiling, you keep looking at yourself in the mirror in it, and you don’t want to take it off. If you can’t stop thinking about it once you’ve left the shop, then it’s the one.
3. Once you’ve found it, stop shopping
When you think you’ve found the perfect gown, then you need to follow this one rule to avoid dress regret: STOP. SHOPPING. If you keep looking in boutiques or at dresses on Instagram, then you’re likely to start worrying about whether you’ve made the right choice. Be secure in the knowledge that you looked beautiful in your choice, and just look forward to when you get to wear it down the aisle!