It is a daunting task searching for ‘the’ wedding dress, I have to be honest the process scared the hell out me. I think it because you have lots of things running through your head – from excitement to dread, to the realisation that you are actually getting married, to worrying that you won’t find anything that fits or that makes you look beautiful.
The stress kind of drifts away when you actual get to the bridal boutique and spot a gown you love. Then questions like can I afford it, will it look good in 10 years time in the wedding photographs, will I be comfortable all day long, and will I still love it in 6 months time when it finally comes in – to be honest if you have to ask yourself these questions for too long, I don’t think you have found the ‘one’.
It is a hard choice, come on it is rare that a wedding dress isn’t pretty, OK sometimes it might not suit you, but never is it not beautiful, and wearing something gorgeous can make it hard to say no to. It is moments like this where your bridal salon really needs to step in and steer you in the right direction. I went to about 6 salons in total both in London and around the Cambridge area where I live and I have to say that half were dreadful. It is why I really need to stress don’t just do research on the dresses you like but also on where to shop, ask your friends where they went, who do your wedding venue recommend and check out reviews on bridal forums – trust me finding a great boutique will save you time, probably money and make it more enjoyable.
I am not an expert in how to make wedding dress shopping perfect, but I can tell you a few tips that I picked up from my experience, which was probably a little more rushed than most brides-to-be as for some reason I didn’t realise that the lead-time was so long, some designers need up to 9 months to get your dress to you.
Underwear: Don’t try on dresses in full on Spanks, maybe you feel that you need it but most dresses come with their own support inside and if you are going for dresses that suit your silhouette you probably won’t need anyway. Just go for a nude strapless bra and comfortable knickers, I think a thong might scare the bridal assistant. I would also suggest going for a bra fitting before you go so you are wearing the right bra size.
Make-up: Don’t go overboard, try to go as natural as possible, while still feeling and looking pretty. This can be hard, it was for me, but some salons might ask you take it off so you don’t damage any of the dresses. I saw a bride-to-be who got fake tan all over a dress she was trying on and the salon was not amused. Unless you say yes to the dress on your first visit you can always return with a little more make-up and extra special hair to really get a wedding day feel when you try on your dress for the second time.
Honesty: If you don’t have a set idea on what you want tell them what you definitely don’t want. I felt like I knew what I didn’t want more than what I did and it really helped the consultant find me dresses that would work for me. Also be aware that your consultant isn’t going to be offended if you don’t like the dress, don’t just yes to them all, I found by saying what I loved, what I didn’t like, and what I wish it had really helped narrow down the selection.
Don’t Worry: This is hard, especially if you have tried on 10 dresses and not found anything you like, trust me if there is a dress out there for me, there is for you as well. I found that with each dress I tried on the more I realised what I wanted and I just needed to track it down. Worrying can also come with having a set dress in mind and it not looking good on, go in with an open mind, ask your consultant to pull something that she thinks would look good, and try to enjoy the experience.
Sit, Shimmy & Walk: This might sound silly but make sure that you sit down in your dress, dance a little bit, and go for a walk around the boutique. I found a great dress that I couldn’t sit down in and unless you are standing all day long it isn’t very practical. I also found walking around made me spot other things I loved or didn’t like about the dress, the way the sparkle caught the light, the detailing on the back, or that it felt too heavy, some dresses are uncomfortable to walk and dance in.
Price: Tell them your budget before you try on any dresses, trying on a dress way out of your price range and falling in love with it can be heartbreaking. Also take in to account alterations, nearly all dresses will need some adjustment whether the hem, the train or to nip in a little at the bust, ask the salon for prices. Also don’t be afraid to ask if there are any discounts, they can only say no, but the dress you like might be available at a trunk show at a later date so might be worth waiting. I would also suggest calling around to other stockists as I found my dress was priced differently everywhere I tried it on.
Trust Your Own Opinion: Having friends and family with you to make the decision is great, they can really help narrow the shortlist, but at the end of the day you will be the one wearing it all day – your opinion, whether you a paying for it or not is the most important. I also think too many people makes it more difficult. I actually went just with my mum and shared a few pics with my closest friends, but in the end I made the final decision.
Surprise: When you have found the ‘one’ you will want to tell everyone which beauty you have picked, don’t, I think it spoils the surprise of the day especially if they are joining you on your special day. It is hard keeping it a secret, I am even keeping all the customisations to my dress a surprise for my Mum, I really want it to be a special moment when she sees it on the day. I promise come November when I get married I will share pics of my dress but for now all I will say is that it has an Old Hollywood glamour about it.
My biggest tip for wedding dress shopping is to enjoy yourself, it really is a wonderful moment, tiring and draining – those dresses are heavy, but the most fun ever and when you find the ‘one’ you won’t stop smiling.
Still looking for inspiration before shopping? Why not check out my wedding dress inspiration board on Pinterest.
Follow Fashionista Barbie Danielle Wightman-Stone’s board Wedding Dress Inspiration on Pinterest.