A proper guide to planning your wedding.
No flowery adverbs or prose, just good clear information
Searching for your perfect wedding dress should be a dreamy process that leaves you feeling utterly gorgeous, but all too often it becomes a stressful, overwhelming experience for many brides.
It doesn’t have to be like this with some simple planning and easy to remember guidance. This article is designed to give you straightforward tips and advice so you can relax and truly enjoy the search for your dream dress.
All wedding designers release two collections per year and shops will only stock a style of dress for a specific time. If you love a style, shop soon and buy it early to avoid the ‘one that got away’ syndrome.
Good dresses take time to make so do plan at least 7-8 months in advance. For summer weddings it is important to start looking in winter before/just after Christmas. By doing this, you will cut out the last minute stress.
If you want a dress by a specific designer make sure to look out for ‘trunk sales' on their website and book an appointment early. Trunk sales are when specific designers showcase their dresses in a shop. Often there are good deals and samples to buy on the day.
Be wary of buying at general sample sales. These can sound great and cheap, but before purchasing a dress off the hanger do look for marks, discolouration etc. It can also be wise to ask the bridal shop to cost for a clean and any alterations in the total cost.
End of season sales can be a great time to visit stores to get must-have seasonal dresses with significant discounts. These tend to take place between October and December. Once you have decided on a specific dress, do also call around and get prices (including alterations). To make sure you get the best deal. Some shops can seem cheaper until you add in the alteration costs.
Wedding dress consultants will advise your selections, but it is helpful to learn wedding dress lingo before you go. Bridal shop appointments get booked up quickly. Therefore, do plan wedding dress days out a few weeks in advance, which will enable you to visit 2-3 shops in one day in a relaxed way.
Keep an open mind before visiting a shop. Looking online will give an idea of designers, but the actual dresses in the store can massively vary from what is online. Every year there will be a wedding dress trend, as designers need to keep selling dresses.
Be mindful of opting for high fashion designs.
At the time these dresses will seem stylish, but in 10-20 years’ time, these dresses could look very dated. Instead, stick to classic wedding dress styles and materials.
Another essential aspect is selecting who should come wedding dress hunting with you.
Make this choice based on who will make you feel most special and not based family/friend obligations.
Bring a pair of comfortable heels to try dresses on with and avoid standing on a block, even if the consult says this will help. Standing on a block will give you a distorted view of how the dress would look on you (unless you are suddenly going to grow 6 inches).
It is highly likely that the dress you try on will be too big. Consultants will use lots of tricks to make it the right size; ask for the bodice to be clipped and avoid foam blocks stuffed down your back. These will mask how the dress would feel against your back and will also distort rear viewing of it.
Do take a silent snap of the dress when you are in the fitting room (only if entirely alone) or, if allowed, ask for the consultant to take some pictures. If pictures are strictly not allowed, make a note of the dresses you liked and any specific detailing. Always return to your favourite dress before leaving so it is fresh in your mind. Do try your dress on with a bra that you are considering wearing. This will have an enormous effect on how the shape of the bodice will look. If you are small don’t be worried to bring some padding – dress consultants have seen it all.
Irrespective of the dress (unless it is a figure-hugging sheath or column style), do ask to try on an underskirt to see the effect this has on the skirt's shape. These can dramatically alter the skirt shape and feel. It is particularly crucial to do this if you love the detailing on a specific dress, but the skirt lacks the wow factor. If you cannot decide between two dresses; merely wear the slimmest one and then fit the other over the front to your figure: This is a consultant trade secret, which will enable you to compare back and forth without the lengthy changing process.
Ok, so you have found the dress. Hopefully, it is within budget, you are getting measured, and you want to buy it. WAIT. There are a couple of things to check before paying a non-refundable deposit.
1. How many alternations will be needed on the exact size ordered (and how much will this cost?)
2. Is the size ordered closest to your usual clothing size and is there an option to buy a longer/short length dress (some designers will have this option)
3. Is the dress being ordered in the correct colour for you (make sure it matches the one tried on)
4. Will an underskirt be needed (and how much will this cost?)
5. How many fittings will be involved (the more the better)
6. Does the cost include a steam-press and can the dress be stored in the shop until near the day (leaving it at the shop will negate the stress of where to hide it)
7. Timescales – how the shop will contact you/keep you up to date, so you do not need to chase
It is just one dress, for one day only and your guests will barely notice the difference between that £1,500 dress and the £6,000 designer one. Do remember there are bigger things in life to save for, which often come after marriage. You will regret that massive spend hanging in your wardrobe if it puts you in debt. You could search forever and there will always be another dress out there. When you have selected your favourite do stop looking. If not, you will create a headache, waste money and probably start to stress those closest to you.
Quit comparing your dress to the ones in magazines. We all do it, but quite honestly do understand that your husband will think you are the most beautiful bride ever. He certainly does not look at those magazines. It is one day where your inner critic does not need to surface.
Dress shape does matter, this may sound controversial but hear me out... to look wonderful, it is one day to accept who you are, what your shape is and dress your body in a way that is flattering. I can say this with confidence as there are styles and shapes designed to enhance every figure.
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