With just over five months to go until our Santorini wedding, I was running out of time to find my wedding dress especially if I needed to order a dress in.
Fortunately I found my dress in the second shop I went in at the weekend and, as it was off the rack, I was able to take it away the same day.
Having been married before, and with a history of bridal modelling, I went shopping knowing that sometimes the style you’ve seen on Pinterest or in an magazine may not actually suit you. Different styles suit different shapes and sizes, and sometimes the fishtail dress you’d never considered might look amazing on you.
Pick some styles out yourself, let those with you pick some out and let the shop staff pick some too, after all, they are experienced in finding styles that suit different shapes and sizes.
Try as many different styles as possible and don’t be disheartened if a style doesn’t suit you, just have fun with it.
2. Don’t Let Size Bother You
So you may be a size 10-12 on the highstreet and worked hard to get there, but bridal sizes work differently and you’ll often need to go up a size. I’ve been desperate to get back into my size 8 skinny jeans since having Benjamin and I finally managed it a couple of weeks ago, but I was fitting nicely into size 12 wedding dresses, and some size tens wouldn’t do up. Don’t let it bother you. What does the number in a tag mean when the dress fits like a glove and looks amazing on you? Make sure you wear some big knickers and a strapless bra, preferably in nude, and be prepared to get down to them in front of a member of staff. They’ve seen it all before, and if they’re good at their job they’ll help you feel comfortable and confident.
3. Stick to your Budget
Work out your budget for a dress and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to let the shop know what you can afford to spend as they’ll be able to direct you to the dresses in your budget. Don’t be tempted to try on dresses you can’t afford as you will likely fall in love with one and either be heartbroken when you have to leave it behind, or end up getting into debt in order to buy it. Don’t be afraid to try off the rack dresses, they are often ex samples or discontinued designs and can save you hundreds.
4. Designer Names Don’t Matter
You might have had your heart set on a particular designer since you were a little girl, but as I mentioned before, sometimes the styles you want don’t look the same as you imagine and it might be better to go for another designer. I don’t even know what designer made my dress but it doesn’t make it any less special. I tried on some big names but they did nothing for me.
5. Take Those with You Whose Opinion Matters
It may be tempting to take along lots of people, but often bridal shops are tiny and just don’t have enough space for a huge entourage. Plus, it’s nice to keep your dress a surprise from friends and family. I took along my mum and my sister (and Benjamin which wasn’t ideal, but needs must) and they were really good at being honest and letting me know which styles didn’t suit me, and which ones did.
6. Go to More than One Shop
You may know which shop you want to go to but it’s always a good idea to go to at least one more. Different shops carry different styles, and you never know which one might have ‘the one’ for you. I booked appointments at six shops and found my dress in the second one. Do I regret not going to the other four shops? Perhaps a little, but not as much as I would have regretted leaving my dress behind and potentially not getting it. Book appointments at several shops, you can always cancel them if you find your dress.
7. Be You
Don’t try and change your style when dress shopping. Yes a big princess dress can look magical, but if you don’t feel comfortable in it, it will show. You should find a dress which suits you, and makes you feel like you wearing it (just a sparklier, more bridal version of you).
8. Compare your Favourites
Once you’ve tried on several dresses they can all start blurring into one. If you’re able to, take photos of all the ones you like as you go along, and ask to keep the ones you love until the end. At this point, try the dresses on again one after the other. I loved two dresses and was completely torn between them until I tried them back on again and there was one clear winner. If you still aren’t sure, it might be that they aren’t the dresses for you. Go away, look at photos, think about them, and if you change your mind you can always go back.
9. Get your Dress First
Sorry if you’ve already got your bridesmaid dresses but generally it’s best to get your dress beforehand. Once you’ve got your dress you may change your theme, you might rethink your colour scheme, and the style of dresses you liked before might not go with your dress. Get your dress sorted first and work from there.
10. Ask for Offers
Once you’ve chosen your dress it’s always worth asking about any offers available. I paid for my dress in full and had a 5% discount applied for doing so. As my dress was off the rack, I also need some minor alterations done, by booking these at the shop I bought my dress in, I was able to get the straps altered free of charge. Perhaps you’re thinking of hiring the suits or buying bridesmaid dresses at the same shop? Or you want a tiara, veil or other accessory as well? It’s always worth asking if they can do a deal, what is there to lose?