Top Tips For Wedding Dress Shopping


Congratulations if you have just got engaged and now looking for your dream dress.

Having worked in the bridal industry for over 13 years, doing consultations in a bridal boutique, I have put together some tips to help you find that perfect dress. 

Let’s face it girls, the dress is what we fantasise about (well apart from the groom), it's the only dress we will really spend a fortune on, it has to be right, it's one day where we can guarantee eyes are on us and everyone will be checking out that dress.

Wedding dress shopping should be an enjoyable experience; however, for some it can be a nightmare, hopefully, my advice will stop you making those fashion faux pas.

Tip One  - Location & Theme

When deciding on a dress you need to take in consideration the location of your wedding, are you having a beach wedding abroad?  then you need to think about the style of dress to suit. 

A big fairytale gown with many layers maybe too hot to wear in an exotic location, you would need to opt for lightweight floaty material, consider travel too, will it pack into a case, will it travel well, you do not want to get to the other end with a seriously creased dress.

If you are getting married in a rustic outdoor setting, consider the style of dress to suit your theme, a big blinged up princess gown may not suit, a tight-fitting boho lace style dress would be more suitable for the theme and location. 

If you have your heart set on a big church wedding, then the princess gown with long train and veil would be perfect and suit the venue too. 

Before you hit the bridal boutiques, have a good think about your theme and location first.  

Tip Two - Budget 

This is probably the most important one, set a budget before you start looking, this will help narrow down your search and stop you feeling disheartened. 

Think about the designer you like, can you afford their dresses? if the answer is no then do not go try those dresses on, you will only feel deflated. 

Consider the boutiques too, if you only have a £500 budget then do not make appointments at boutiques that only stock high end dresses, again this stops your feeling totally disheartened, imagine finding your dream dress and its £2000 meh! 

If money is tight, not everyone has a huge budget and that's cool,  take a look at the sale rail.  Again find a boutique you know do lower end priced dresses so that you will not fill intimidated saying you only having a £200 budget. 

The price does not matter, it's how you feel and staying within your will look a princess whether you are in £100 dress or a £5000 dress.

Tip Three -  Research

This may seem like a simple tip but one many bride's do not do...research.  Browse bridal magazines, what style of dress do you like (take into consideration above tips), would you like white or ivory or maybe a pop of colour.  This will help you when you visit the bridal boutiques and stop you becoming overwhelmed.   If you do your homework it will help you find the perfect dress much quicker, plus this is the exciting bit.  Create a mood board to give you inspiration, to me being a designer this is fun. (maybe I need to get a life ha ha).

Tip Four - Create A Plan 

Once you have researched to your heart's content, now you need a plan of action. You have chosen you favourite designer or designers, now is time to browse the internet to find the nearest stockist, once you do, call them up to see if they have the designs you like in stock.
If they do, make an appointment and ask a trusted friend of family member to go with you.  

Tip Five -  Look Early 

Start looking for your dress roughly 8 months before hand, many designers need 6 months to create dresses.  Believe it or not many bridal boutiques only stock samples to try on and they are not the dresses you are actually getting, your size will be ordered in for you, so time is needed for this.

Tip Six - Keep An Open Mind 

So you have done all above, you have your heart set on a dress, your turn up at the bridal shop, try it on (see tips below) and you do not like it...what now!!  Be open minded to the sales assistant suggestions, every day they see different women try on dresses, they get a feel for what suits and what does not.

After working in a bridal boutique, trust me this is very common.  I am going to tell you about a lady who's wedding I helped with, she came in with a dress in mind, tried it on, styles like it but they did not suit her, obviously she was gutted.

I asked her if I could pick out a dress for her, I picked out a gown that I thought would suit her as soon as she stepped inside the boutique, she kind of looked at me to say I don’t like it, too big not the style I was after.  However she humoured me and agreed to try it on....she came over all emotional and needless to say it's the dress she purchased, so the moral of the story is be open minded to suggestions, how a dress looks like on a hanger is very different to being worn. 

Take a good friend or family member with you that you trust, get their opinions, however remember this is your day so go with what makes your heart flutter or creates those happy tears. 

Tip Seven  -  Body Shape

Pick a dress to suit your figure and consider all styles and designs (goes back to above tip). What you may actually want may not suit your figure.  This was one of the common mistakes I saw personally.   If you are a real busty lady then a strapless gown may not suit, so think about your body shape and dress to flatter those curves in the right way.

Tip Eight - Dress Size

Ladies this is the one dress you forget about the size tag, wedding dress sizes are nothing like normal dress sizes, especially if you are opting for a fitted dress or heavily beaded gown.  

You could be a size 8 in normal clothes but may need a 12 in a bridal gown, remember the dresses will be altered to suit your figure.  

Even if you plan to loose weight, do not go down a dress size, if you do not achieve your target weight you will end up with a dress too small and your will be heart broken.

You can take a dress in but you cannot let it back out. 

Tip Nine - Accessories 

If you are wearing your Nan's necklace or a veil that has been has been in your family for some time, take your accessories with you when searching for your dress so you can ensure they  match. 

Tip Ten  - First Fitting 

You have been called to say your dress is in, you need to have your first fitting, at this point make sure you have purchased your bridal shoes and underwear and take with you, put them on when having your first fitting.

Tip Eleven - Alterations

When purchasing your dress check with the bridal shop first to see if alterations are included in the price, do they have an in-house tailor?  Ask to see photos of previous brides to make sure you are happy with the tailor’s work.  You can arrange to have your dress altered by your own tailor if you wish, if you do this then the bridal boutique will not be liable if it goes wrong, so bear that in mind.

Alteration service is just as important, recently I have see a few brides where the dresses are beautiful but the alterations and fittings have has been dire and is ruined the dress, do check out their work before they start on yours.

If you are not happy with your fitting or alteration, speak up, it’s a big purchase and it has to be right. 

Make sure is sits correctly on the bust, no gaps, you do not want a wardrobe malfunction on your wedding day, check straps stay up, check it sits on your hips and the most importantly that you can breath and sit down.

Take with you whoever is helping you get ready on the day, if you have a corset back they will need to be shown how to tie up your dress, they will need to know how to hook your dress up for the reception, this is their time to be shown and asked questions and practice fr the big day.

Before you leave make sure you are happy.

Tip Twelve - Contract 

Make sure you get in writing from the bridal boutique a contract, stating all costs that are included, also any additional costs so you know where you stand and there are no hidden charges later on. Do you have to pay extra for storage, dress cover etc?

Make sure you dress designer and model number is correct on the paper work.
Insure the bridal shop is insured, (take out your own wedding cover though)
Make sure it states about lead times and it clearly states when you want to collect your dress, normally a few days before the wedding. 

You must have it all in writing so that you are covered and clear on what you have ordered. 

Final Tip - Collection 

Collection day, make sure you check your dress over before you leave the shop, is it clean, no rips or tears, has it been steed?   If you ordered, any extras are they all there, correct accessories or shoes, hoop etc. Just make sure you are 100% happy before you leave the shop.  

When you get home store the bag in a room away from sunlight (where no one will go in) and hang you dress to make sure any creases have dropped out that may have been caused by taking the dress home.


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