Wedding dress shopping- it’s all champagne sipping and holding back tears as you slip into the most beautiful dresses you’ve ever seen right? Ruined by years of movies, I thought wedding dress shopping would be a romantic affair with silk, lace and tule. I soon discovered that whilst fun, beautiful and emotional, is also a bit of a military operation. I really had very little idea of what was involved it turns out. To make the process as easy as possible, I’ve put together my top tips I wish I’d known before I embarked on the adventure…
Wear nice undies (& keep the make-up natural)
The dream: Slipping into a gorgeous dress in the privacy of a changing room, before sweeping open the curtain and wowing…
The reality: From dresses in a sample size too small, to swan diving into certain shapes, there ends up being a fair amount of heavy duty work when it comes to trying on dresses. Your wonderful sales assistant will be seeing you in a number of compromising positions, so its probably not the best day to wear your grey granny pants.
The advice: A nude coloured set (seamless or thong) is best as it means you can really get a feel for what the dress will look like on. Whilst some places have silk cloths to cover your face (I’m thinking of Grace Loves Lace in particular), it may work well to not go too heavy on the makeup- there is nothing quite as awkward as smearing foundation on a £3000 dress…
Limit your allies
The dream: A room filled with your nearest and dearest ladies, sipping champagne, on hand with compliments and well wishes
The reality: Many dresses shops will have a limit on the number of people you’re allowed with you- it is usually 2 or 3, so it’s best to choose wisely!
The advice: For my first visits I either went alone. or took my a few of my bridesmaids. Once I knew I wanted to go back it was time to bring in the big guns- my mother and mother-in-law (to be). Taking those with a similar style to you in the earlier appointments will give you the space to make your own decisions without feeling pressure from what other people want you to wear.
Know what you want to try on before you go
The dream: Romantic images of entering wedding dress shops and gently stroking dress after dress until I had selected the ones I wanted to try on.
The reality: Within the first five minutes the sales assistant will want a list of the dresses you want to try on, and warn you that there will only be time to try on between 3-5.
The advice: Make sure to check out the website before hand and select a few dresses you know you want to try. The sales assistants are brilliant at going from this, and your body shape (and budget), to work to find you the dress of your dreams. The more prepped you are, the more time for actually trying on dresses there is.
Keep an open mind
The dream: Knowing what type of dress I wanted, all I had to do was actually find it
The reality: I tried on a dress that I was sure would be the one (fishtail, slightly covering the arms which I knew I wanted covered for sure), and I hated it on me. Styles I liked didn’t make me feel like a ‘real bride’ and I never would have guessed what I went for in the end.
The advice: Keep an open mind! Wedding dresses are designed to be super flattering and you’ll be surprised just how gorgeous some of the shapes and styles are on. Let your knowledgeable sales guide make you try on the occasional dress you wouldn’t have thought you liked. You never know, it may be the one!
Beware of the fees (& alteration costs!)
The dream: Spending a day floating round London with my girls, darting from wedding shop to wedding shop until we found the one.
The reality: You need to make an appointment and most wedding dress shops will charge £25-30 for this appointment (which I found pretty cheeky…)
The advice: Check when you call as you can sometimes get a discounted off peak appointment, and most shouldn’t charge you for a second appointment. Remember to factor in alterations too. They can easily add another £500+ to the cost of the dress!
But most importantly? Relax, enjoy it and have fun. You’ll only get the opportunity to go shopping for your wedding dress (hopefully) once, so make the most of it.