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How To Shop For Your Wedding Dress

How To Shop For Your Wedding Dress

(Cover credit: Mr & Mrs Wedding Photography)

For most brides, dress shopping is a crucial part of the planning. If you've been daydreaming about your wedding at all, it's likely you'll have some kind of "perfect" ensemble in your head that you see yourself walk down the aisle in - unless you see your nuptials happening naked, in which case, you do you, gal.

But in reality, when the fittings come round they can be funny old things. Instead of the excitement of a good therapeutic shopping day with pals and delight at dressing up, you can instead feel nerves, apprehension, and mild nausea at the prospect. What if you don't like any of them? What if you fall in love with one that's astronomically expensive that only the daughters and granddaughters of oil tycoons can afford? What if none of them fit? And what if none of them are 'the one'? Accepting the life-long commitment to your fiancé was a walk in the park - accepting the life-long commitment to your wedding dress can be a much more difficult situation.

To ease you in, we've come up with some easy things to think about before your wedding dress journey begins to help you step out of any panic and slip into the dress of your dreams.

 

Do some research beforehand

Narrowing down the options of the styles you're going to try on before you've even booked appointments seems like a weird thing to do, but in fact you'll be doing it subconsciously anyway. Some styles you'll naturally gravitate towards, whereas some you'll naturally lean away from. If you know you want a 50s style tea dress, then don't book an appointment at a bridal boutique with a very editorial-led style. Similarly, if you want sleek silk crepe, don't book an appointment at a rockabilly and retro bridal boutique. If you go for a scatter-gun approach and book an appointment at every boutique in a 50 mile radius with little care for their style or approach, the overwhelm is going to hit and it's going to hit soon. We're not looking for overwhelmed - we're looking for overjoyed!

 

But equally, stay open-minded.

The above isn't to say that you wouldn't find your dream dress in a rockabilly store if you were dreaming of sleek silk crepe, however. Bridal stylists know their designs inside out, and are trained to know what dresses suit certain days, figures, and personalities. If the dresses you'd initially picked out from the rails aren't quite hitting the mark, be open-minded and listen to their suggestions. They may have noticed that the dresses you've picked (and hated) so far have all had a drop waist, and that what you don't like about them is that you're conscious about your tummy. Trust them when they bring out a slightly more high-waisted number, even if it's not got the long sleeves you wanted or the button detailing you originally lusted after - you might feel like a million pounds in the dress you'd never thought to try, and they know that. And it's not a sales pitch either - bridal stylist would much rather you feel a million pounds on your wedding day than pay a million pounds to them! 

 

The Bridal Emporium, Leeds

The Bridal Emporium, Leeds

 

Be realistic with budgeting

God, budget talk gets boring around weddings doesn't it? We know you hear it all the time so we'll keep it brief, but it's true. A simple way to avoid falling in love with a dress you can't afford (#lifehack!!!) is by trying your best not to try them on in the first place. There's no harm in doing your research as to the price range of the boutique you're looking into - and you're not alone, this is a FAQ that most have online. And don't fall into the trap of thinking you'll try on the more expensive ones 'just to dream' or 'just to get an idea' either - unless you have the willpower of an absolute saint! If you do, send some of that my way, please. Ignorance is bliss - and so is being able to afford rent.

 

Try not to wear loads of make-up

The dresses you'll be trying on in the store are sample dresses, meaning prospective brides have probably tried them on before you and will try them on after you too. Try not to wear  make-up that will come off on the fabric and leave a mark as you're getting it over your head - foundation and bright lipstick are the worst culprits here. If you feel more comfortable with a full face of make-up on than without - and feeling yourself is SUPER important when wedding dress shopping - then pack a towel or a pillowcase to be able to put in between your face and the dress when you're putting them on and taking them off. You may feel stupid whilst you're momentarily plunged into clothed darkness, but you'd feel a whole lot worse if you were trying on dresses covered in other people's half-rubbed off face. After all, it's not about them, it's all about you!

Edith & Winston Bridalwear. Photo Credit: Stephen McGowan

Edith & Winston Bridalwear. Photo Credit: Stephen McGowan

 

Small but sweet

The amount of people who want to support you on your dress-shopping journey is usually downright lovely and a credit to how wonderful you are. However, before you know it, you can end up having 5 or 6 people in with you. Not only are many bridal boutiques limited in physical space, but having 12 eyes goggling at you as soon as you step foot out of the changing room in a very emotional moment can be extremely daunting. On top of that, the chances are that all of your guests will have differing opinions. Although all very well-intentioned and individually somewhat helpful, together they create a cacophony of confusion, leaving you with no idea what you even think of the dress any more. Limit your shopping party to a few key members, those closest to you, and go with them at your own pace and in your own style. Less performing monkey, more beautiful butterfly. 

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