Wedding dress shopping can bring a whole host of emotions, who to invite, what to wear and how many places to book into?
Whenever I spoke to people about our wedding, most of the women were amazed I hadn’t started wedding dress shopping yet. Even when the wedding was a whole 18months away. For many brides, it’s the first thing they want to do… but I just wasn’t ready yet.
I can finally say I’ve found my dress though, and here is everything I learnt along the way.
- Don’t be pressured into going before you’re ready.
As soon as you announce your wedding plans, people will want you to start shopping, but I think the most important thing you can do is wait until you’re ready. Obviously don’t leave it too late (most dresses take between 6-9 months to arrive – and that’s before any alterations can be made) but let yourself be in the right mindset first.
When I was covered in eczema and getting used to my recent weight gain, I knew that whatever I tried on, I wouldn’t feel right in. Treat it like the dreaded jean shopping, only go when you feel good in yourself.
- Be prepared to get naked.
Ok, maybe not fully naked but you will have lots of strangers seeing you in your underwear. Some websites recommend wearing the type of underwear you are planning to wear on the wedding day but personally I felt a bit shy to be rocking stockings with strangers. Instead I went for knickers that covered everything and I neutral bra – with hindsight I’d recommend a strapless bra if possible.
A lot of wedding dresses have delicate straps, or no straps and a bra can ruin the overall look. Almost every bridal stylist I met suggested I go topless, but being a bit shy I didn’t feel comfortable doing that – so I just tucked the straps down instead.
Talking of stylists, every single one I met acted as though it was completely normal to be squatting with their face at the same level as my crotch, which in turn made it much less awkward. If you don’t feel comfortable with your stylist, find another one, even if it means finding another shop. You are going to get very up close and personal with them.
- Make more appointments than you think you need.
My sister advised booking in at all of the local bridal shops, so I made appointments that were mostly on the same day/weekend. I didn’t think I would attend them all, because films and TV had me thinking that I would find the right dress in an instant.
Instead I’ve been to four shops, and tried on about forty-ish dresses.
I think my final stylist nearly fainted when she found this out.
At the first and second shops I thought I had cracked it, I had one from each that were ‘top contenders’. In the third shop I had two that I was in love with – or so I thought.
In the week afterwards I was pouring over photos of them to remind myself how they looked, and what I liked about them. Which should have been a sign really.
When I found the one, I felt tingly just putting it on. I saw myself in the mirror, it made it feel so much more real that I was getting married. It was no longer this far-flung plan, but I was about get married, be a wife and all that entailed.
- Keep An Open Mind, But Not Than Open.
Wedding dresses come in all shapes, styles, colours and fabric. As such it is important to keep an open mind… but, just to totally contradict myself I’d recommend not being totally open minded.
You know what styles or shapes make you feel the best, so keep them in mind. I knew fishtails and bodycon did not suit me, but tried a few on ‘just to see.’ And I was right…. Though I still tried them on in three out of the four shops “just in case.”
Learn from my mistakes… Try on one or two of the ones that are not your usual style to see if you are pleasantly surprised or want to rule them out. If you want to rule them out, don’t feel like you need to try on every reincarnation of them just because they have slightly different lace/beading/colours etc.
- Who to invite
It should go without saying that you should invite people you feel close to, and want to share this moment with. However I’d recommend only inviting people that will make you feel special and know how to deliver feedback to you in the best way.
In the run up to dress shopping I watched way to many American ‘Say Yes To The Dresses’ where the bride was torn to bits because she didn’t fit “the ideal.” Not only is this wrong on so many levels it’s just not needed. If you have someone you love but clash with or tend to override your opinions, maybe let them miss the first few shopping dates and invite them along once you have a firmer idea of what you want.
Bonus Point: Plan something afterwards.
After an hour or so of prancing around and being told how gorgeous you are coming home can be a bit deflating. Make plans, or decamp to a local bar/coffee shop to discuss all things bridal!