Talk to any bride and she’ll tell you that choosing your wedding dress is always the biggest deal. ‘You will know when you find THE DRESS’ is a common mantra – but what if you don’t? My daughter in law tried on many dresses and wasn’t particularly sold on any of them! (She ‘settled’ on one that was the best of the bunch – and actually it looked stunning!)
What if your dream dress turns out to be eye wateringly expensive, or just doesn’t suit your body shape no matter how much you wriggle and squeeze bits here and there?
I don’t claim to be a style guru – but you CAN find an absolutely wonderful dress if you apply some reality and common sense.
In this blog, I’m going through some top tips to help you. They are taken, in part, from brides I’ve spoken to, and, in part, from some excellent websites (links below)
Your budget – what can you realistically afford?
Before you begin trying on dresses, work out what your budget is for your dress, your veil if you choose to have one, shoes and accessories. Your dress will be the big ticket item. Don’t be tempted into buying fabulous £300 shoes with killer heels that you will probably never wear again. You may not be able to wear them all day without pain! Accessories may include jewellery, a wrist corsage, and bridal crown which can be jewelled or floral (or none of these things – keep it simple!). Try and factor in the cost of any dress alterations …. And don’t forget your underwear ….
Can’t afford it?
I can’t think of anything more discouraging than dreaming of that one dress and finding that the price is out of reach.
TOP TIP: Look out for sales. Investigate ready-made dresses in department stores. And don’t shy away from looking at second hand or charity shops. You may find a gem! Hiring a dress may also be an option. Confetti.co.uk gives the pros and cons in their blog.
Get your underwear sorted
In the ‘olden’ days, items of underwear were called ‘foundation garments’ – with good reason! They provide the foundation for beautifully fitting clothes that enhance and flatter your figure. Having a really well fitted bra will make all the difference to how secure you feel in your dress, especially if it is sleeveless. Remember that photographs will focus on you, your face and, mostly, your upper half.
Know your venue and wedding theme before you start
MarthaStewartWeddings.com say: Will you be having a daytime ceremony on the beach? You can rule out ball gowns with long trains and dramatic embellishments. Exchanging vows in a candlelit cathedral? Avoid short slip dresses or anything that looks like it could be worn to a cocktail party.
Use your common sense – a heavy beaded gown will be hot in summer, and a floaty dreamy dress will not be practical on an icy day in winter unless you have accessories that will keep you warm.
Choose your bridal boutique with care
Reputation for great service is key. Look for knowledgeable assistants who will advise you properly and not just tell you want to hear. Talk to your friends and find out what their experiences have been.
Take your time!
Take time to do some research. Pinterest, Instagram, bridal magazines, and bridal style websites all have a wealth of ideas and information about styles, designs and fabric. Print off pictures that you can take with you to your boutique.
Try on as many dresses as you can without getting fed up and stressed.
Spread out your visits over a number of days if you can. The lovely Jane told me : ‘I went for a style that wasn’t my first choice, but what you see in pictures and on your body are two different things, so I suggest trying on as many dresses as possible so you can make an educated decision’
TOP TIP : Don’t look at the size label! Dresses tend to be cut smaller than you would expect. You may find you are trying on dresses that, according to the label, are a couple of sizes bigger than your usual dress size. All that matters is whether you like it, it suits you and the price is right.
TOP TIP : Can you sit down in the dress? Can you move freely? I’ve seen photos on Instagram and Pinterest of dresses that are very snugly fitted over the hips and thighs. The dress is pinched in under the model’s bottom (think Kim Kardashian) with a fishtail train. Although the fabric is gorgeous, the dress doesn’t look comfortable for moving around during a long day – or for going to the loo!
TOP TIP : You may not have bought your wedding shoes yet, but take shoes with you that will have the right heel size that you find the most comfortable. It will give you a better idea of how the dress will feel, how the fabric will fall and how you will move when wearing it.
TOP TIP : Take a notebook with you. You may have ‘information overload’ and not recall the best details of your top dress picks, so jotting things down will be invaluable.
What is your style?
Flouncy with lots of frills? How about a big skirt with chiffon overlay? Or very plain classic lines? Here you need to be brutally honest with yourself. Let’s face it, most models are size 6 or 8 (or less) and most of us are not! If your figure is on the generous side, do you look like a meringue in that full skirt with lots of flouncy layers? Should you have lacy sleeves or a little lacy jacket? This can be a great idea if you have a bra with clear straps that won’t show, to give support to a full bosom and make you feel secure. If you have a deep décolletage, your underwear and the fit of the bodice of the dress will be equally important.
Of course, we all take it for granted that the dress will be full length. However, there are some stunning ‘tea dress’ styles, including vintage dresses that may have great prices.
Have a critical friend with you!
You don’t have to have anyone with you. If you do, it should be someone who you know well, whose opinion you value, and who will keep you grounded. Your mom and best friend are a good starting point. Of course, family relationships can be very tricky sometimes. However, your wedding will likely be a very big deal for your mom, and it will be really special to her if you can include her in choosing your dress (without the risk of a war breaking out).
All these photos have Pinterest links – click on the picture to go to Pinterest and to the relevant blogs.
And these are the excellent websites I found to help you – well worth a look!
Choosing your dress is all part of the magic! Breathe deeply and enjoy the experience!
Don’t forget! For more great tips and ideas, plus FREE access to our resources page…
Let’s do this!