It’s safe to say that wedding dress shopping is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning. It’s also, in my personal experience, one of the most nerve-wracking parts too so I wanted to pull together some advice from my own first-hand experience of dress shopping.
Providing you’re not planning your wedding day fairly quickly, it is generally recommended to start looking 12 months before your wedding to allow plenty of times for fittings and getting the actual dress ordered. This had originally been my plan but then Corona happened which obviously pushed things back a bit. I also wanted to wait a bit longer so I could have more than one guest. Nine months feels like a pretty perfect amount of time to be honest, as while it’s plenty of time to not feel rushed into making a decision, it’s also not too early that you might change your mind.
I initially booked three different shops to visit but in the end I actually visited four shops. I understand people go to one shop, find ‘the dress’ and then that’s it but my logic was that should that be the case for me, visiting the other shops would just confirm my love of ‘the dress.’ (Spoiler: it did!) It’s also worth bearing in mind that different shops stock different designers and this enables you to get try on a variety of designers.
Now, this is the one you always hear when it comes to wedding dress shopping but it really is true so I’m going to say it anyway. It’s so important to try different styles of dresses on, whether you have a firm idea of what you want or not. Not just because you may be surprised by how much you love a certain style you discounted but because it’s really quite fun! I knew I was never going to have a Princess style ballgown but I bloody loved trying them on as when else do you get to try on so many beautiful dresses?
Now is this a bit of a funny one as some bridal shops do not allow you to take photos full stop. I experienced a few different rules. In the first and third shops, we could take as many photos as we wanted (I just needed the assistant to step outside the curtain so I could take off my mask), in the second, we could only take photos of my ‘favourites.’ I completely understand why shops don’t like you taking photos. Apparently photos don’t take into account that the dress isn’t fitted to you properly so won’t look as good and also certain designers don’t want to risk copycats.
While I can completely appreciate these points, I don’t know what I would have done without the dozens and dozens of photos my mum took. I have poured over them so much and it genuinely helped me discount some of the dresses. If you think you could be the same, be sure to check ahead of visiting bridal shops.
As with most things in life, it’s easy to get into a habit of expecting things to be like it is in the movies. In the context of this blog post, I’m talking the expectation that you and everyone with you to bawl their eyes out when you find ‘the dress.’ And hey, that might still happen! But it didn’t really happen for me or my guests. Other than exchanging a look with my mum and some watery eyes, I didn’t get floods of tears, fireworks or birds singing and you know what, that’s ok? I asked myself if that meant it wasn’t ‘the dress’ but I honestly don’t think its that. I think it’s just the actual reality of wedding dress shopping. While you will just ‘know’ it’s your dress, that might be through small ways that don’t include uncontrollable crying.
Whatever your budget, with wedding dress shopping comes immense pressure. However much you tell yourself that it’s ‘just a dress’, it’s tough to escape this pressure. Everyone wants to feel beautiful on their wedding day and it can feel incredibly overwhelming, waddling through a sea of gorgeous white gowns, trying to pick just one. But just ride this wave and know that in its own way, this pressure can actually be helpful in aiding you find your dress.
With the dress I eventually chose, I probably tried it on about five times in total in two different shops. And you know what? I didn’t even love it at first – how strange is that!? But something made me try it on again and there began our love affair. I also think it was really important to go away, have a break from dress shopping and then come back another day to try the dress on again. Over the next couple of weeks, I kept coming back to *that* dress and when I finally went to another shop and tried it on again, it was only then that I just knew. It can be an expensive purchase so make the most of being able to try the dress you love most on!
This may depend on the type of person you are but it’s perfectly normal to question whether you’ve made the right decision or not after you’ve said yes to the dress. I was so incredibly nervous about whether or not I should just keep trying on dresses in case I loved another dress more but you know what? There will probably be many wedding dresses that exist in the world that you love. Like ‘soul mates’, I’m not sure I believe that there is just one dress for each person. How can there be? It’s just not logical. But as long as you love your dress and you feel amazing in it, what else matters?
While I’d like to think that most bridal shops would suggest trying on a veil with your wedding dresses anyway, if they don’t, be sure to ask! It truly is the finishing touch and really makes you feel like a bride. I didn’t try a veil on for every dress, just the ones I liked best so I could get as close as possible to what I might look like on the day.
I appreciate not everyone is wedding dress shopping right now but hopefully, this will be of use to some of you! Do you think I’ve missed any advice? Let me know in the comments!