Probably one of the most exciting elements of planning a wedding is the dress shopping! Back in the day when I was a bridal consultant, it was always interesting to watch the bride to be and her family/friends embark on the store in their droves! Saturdays were the busiest and the only time you could get everyone together! Guaranteed there were always tears of happiness from someone (usually the mums!) or tears from a bridesmaid that didn’t like the dress that she had to wear!
There was always that bride that knew what they wanted and weren’t going to be swayed in changing their mind, and then you had the bride that was open to ideas and didn’t know what suited them best. I learnt a few tricks of the trade and useful tips on what to do when deciding on the dream dress:
Shopping too early
Many couples are opting for longer engagements these days, but don’t start shopping more than 12 months in advance. Styles change and so can your taste. Don't be in a rush to buy the first dress you see. If the store allows, take pictures so that you can look at them later and decide.
As tempting as it is to bring everyone dress shopping or to your fittings, the best thing to do is book a few appointments at different stores and take various members from the bridal party. As I said before Saturdays tend to be the busiest day for most, so expect the shop to be full with other brides and their families. Most stores do late nights, so if you can take advantage of that do so. Once you have found the dress of your dreams, take no more than 2 people to your first proper fitting (mum and maid of honour) that way there is an element of surprise on the big day for every one else!
There is nothing worse than being forced to wear something you don't like, doesn't suit or fit right. As much as its your big day, your bridesmaids are on show too and want to look their best. Consult with them on styles and colours and have a day or two when you all go dress shopping.....for them! What suits one may not suit the other! When my bestie got engaged, us bridesmaids tried on numerous dresses. We were all different shapes and sizes and had different taste. I remember trying on what could only be described as a banana yellow dress........I looked horrific! Safe to say we didn't end up with that one, but it is important to include your BM’s throughout, especially if they are paying for it themselves. Being a bridesmaid didn't come cheap, so I made sure I got my monies worth from my dress and shoes!
I still come across brides that think they can order a dress at the last minute. You can......if you want it straight off the peg! Depending on the designer and the store, dresses can take anywhere between 6-9 months to be made. Check with the consultants in store just so that you have an idea of timescales. You want to be totally happy with the end result so leave enough time for alterations and dress fittings.
If I remember correctly it was always best to order your dress 2 sizes bigger. This is because the dresses typically run one or two sizes smaller than your normal clothes, so try not to get hung up on the number. Play it safe and order a size that fits your current body shape. Any dress can be taken in, typically up to four sizes without affecting the look of the dress, but most can only be let out one full size. So chose wisely!
Take in pictures of what you like. You may have an idea in your head what you what, but when you try it on, it may not be what you expected. Don’t be afraid to try different styles and colours, you never know you may surprise yourself! Also don’t forget that whatever you choose, you might want to make sure that the rest of the immediate bridal party coordinate with your look.
Have an idea of what your budget is. Dresses can vary dramatically in price so if you have an idea of what you want to spend then stick with it. Don’t forget to account for alterations, your undergarments, shoes, a veil and/or hair accessories, jewellery, and any other accessories. The costs can soon add up, so take these into consideration otherwise you could end up going well over your budget.
As the title suggests I became a florist quite by accident. After 13 years as a teacher, I decided to have a hobby and go to night-school. I quite fancied graduating from cutting the cellophane off supermarket flowers and popping them in a vase (I also like gardening), so I chose floristry. What I found was that it was a bit like learning magic when you didn’t realise that magic existed! A world of colours and textures, add a bit of this to a bit of that and boom, something beautiful appears!
It was a pleasing surprise when Ella asked me to write a piece for her blog, as I still ask myself ‘does this look as if a florist made it?’ when I finish an order. I’m still learning the trade, but after 2 years and 100's of hours working with flowers, I do have some insight to share.
An average wedding will see me spending 10 hours resourcing, sourcing and messaging; 3 hours at the wholesalers; 3 hours travelling to the venue and setting up; 3 hours preparing and soaking the flower and then anything from 10 - 30 hours actually arranging the wedding flowers. So here are my top tips.
1. Remember that ‘A picture paints a thousand words’
You may not know a daffodil from a dahlia from a dianthus, but your florist will. As you approach planning your wedding flowers, send your florist a picture of what you like and it should be everything that they need to know. Once I’ve seen what a bride likes, I can make suggestions (such as excellent seasonal flowers or other flowers that will work well) or simply make an identical bouquet.
2. Trust the expert
Flowers are expensive - we are not driving in a Rolls Royce or buying designer hand bags. It’s just the cost of a beautiful, high quality product. Flowers from the wholesale Dutch market or even tea roses from Colombia, are a premium product and worth every penny. That said, we can tailor our choices to suit your budget (If you want to give me £100 and send me to the local supermarket I’m happy to do that). But first, we can try some cost saving measures such as smaller, leafier arrangements or just choosing cheaper flower options.
3. A good florist (in my opinion) should start with your wish list.
If it all adds up and you're happy, then go for it! If it doesn’t and you are still unsure, then don’t be afraid to ask about cost saving measures that will help you stick to a budget. Do be realistic though- there are 40-50 stems in a bridal bouquet and some flowers can be £3 a stem.
If you want to follow fashion and current trends, then the magazines are full of inspiration. From blush pink flowers, rose gold accessories, to horizontal/ oversized bouquets, even the classic cascade made famous by Princess Diana, has made a resurgence too. Personally, I’d say choose something that you love. Roses are always stunning and if you choose a neutral colour (cream, or pale pink) they tend to go with most colour schemes.
Flowers are not necessary for a wedding day, but they do enhance your experience. They add to the décor, the sense of occasion. They heighten the atmosphere and lend an air of romance too. There will always be family members or friends who would be thrilled to be gifted a centrepiece or posy. They needn’t be ‘just for a day’, so why not use them as thank you gifts for those who have helped out (I remember the endless list of gifts from my own wedding). We want to thank those who help out, so why not have a dual purpose item? If budget is no barrier then the sky’s the limit. Pedestals, arches, runners, even whole walls of flowers can be made. Just indulge yourself on your special day.