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.