Finding your wedding dress can be one of the most fun parts of wedding planning. Getting to try on beautiful dresses with your closest friends and family and a glass of bubbly in your hand sounds ideal, right? And lets not even talk about the larger than normal budget! But in fact it can be surprisingly stressful. There can sometimes be a lot of pressure to find the perfect dress, to look the best you ever have and to wear something that not only embodies your personal style but also that of your wedding and venue all in one. Not always easy!
As someone who recently got married (see my wedding overview post here) and who has been lucky enough to be bridesmaid to some of my closest friends, I feel like I have a bit of an idea of how to make finding the dress run as smoothly as can be.
Here are my tips to finding your perfect wedding dress, with as little stress as possible:
Don’t over search online
The natural thing to do as soon as you are engaged is to start pinning like crazy and Googling all the wedding details, especially the dress. However, it can create unreal expectations and lead you on a worldwide hunt that might not result in what you want. It is definitely worth having a look at what styles are out there so you can get a feel for what you like and don’t like, but try not to get fixated on one style and especially one dress in particular. You may find that the one that you have pinned is unavailable…..only available in two shops worldwide…. is a style from years ago…. is way out of budget etc etc
Consider trying a couple of dresses on your own first
When I was preparing to try dresses on, I felt a lot of pressure to find ‘the one’ and buying an outfit about eight months before I was due to wear it felt very alien to me. This combined with never having tried on a wedding dress before left me feeling pressured. To help with this, I tried a few dresses on on my own, in a very informal environment. The first was at a wedding show and the second in an outlet shop. This meant I removed some of the nerves for the real trying-on sessions and didn’t feel overwhelmed at the sight of myself in a wedding dress, when my best friends were present and emotions were naturally higher.
Take a small and hand-picked audience with you
It is really important to think about who your are going to take with you to try dresses on and you should consider limiting it to a maximum of three. Don’t be pressured to take people you don’t want to be there or that you think you should invite along. You need people who you know and can trust to be honest and truthful without being forceful or overbearing. If you have too many people you will have too many opinions that will make it very difficult to choose. It is most likely you will get to a point where it will come down to two dresses – and in my experience they will be two very different dresses. You need the people that will let you enjoy the ‘fun’ dress, but will steer you towards the ‘you’ dress.
Be open to trying things on
Go wedding dress shopping with a loose list of what you know you like and what you think you don’t want. For me, the latter was by far the longer of the lists and I tried on every shape that was available trying to keep an open mind. I knew I didn’t want backless or strapless or anything with any adornment. Well – look what I went for and you will see that I ended up with only two out of three ticks there! It is often the dresses that looks nothing like you imagined that will be the one you fall for.
Leave your body hang ups at home
No one is entirely happy with their bodies; but you don’t need to be a supermodel to look great on your wedding day. Leave your hang-ups about your hips, tummy, arms, bum, boobs etc at the door. I am pretty sure no-one else has even noticed the thing you are most concerned about and you will find a dress that looks amazing on you. I mean think about it…your fiancee has seen it all before and he still wants to marry you..it can’t be that bad after all!
But seriously, letting those hang-ups take-over whilst you are wedding dress shopping is only going to make it frustrating. Accept them, pick something flattering but ultimately, don’t let them rule you or spoil the fun.
There isn’t always a ‘moment’
Sometimes there is a thunderbolt moment when you try on a dress and you and everyone around you get that feeling and simultaneously burst into happy tears, fanning your face and gulping at the emotion of it all because of course this is the wedding dress that you will wear to say ‘I do’. And it couldn’t be any other dress ever.
But also sometimes there isn’t that moment. Sometimes you will just try on a load of dresses and realise that you like one more than the others, that you feel like a good version of yourself in it and it definitely could be the dress you would say ‘I do’ in. Ot it could be another. But you think it might be that one. Because it was pretty nice wasn’t it, after all?
For me, it was the latter. And that is fine! And I am so glad I didn’t just keep on trying dresses in the hope for that moment as I am so happy with my dress choice.
The shoes however – thunderbolt!
Something I feel really quite strongly about is that you must get pictures of yourself in the dresses you like and don’t like. How often do you buy a dress a year or more in advance? For an occasion where you will be admired and photographed all day (sorry for the pressure but its true and you’ll love it on the day)? And not be able to refer back to what you looked like in it? Especially after leaving a really hefty deposit and then being told you wouldn’t get to see it again for another 6-8 months?! Exactly.
I can’t believe some shops don’t allow you to take pictures of yourself wearing the wedding dress and dresses you try on, and if they don’t I truly believe you should either sneak pictures or just don’t try any on.
And here’s why: In the long months between buying your dress and actually getting to wear it, it is likely you will have more than one wobble about whether you bought the right dress and whether you looked good in it. The picture of you in the good and the bad will help you see that the decision you made on the day was the right one. It’ll also help you pick your accessories – shoes, hair, jewellery etc.
And finally, don’t be afraid to enter into a little negotiation. As you will imagine, wedding dresses are very expensive and there is often a little wiggle room. I tried my dress on for the second time at the last appointment of a Saturday and asked for a discount. It was a bit cheeky but I am all up for trying my luck and the dress was out of my budget. I was rewarded with a good discount and they threw in the veil which sealed the deal for me. It made an out of budget dress just about do-able and kept the hubby-to-be happy too! We negotiated with a lot of the wedding and saved a surprising amount of money.
Photography all by the lovely Xander and Thea
Have you any tips for brides to be out there
buying their wedding dress?