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Wedding Dress Shopping Top Tips

Here are the five things nobody tells you about going dress shopping.

Congratulations, you're getting married. I grew up always imagining my wedding, and I am sure that is the same for a lot of girls out there. So now we have a ring, it's time to pick a dress!

These are the five things I didn't know when I went for my first dress appointment, that I wished I had.

But let me say this once, for the record:

Do Not Bring The Pinterest

It won't do you any favours, and it'll be pretty pointless, as you'll see in a minute. That tip was a bonus.

1. No Phones

Is it 2018? Absolutely. Are seamstresses worried you'll steal their design? Definitely.

Keeping in mind I went to quite a small bridal boutique with maybe six designers, I was not expecting to have to put my phone away. And I mean left-in-the-bag away. Obviously, this is to protect the designers who put so much work into getting a dress made, but I am also that person who watched a ton of YouTube videos before going and all these Influencers could just waltz in with their cameras! 

This might depend on where you are shopping. But once you have found The One make sure you take down the designer and design name so that you can google a picture to show the bridesmaids!

Keep in mind also that the pictures when you're not wearing any makeup, with the orange lighting, and your camera-person standing too close, won't actually do the dress justice.

2. Underwear

I went straight after yoga. Sports bra and all. Thankfully, my dress has built-in cups, but my (very lovely) shop assistant made sure to mention that when I have my first fitting I should really wear the underwear (and shoes) that I plan to get married in.

So, do you want the custom-made "Wifey" panties? Special hand-sewn bejewelled shoes? Get them made in plenty of time, because there is nothing worse than getting this really expensive dress altered and for it to then not fit properly!

When I went back to get my measurements taken, I made sure I was in casual but form-fitting clothes. Depending on how dedicated your seamstress is, she might get you to strip.

Speaking of which, I knew this beforehand, but maybe you do not—your shop assistant gets real close and personal. She helps you into the dress (mostly to make sure it's on correctly but also to make sure you're not destroying the fragile beading/embroidery/lace) which means she's likely going to see you in your birthday suit.

3. Venue

So obviously you'll get asked for a budget. However, you will also get asked for your venue. If, like me, you hadn't thought that far ahead when you go dress-shopping, be prepared for some awkward looks. 

Basically, they don't want to sell you a ballgown if you're getting married on the beach, or an empire waist if you're getting married in January (though you do you, sweetie.) Which is really very professional of them, and really thoughtful.

So you know what I said about Pinterest? No, still don't bring it. You'll have left your phone with your friend/mum/sales clerk, so no point. But it's a good idea to have had a look online. So you can say "I loved the dress that Meghan wore" or "I really need a sweetheart neckline" or "I saw this one dress and it had the most spectacular open back." The more information you can give your sales assistant, the better your appointment will be.

But back to the venue

The problem isn't just that the dress people want to know what your venue is like...your venue people want to know what your dress is like! It's a horrible catch-22 and there's no way around it. But again, if your dress is beautifully bohemian, then why would you want an industrial feel to your barn wedding? Again, if that's your thing, you do you. This is a judgment-free bride zone. 

But be prepared for questions from your florist/church decorator/cake person about what your dress looks like. Like I said in Point 1, it's handy to have a picture you can show them.

4 and 5. Time

We're going to split this into two.

4) Your appointment will take forever.

Mine was almost two hours. It felt like about 20 minutes, but it went something like this: 

  • Sit down with your sales girl and talk about when/where/what you want. 

  • Walk around the shop and pick up some dresses you like the look of (I picked up five but I'm sure there is no limit) and take them to the changing room.

  • Worry about this random girl seeing your cellulite/belly pooch/whatever you're insecure about while you strip.

  • Try on Dress One. Fall in love because you look like a bride. We cannot possibly buy Dress One, try on Dress Two.

  • Rinse and repeat until you find The One (for me, that was Dress Seven.)

  • Umm and Aaah about it. Maybe try on Dress Three again a few times. Call your mum if she's not there with you. Really wish your fiance could help but it's The Bad Luck. Try on Dress Seven again. Cry when it's perfect.

  • Pay the deposit for The One and leave.


So be prepared to spend the best part of a morning in the Bridal Boutique.

 5) Your dress is going to take forever to arrive.

I ordered my dress in July for my May wedding. That's a whole 10 months before my Big Day. And it only arrived for my first fitting in February. 

I was not prepared. Waiting that long was excruciating. The lovely ladies at the salon kept the sample in the shop so I could go look at it occasionally and make sure I was still in love. It is very hard to pick something out that you'll love in a year's time. But if the love is real, it will last. 

Keep into account the fact that just because your dress is finally here, that doesn't mean it's done. You have to allow for the fact that there will probably be alterations (for me, mainly shortening the skirt and sleeve) and that can take up to six weeks. That's probably a good idea to know as well when thinking budget—you've got to allow about £200 for alterations. 

If you're a bride with less than six months to go, sample sales and sale racks are your friend. The dresses will usually be in great condition, at a good price, and you won't have to wait around for 200 years for it to be delivered.

That is all my lesser-known bridal knowledge. Good luck, and happy shopping. And congratulations—your day will be beautiful.

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