The Second Search for 'The One'...the dress!
Prior to being a wedding planner my life in the wedding industry began as a bridal consultant; I’m now a bride-to-be myself and recently found my own dream dress, so after helping many brides over the years, and now having experienced the process first hand I like to think I’m pretty well placed to offer my top tips for finding THE ONE (dress that is…hopefully you’ve already found the other one!)
1. Let the engagement settle
You will be hard pushed to find a girl that hasn’t considered her wedding dress at some point in her life, so naturally one of the first things you want to do after getting engaged is try on wedding dresses…as quickly as you can and as many as you can.
Please don’t do this.
Instead, let your engagement excitement settle, secure your wedding date and book your venue before you make any appointments. Your venue style and wedding destination are likely to influence your decision, so wait until you know these factors before you begin shopping.
2. Use Pinterest
This isn’t something you will always hear me say. Pinterest generates mixed emotions for most wedding planners however it certainly does have its uses! The early stages of wedding dress shopping are one of them.
Before you consider booking any bridal appointments spend some time browsing dresses (a hard task but someone has to do it!). Create a board and just pin any images you like. At this stage, don’t over think it, go with your gut and photos you are naturally drawn to.
When you have a completed board you’ll look through and notice similar themes throughout, for example, are you always pinning lace dresses or is there a particular shape you seem to prefer? If so, this will provide a useful starting point for your bridal consultant.
3. Do your research
You don’t have to know exactly what dresses you want to try on, but you should do some research on which bridal boutiques are right for you to visit; think about the following:
Do you like any of the dresses you see on their website? If not, don’t waste your time. There will be plenty of other stores that do suit your style preferences so focus on those.
Secondly, and importantly, are the gowns stocked within your preferred price point? If you’re unsure give the shop a call and ask for their price range. Don’t feel daunted by this; you’re entitled to ask and the shop will be happy to assist you. If they are higher than you have in mind then don’t do it to yourself…there is nothing worse, (for your emotions or your bank balance!), than trying a dress you LOVE that is then out of budget.
4. Be open minded
You will hear this a lot but it’s such valid advice. You may think you know exactly what you want to wear, and for some lucky brides that turns out to be right, but many will find themselves surprised.
I have seen this happen so many times over the years, brides who thought they would hate a fishtail actually feel amazing in one and guess what? Those who only try on a ‘princess’ dress to please their mother end up wanting to feel like a princess on their day!
If you’re just not feeling what you thought you would like, then try a wildcard, who knows where it may take you!
5. Don’t over try
Bridal shopping is a fun, once in a lifetime experience, there is no getting away from it. Who wouldn’t want to spend all day trying on amazing gowns with their best friends?
BUT be very careful not to over-shop. I have had many appointments with brides in the past who have got themselves in a pickle; overwhelmed with choice having tried on too many dresses.
After you’ve done your initial research aim to visit 2-3 boutiques that offer a range of dresses. Expect to try around 4-6 dresses at each one. Usually this will be sufficient, and you still get a great experience.
If you don’t find the one during this time, then go back to the drawing board, what was missing? Have you changed your mind? Spend some time doing some more research and think about what you’re looking for rather than just booking appointments at the next shop you come across.
6. Only take a few people with you
There is temptation to take your whole bridal party shopping with you (trust me, I wanted to as well). Do your best to limit each appointment to a maximum of 3 guests.
Of course you want your nearest and dearest to love your dress, but first and foremost YOU have to love it. Too many people at your appointment can leave you confused over your own thoughts.
Remember there are several opportunities to visit your bridal boutique after the initial trying on…the point of order, the alterations, the final collection. You can include different people at different points in the process without getting yourself in a muddle.
7. Don’t be scared
Not everyone relishes the thought of trying on dresses. For some it is a daunting task and bridal boutiques often have an (unjust) scary reputation.
No matter your dress size (which will always increase in bridal by the way!), or your budget, start by giving the shop a phone call. They should always be willing to guide you and if not then they’re not the right shop for you! It’s likely you’ve never done this before, so you aren’t expected to know exactly how the process works. Have an honest conversation about what you have in mind, your dress size and what you’d like to spend, this will mean you get the most out of your appointment when the time comes.
8. Enjoy it
Finding your perfect wedding dress really is a special moment for any bride-to-be, embrace it and enjoy the experience!