If you're anything like me, wedding dress shopping is a really scary idea - so much so that I actually didn't have the bridal shop experience and it is absolutely one of my biggest regrets so I wanted to make sure that our fabulous readers got the very best experience they could and drafted in some expertise on getting the most from your bridal appointment.
It's super exciting but it's also a huge decision, you might be feeling body conscious or thinking you really shouldn't have invited your aunt who dresses like she should be getting back to the convent any moment... No matter what your concerns are, our good friend Kayleigh, owner of Exclusively Yours Bridal Boutique in Blandford, Dorset has 10 top tips for you to get the very best experience, and if you want the best service too, I strongly suggest you book your appointment at her boutique as soon as possible.
Take it away, Kayleigh!
Tip 1 - A Doable Budget
This is super important; you need to have an affordable budget in mind before trying on your first dress. It can all end in tears if you fall in love with a dress you can't have – I always ask my brides before their appointment begins, what their budget is to ensure this doesn’t happen on my watch……..
Your dress budget also needs to include alterations. It's very rare to find a dress that needs no alterations at all so bear this in mind when deciding on the amount you're going to spend. Depending on the alterations needed and the dress, the cost varies. Your consultant should be mindful of this when you’re trying on dresses.
Tip 2 - Buy Your Dress Early
Your dress plays a huge part in your big day and can help you decide on your theme, venue, and colour scheme. For us girls, the dress is the most important part – once you’ve found ‘the one’ you’ll feel a huge sense of release and the rest of the planning will fall into place.
You have a little more leeway with a shop like mine that sells straight from the rail but if you buy your dress from a designer stockist who then orders for you, you will need a minimum of 6 months (maybe more depending on the boutique) for your dress to be made, then your alterations will begin after.
Tip 3 - Research Local Boutiques
Have a little Google of what's in your area and how far you are willing to travel, check out their prices (if no prices are listed give them a call) as this may be a deciding factor on the shops you visit. Also have a look at the range of dresses they stock and the sizes, if there's anything you like save it and take to your appointment.
Be strategic about where you shop - although it sounds like fun visiting lots of shops trying on hundreds of dresses, it isn't and can cause so much confusion for you which will make finding your dress all that harder. Narrow it down to 1or 2 local shops that have something that's caught your eye or that offer something you'd like to experience(private appointments with champagne or afternoon tea etc) if after visiting them you have yet to find 'the one' repeat the process again.
Tip 4 - A Smaller Entourage Is Key
We know trying on dresses is such a wonderful experience and you want to share that with the people you love the most but taking too many people to your appointment can cause chaos. The more people you have the more people you have to please. A difference of opinion can be all it takes to upset you if you feel you have found your dress. All that matters is that YOU feel incredible, confident, and most importantly: a bride!
Tip 5 - Relax
It is nerve-wracking having all eyes on you but it's good practise for the big day! There will be even more eyes on you then. Try to relax as much as you can so you can make the most of your appointment. This is why we offer complimentary bubbly, it helps tremendously with the nerves, and who doesn’t love free booze right?
Tip 6 - Wear The Right Underwear
A strapless bra is always a good thing to wear to an appointment (although a dress that fits you perfectly you shouldn't need to wear one) if you're happy to go without, that's fine with me! Try to wear underwear you're likely to wear on the day, this could be control wear or something neutral in colour. Now is not the time for black pants that are falling apart or to go commando.......
Tip 7 - Trust Your Consultant
We know what we are doing so don't worry. If we don't show you a dress, there's a reason behind it. If a dress says 12 but you're a 16 and your consultant wants you to try it on don't worry! We know it will be fine. If the dress is a size 24 yet you’re an 18, don’t be disheartened – each designer is different in how they create their dresses, the sizes are always way off.
Tip 8 - Try on Different Styles
It's very easy to disregard a dress right away before trying it on because of how it looks on the hanger or it's a style you don't think will suit you, but this is a very common mistake to make if you have never tried on that style before! Your body shape and personality plays a HUGE part in how you'll feel and look in a dress. The majority of brides that come through my door end up leaving with a dress they were originally reluctant to try on. As above ^^ 'Trust your consultant' - you'll be surprised, I promise!
Tip 9 - Accessorise
Accessories are just as important as the dress! This includes on your dress, in your hair or on your feet. They can change your whole look, especially a belt: this can change the look of a dress entirely. Your accessories should all match so it all ties in beautifully. Your dress is essentially the start of your canvas to which you can build your perfect look. If you can’t find the right accessory in store, there are some super talented local ladies that can create something just for you.
Tip 10 - Trust Your Instincts
Don't worry about anyone else, no one knows you better than you! If you believe you have found the one, then you probably have. If it’s the first dress you’ve tried on and you’re worried that it can’t be the one as there’s so many other dresses and shops to try, the vast majority of the time you will end up going back to that first dress.
On the other hand, if you’re not completely sure about the dress you have picked and feel a little pressured by a family member or consultant (I don’t do the whole hard sell thing! It’s just not me) don’t buy it! It’s not ‘the one’. Never feel like you have to buy a dress just because your mum or your next door neighbours cousin LOVE it. The decision ultimately boils down to you and only you. If your dress isn’t the one, you will look back at your wedding photos for years to come with regret.
Trust your instincts and you will be absolutely fine, I promise ❤