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Shopping for your Wedding Dress – What to Expect

A guide to shopping for your dream wedding dress

You’re engaged, you’ve asked your best girls to be your bridesmaids, you’re on the hunt for the perfect wedding venue and now you’re ready for the moment you’ve always dreamed of, choosing your wedding dress!

This article has been designed to give you a guide on how to find the right shop or dressmaker for you, and what to expect in your dress appointments. The most fundamental things to consider when trying on dresses (especially if it is for the first time) are to feel confident, comfortable and calm. Everyone knows shopping for an important occasion can be stressful at the best of times, let alone for a once in a lifetime event, but with the right company and atmosphere it will be a memorable occasion.

This exciting experience comes in a number of different stages; browsing designs, calculating your affordability, trying on numerous styles and eventually falling in love, again!

How to find bridalwear shops?

  • Ask your married friends for recommendations
  • Flick through Magazines
  • Browse online wedding directories and narrow your search down by postcode, town or county
  • Check out your local high street
  • Look through social media tags and Pinterest boards
  • Attend wedding showcases in your area
  • Search the internet and read through articles about designers

What to expect at a typical wedding dress shop appointment?

When arriving, your consultant will show you around and make you feel at home; talking you through the different designers they stock and getting to know what look you’re envisaging for your day. You may be asked about budgets you’re (hoping) to stick within and what styles and designers you generally like, but this will be an informal chat to enable them to start picking dresses you will love.

Every bride wants to feel beautiful and special in their dress, so make sure your chosen entourage are supportive and sensitive to your feelings. Remember, this day is about you – don’t let anyone steal the limelight. Honesty is great, but if you love the style that’s all that counts!

By appointment only

It’s normal for a bridalwear shop to see you by appointment only, to ensure that there is a dedicated member of staff there to help and guide you – and so that you feel a sense of privacy when it comes to searching for your dream gown. Roughly an hour is given to allow brides to try on several different dresses but not get too overwhelmed by everything and feel rushed; this can be a confusing process! One hour keeps the bride and the consultant focused on finding ‘the dress’.

What happens next?

Some bridalwear shops will allow you to buy ‘off the rack’ which means that if you love it and it’s a perfect fit, then you can take your wedding dress home with you on the very same day – this is also known as ‘ready-to-wear bridalwear’. If however, you’re buying a brand new wedding dress then you can expect the following:

  • Get measured
  • Pay your deposit (and ask when you need to pay the final balance)
  • Leave your contact details
  • Shop for the final touches (wedding shoes, a veil, hair accessories etc..)
  • Wait for ‘the call’ to say that your wedding dress has arrived back in store
  • Go for a fitting and speak to a seamstress if you need further adjustments

Guide and support

Your bridalwear consultant is there to advise and help you around the shop, making a note of what you like and what you don’t. They will be in the changing room with you to make the dress fit to your body. Pins, clips and ribbon will be used to make you feel secure in the dress, so you can strut your stuff out of the changing room onto the boutique floor and WOW your awaiting admirers.

The bride should feel under no pressure to commit to a dress, when you know, you know. Everyone needs that ‘this is the dress’ moment. If your appointment is unsuccessful, relax, take a deep breath and continue the search, there is a dress out there for everyone.

Some important points to bear in mind

In all the excitement of searching for your perfect dress it’s easy to forget the smaller details. Here’s some key things to remember:

Find a shop you trust

Find a shop/dressmaker that you feel offers good advice and not just good salesmanship.

Discuss the fittings

Ask about the number of fittings you will have and delivery and make sure to keep a note of it all!

Dress delivery options

See if they offer a ‘delivery to venue’ service – it will save hassle and will be one less thing to think about on your big day.

Have an idea of the 'finished look'

Request to try on accessories (veil, jewellery, shoes etc) as well so you can get more of an idea of the ‘finished look’.

The cost of alterations

Enquire about cost of alterations and how far in advance of your wedding you will have your final alterations.

Transporting your dress

Make a note of if they provide a dust bag to transport the dress in – seems minor but is a very important detail, so you may need to invest in one!

Bridal accessories with laced detailed veil

Top tip:

Your weight may fluctuate in the run up to your wedding day – completely normal and nothing to stress about but this may mean that your wedding dress might need some adjusting. To avoid any undue stress on your special day, make sure you try your dress on a few times before the wedding to see if any more alterations need to be made. If this is the case, be sure to have a seamstress ready to help!

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