image from Wedding Party App
It's taken me about 2 months, but I've finally bought my wedding dress! Being the pickiest bride in the world, I knew it was going to take me a fair bit of searching before I found one I loved, and I was DEFINITELY right. It was a fun process but I did find it difficult to strike the balance between being realistic and being a stroppy bridezilla! If you're also a very fussy bride-to-be, here are my top wedding dress tips (beware - it's long! Who knew I felt so passionately about the subject!)
1. Don't get too hung up on Pinterest
The fact is that a lot of the dresses you lovingly pin and spend ages swooning over are either a) couture/designer pieces that cost tens of thousands of pounds or b) only available in one boutique which is off the west coast of Madagascar. I was pretty disappointed to find that there was nothing out there like most of the dresses I pinned, and that the majority of bridal shops carry very similar designs, most of which were not what I wanted. A few assistants said 'I can't think of anything else for you' and one even said she was going to re-think her selection for next season! I think this may differ in London, which is why I love it so much, and if you're a picky bride wedding dress shopping in London, I'm incredibly jealous.
2. Don't believe everything you read
If most wedding magazines/TV programmes are anything to go by, you will just know when you find 'the one', you'll all be in floods of tears and will skip out of the bridal shop to live happily ever after. Don't get me wrong, I know this can definitely happen and I actually envy people who know exactly what they want and get it. However, this doesn't always happen and I think it's kind of an unrealistic expectation - I get SUPER emotional at weddings and always expected to cry loads when shopping for my dress, but I didn't. And I'm okay with that!
3. Don't let anyone try and persuade you, but listen to advice
My mum came with me to every dress shop (and there were many!) and whilst I completely trusted her to tell me if a dress totally didn't suit me or made me look bigger than I was, there were plenty of dresses she loved on me but that I knew weren't right. I took on board her comments and advice to an extent, but I knew if I kept looking I would find something we both agreed was beautiful, and we did. My mum kept telling me that in the end, I would have to choose something from the available options, and whilst I didn't want to settle - she was right. I am the sort of person that finds it really hard to make important decisions because I always think there might be something better round the corner, or wonder if I have explored EVERY option, but in the end, I had to realise that I would have been looking forever if I didn't stop somewhere. However, I balanced that advice with making sure I had explored all reasonable options available to me, and I wouldn't have discovered the dress I bought if I had just stopped looking the first time my mum gave me that advice!
4. Bring people with you that you trust, but perhaps have different opinions
I wish that my sister was able to come to more appointments with my mum and I, as having the input of someone who really knows you but is coming from a more modern mind set (soz mum!) really helps. My mum liked a certain fabric on me (I don't want to give too much away as I know my fiance will read this!) but I wasn't sure, and after my sister agreed that it wasn't for me it made me realise I should go with my gut. Seeking dress shopping advice from friends who are already married (especially if they are from the same area you're dress shopping in) is also invaluable.
5. Balance practicality with your dream dress
Before I even went shopping I knew I would have expensive taste! One dress I tried on that I fell in love with was way over my price range and whilst I uhmmed and ahhhed over whether we could move the budget about to afford it, ultimately I thought it was silly to go over budget for one dress for one day.That's my personal opinion, and I know some people might think the opposite! When I couldn't choose between two final dresses - one of which was in the sample sale and pretty much half the price of the other - part of what helped me decide was thinking 'if I do like them equally, is dress A really £XX times better than dress B'?
6. If you can't take pics, look online
A lot of boutiques don't allow photography, which is frustrating. However, they will write the name of the dress down for you and you can Google it when you get home. It sounds a bit obvious but I found this really helped when deciding as often the sample sizes in the shop are too big/small and you can only really 'envision' what they will look like, especially if you have no photos of yourself to reference. When you Google you can see where a dress is supposed to sit when it fits correctly or see it on real life brides and this can totally change your opinion.
7. It's a big cliché, but try on dresses you might not think you'll like
EVERYONE says you'll end up getting a dress you never thought you'd like. This has been true for a lot of my married friends and it was true for me! The dress I ended up with was in the sample sale and was suggested by the sales assistant - I never would have looked twice at it. Also, don't forget that you can add things, take things away etc. there are many possibilities if you love it apart from one niggly detail!
8. Explore different avenues
If you're struggling to find something you like in traditional boutiques, there are other options. ASOS, Net-a-Porter, J.Crew, BHLDN, Etsy and Monsoon (to name a few) all have selections that are a bit 'different' from the norm. You might find something that's not a traditional dress but could certainly look just as nice on your wedding day. There are also second hand shops like Preloved or StillWhite, especially helpful if you fall in love with an over-budget dress in a boutique - you never know if it will crop up!
9. Don't get disheartened!
I think if you have a vision in your mind and nothing is matching up you can start feeling a bit meh about the whole thing. I've seen brides come in shops I've been in, try on a couple of dresses and pick one simply because it's a big white dress and they look like a bride - I wish I found it that simple! I really, really don't mean this to sound rude or condescending but I think if you are someone who's very picky with the things you wear and like, it's likely you'll be the sort of person who is never 100% sure that the dress you've chosen is completely, no-doubt-in-your-mind the only one for you. If you love a dress, it really suits you and you can envision yourself walking down the aisle in it, then it's pretty-much perfect. Good luck!
Thanks for reading the essay that was this post - I really hope it helps!