The Dress. Possibly THE most important dress you will ever wear. It is the one garment that future generations will judge you for in family photos for the rest of your life and you walking into the church is possibly the moment that everyone holds the greatest anticipation for on the big day. Choosing it then, is no easy task. In this post, I bring you my top tips for choosing the perfect dress for you while getting the best possible experience.
Give yourself enough time
I got engaged and married within seven months so that didn’t leave me much time to plan everything. I booked my consultation a month after I got engaged, to ensure I had it planned. You may need to arrange an appointment up to a year before your big day however depending on the dress and designer. My dress was from America and it was the only one in the boutique. Not only that, but the owner had been waiting for the dress to become available for six months before I saw it (two days after it had been placed on display) it just shows you never know how long you will need for your dress so start to enquire as soon as you are set on a wedding date!
Know what you’re looking for
Through numerous Pinterest searches and knowing my own body shape, I had a clear envision of how I wanted my dress to look. A simple fit and flair with lace and sequins was what I was looking for. I also knew the brand that I loved the most and had dreamed of wearing a Galia Lahav dress since I had started my research. It’s also ok to not be completely clear on what you want, but having an idea in your mind makes the search so much easier. Even if it’s something simple like having your shoulders covered, a large train or sweetheart neckline.
Set a budget
This has to be realistic. I knew that my dress was really important for me, so I was extremely generous with my budget allocating a quarter of the wedding budget to the dress. You also need to remember that alterations and accessories should come into this budget too! I gave myself £5k for my outfit, so I was a little gutted when I found out how much Galia Lahav dresses actually cost, but decided to search the brand anyway for stockists in the UK in the hopes that I may find the dress of my dreams in the sale! Eventually I found a boutique near Rugby called Serendipity Brides and whatever happened, I knew my dream dress would be there. Serendipity is my all-time favourite word due to its meaning, and the fact that it stocked Galia Lahav seemed like fate. I knew however that I would look at their full range of dresses, within my price range. The worst thing you can do is limit yourself to more expensive dresses just because of their price – you’d be surprised, the girls in the shop said this happens a lot even if someone likes a much cheaper dress they don’t want to wear a £500 dress over a £2k one…
Experience is key so pick a reputable bridal shop
So, I completely went with my heart when I chose the shop, but I had researched reviews and looked the boutique up online so knew what I was getting myself in for. I had also emailed the owner; Lisa back and forth a few times and really clicked so knew it would be a great place, I asked for a large private room to ensure that we had space to relax and move around in – you’ll be there for a good few hours so I would recommend asking if this is an option! When we went into the boutique, we were immediately greeted and led to our room where we were offered a glass of bubbles before having a short consultation with our wonderful expert for the day. There was a sofa for everyone to sit on, bridal magazines on the table and a jar of cookies (which we polished off!) and a curtained off corner for me to change in without flashing the room. We felt so comfortable and it was nice that we had the privacy.
Take a handful of people whose opinions you trust
I asked my Mum, my best friend/Maid of Honour Harriet and my sister/chief bridesmaid Sophie along with me. My mum because she knows what looks good on me and I wanted to ensure the dress was appropriate for the church (obviously it wouldn’t not be, but just in case!) and Harriet and Sophie because I knew they would give me their honest opinions and tell me if something didn’t suit me/Ben wouldn’t like it. I didn’t want a lot of people there because other people’s opinions can shadow your own and I wanted to ensure I made the right decision for me.
Try a variety of options
Even if you know exactly which dress you want to get, pick a variety of options and ensure that your dress style fits the theme of your wedding – no one wants to be stuck on a beach in 40 degree heat in a corseted gown! As we pulled up to the bridal shop, I fell in love with the dress in the window. I loved the lace and the beading and knew that it was my dress. Even so, I chose eight completely different dresses to try on to make sure that I was right. I started by trying on the dress in the window (and loved it even more) but then tried on a huge princess gown, a vintage number, different lace etc to get a feel for what I wanted, but in the end I still went back to that very first dress – I know this happens so rarely though, I just got very lucky!
Try Accessories on with your dress choice
Choosing a dress is magical and (if all goes well) you won’t be wearing another wedding dress again, but I didn’t feel like a bride in my chosen dress. It was only when I finished the look with the accessories that it all came together. I had searched high and low across all the designers for the right shoes, but none had any high enough or that looked how I wanted, so I started to filter through online sites. I came across my perfect wedding shoes on the Kurt Geiger website in the sale. They were a fraction of their original price and an even smaller fraction of the budget I had allocated, which I was more than happy about! The veil I chose was actually the veil that my expert brought in to try on with my dress, that I ended up loving so much they ordered in for me.
Find a good seamstress
I don’t know a wedding dress seamstress, so wanted to make sure I had a great recommendation. Serendipity Brides has a list of reputable seamstresses that they give brides the option to contact, so I made sure I went with one of them, even though it was an hour’s drive to get to Nona, I wanted to ensure my dress was in safe hands. I needed two fittings. An initial fitting to discuss what needed to be altered and then a follow up where any final adjustments were done there and then while I waited.
My dress looked and felt beautiful on the day and I felt like a princess in it. My dress try-on experience was perfect, so I really hope you have an experience to match!
What tips would you offer for finding the perfect wedding dress?