Your wedding dress is one of the most important details of your wedding day. Choosing the right one is a huge decision, and making such an important decision can feel overwhelming. How do you know if a dress is the one? With this handy guide you can choose the perfect wedding dress and feel confident and beautiful on your big day.
Do your research before you shop
The perfect dress requires some research. Take a look at wedding blogs, magazines, Pinterest and the ‘real wedding’ section of some wedding websites. You’re not looking for an exact dress, but you should look for some features that you like.
Look for women with a similar body shop to you. What dress style did they choose? Do you think it suits them? What details do you like? Is your Pinterest board full of dresses with sleeves, or some sparkle, or with a full skirt? Make a note of the shapes and details that appeal to you.
If you have a large bridal wear shop near you, go along on a fact-finding mission. Don’t try anything on yet, but just take a look through the racks and see what appeals to you in person.
The last thing you want is to be shopping for a wedding dress on a tight deadline. Most bridalwear stores recommend looking for your dress between nine and twelve months before your wedding, to give you enough time to shop, try on and have any alterations made.
Remember that your body can change a lot in a year. If you’re dieting for the wedding, make sure you tell the place you buy your dress from so they can advise on the best times for fittings to make sure your alterations are correct.
Choose the right boutique
Where you shop can make all the difference, especially if you want something more specialist.
For example, if you’re plus-size, you’re going to have an easier time if you visit a boutique that specialises in plus-size bridalwear. Most high street bridal stores and boutiques only stock a very narrow range of sizes, and you might struggle to find much to try on.
Even if you’re not shopping for something more unusual, the right boutique can make your experience very different. Ask married friends about their experience at different stores and read reviews online before visiting. You want to shop somewhere that will make the effort to make you feel comfortable and special. Ideally, you want a store assistant who will give you helpful advice about choosing a dress, and will give you kind but honest feedback about how the dresses you try on fit and suit you.
A good trick for getting a feel for the service you might get is to call ahead and ask some questions ahead of your appointment. If they’re friendly and happy to help, this is a good sign.
Keep your entourage small
We’ve all seen those TV shows about buying wedding dresses where the bride seems to have her whole family with her to choose the dress. Don’t do this. Instead, choose one or two people who you trust to give you honest feedback. You could choose your Mum, your sister or your Maid of Honour to help you.
If you have too many people with you, you’re likely to get conflicting opinions, which can be confusing and frustrating when you’re trying to make your decision. It’s also easier for the staff if they don’t have to find space for you and your ten friends, while they’re also trying to help other brides.
Try on between four and seven dresses
Trying on too many dresses can just end up confusing you further. If you’ve done your research, you should be able to narrow down the dresses you want to try on when you get to the store. Try on a few different shapes and styles to make sure what you think you want is the right thing.
Listen to the shop assistant, as they can be very helpful with suggestions and advice. They might be able to suggest a style for you and help you make the best choice.
Don’t worry about the size
Wedding dresses come up small. This can make you feel a bit rubbish about yourself, but remember that bridal sizes do run small, so wearing a much bigger size than you usually do really doesn’t mean anything.
Don’t buy a smaller dress and plan to slim into it because the number on the label upsets you. The important thing is that your dress fits well and makes you feel amazing. Forget about what the number says.
Sit down in your dress
It sounds obvious, but when you’re standing up on the pedestal in the bridal shop, it can be easy to forget to see how your dress feels and fits when you’re moving around and sitting.
Is the dress comfortable when you sit down or does it dig in? Will you be able to eat and enjoy the wedding breakfast you spent so long choosing? Will you be able to dance in it? What is it like to walk in? Will you need help when you need to go to the loo?
Consider the comfort of the dress when worn for several hours. Is it heavy or does it pinch anywhere? If it feels uncomfortable in any way for the few minutes you wear it in the shop, imagine how bad it will feel after eight hours when you’re tired out!
Stick to your style
The best way to feel good in your dress is to choose something that suits your usual style. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by just looking at beautiful dresses and forget to picture yourself in them.
Instead of worrying about finding a dress that will be timeless, choose something that suits your style. For example, if you love a glamorous look day to day, you’re likely to feel good in a dress in a chic mermaid style. If you style is more boho, then boho wedding dresses are going to make you feel good.
Take Your Time
You’re making an important decision, so you shouldn’t feel rushed. Even if you think you’ve found ‘the one’, take some time over your decision to be sure. Try on a few more dresses, and maybe even go away for a bit to think. Even leaving the shop and just going for a coffee to think can help you feel absolutely sure you love the dress and aren’t just feeling pressured to make a choice.
If you’re not sure, keep looking and don’t let anyone, whether it’s a shop assistant or your mum push you into buying a dress that you aren’t certain about. Take as much time as you need, or visit a few different shops.
Stay on budget
Whatever you do, don’t try on a dress you can’t afford. Be clear with the shop assistant about what your budget is, and stick to it. Trying on a more expensive dress could be a disaster, as you might fall hard for a dress that you just cannot afford.
Remember that the most important thing is that you love your dress. The price tag means nothing, and nobody but you needs to know how much you spent. Whether you buy a designer, high street or second-hand gown, it only matters that you love it.
If you have fallen in love with a particular designer that is out of budget, it can be worth looking at bridal outlet stores for ex-display dresses. You can also have good success looking for dresses on eBay and other second hand websites.
Disclosure: This is a featured post.