1. Decide On Venue
It’s impossible trying to select a dress for the biggest day of your life without knowing the time of year and venue you and your fiancé are going to be saying ‘I do’ at. Trying to buy a wedding dress without knowing the day and exact wedding venue is like asking someone to get dressed for a date without knowing where they are going or at what time…. So; decide on your venue and book the date before you start getting giddy about your girlie bridal dress shopping adventures.
2. Research Styles
Once you’ve nailed the venue it’s time to start checking out wedding dress styles! What with social media, the internet, wedding themed TV and a tonne of wedding magazines on newsagent’s shelves you’re not going to be short of places to look for gown ideas! Pinterest and Instagram are a really great resource and most decent wedding dress shops have fabulous pages online to peruse and look for styles you love. Check out leading bridal bloggers who often feature real life weddings, you’ll soon find inspiration for your whole wedding at a click of a button.
For your info there are 7 basic bridal dress silhouettes to select from; Fishtail, Empire Line, Ball Gown, A-line, Bias Cut, Column/Straight or Drop Waisted. Wedding Dress Shop Pros at wedding boutiques will help you to understand what will work for you so don’t panic if, when you’re looking for ideas, you’re overwhelmed with confusion or uncertainty, they will know how to help you to look and feel amazing!
Whilst researching, build your own mood board using Pinterest or try iphone apps like Photo Collage Scrapbook or Moodboard On The Go. Alternatively go old school and create a physical paper scrap book; yes that’s paper, glue and an actual book that you stick tear outs into, it’s what we oldies always did you now *winks*, (you’ll treasure that physical keepsake in years to come, trust me). Either way make sure you take your scrap book or app with you to your appointment to show bridal consultants your gorgeous ideas.
3. Research Shops
Decide on which bridal boutiques you’d like to visit, check out websites and facebook pages to see what they have to offer. Ask friends for their wedding shop recommendations and then get in touch to make appointments. The sign of a great shop is a warm welcome when you telephone and a genuine interest in you and your big day, if you don’t like them on the phone you’re probably not going to like them in person and you need to feel comfortable.
4. Make Appointments
Know that wedding dresses can take approx. 8-10 months to be made, (but they can be made sooner) and there is of course the option to buy off the peg so if you have less time don’t panic but ideally make appointments approx. 12/18 months before your big day. It’s tempting to book tonnes of bridal shop appointments but trust us when we say that waaaay too many shop appointments will usually result in dress blindness! Two or three shops is perfect and manageable in one day. You can always book more if you need to but start with a couple and make sure that your nearest and dearest can come along with you, it’s very likely that you will find ‘the one’ and that moment is often quite special, you’ll want them there. You might like to book some lunch or afternoon tea and make a day of it; wedding dress shopping should be really fabulous so take some time to plan the day and enjoy every minute.
5. Who to Take
Oooo now there’s a question!! I think one or two people is perfect, maybe a best friend and closest female family member. When brides take an entourage it’s really stressful for them, there’s usually too many opinions flying about and it can just cause extra confusion for the bride. Wedding dress shopping is all about how YOU feel, it’s not about what others see it’s actually about how you feel, in your heart (yes, cheesy but true). Plus for every extra person that sees you in your chosen gown it’s one less gasp on your wedding day so don’t be tempted to spoil the magic by showing everyone, bring just a few very key people, it’s far less stress and far more magical that way.
6. When It’s The One
It’s pretty simple, you’ll know. You’ll feel a million dollars, you’ll love it and you won’t want to take it off. What is absolutely essential is that when you have found the one, you stop looking. Sometimes you have to be brave and just go for it. Sure; it is a big decision but listen to your heart, you’ll know when it’s your dress. Dress designers frequently discontinue styles, this isn’t a sales pitch, it’s real - so if you love a gown and you don’t want to lose it don’t leave it too long before ordering, stock is changing all of the time. Dress shops usually take an order on 50% part payment of the dress but some stores (like us) will offer payment plans too which can really help.
It’s also worth mentioning that some brides have occasional dress wobbles after they’ve ordered, don’t worry that’s ok, it’s what we call wedding dress jitters. You see often with a made to order wedding gown there is a while to wait so understandably some brides worry BUT if you loved that gown, you won’t change your mind. In the thousands of brides that we have looked after over the years I would say that literally a few have ever changed their mind, it very very rarely happens so once you have ordered your dream gown don’t worry, relax and enjoy planning the rest of your wedding.
7. Finishing Touches
There are lots of places to buy your beautiful finishing touches for your bridal look but I would suggest selecting and styling those whilst wearing your gown so the best place to buy your hair accessories and your jewellery is your gown store. Ask if they can assist you with those all-important items during your dress appointment, some stores will arrange a separate appointment for you. We offer our brides a separate accessories consultation which lasts an hour to discuss jewellery, veils, underskirts, shoes and hair pieces, it’s another really wonderful wedding shopping experience to enjoy.
So there are our words of wisdom now go forth and LOVE your wedding dress shopping journey, there really isn’t anything to fear providing you do your research and a little planning, get in to see some friendly, professional and award winning shops *winks* and let the Pros work their magic, it’s an exciting time so cherish every moment, it will all flash by…. Good luck x
At Abigail's Collection we are an award winning wedding dress / bridal wear shop based in Colchester, Essex. Visit us and book an appointment for beautiful wedding dresses and bridal wear for Brides, and Bridesmaids.