For today’s blog post, I thought I’d share with you one of my personal experiences from when I was a bride-to-be myself. I didn’t have the smoothest journey to finding my perfect wedding dress – and learned a few lessons on the way!
After a few trips investigating possible wedding dress styles, I settled on buying a sample dress from a reputable store in Essex for £600. It wasn’t perfect, but the price tag was great, and the boutique had confidently advised me that a seamstress would be able to help me turn it into the dress that I wanted.
The main issue was that the shape of the upper half simply wasn’t right for someone with my bust size. Because of the way it was cut, it felt much too big up top, even though the waist and skirt suited me really well.
So off I went, with my dress in tow, to the seamstress they had recommended – who seemed less than convinced that the kinds of changes I wanted were possible. She did try… again, and again. I went back and forth to her four times, each time to find she had experimented with a new solution to try to make it fit my body shape: boning it, cutting it, adding straps, and even pinning a bra to it.
As I stood there, disheartened, looking at myself in the mirror, I heard her say:
“Is there budget for boob job…?”
I gave her another chance to make some alterations, only to come back to find that she had turned the V into an even deeper plunge, making the situation (somehow!) even worse. By this point I had spent about £150 on alterations, and had lost all confidence that a solution would be found. My instinct was to run away from the shop, so I made an excuse (“I’ll go try this at home – just to check I can sit and dance in it…”) and did just that.
When I got home, I told my husband, my heart in my throat, that I needed to buy another dress, 3 months before the wedding. I went to Wed2B the next day, and found a dress that fit. It wasn’t the dress I was dreaming of, but after months of disappointment, it felt the light at the end of the tunnel.
Reflecting on this now, aside from the finding the boob job comment terrible and hilarious at the same time, I wonder if perhaps I shouldn’t have bought the dress knowing it wasn’t right – or perhaps the boutique shouldn’t have sold me claiming it could definitely be fixed. Everyone’s journey to their wedding dress is different, and at such an emotionally-heightened time of our lives the decision can sometimes be more daunting than it is fun.
So here’s some tips from me on how to make your wedding dress journey as smooth and enjoyable as it can be:
- Keep your options open:Don’t set your heart on a particular designer or shape, as you never know what you might fall in love with when you try it on.
- Don’t rush:If you can, start the dress hunt with plenty of time, so you can do some research online, visit multiple boutiques, sleep on decisions for as long as you need, get something made bespoke if you decide to, or ask for some specific alterations. Do keep in mind however that dresses change from season to season, so don’t start TOO early (more than a year or so).
- Bring friends, but not too many: Opinions are important, especially if they come from people who you know will be gentle and honest with you – BUT it’s also possible to be overwhelmed with opinions, which makes it hard to listen to your own heart.
- Remember your venue: You can of course buy whichever dress you want, but you might be grateful for one that is practical for your venue and the season of your wedding. An extensive train and long sleeves sound romantic, but may not be right for you if your wedding is at a summery, rustic venue for example.
- Set a budget: Knowing what your budget iswill allow you to narrow down your choices of boutique and of designer – and will save you from the heartache of falling for a dress you can’t afford. Also, respecting a spend threshold means will make you feel all the happier for finding your perfect dress within budget, or at least you can decide to stretch it a little while knowing how much you may need to save elsewhere.
- Look around:Remember that dresses can be found in lots of places, including bridal boutiques, many high-street designer shops, online, rental shops, sample sales, and second-hand and charity boutiques. If you’re booking your appointment at a boutique because you know they stock a designer you like, call ahead to find out which styles of which collections they have in store.
- Be prepared for your appointments: Wear little or no make-up so you can switch dresses without worrying, wear nude underwear and a nude strapless bra (fitted correctly), and bring along any items you already have for your outfit (shoes, accessories, etc) so you can use them to help you find the dress that works best for you (or if you have your heart set on a hairstyle, try to have it done before the appointment).
- Don’t be afraid to get second opinions: If you’re unsure about whether a dress is right for you, whether the alterations you’ll need are plausible, or whether a particular seamstress is experienced enough, don’t be afraid to shop around and get second, third, and fourth opinions. Listen to recommendations from friends and family if they’ve had similar experiences, and take your time until you feel 100% happy with a decision.
- Stay strong:Don’t let the opinion of any shop staff sway you if you’re not sure – they’re probably trying to help, but you will always know best when it comes to your body and your comfort. Most importantly, don’t let anything anyone says affect your self-confidence: you are going to look stunning on your wedding day because you’ll be wearing the pure JOY that you feel, and the dress is just the pretty wrapping. You are beautiful, exactly the way you are, in this very moment.
- Walk away:Is a boutique isn’t right for you, or a dress style isn’t making you feel good despite your friends’ opinions, trust your instinct: walk away, knowing there is something much better out there for you. Also, when you do find your perfect dress, stop looking:you may be tempted to keep shopping around “just be sure” but it’s very unlikely to do much except make you second guess your choice!
- Take it lightly and have fun: Most importantly of all, try to approach the dress hunt with lightness and a playful, fun attitude. Remind yourself that finding your wedding dress can be one of the wonderful memories that make up your wedding planning journey – but it’s only one of many. If dresses and shopping aren’t something that excites you, or maybe it didn’t quite go as you hoped, remember that you are still going to have an AMAZING day full of love and laughter and all the people you care about most.
I hope these tips help you have the most fun and stress-free experience you can while searching for your dress!