Congratulations!! You’re engaged!!
Now for the really important stuff….THE DRESS!!!!
So what are the things to know before you go gown shopping?
Here are the insiders top tips…..
1. Venue and Season
It usually helps to know the type of setting and also the time of year the wedding will take place, so most Brides choose their venue first, before visiting us. A church or a manor house, city hotel, beach wedding? Christmas versus August? Spring or September? All of these things can have a bearing on your decision, you will afterall be the centre of attention on the day and you may want your dress to reflect your surroundings, but don’t forget your gown needs to suit your personality above all else.
There are gowns to suit all budgets, so think carefully what is right for you…it’s no fun starting married life eating baked beans for the first three years!
BUT that being said, your budget needs to be realistic – chances are you won’t find that gorgeous designer lace gown for £18.50! Don’t compromise so far that you buy something you don’t like, it will be a false economy in the long run, those wedding photos will be around for a lifetime. A better option may be to juggle the wedding budget and see if you can save somewhere else. (Do remember to allow for alteration charges, these are normally charged separately to the gown.)
3. Avoid Cheap Internet Copies!
This really deserves a whole post to itself!!
All I can say is there has been many a bride who has been devastated when what has seemed like an online bargain is actually a very poorly made copy of a designer gown. Cheap fabric, plastic beads, appalling fit. Genuine stockists of designer gowns are not allowed to sell them online so there is a high risk that you are being conned. The old adage “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!” should be applied and caution exercised.
4. Dress to your body type
Most girls are sensible to this tip, but it’s still worth a mention – you’ll naturally love the gowns that suit your body shape and disaster can lie in wait if you fight your body shape too much! Everyone looks good in an A-line shape. Pear shaped? A ball gown style will show off your fab waist and skim those hips, hurrah! On the petite side? Try not to overwhelm with too much fuss, detail near the neck and simple skirts are always a good place to start. Above all keep an open mind, gowns are designed to flatter and until you put them it’s really hard to tell what will work and what will not. Often the shape of a gown will pick you! Personality plays such a HUGE part in this process, and body language is always a give away (as is swishing in the dress!!)
Trends are great, love ’em in fact. But on your wedding day? A beautiful classic gown with a nod to fashion is always a good idea if you don’t want to look back in horror at your wedding album – massive 1980’s puff sleeves anyone?! And there are current trends that are easy to wear and undateable classics in their own right. Lace is always perfect, as is 50’s ball gown styling for example. It’s also very easy to add on-trend and fashionable accessories to complete your look with maybe a birdcage tiara or a side headpiece without dating the overall look.
6. Ordering Times
The earlier you start The Hunt, the more options you’ll have. A year before the big day is quite typical as dresses can take up to 6 months to arrive (that would allow for your gown to be in store 6 weeks before the wedding for fittings). I always feel that for most girls to have the option to look and try on one day and then come back another day to order, relieves a great deal of pressure, and it should be a happy decision – not one made because you feel you have no other choice! And once a gown has been ordered it’s very rare that it can be cancelled, so choose wisely.
Of course for all of you spur-of-the-moment brides on a tighter timescale, fear not, you still have options. Many gowns can be bought “off the peg” that is to say you can purchase the showroom sample and most shops actually have a sale rail where we sell pre-selected samples. Some designers offer an express service for an extra charge. Mori Lee actually has a small collection of gowns specially selected that are available on a 4 week delivery. And we have been known to work the odd miracle or two in our time!
“She only brought close family and friends to see her dress…….”image via here
A very personal one this! The feedback we get here is this: Mums and sisters, or a very close (and supportive) friend are usually the best initially (though I think it’s exceptionally sweet when a Mum-in-Law to be comes). A huge entourage is not always such a great idea. To many conflicting ideas can be demoralising and sometimes the fewer opinions the better! And obviously the less people who have seen the dress, the bigger the impact on the day!! Ultimately my advice is bring those you can trust to help and not hinder you!
8. Bridal Shops.
Some are lovely. Some aren’t. Cold, honest, hard fact that. Not all shops are the same and we all cater for a slightly different customer. Most work on an appointment basis, although we don’t. Trust your gut feeling when it comes to the right boutique for you. Listen to your friends recommendations, chat to the sales girls and make sure they listen to you, you need to trust and like them. Ask questions… Do you trust them to do the alterations? How long have they been established? Do they have a testimonial book full of thank you’s from happy brides, good comments on face book? You’ll be spending a lot of time with us by the time the wedding comes so do your homework and shop where you’ll be happy!!
Ideally pick your gown first, then your maids can complement you. It is your day after all!
If you have a formal gown, try long gown or a cocktail dress for your girls. Going for a more casual vibe on a beach perhaps – then a beautiful sundress may be in order.
Bridesmaid have a typically shorter ordering time, around 16 weeks. Many brides now choose the high street to purchase their maids dresses, long gowns usually work best in this scenario as you are less likely to get a guest showing up in the same dress as your maids! Yes, I have actually heard of this happening!
Again don’t forget to allow for the cost of any alterations, and you may have to find an independant seamstress if you have bought from the high street.
10. YOU choose the dress!!
You have the final say – you must decide on the best dress for you, NOT us the salesperson (many work on commission or bonuses, although we don’t – unless you count Jaffa cakes….), NOT your Mum, NOT your bridesmaid – YOU!! You have to LOVE LOVE LOVE it! And you will know, you’ll feel that it’s just right – trust me!
Right dress, right budget, right shop?
You’ve found THE ONE! Stop looking! Don’t drive yourself crazy looking for the same dress again and again, order it and enjoy the moment!
I hope these Top Tips help you in your quest to find the bridal gown of your dreams. Remember that rules were made to be broken, so pick and choose the tips that apply to you…except tip no.10.
Every bride must LOVE LOVE LOVE her dress!!!!