The Ultimate Guide To Choosing Your Perfect Wedding Dress
I’m going to start this post by asking you a simple question! All you have to do is decide which of these girls describes you the best. Simple right? Okay, here we go:
As a newly engaged soon-to-be bride, the thought of bridal dress shopping fills me with…
1. Excitement! I cannot wait to finally start the process of finding my perfect dress! 2. Dread! No. I don’t want to. I can’t do it. Please don’t make me!
With so many choices, shapes, fabrics, finishes and opinions (yes mother, I know your thoughts on my body shape and a sweetheart neckline thank you.) I wouldn’t blame you if option two was your answer! Well, don’t panic, because I’m here to help!
Even if you can’t wait to get into those stores and start trying on dress styles from strapless mermaids to princess ball gowns, I’ve been busy gathering a selection of tips, tricks, dos and don’ts straight from the experts themselves to ensure you get the very best out of your boutique visits!
With a little help from some insiders, designers and bridal shop owners, Champagne & Chandeliers Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Perfect Wedding Dress is an essential read for brides to consider while searching for the “one”.
"Just go in and try things on…things you may even think 'I would never wear that'. Give yourself that freedom"
1. Ignore The Rules!
Almost everything you’ve read online about what would ‘suit your shape’ is variable! I won’t deny, there are some styles that suit others more (A-Line is flattering for almost all shapes), but it’s all dependent on the dress and, most importantly, on you! I’ve seen so many brides limit themselves to what a chart on Pinterest said would suit their shape but the truth is, everybody is different! Don’t be afraid to try on a fishtail if you’re fuller figured – I’ve seen countless curvy women rock the style with flair and beauty! Simply put, rule number one is there are no rules!
2. Try on at least one of every style
Keep an open mind! Remember, wedding dresses look very different on and off the hanger! You’ll never really know exactly what suits you until you’ve tried some dresses on. You’ll be surprised! The dress you never thought you’d like, might actually be the dress you end up choosing! It’s also a great icebreaker for starting out too and trying one of each style gives you a much clearer picture of what you’re looking for.
Try not to limit yourself or be too specific in the early stages of dress choosing. If there’s a wildcard that’s very different from anything you’d normally go for – TRY IT ON! If you don’t like it, what’s the harm done? This tip is also a great way to help get you out of your own head if you’re stressing out. (And you’d be surprised at the number of brides that walk away with their wildcard dress!)
"Listen to your heart and don’t pay too much attention to trends. Stay true to you and you will find your dream gown"
3. Bring people who will influence you POSITIVELY
If you’re struggling to find your dress, there’s nothing worse than a negative bridesmaid looking bored and making unhelpful comments. I have seen countless brides fall head over heels in love with a dress when it’s just her and her reflection, only to walk out and have it totally criticised by their loved ones! It’s heart-breaking! PLEASE – for your own sake – bring people you trust and who won’t force their opinions on you. It’s great to have honest friends, but if they are too opinionated, too strongly, you end up wearing their perfect dress and not yours!
4. Keep your viewing party small & exclusive
The easiest way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the process is to limit the number of people you bring! It’s that simple. Trying to get 10 people to agree on every aspect of your dress is near impossible! 2 or 3 close friends or family members is a good number, and means you can hear everyone’s opinion without feeling drowned out. The less likely you are to be stressed means a better dress-finding state of mind! You can always take the whole gang out for lunch afterwards if you want to make sure everyone feels included!
5. Talk to your consultant! Especially if you’re struggling
They can’t help you unless you talk to them! If you’re struggling, be as specific as possible about what it is you like and dislike with every dress (remembering to keep it polite.) That way they can look out for dresses they think you’ll love, and ones that probably aren’t worth your time. It’s what they do all day, and they’re very good at it!
One of my favourite tips I like to suggest to brides is to ask your consultant what dress they think would suit you! Don’t forget they know their stuff! Not only are they well versed in the stock they carry but they spend nearly 365 days a year seeing different girls with different body types coming in and out of their store! 9 times out of 10 they already know what dress would suit you within the first five minutes of meeting you! Give them the chance to assist you! You might be pleasantly surprised!
6. Don’t forget your shoes!
In the excitement of finding the dress of your dreams, the squeals of delight from your (small) bridal party and the inevitable tears from your family members, it’s easy to forget the little details. Your shoes for instance! I’ve dealt with brides who have gotten as far as the final fitting before realising that they haven’t taken into account the 5-inch heels they want to wear on the day! Don’t make the same mistake!
7. Don’t look and allow yourself the element of surprise!
Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. Especially if you already have a good idea of what you like and dislike. As I mentioned before however, wedding dress shopping is a very different ball game. Things don’t always look how you think they do or expect them to. With this in mind, one of the best tips I picked up from an experienced bridal shop owner was to only look at yourself once the dress is on! You’ll have a much better and more rounded opinion on the gown. Turn away from the mirror as your consultant dresses you and then take a look once you’re in, pinned and secured! You’ll get a more genuine reaction.
8. Get 'Jacked Up'
Now hold on girls, this doesn’t mean down three bottles of Prosecco before your appointment (even if that does sound like fun)! If you’ve ever seen Say Yes To The Dress – Atlanta, you’ll know that this means adding the accessories, hair and veil to really see what your dress would look like. I’d only suggest trying this out if you’re really struggling with your final choice. Getting jacked up will complete the look and might just help you to make that all-important decision.
"I always tell brides to follow their instinct throughout the wedding dress experience but I encourage them to always keep an open mind in selecting their dress"
9. Don’t undervalue your comfort
You don’t want to be stuck on your wedding day, counting the hours down until you can take your dress off! It’s a horrible feeling to wish your long-anticipated day away thinking about when you can get into your comfy pyjamas. If you’re worried about a strapless dress failing you after a few hours – get detachable straps made! Seamstresses are angels and they really do work miracles! Try and think through every possibility; jump up and down, dance, sit down in it, pick something up from the floor. A sensible bride will try all these out before she has the dress altered! Whatever’s causing you discomfort, or may cause you discomfort after a few hours, the chances are there’s probably a solution.
10. Don’t pressure yourself
Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel that ‘magic moment’ you’ve heard so much about! A consultant once told me she had a bride who almost left without her dress because, whilst she absolutely loved it, she didn’t cry! Thankfully her mum talked her around and, once she let go of the pressure of needing ‘that feeling’, she was thrilled to have found her dress! The main thing that stood in her way was her own mind! It’s all dependent on you. Don’t try and force a moment that might not happen. Relax, trust yourself, your intuition and your instinct. And never underestimate your gut feeling! It will guide you in the right direction.
11. Enjoy yourself!
For most people, this is a process they’ll experience once in their lifetime. So enjoy it! Let go of any pre-conceived ideas you have, keep an open mind and stay positive! With a little perseverance, a small amount of luck and these tips to guide you, you’re bound to find the perfect dress! Good luck!
*With thanks to Miriam Schofield and Lesley Howe for their contribution to this post.