You’ve accepted the proposal and now the exciting task of what you are going to wear to your special day is starting to stress you out!
Don’t worry as I can hold your hand throughout the whole process and I promise you it won’t be stressful at all…
Firstly the best piece of advice I can offer is to always buy locally. The bridal shop in your home city is the best place to go. The owner and staff live locally in your community and therefore have a reputation to keep. The collections they buy have had hours of scrutiny as to their quality, their value for money and their suitability. The owner will have met the designers or manufacturers face to face to discuss their own vision for their business and the support the designer can offer them. All this means that the bridal shop cares about you and about your day. They want to ensure that everything is perfect for you.
Many brides are under the impression that they will be able to purchase something “different” if they visit cities hours away from where they live. Sadly the choice is no different. Each bridal shop has exclusivity of collections and therefore you won’t find the same dress in the shops local to you. This means you can relax in knowing that you won’t be able to find the same dress any cheaper just by hopping into every bridal shop within a 20-mile radius of where you live.
It also means that there is a very high chance that when you visit another city, the choice will be exactly the same as it was just down the road. You then have the added problem and expense of making the journey each time you need to see your dress i.e. when you make your deposit, when your dress arrives in to store, for several fittings in the run-up to your wedding (which will also be a very busy time for you). So before you book that train ticket for a day out looking at wedding dresses, stop, take a look around, you could actually save yourself some money!
Now where to visit!
Some brides fall in love with the very first dress they try and some take a little longer. Don’t book several appointments in one day as this will leave you feeling exhausted and you will probably sicken yourself or become extremely stressed by it all. Do some research. Where did your friends visit? Has the bridal shop been established for a long time? Do you like what they show in their windows? Is there parking nearby? Do the opening hours suit you? Do they do their own adjustments? Some of these questions may seem a little obvious but they are important to you.
A bridal shop that is well established will most likely have a wealth of experience and can help you with many aspects of your wedding and not necessarily just your dress. Some newer shops make up for what they are lacking in experience with energy and excitement but I’m sure you will have enough of that yourself. Carrying out adjustments on the premises is a huge thing that you probably don’t appreciate when you first start out but you don’t want to be left with a dress that can’t be altered.
The bridal shop that does their own will understand how dresses are made, how they will fit properly and if any bespoke requests are a possibility. A shop that just sells off the rail and doesn’t have any expertise in alterations is not invested in ensuring that your dress will fit perfectly on the day. Once you have purchased your gown, their responsibility is over and they will now move onto the next bride. You want someone who is invested in your wedding clothes as much as you are.
Set a realistic budget
We all know that when we set a budget we often go over. However, you don’t want to leave yourself in debt for the foreseeable future just because you didn’t plan properly. With wedding dresses, you get what you pay for. The more you’re prepared to spend generally the more structure, boning etc. you will have in your dress and that matters regarding the fit and feel of a dress.
Sometimes you are paying for a label, if that’s important to you, but I would invest in the fit, the fabric, and the embellishments over the investment in a designer’s name. We have brides asking all the time if we stock certain labels or if they are trying on a particular dress they desperately want to know the name of the collection. It is far more important to find that one dress that shows your figure off to the best it can be than to settle for a brand.
Look past the labels – you may be pleasantly surprised. Being open with your budget also means that those you take with you are looking for dresses that will respect your budget and the embarrassment of trying something on that you can’t really afford is something else you could do without.
How do I know if it’s the one?
Once you have done your research the next exciting thing is to try on. Relax – we’ve got it covered. Any bridal retailer worth their salt will encourage you to try on several different styles. You will want to visit a store that has a good and extensive selection. You will find out very quickly what you don’t like and then it’s a case of focussing on the things you do like. Trust your instincts but also learn to trust the retailer.
As a seamstress, I know what suits and I know my dress collections. I love it when a bride is brave enough to try something I’ve suggested and is pleasantly surprised that what I’ve chosen is a great shape for them. Don’t be afraid to try something out of the box. Your wedding dress should be an extension of you; you should feel beautiful and comfortable in it but you should also be looking for that “wow” factor. Now the “wow” factor is not always the first thing you see. Sometimes the longer you keep a dress on the more it feels special and you feel that confidence growing. Sometimes it is that initial glimpse in the mirror that blows you away but sometimes it’s the simplicity of something that has such elegance that you can imagine all the guests taking that heavy breath intake when they see you.
Make sure that you are wearing the dress and not the other way round. Sometimes we have to find that “big” dress for that girl with the “big” personality, but often elegance is understated and the pure grace of a classical style can be a bigger statement. Once you’ve found it – buy it! Don’t think that you need to keep looking “just in case.” Just like your man, you will see other dresses that you think are beautiful, but they aren’t yours, and once you’ve fallen in love, you will compare everything to the one that you’ve chosen. You will appreciate them for what they are, but they aren’t yours and you will know you have chosen the one that best suits you.
Be careful of others opinions. You will know when something is right. It’s your wedding dress – you are the one wearing it and it needs to accentuate everything you love about yourself and hide all the things you are less confident about. Only you truly know what gives you this confidence.
The After Service is more important than you realise
Once you’ve chosen the one, you now need to know that everything is going to be perfect. You can imagine yourself in the dress on the day but you need to know it’s going to look and fit perfectly. People buy from people, and you will have a good relationship with the bridal retailer you have just purchased your dress from.
You need to be able to trust them and if you don’t feel like that or you’ve had a poor service from them it will leave you feeling more than a little concerned. Your dress is the most important investment you will make besides your husband. You know that if you are wearing the wrong shoes or the wrong earrings, you just don’t feel right all day. Well on your wedding day how much more is this important.
Please don’t take advantage of all the things the local wedding shop has to offer and then purchase a cheap copy online. Many of the internet sites use the original designers marketing photo but what you receive bears no resemblance to the internal structure, boning, interlining of the original dress and therefore the fit and feel of the dress is no comparison. You will be left without a properly fitted dress and a much-reduced budget to enable you to buy a replacement.
Your local bridal retailer has invested all their time into ensuring the dress is perfect and they will be there holding your hand right up until the day of the wedding. We also love it when our brides book out some time for a coffee and a look at the wedding photos after the day. We have been in business so long that we often have our brides bringing their daughters back for prom dresses. You won’t get that from a website, so don’t risk it. Invest in your local shops or the choice and support will no longer be there and that would be a very sad place to be.
Lastly, remember that your wedding day is about marrying the most important person in your life. Your wedding photos will help you to relive the day and you will want to remember every aspect in detail including the way you look and what you chose to wear. How you feel about what you are wearing will show in your face and if you feel confident and beautiful this will reflect in your face. Never choose second best. If it means you need to rearrange your budget slightly to enable you to purchase that perfect dress then do it. It’s one day that you will remember for the rest of your life and that’s worth the investment.
This From The Experts Blog was written by Ailsa Taylor is the Managing Director of the award-winning “The Wedding Warehouse” in Carlisle. The company is celebrating 35 years in business and 23 under Ailsa’s ownership. Her grandmother was a seamstress and the skills have been passed down the generations. Being the largest and longest-serving bridal retailer in Cumbria comes with a wealth of experience. You can contact The Wedding Warehouse on 01228 595956. Appointments are advisable.