Wedding dress shopping – what to expect
So you’re getting married! Or maybe you just like reading wedding posts – don’t worry, no judgement here. I’ve decided to write about my experience wedding dress shopping including the good, the bad and the ugly. To be fair I had quite a positive experience and would happily do it all over again! I’ve never been the type to dream about getting married, spend years planning my dress and keep a scrapbook of wedding inspiration, so I didn’t really know what to expect from dress shopping or what styles I would suit. I was worried I wouldn’t know when I’d found ‘the one’ or that I’d look so pale I’d blend in to the dresses.
For the record, I only went to one shop…I had planned to go to at least two to start off with but found my dress in the first shop and it was the first one I tried! I know, I’m shocked too. As the most indecisive person on the planet, I have no idea how that happened. Of course I tried on a zillion more after that just to make sure. Here’s my experience and top tips for wedding dress shopping.
We went to a bridal boutique which offered a private room, including a changing room with a mirror and curtain and an area with sofas for your guests to sit on – along with a huge mirror to strut around in front of (I need one of those in my house). This was great as it made it feel more private…I’m not sure how I would have felt walking around in wedding dresses in front of other shoppers. We were also given drinks and chocolates and it just made the whole experience a bit more chilled and special, and we felt really looked after.
Eat and stay hydrated
If you do one thing, make sure you eat something before you go. My appointment was just after lunch so I had a light sandwich, some salad and a water, nothing too bloating but equally something to get me through without getting hangry! If I’m hungry I can’t think straight let alone get in and out of dresses without falling over.
You will get warm
I’ll be honest with you, I was SWEATING by the end of the appointment. And that was in November. Some of the dresses are quite heavy plus changing in and out of them is fairly physical (and I’m not the fittest). Not to worry though, the girls brought me a glass of water and they had plenty of deodorants and perfumes in the changing room!
Take people you trust
I took my mum and sister-in-law, and my cousins were due to come to the second shop with me. Why did I pick them? They’re brutally honest, which I needed. I didn’t want people telling me I looked great if I didn’t! And they’re also fun, chilled and up for a giggle so it made the whole experience way more relaxed. Remember, it’s about you and what you want so don’t feel obliged to invite everyone in your family just to keep them happy. Plus most bridal shops have a limit of 2-4 people so they won’t love you for bringing a massive entourage – you ain’t Beyonce.
Obviously wear some because no one needs or wants to see your bits, however beautiful they are. I read a lot of articles that said to be well covered so I traded my usual knickers for some big – nay, HUGE – cotton shorts. I felt so uncomfortable and I’d probably have felt fine in my usual underwear! So I would say go as covered up as you want, just as long as you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing.
Nude or white underwear works best so it doesn’t show through the dresses, and I wore a strapless bra so I could try on a range of styles without having bra straps in the way.
Hair and make up
I went with nude nails, my usual messy barnet and my usual make up as I didn’t want to distract from the dresses. Once I found my dress I tried putting my hair up in a clip to get an idea of what it would look like. Some people say not to put make up on in case you get it on the dresses but to be honest the bridal assistants are so careful putting them on and taking them off, and you tend to step in to them, so I’d say if wearing make up makes you feel comfortable then do it!
Not everyone cries
No tears here! Just unashamedly begging the lady to let me keep my dress on and wear it forever (she said no by the way). Everyone has a different experience or reaction. I was nervous to begin with as a) I don’t really wear white (hello do you see how pale I am?) and b) I don’t really wear long dresses. But we had the nicest assistant who made me feel so comfortable I was strutting my stuff in no time. When we found my dress, it was more elation and excitement rather than tears for me but as I said, everyone reacts in a different way!
White out is a thing
I tried on about 6 or 7 dresses and that was definitely enough for one day – you’ll be surprised how quickly they all blend together and you start to forget what they looked like! If you want to try loads on, split it over a few days or weeks to give yourself time. Or try and narrow it down – I tried a couple of fit and flares, a couple of strapless dresses, floaty boho styles and a column dress. I didn’t go for the big ball gowns as I knew that definitely wouldn’t be my style even though I do kind of swoon at the idea of swishing around in a poofy dress – but more for like ten minutes to a Disney theme tune than on my wedding day.
Be open minded
Not going to lie, some of the dresses look dire on the hanger. Like a limp piece of net curtain that you might find in your elderly neighbours window….but they look so different on, I promise! Keep an open mind, try on dresses even if they look weird on the hanger, try on a variety of styles and also listen to the shop assistants as they really know their stuff. They see so many women of all shapes and sizes so they do often have a good eye for what will suit you.
My main top tip? Enjoy it!! Seriously, have fun. It’s not every day you get to galavant around trying on wedding dresses. Have a laugh, relax and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It might be the first dress you put on or the third shop you’ve visited, but you’ll know when you see it.