Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wedding Dress shopping

Firstly and most importantly look at the shops you would like to deal with.  Do not make the mistake and get caught up in the heat of the moment and pay a deposit for a dress whilst visiting a wedding fair.  I myself did this whilst attending the National Wedding Show.  Unbeknown to me the shop I was going to be dealing with was in Abingdon, Oxfordshire and used a seamstress from their other shop in Lostwithiel, Cornwall.  Yeah how stupid was I.

Also I hadn't seen either of the shops when I paid this deposit and when I had my first appointment at the Abingdon shop I was very disappointed.  It did not look anything like a pretty bridal boutique, in fact quite the opposite.  Nothing like I expected. I have since been on Streetmaps and looked at the owners shop in Cornwall and this was also a huge disappointment.

Do your homework and ask other brides about shops they would recommend.  During my search for another wedding dress I visited many many bridal shops around the Midlands. Sadly I only found four boutiques I would recommend to other brides-to-be.

Find Your Style

Buy some magazines and/or get on the Internet and start looking at which dresses you are keen on. You will soon notice you are drawn to a few certain designers. I found I liked Pronovias, Amanda Wakeley, Stephanie Allin, Kate Sherford, Sassi Holford, Paloma Blanca and Sarah Houston.  Once I narrowed down my search for designers I then set about looking for local stockists within the Midlands near to where I live.

Please make sure you visit as many shops as possible - you will be surprised how different all of the shops run their businesses.  Don't be afraid - ask questions!  You are going to be parting with a lot of money and this is going to be the most expensive dress you will ever buy.  You need to be able to trust the shop.

Dress Shapes

Yes we have all read the articles on the Internet or in magazines where they recommend which style of dress to go for if you are a pear shape, athletic build, flat chested, curvaceous or petite.  But one thing I think you need to bear in mind is the fabric. I tried on many designs and even though they were all the same shape the fabrics made a big difference. So if you try on a lace fishtail and it looks awful it doesn't mean a duchesse satin fishtail will look awful too.

Don't be afraid to try on a dress which you think is horrible, you will be surprised.  I refused to try on anything in lace and it wasn't until my visit to the eighth shop did I allow the shopowner to convince me to try one on. I was flabbergasted - it looked beautiful!

Pushy Mothers

Luckily for me I haven't got a pushy mother but I have seen girls in bridal shops where their mothers are dictating (bullying) which dress they can and cannot try on. It's YOUR wedding and you need to explain to your Mums that it's you who will be wearing it and you need to feel happy with what YOU choose not what THEY choose. If at all possible, go on your dress hunt by yourself.  When you have managed to whittle your choices down to a few then ask for friends/relatives to help you to decide which dress to opt for. And don't be surprised if they try to talk you into something else - stay firm and stick with what YOU wanted.

Listen To the Experts

Bridal shopowners do know their stuff.  A decent bridal shop will ask you lots of questions before they even show you any dresses.  They need to know what type of wedding you are having, what's your style, what you definitely do not want and most importantly what's your budget.  Once they know this information they will pull out all the dresses which they think are suitable, this doesn't mean you can't then have a second look through the racks though.

Avoid Busy Periods

This is going to be difficult for you ladies who work Monday to Friday 9-5 but some boutiques do offer appointments late in the evening on one day of the week.  Quello in Kenilworth offer this service on a Tuesday which means you will have a more relaxed time than on a Saturday afternoon when there are more brides-to-be arriving to try on dresses. It is so much better if you can have the undivided attention of the staff.

Don't Be Embarrassed

If you are anything like me you hated it 15-20 years ago when you went to try on some clothes in a high street shop and it was one big communal changing area.  Matters were made even worse because these communal changing areas had floor to ceiling mirrors on every bloomin' wall! There was no way you could hide your mismatched underwear and to add insult to injury you always ended up standing next to an Elle Macpherson look-a-like. I'm sure these terrible changing room experiences caused a lot of teenage girls to have serious self confidence issues. Thank goodness shops have now reverted back to cubicles.

Anyway, when you are trying on a wedding dress you cannot do it alone. The staff need to help you into a wedding dress so you have to leave all your inhibitions at the door when you first enter the shop.  Don't be embarrassed they will have seen it all. Thongs, unkempt bikini lines, dirty off-white bras, hairy legs and an abundance of stretch marks.  I always made sure each member of staff know I have had an 11lb baby which explains my saggy, stretched body.

To Take With You

It can get quite hot and stuffy when you are trying on wedding dresses, whether this is due to the temperature or the warmth of your embarrassed red face when you have to flash your body to a complete stranger in the changing room.  After a few visits to bridal boutiques I always went armed with the following:

Deodorant/body spray
Bottle of water
Hairclips, bobbles
Wedding purchases - shoes, jewellery, head dress, bridesmaid dresses

* Not many shops do permit you to take photos of the dresses but the odd few do.

Whatever you do, don't scrutinise any of the photos of you trying on the dresses.  For some reason the pics never come out very good and you don't look anything like you did when you saw yourself in the shop mirror.  Take them with a pinch of salt.

And finally.....

When you have reached a decision and ordered a wedding dress - STOP LOOKING!  Do not look at any more wedding dresses because you could end up doubting your decision and having dress wobbles.

Best of luck

Brides On Time