Monday, 5 August 2013

Wedding | The Dress

Shopping for my wedding dress was the most stressful yet most exciting shopping experience of my life! I picked up a few tips along the way which I though I'd share here on the Bluebird & the Robin. If you're anything like me you'll have a read whether you're engaged or not; I'm ever so slightly wedding obsessed!

Shop within good time

I didn't realise just how long it can take to have a wedding dress ordered or made, let alone how long it might take to find one you love enough to spend your money on! I'm getting married in January 2014 (not long to go now!) and I started hunting for my dress in January this year. By the time I'd found The One and decided to go for it, it was already April and I was told that it can take up to six months for a dress to be delivered after placing an order. This might vary depending on whether you've chosen to have a dress custom made or if you're ordering a stock size to be altered nearer to your wedding date. I fell in love with a dress by a bridal brand stocked at London Bride UK, and although it didn't take too long to arrive I was glad I'd got in there early and sorted it all out. It's one less thing to worry about among all the other wedding planning tasks!

Some bridal shops have long waiting lists meaning you might have to book your appointment quite far in advance (I was told that the average wait for an appointment at the Pronovias flagship store in London was three months, although I didn't end up having to wait that long). It's best to target the shops you're most keen to visit, and in order to do that you'll need to...

Do your research

For anyone else wedding obsessed this shouldn't be too difficult, but for those who are less sure of what type of shapes and styles are available in the world of wedding dresses it's a good idea to get prepared before booking any appointments. This way you'll be able to maximise your shopping time, selecting shops that stock the brands you're most interested in. It can seem as if there are countless styles and colours available, from the traditional ballgown dress to the more modern asymmetrical one-shoulder style. Do you know your fit n flare from your trumpet, mermaid or fishtail?! Now is the time to get acquainted! Different bridal designers and brands tend to have different predominant styles, so it's well worth searching their websites and locating stores near you that stock the brands you like the look of. There's also a wide range of bridal magazines available in the shops that have pages and pages dedicated to showcasing dress collections, so settle down with a cuppa for a browse and let your imagination run wild! Once you have an idea of what you might like to try on, you can go ahead and book some appointments. Now the real fun begins!

Keep an open mind

I was convinced that I wanted a certain style, shape and colour of dress before I'd set foot in any shops. Mountains of bridal magazines sat by my bed, a scrapbook jam packed with dress ideas rested on my coffee table and the search history on my laptop was chockablock with various dress sites and wedding dress forums. I had it all figured out; this was going to be easy and speedy! Of course, having tried on fifteen or so dresses in this particular style, I hadn't even found one that felt like it could be right, and I was starting to panic. What if I couldn't find The One? What if there wasn't even a One for me?! During my very last dress shopping appointment I added a total wildcard to the list of dresses I wanted to try on, based on there being an extra slot available on the numbered slip of paper handed to my by one of the bridal store assistants. This dress wasn't something I'd usually consider; in fact, I had specifically singled out this very design as an example of what I really didn't want to wear on my wedding day. 

As fate would have it, as soon as I stepped into it, and as soon as the bridal assistant was fixing it into place with pins and clips (I've found sample sizes to be rather roomy, I'm a size 8/10) I fell in love with it. I knew as she was tightening it and getting it to fit perfectly that there was something special about it; it was completely different to what I thought I wanted, but it made me look so.... pretty. I felt beautiful, like the best version of myself, whereas the other dresses I'd tried on had all left me feeling a little 'meh'. It covered everything I wanted covered and emphasised everything I wanted to emphasise, and it fit like a glove. Well, aside from the pins and clips holding it together at the back! The sales assistant knew it was The One, my mum knew it was The One and my maid of honour knew it was The One, but most importantly I knew it was The One. I'm getting excited just thinking about it! 

Avoid listening to too many opinions

I'm chronically indecisive so I was sweating it from the start. What if I wasn't able to make my mind up? What if I liked too many, or didn't like any dresses at all? And how the hell does anyone 'Say Yes to the Dress' when they've got so many people butting in with their own opinions?! I really didn't want to be led astray by multiple points of view, so my search was limited to me, my mum and my maid of honour Alice. When I first tried on The Dress I was just with my mum, which did make me a little nervous as I wanted to have Alice's opinion too. I'm sure my mum would think I look lovely in any wedding dress (not that your opinion isn't valid, mum, but you know what I mean!) whereas Alice is a little more critical, which can definitely be a good thing! She came along to my second viewing and agreed that the dress looked fab. To be honest, though, I was so crazy in love with it already that I'm pretty sure I would have stuck with it either way; when you know, you know. Follow your heart and don't be put off by other people's opinions! 

Consider your fiance (but not too much!)

I know the type of wedding dresses I like, and I know the type of wedding dresses my darling fiance likes. I knew I wanted to find a dress I thought he'd like too, but this is a bit of a tricky area! My fiance's taste in clothes and my taste in clothes differ somewhat; if you were to ask each of us to pick out an outfit for me, we would probably pick very different things! It's not that he doesn't know my tastes and my style, it's just that he has different ideas about what else might look good on me. Which is flattering and all, but when it comes to the wedding dress, the bride knows best! There have been countless times where I've worn something he hasn't expressed much interest in on the hanger, yet loves once I've put it on and styled it. And sometimes I think we know our other half's loves better than they do, as I'm pretty sure that when he sees me in my dress, and when he sees how it fits, he'll understand why I've chosen it and he'll think it's just as beautiful as I do... I hope! It's inevitable that you might experience some dress insecurity- what if he hates it? What if he thinks I look awful?- but I really don't think you have anything to worry about. If you feel confident and happy, your husband (!) will pick up on that too. 

Don't settle!

You will find The Dress, even if seems like you're never going to. The first thing to do is to lower your expectations and let go of some of the pressure. Approach shopping with an open mind, try on a few different styles and troubleshoot if you don't seem to be getting anywhere. Is there a style you've dismissed that you could go ahead and try on? Is there a detail that you've been reluctant to consider when actually it could look beautiful once on? I always had an obsession with button back dresses but I tried on ones with zips and corset lacing as well. 

When you've found The Dress, you'll know. How will you know? Because you'll love how it looks and you'll feel as if you're wearing the dress, rather than feeling as if the dress is wearing you. After I found The Dress I went home and tried to forget about it. I'd tried a few other dresses on at previous stores that were 'contenders', yet after a week or so I'd forgotten about them and still felt as if I hadn't found what I was looking for. With The Dress, though, it was different. I thought about it constantly! I couldn't imagine finding a better dress and more importantly I didn't want to keep looking. 

The search was officially over. I had found The One. 


A few last piece of practical advice. Figure out your budget prior to booking any appointments  and stick to it. A good bridal shop will help you find beautiful dresses within your price range and won't pressure you into trying on more expensive gowns. Wedding dresses range in price anywhere from high street prices to thousands of pounds for a designer custom made dress. Figure out what you are able to spend, remembering to take into account money for alterations and accessories, and stick to your budget. 

Invest in a good pair of nude knickers and a nude strapless bra. You'll be undressing A LOT in front of sales assistants, but don't panic, they've seen it all before and you soon forget you're standing there practically naked when they're waving pretty dresses in front of your eyes. But to save any unnecessary embarrassment caused by old undies wear nude ones! These are also the most practical undies to have on, as they can be worn under a variety of dress shapes and styles without showing.

So there you have it. My top tips for stress free wedding dress shopping. Although the most important tip to remember is, no matter how stressed you might be feeling, try to take a moment to step back and enjoy the experience. It's a once in a lifetime shopping trip and although it can feel like a lot of pressure to look your best, when you find The Dress you'll truly feel like a princess. It's a cliche, but true! No matter what style, design or colour you go for, you'll feel like the best version of yourself. There's something magical about the right wedding gown. You'll know what I mean once you've found it... Good luck!
                                                      post signature


  1. Great tips! I am nowhere near looking for a wedding dress but I always find it crazy how much pressure is put on a bride to look perfect on their wedding day and the dress is such a huge part of it.

    Nakita x

    1. Thanks! Gosh I know, so much pressure to look and feel 'perfect', it can be really overwhelming trying to find something you feel comfortable in without caving to ideas of how you 'think' you should look. Every bride is unique and your dress hopefully celebrates that! xx

  2. great tips!

    would you like to follow each other?

    1. Thanks for popping by, I'll be sure to take a peek at your blog xx


Thanks for taking the time to stop by! I read and reply to every comment and would love to hear what you think x