Our top tips for wedding dress shopping

Having had experience of wedding dress shopping first hand and being a bridal stylist myself (sounds posh but it means I spend my days helping beautiful brides choose the dress of their dreams), I thought it might be helpful to brides who have never set foot in a wedding dress shop before, to have a little guide to help them before for their first wedding dress appointment.

It will be one of the most special days of a bride’s life, but it is also a bit daunting. It’s such a big decision to make. Where do you start? What type of dress should you choose? Who should you take with you? Well, hopefully this blog will help you answer some of those questions and make you feel calmer and more prepared for a wonderful and memorable experience.

Set a budget

When looking for the perfect wedding dress it’s important to keep it affordable and within your budget. You don’t want to end up spending your entire wedding budget on the dress and leaving yourself very little for everything else.  Mention to your bridal stylist what your maximum budget is and then try on at dresses that are within your budget. You don’t want to be disheartened if you fall in love with a dress and then realise it is way out of your price range. Irrespective of your budget, you will find your dream dress. Don’t forget to include alterations and accessories within your budget too.

Mia Amelia Bridal
Mia Amelia Bridal

The right time

Whilst you want to give yourself plenty time to find your gorgeous gown, you don’t want to look too early as styles change. We think 9-12 months before your big day is a great time to start looking. This will give you enough time to shop around, it will give you time to get an appointment if the boutique is busy and appointments get booked up and it also gives you enough time to have the dress ordered in if it needs to be and any alterations made to the dress.

Book an appointment

Throughout the year wedding boutiques can be very busy. To make sure that you get an exclusive appointment (where you get one to one time with your bridal stylist) it is important to book an appointment beforehand. Certain boutiques like Mia Amelia Bridal offer weekday, weekend and evening appointments to accommodate busy brides. For more information on this please visit their website www.miaameliabridal.co.uk.

Whilst it is a good idea to shop around to make sure you have found the dress of your dreams, don’t visit too many boutiques. It can become a blur of ivory and be quite overwhelming. Choose a few boutiques you would like to visit and have fun trying dresses on.

Be open-minded

It is important to do your research before you go dress shopping. It helps to get a feel for the style of dress you like, what type of dress would flatter your figure best and which designers you like. Have a look at the boutiques Website, Facebook and Instagram page to find out what types of dresses they stock.

It is also extremely important that you consider all different types of wedding dresses. Make the most of the appointment by trying each style on; get to know which type of dress suits you best. Once you have narrowed it down, try on different dresses of this style, until you find `The One’. You might have an A-Line style dress in mind but it might be that as soon as you try on a Mermaid dress it shows off your figure like you never dreamed! Take advice and listen to your bridal stylist, they may suggest a dress you have not considered, but with their knowledge and understanding of what styles suit different body types you might be surprised what actually ends up being your dream dress.

Choose your entourage carefully

Searching for your wedding dress is one of the most fun and memorable experiences of your life. Some people prefer to shop for their wedding dress on their own; they don’t need the opinion of others and are happy to do this by themselves. Others prefer a second opinion. If you do decide to take others with you, make sure that you surround yourself with a small number of positive, supportive people. Whilst everyone will have an opinion on the dresses you try on, remember ultimately, how you feel in the dress should be the deciding factor for which one you choose. The wedding dress should make you feel beautiful and excited to wear it, if it doesn’t, move on to the next one.

Ignore the size

Please don’t be put off buying a dress because it is sized as bigger than what you normally wear. Wedding dresses are renowned for their “erratic” sizing. You can expect to be two sizes bigger than your usual dress size; this is because dresses are often in European sizes. A lot of designers are European and these are the size charts they use and remember, most wedding dresses will need alterations anyway.

Mia Amelia Bridal
Mia Amelia Bridal

What to wear to appointment

Wearing the right underwear is important as it can really affect how a dress looks. Nude, seamless underwear is often the best choice and unless you want the support from a bra, most dresses don’t require one, they often have cups fitted. Your modesty and comfort is at the forefront of any bridal stylists mind so at no point will you feel embarrassed.

Don’t wear too much make-up when trying on dresses, especially when they are off the peg dresses as they need to be kept in the best condition possible and it is normally best to avoid fake tan.

It would be a good idea to bring any accessories to the appointment that you already have. Items such as headpieces, jewellery or veils can be tried on with the dress.
If you can bring along with you heels of the height you will be wearing it will give you a good idea of how the dress will look. Remember that the dress will most likely need taking up though and we can advise of seamstress’s who will do this for you.

Bespoke or off the peg

You should consider both types of options. Bespoke dresses are made to measure. Once you have selected your dress your measurements will be taken and the dress will be ordered in your size. It usually takes around 16 weeks to come in to the shop and will then usually they still need alterations. If you decide on a bespoke dress, make sure you order your dress in plenty of time, just in case there are any delays or the seamstress is booked up.

Off the peg wedding dresses may be new, ex-sample, second hand or they will have been used in fashion shows or photo shoots. They are usually sold at heavily reduced prices. Wedding dresses are worn for such a short amount of time and then normally just stored away never to be looked at again. Off the peg dresses give a dress new purpose. This type of dress will also likely need alterations but they are a great option if your wedding date is quickly approaching, as you can generally take it home with you on the same day.

A big plus for brides who buy “off the peg” from Mia Amelia Bridal is that until they alter or wear the dress the bride is welcome to exchange her dress for a small admin fee so you need never feel that you have bought the wrong style, or that you are nervous of your weight loss or gain. There is ALWAYS an option to change your mind. That gives a bride a that sense of comfort not found at many other bridal shops. We want our brides to feel comfortable with their choice for the biggest day of their lives.

Get a good feel of the dress

Once you have the dress on, move about it in. Have a walk around the boutique, sit down to see how it feels and make sure that you feel comfortable and most importantly that you can dance the night away in it!

If the boutique allows (we allow it), take pictures of you wearing the dress. It allows you to compare dresses and will remind you of the amazing feeling you had when you tried the dress on.

The dress for you

Remember to consider the destination of your wedding. If it is going to be hot where you are getting married you perhaps don’t want a dress with lots of layers.

Once you have picked the dress of your dreams, have questions ready about things such as payment options, if the boutique can do the alterations, or if not, if they can recommend someone to do them.

Don’t be afraid to say yes to the first dress that you try on, go with your gut. If you love it and never want to take it off, you have found your dress!
It is so important that once you have found your dream dress you stop looking and keep it somewhere safe. Try not to keep looking at your dress, that way there is less risk of the temptation of trying it on, you don’t want to damage the dress or get it dirty and there is less risk of any doubt as a lot of wedding dress shops are non-refundable.

Most importantly…

Have fun! Selecting your wedding dress should be a wonderful experience with those closest to you. Relax and enjoy it, maybe make a day of it and treat yourselves to lunch. There are not many opportunities where all the focus is on you so make the most of it.

Happy wedding dress shopping,

Mia Amelia Bridal x