Wedding dress shopping can be both the most exciting and the most nerve-racking experience.  It’s completely different to a normal shopping trip and the dress is one of the most, if not ‘the’ most important part of your wedding.  Every bride wants to look spectacular but at the same time you need to be comfortable and when you factor in budgets and opinionated mother of the bride, bridesmaids etc.  is it any wonder most brides find the shopping experience to be a little more stressful than they bargained for.

Starting to search for ‘the one’ can be a daunting task and with the internet offering an abundance of ideas and inspiration it can sometimes be hard to know where to start.

Remember though that dress shopping is supposed to be fun and exciting, sales assistants are there to help and guide you so don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t feel rushed into making a decision you are not entirely happy with.  Here’s our top tips we have put together to provide you with a starting point, ease the stress and help you to focus on the task at hand.

Set a budget.

First things first.  You need to have your budget set before you even set foot in a bridal shop.  Wedding dresses are expensive.The average wedding dress has approximately 40 – 50 metres of materiel and good quality fabric costs.  It’s important to be realistic about what you can afford and once you have a budget you have your starting point.  Every bridal shop has their own price range so it may be worthwhile ringing around to find out which shops fit with your budget.  Bespoke designers may not list prices as each piece is unique but they will be able to let you know their starting prices.

Once you have your price in mind, there is no point wasting time trying on a bunch of dresses that are out of your price range.   You’re better off focusing on your price point so you can spend more time editing down the amazing options you can actually afford.   Remember, your dress budget doesn’t just include the gown but also the cost of alterations, delivery charges—plus your veil, shoes, underwear and jewellery, which can add to your total.

Start early.

You’ll need at least six to eight months to get your dress and that is only of you are really decisive!  If you are unsure what you are looking for you should start shopping at least 8 to 10 months before your wedding.  Custom dresses can take up to six to eight months on average and a heavily embellished dress can take up to a year.  If you put dress shopping off for too long, your selection of dresses could be limited or you might make a quick decision you may regret later. Once you’ve found your gown, it will take at least eight weeks to make alterations.

Figure out what you like.

Think about your venue, the season and the time of day you’re getting married to help narrow down your dress style.  Certain fabrics and styles will not work for certain occasions i.e. a bulky ball gown is probably not the best fit for a beach wedding.  Also consider what styles will flatter your shape.  If you are self-conscious about a certain area consider ruching or sleeves to hide what you are uncomfortable with.  Asymmetric gowns can minimize hips,  A –line gowns can add to the hip line and corsets can create a curvy silhouette.


Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Here at The Wedding Parlour,  we are a huge advocate that a wedding should be about the bride and groom and you should do it exactly the way you want to and in a way that makes you comfortable.  Tradition sees the bride glide down the aisle in a white dress but if white is not your thing and you want to wear another colour or pattern go for it.  If you are happy and comfortable in what you are wearing,  whether it meets with tradition or not,  your joy and inner confidence will shine through and that is what makes a bride truly beautiful.

Let the shop make recommendations.

Don’t discount anything at first glance  .If the assistant brings you something and suggests you should try it, even if you don’t initially love it,  give it a chance.  You may surprise yourself.  Not every dress looks great on a hanger, so let go of any preconceived notions and keep an open mind.

Don’t try too many styles at once.

Avoid overloading on dresses,  the more you try on in one session, the more confused you will get.  Choosing 3 – 5 options is a good place to start and will not give you ‘wedding dress brain freeze’.

Shop at the right time.

Whilst Saturday afternoons are the most popular times to shop for a wedding dress,  this actually makes them the worst time.  Think about visiting on a weekday when it’s likely to be less crowded which will give you a far less stressful and more personalised shopping experience.  Consultants will be fresher earlier in the day and if they are not dealing with a large number of customers,  will be able to offer you more of their attention.

Skip the entourage.

It may be tempting to include all your friends in this experience, but too many people adds up to too many clashing opinions which might actually hinder rather than help.  Take just 1 or 2 of your closest friends and relatives whose opinions you value,  you can always bring along others at a later fitting.

Wear the correct undergarments.

If you have already bought your wedding day shoes and underwear take them along to the shop with you.  Heel height is very important too, different shoes can affect your posture and the overall fit of your dress.  If you haven’t bought your wedding undergarments yet, whilst most shops will have shoes and a slip on hand for you to try on with your gown, you should still come prepared with a nude bra and underwear for the fittings.


Consider fabrics.

A heavy ball gown in the middle of August might be uncomfortable, think light natural fibres, silks and cottons, for summer.   Winter is a great time for accessorising as you can layer – think a faux fur jacket or shawl for a bit of cosy glamour.

Buy a dress that fits now.

Even if your diet is going to be a big focus before your wedding, your body type isn’t going to completely change.  It’s a lot easier (not to mention less expensive) to take a dress in than to try and make a too-small dress work.

Trust your instincts.

If you don’t feel great, it’s probably not the dress for you.  If you can’t see yourself walking down the aisle in it, move on.   When you find the right dress, you’ll know—you won’t want to put on anything else.

Do some research.

Once you have an idea of what styles/designers you like, surf the web for dresses that match your preferences and shops that stock them.   Going to every local dress shop and trying on hundreds of random styles is more likely to confuse and cause you to forget what you liked in the first place.

Check costs.

Pre-empt those hidden costs by always checking whether alterations are included in the cost of the dress.   Some bridal shops do include alterations, but most don’t as they usually outsource alterations to their seamstresses, which come as a separate cost.   This doesn’t apply to bespoke gowns as they are made to fit you from the beginning, so there is only one price

Relax and enjoy.

As a final note, remember that wedding dress shopping is just one of the many exciting things in the lead up to your big day, relax and enjoy the moment and have a great time!

Love from

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