It’s one of the most exciting aspects of wedding planning, and an experience most brides-to-be are looking forward to… Yes it’s time to go wedding dress shopping!
Hold on though, there’s a whole lot of hope riding on this one outfit (or two should you choose to have an outfit change!), and you might be feeling a little nervous in the lead up to wedding dress shopping. SO, before you set off to Say Yes to The Dress… here are the wedding dress shopping mistakes to avoid!
1. Not giving any thought to your Wedding Dress in advance
You will have a much better and more enjoyable experience wedding dress shopping if you do a little forethought before you hit the shops. It pays to have a general idea of what wedding dress shape suits your body, how much you want to spend, and what style of wedding – i.e. beach wedding may not suit a ‘meringue’ style wedding gown. Gather your thoughts and inspiration, consider your venue, the time of year, and both your personal style and the venue’s style.
Once you have an idea of your favourite designs, or designers, work out what you can spend on your wedding dress, so that you can be upfront with the sales assistants when you make a booking and avoid sticker-shock or overspending when you’re out shopping.
2. Bringing an Entourage
Searching for your wedding dress is a once in a life-time opportunity, it’s probably the most important dress you’ll ever wear (unless you’re going to the Met Gala!) The emphasis here is you – and having 10 different opinions makes it much harder to come to a consensus.
Choose your bride-tribe carefully. More than a handful of trusted family members or friends and you may find it more difficult to think for yourself and separate your own decision from everyone else’s input. Choose those you know will give you the most honest feedback while encouraging you to choose the one that you love the most.
Many bridal stores encourage the bride to bring just one or two friends – a couple of bridesmaids or a Mum and sister, those that you know have your best intentions at heart, and someone who’s willing to say “that’s one’s pretty, but it might not be quite right for you.”
3. Shopping Too Early… or Too Late.
Only fools rush in… I’m not just trying to make your life difficult, but the best time to shop for your dress is 9-12 months out from your wedding day. If you’re planning a long engagement (of over a year), don’t rush yourself to buy the dress now – you’ll be giving yourself way too much time to change your mind according to styles, trends and taste – or even your body – changing.
It’s best to have most of your big decisions made before you buy too – many influences such as season, venue, and the colour palette for the rest of the wedding may guide your decision as to the dress. For many gowns you need to allow at least six months before the wedding, and you’ll also want to allow a little time for alterations if necessary. If you begin shopping around the nine month mark, you’re allowing yourself ample time.
Kishana Highgate Photography
4. Thinking you have to Wear a (White) Dress
For most, the opportunity to finally wear the big white wedding dress is one to be grabbed by the tulle. If the thought of layers of chantilly and charmeuse makes you gag more than gasp, do your own thing girlfriend!
It doesn’t need to be a dress – wear a two piece, a pantsuit, a jumpsuit, or a hot canary yellow gown with a wild floral headdress, a la Elizabeth Taylor (to Richard Burton) (in 1964), if that’s what makes you feel beautiful on the big day. It doesn’t need to be as formal as the dresses you see in wedding magazines, it needs to be a reflection of your personality, at a cost that you feel comfortable with, and that you’ll be happy looking back on in years to come. Oh, and wearing white… why limit yourself?! I wore blush, which is still pretty bridal, but there’s thousands of colours in the rainbow that are open to you.
P.S. Solange Knowles’ nuptials to Alan Ferguson in an off-white caped pantsuit is one of my favourite wedding looks ever.
5. Going way over budget
If you’ve done your homework and told the sales assistant of your budget in advance, you shouldn’t be put in the position of risking your budget. Whatever you do, stick to your guns – blowing your wedding budget on the dress means making cutbacks elsewhere, and at 9-12 months out from the wedding you don’t want to be put in a difficult financial position (like I was – read here). Do not try on a dress you can’t afford “just for fun.”
Include the cost of alterations in your budget, and consider the costs of accessories too: veil or headpiece, shoes undergarments, sash, belt, wedding day jewellery, the list goes on…
6. Trying On Too Many Dresses
If you’ve seen at least one episode of Say Yes to the Dress, you know why you shouldn’t try on more than 5-10 wedding dresses, especially in various different styles. If you try on more than 10 different styles of dress, it’s very tricky to narrow them down to make a decision. Of course, if you don’t actually like any of them, you’ll have to keep going, but if you’ve done your research you should have a fairly good idea of what you like before rushing in.
Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed, forgetting what you set out for, and doubting your own style and taste. When you find a dress that makes you feel happy, beautiful and confident, stop. Don’t try another 5 just to make sure, especially if you’re prone to second-guessing your decisions.
The experience of choosing your wedding dress won’t be any more enjoyable just because you make it last all day – once you find one, get into the Champers.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a good price, and I’m all for checking out the sample sales and off-the-rack specials, but instead of hunting for a hugely reduced dress, try to find a designer or bridal salon that caters to your price point. Seriously, Asos has amazing wedding dresses.
If you’re hunting for a bargain basement “deal” you might end up convincing yourself to take the one that’s 70% off and ill-fitting, or not really what you wanted, then regretting your decision (and you know that’s gonna be on ‘no returns’). Some brides end up spending hundreds in alterations to fix what’s wrong with the sample when they could’ve found a similar brand new dress for the same money.
Don’t feel rushed to buy a sale dress either, I’ve had more than one friend buy on the spot at a sample sale only to regret the decision and end up buying a second dress! Before buying a “sample” do ensure to check for any damage, as it may have been tried on by lots and lots of brides before being put in the sale.
7. Ordering (or Buying) a Wedding Dress smaller than you are! #shreddingforthewedding
Planning on getting in shape for the big day? Great, join the queue. However, if you really think you’re going to drastically change size between now and then, hold off on buying your wedding dress. I ordered a US size 2 wedding dress in March 2015, based on my current size, and by December 2015 I was more like a 4. Being in a panic to fit my dress two months out from my wedding was not an experience I’d wish on any bride.
While you may end up losing a lot of weight, you may also actually change shape and your choice of dress might not be suitable any longer. It’s also much easier to alter a dress smaller rather than have to let it out because you didn’t lose as much as you were hoping.
While I’m at it, can we all stop thinking we need to lose weight for our wedding day..? Instead, choose your wedding dress in a shape that is the most flattering, stay healthy and active, and enjoy the celebrations before your big day (most involve Champagne and cake, in my experience).
Those are my top 7 tips for wedding dress shopping, but if I could extend it just a little further and also suggest:
- If you’re buying a wedding dress from overseas, buy the currency as soon as you order the dress to hedge your bets against it changing (personal experience);
- Buy your wedding dress before your bridesmaids‘ dresses – I wish I’d bought mine before theirs, and I’d have put them in white instead of blush.
- Double and triple check your measurements against the designers, and if need be, go bigger rather than smaller. I almost ordered a size smaller than I was, not realising that the Couture line by this designer ran a size smaller. I’d have never fit that dress.
- Don’t think that you need to A) Spend a fortune or B) Lose weight to look amazing. You will look amazing. Hair, make-up, wedding day glow, the most expensive dress you’ve ever bought (even if it’s a cheap and cheerful one!), a smile from ear to ear (oh, and a pair of spanx) guarantees you’ll be a beautiful bride.