It’s one of the most exciting times of your life but we understand that sometimes the prospect of choosing a wedding dress can seem quite overwhelming!

Help is at hand! We’ve drawn up a handy guide on our top tips to make your wedding dress shopping experience as fun and enjoyable as it should be.

Brides of Winchester

Photo by Helen Rushton

Before you Start:

  • Think about your body shape and personal style then make a list of key features you like- fabric, length, style, shape and so on…
  • Consider which shapes are comfortable, beautiful and look fabulous  – and what (if any) physical features you want you draw your attention to or away from. Be realistic about your shape and what you think suits you best.
  • Do some research using the internet, magazines, Pinterest – collect pictures of the dresses you like and bring them to your appointment.
  • Think about your whole day and what type of wedding dress would fit in with your vision for the day, time of the year and venue. What kind of dress is most appropriate i.e a beach wedding vs modern contemporary hotel.
  • Set yourself enough time, you don’t want to be restricted for choice. Equally don’t start looking too soon, unless you know your venue and can make a decision years in advance. The ideal time frame to order your dress is 8-9 months before you wedding, especially if you are getting married in the summer.
  • Set a budget and use this as a starting point but be prepared to be flexible. Consider what aspects of the wedding are important to you.For example – is a high quality, made to order  dream gown more important to you than favours? If so increase your dress spending and scale back on the almonds! If a great band is more important to you than the wedding dress, scale back on your dress budget. But, never forget you’ll be looking at yourself in your dress and remembering how it felt for the rest of your life.
  • Research bridal shops, don’t just go to every shop in your area. Each bridal shop will have its own unique style. service level and its important you are visiting shops which meet with your ideals. If your looking for a certain designer or a couture dress rather than mass produced find out which shops reflect your personal standards.
Bride  Helen Rushton Photography

Photo by Helen Rushton Photography

The exciting part – trying on dresses!

  • Book an appointment as soon as you are ready to think about buying your dress. Saturdays have long waiting lists so if you would like a Saturday appointment, book well in advance.
  • Be open minded. Some dresses look ordinary on the hanger but incredible on. Its our job  to match you with styles you’ll like, so give us the benefit of the doubt and prepare to be pleasantly surprised. That said, don’t be ever let yourself be pushed you into a gown you don’t love. Some shops may pressure you to get a sale, if you aren’t sure, take a deep breathe and re-book to see the dress another day. If it’s ‘the one’ you’ll still love it next time.
  • Don’t try on too many dresses and visit too many shops in one day. Trying on wedding dresses is a very exciting part of wedding planning. However if you try on too many dresses it will become a sea of ivory in your head, you’ll struggle to remember them and lose that wonderful tingling feeling of excitement.
  • Try not to be persuaded to try on dresses for your friends “for a laugh”. It will cut into your appointment time, plus take focus away from finding your dress.
  • Do bring someone with you for support but remember too many opinions may cloud your judgement.  One or two people is idea. Otherwise you may find you are trying on gowns that your friends like and have trouble steering the conversation back to you. If you can’t imagine not including all of your friends, book a separate accessories appointment and they can help you choose the all important veil, headpiece and shoes.
  • It’s best to avoid bringing young children, bridal appointments tend to get very boring for little ones and your party can end up becoming distracted from the all important task of finding you your dress.
Laura dressing bride

Photo by Helen Rushton Photography

  • It’s very unlikely that the sample dresses you try on will fit you perfectly, so again be open minded. Just because one sample fits you better than another, does not mean it’s the right dress for you.
  • Wear little or no make-up to protect the dresses and certainly no fake tan or body bronzer.
  • Always ask before taking photos. Some shops let you take photos, some don’t. At BOW we do not allow photos for two reasons. Firstly, the dresses are made here in the UK and the designs protected. Secondly, in a bad shot, even the most amazing gowns can appear average.The last thing you want is to look at a picture of a dress you looked gorgeous in and, because the lighting isn’t great for photos, suddenly not be sure about it. We will make notes of your favourite dresses for you to refer back to.
  • Make sure you allow for alterations in both your budget and time frame. Don’t be afraid to ask how they deal with alterations as every shop is different.
  • Read the fine print and ask any questions you want to. A good consultant will walk you through everything, including the price, color, style name (or number), estimated delivery date, deposit, estimated alterations fee, and cancellation policy.

When You’ve Found the Gown
Once you’ve found the dress and put a deposit down – stop doing everything above! Be confident in your choice, and revel in the fact that that you have found your dream dress. Sleep easy knowing this happy part of wedding planning is now complete!