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In Corston Couture's Paddington showroom trying on wedding dresses

How to buy a wedding dress

This is a daunting task for the bride, it is such a hugely important and expensive purchase, and having no prior experience, it seems like a formidable task.

So here are my thoughts on the best way to find a dress.

First (and I always go back to this), work out your wedding budget honestly. Then work out 10% of that, and you have a very rough guide for the money you have to spend on a wedding dress.

It is also really useful to know where your ceremony will be as well as the reception location. Are you looking for a grand dress to wear to a Cathedral Service, or a more simple dress for a garden wedding?

Now onto research….

You can waste a lot of time and energy going to too many stores. Research which stores stock dresses in your budget. Spend a few hours on social media and google stores that have dresses that you like the style of.

Each Designer and Bridal Boutique will have a certain “Look”, and you are wasting your time going to boutiques or designers who don’t have designs you love.

I personally think if you do your research thoroughly, you really only need to go to 4 designer/boutiques… any more than that and you will end up seeing a lot of what you are not attracted to.

Now having just said the above, I am now going to tell you to try on a bit of everything at the beginning… so beaded dresses (even if beaded dresses are not what you think you want) fitted dresses, full dresses, modern sleek styles, elaborate romantic styles… and every different neckline you can find.

Notice how every dress design makes your body look and your heart feel. (There is more in other articles on choosing the right style for your body shape)

I personally have a theory, that choosing the right dress is 50% finding something that suits your body, and 50% finding something that fits into your budget, suits your event, and makes you fell like you are wearing the dress, and the dress is not wearing you. (as in, suites your personality, or the fantasy person you want to play on your wedding day).

While it is fun to take a crowd with you dress shopping, I would recommend keeping the group to 1 to 3 people.

Choose these shopping buddies carefully, you want people that can get outside their own heads and look at a dress from your point of view, not with their own likes and dislikes or agendas in mind.

More than this turns into a party, and there are too many little break out chatting groups (not necessarily about you and the dress either) or way too many different opinions until I have seen brides completely confused and disheartened.

Final notes

Ideally only see 2 shops in a day, wedding dress shopping is surprisingly exhausting, and once you are exhausted, you can’t make rational decision, or even remember what you have seen.

And if you are bringing someone along for the fun of it all, make time for lunch or at least coffee to debrief and take a rest between appointments.

Finally, don’t feel pressured to make a purchase if you are not 100% sure about a dress.

Sleeping on it doesn’t hurt to make sure you are making the right decision, and regardless of what discount they offer you today for a snap decision, the dress will still be for sale tomorrow.