Having been engaged for over three months now I decided it was time to go wedding dress shopping! Appointment made, I was looking forward to the experience with apprehension and excitement! I was surprised to find that most of the samples were a size 10 and that there were few dresses that I could actually try on!! I have put together some tips and advice to help you not only get the dress of your dreams but make the whole experience, one that you will enjoy and remember as a special part of your wedding day preparations…
1. Call Ahead
Pick up the phone and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Tell them your size and ask them if they will be able to work with you. Most stores can only afford to carry one size per sample gown. If there is a particular gown you are interested in, ask them if they have it in your size. Let’s face it, the “average” size 10 stocked in some stores, isn’t “average” at all!! You need to feel that the assistant is empathetic, informed, confident and excited to be working with you, who makes you feel valued and important. If you don’t get that feeling when chatting to them, keep on calling until you find someone that does.
2. Department Stores are your friends
Bridal departments in large stores are sometimes tarred with a bad reputation which they do not always deserve. Their business model is based on having all of the sizes in stock at high street prices, so normalising your shopping experience; Behold, dresses that actually fit! “Yippee”! Whether or not you buy a dress from them, these stores are a great place to discover what shapes work for you and what doesn’t… you may be surprised, what you thought would suit you is often the one that gets discarded first!
3. Experience… a great resource
When you visit a bridal wear store, part of what you are paying for is the sales person’s expertise. They should be knowledgeable, able to suggest styles to suit you whatever your needs and above all be enthusiastic and make you feel very valued and special. Tell them what you are looking for and be honest, if you don’t like your arms for example, tell them!! Ask them to suggest styles which they think will work for you and ask for their opinions. You know your body; they know their wedding dresses. Put that together to find something perfect!!
4. It’s your show
Remember you have to feel happy, tell them how you are feeling. The sales person does not get to control your wedding dress shopping experience. Full stop.
5. Do not worry about the size
Wedding dress sizes are wacky. My friend is a size 12 and ended up with a size 16!! Remember that dresses can be taken in but are almost impossible to let out, so if you are bigger up top and need to go up a size to accommodate this, the bottom can be taken in to fit you perfectly! In short just ignore the number on the sizing tag. Does it fit? GREAT.
6. You can customise any dress
Sometimes it can be frustrating… for example, you have found the perfect dress but it is strapless and it really isn’t going to flatter your shape, why not add sleeves, or a little lace over lay to cover the décolletage. Dresses can be shortened, decoration or lace added, support can be included!. Don’t be afraid to ask if changes can be made and remember to ask what these alterations will cost.
7. Go custom
If nothing is ticking all the boxes why not consider having a gown made especially for you. When navigating a world of sample sizes that don’t fit and sales people without tact, it can become easy to fall into the trap of “There is nothing for me. Whatever, this will do” You can do better. Getting a custom dress made doesn’t mean breaking the bank, it just means doing some research.
8. Be proud of who you are
We are all different shapes and sizes and there really is a perfect dress for all of us but we have all heard horror stories of sales ladies who ask you if you are going to lose weight for your wedding or ask you how you are going to cover up your arms…someone asked my friend if she was going to put on a bit of weight before the wedding!!! How rude…they make you feel awful and it is unacceptable. If someone makes you feel anything but gorgeous, feel free to ask for a new salesperson!
9. Have fun
Wedding dress shopping should be fun! You are entering “girly heaven”, this is the one time you can really go to town with lace, sparkle, layers of tulle, pink…whatever you love and look amazing in!! Take friends with you who will not only be honest but encourage you to cross your comfort zone, you really don’t know until you try them on!! What fun!!
10. Be your confident self
This one is more philosophical but it might be the most important. The people you encounter while wedding dress shopping are working for you. If they aren’t doing their job properly then take your money elsewhere. You are going to look beautiful on your wedding day and your dream dress is out there waiting for you.
Jessica at Gosfield Hall