Exciting news everyone! I have recently just said YES TO MY DRESS! That's right, I have chosen and purchased my wedding dress! It still doesn't feel quite real yet to be honest, probably because it actually took a lot of dress-trying to get to this happy point. For a lot of people, picking a wedding dress is one of the biggest decisions within the whole process of wedding planning and for me, it wasn't any different. I knew that I only wanted one dress for the day so I had to make sure that it was THEEEEE dress! Before embarking on the amazing adventure that was dress shopping, no-one really told me what to expect or what it would be like - I just kind of had to figure it out for myself. Now that I'm at this point, after 9/10 months of searching and trying lots of pretty dresses on in lots of pretty bridal shops, I thought that I would share some of my wedding dress shopping tips and tricks that I picked up along the way! (FYI, none of the dresses pictured are actually the dress. Sam doesn't want to see it until the big day!) 1. Make sure that you're wearing suitable underwear! In most bridal shops, the assistant will be in the dressing room with you to help you in and out of the dresses. This means that they will most likely see you in your underwear so you want to make sure that you feel as comfortable as possible in what little clothing you'll be wearing. I recommend going for a strapless bra so that you can get a better idea for how the dresses look and also little undies that look kind of like lycra shorts/briefs - I got some fab ones from Primark for a couple of quid. In the end, I felt more like I was wearing a bikini rather than just chilling in the nude.
2. Try on different styles. Even if you have a specific idea of what you want, it's still a good idea to try on a few different styles so that you definitely know what you like the best. If you have absolutely no idea what kind of dress you want, trying on different styles can allow you to process by elimination by straightaway discounting the ones that you like the least. I already had a feeling that I would love the A-line and ballgown shape but I still tried on some mermaid and sheath style dresses so that I knew for sure what suited me the best.
3. Consider the practicalities. Think about the details of your wedding day and if the dresses that you're trying will actually suit those aspects. For example, I know that I'll probably be dancing the night away so I wanted a dress that was quite easy to move in and wasn't too heavy. As a result, this meant that I didn't go for a long train (even though they're stunning) or a dress with lots of heavy layers. At one point I also considered having a dress with sleeves because my wedding will be in November, however, in the end, I didn't think this to be too important as I can always throw on a jacket or cardi.
4. Don't try to make others happy, go with what makes you happy. This is an important lesson that I actually learnt along the way. I started to take people's opinions and suggestions too much to heart and began to panic that if I chose a dress that didn't meet all of those ideas, then those people wouldn't be happy with what I actually liked. By all means, try what others are suggesting but don't force yourself to like something if you really don't. My mum suggested wearing a dress with sleeves because it will be a winter wedding, however, I tried many different dresses with sleeves and just didn't feel like myself in any of them! When I went dress shopping in Belfast with my mum and sisters, there was one specific dress that they all really liked and thought was perfect. I, however, didn't love it. I thought it was pretty but I started to get upset because I just didn't feel like myself in it but felt like I had to for my family's sake (it was actually the dress pictured above). After a few pep talks with my mum, friends and Sam, I eventually decided to just go with my own gut feelings and choose what I felt right in regardless of other people's ideas and I'm so glad that I did! (Disclaimer: my family didn't actually mind at all what dress I chose, it was just my own insecurities and my need to people-please that caused me to get upset haha.)
5. If you get stressed, it's ok to take a break. This is something that I actually did after shopping with my family in Belfast in July. I was starting to find dress shopping quite a stressful ordeal so made a little deal with myself to stop looking for dresses until at least the year countdown to the wedding (November). I ended up buying my dress a little earlier (October) but I was definitely in a better headspace after having a break for a few months. It can be helpful to just have time to refresh, regroup and really reflect on what you actually want. 6. Give yourself enough time. I was able to take a break because I wasn't in a rush. I also didn't have to make any rushed decisions because I knew that I had time to look in different stores and shop around. A lot of the shop assistants that I spoke to recommend buying your dress 8-12 months before the wedding to allow time for alterations to be done or for your dress to be ordered in. Mine actually came from America, how cool?!
7. Have a budget in mind for how much you want to spend on your dress before you go shopping...unless you have unlimited funds haha. I knew that I wanted to spend under £700 for my dress because ya girl is on a tight budget, so I didn't even really allow myself to look at dresses/brands/stores that I knew would be above my limit - I just wanted to save myself from falling in love with an expensive dress that I knew I'd never be able to have! If you're looking for a wedding dress of a similar or even slightly lower budget than mine, then I recommend Wed2B or David's Bridal - both chains have lovely dresses for even lovelier prices! I even managed to get lucky and buy my dress when it was on sale from David's Bridal for only £500!! Crazy right?! I literally burst into tears when the shop assistant told me the price (because I thought that it would be a lot more) and had to sit down because I was in such shock! 8. Have your hair and make-up looking nice. This one isn't crucial as it's totally up to individual preferences, however for me, I knew that I wanted to be looking and feeling pretty so that I could really get a true picture of how I was going to look on the big day when trying dresses on.
9. If you feel like you've found the one, don't keep trying on dresses. When dress shopping, I had a major problem of liking almost everything! I definitely made my way through a fair amount of dresses, to the point where I started to feel confused about what I actually wanted. When I finally found my dress, I knew not to try any more on because otherwise, I would start to doubt and second guess my decision.
10. When you know, you know. Before I actually found my dress, I honestly thought that this saying was something of a fairytale! I just thought that I would have to pick a dress that I liked the most out of a bunch and not really experience anything too emotional about it. Oh but let me tell you how wrong I was!! On the day of finding my dress, I actually went to the bridal store with the intention of trying (and I thought I'd end up buying) a completely different dress that I had seen online. As I was walking through the store, I saw the one that I eventually ended up buying and thought that I'd try it on too because it was quite different to anything I'd previously seen. I tried on the wildcard first, really really liked it and felt completely myself in it. I then tried on the one that I thought would be the one, however, I just didn't feel great in it. Don't get me wrong, it was stunning (pictured above) but I just didn't feel 100% comfortable in it. I then tried the wildcard on again and it was honestly such a surreal feeling as the shop assistant helped me into it again - it was like a happy sigh of relief, a hug from your favourite person, popping on your comfiest cosiest jumper haha...I can't really put into words how it felt but whatever it was, it was definitely the feeling of finding the one. It was also the only dress that I started to get butterflies and feel emotional over so that was a good sign. Honestly, you may not even need to try on lots of dresses to get to the same point - a few people I know ended up actually picking the first ever dress that they ever tried! My last little tip which is probably most important, is just to enjoy yourself! Enjoy the experience and the process and sharing it with your friends and family (if you choose to take them with you). In theory, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity so enjoy being made to feel and look like a princess! - S xo