Your Dream Dress Awaits…….
One of the most exciting things about planning a wedding is shopping for your dream wedding dress! Fourteen years ago when I first planned weddings abroad the industry was still in its infancy with the majority of weddings abroad taking place on a beach. Wedding dress shops didn’t offer much in the way of choice for beach style weddings, and we heard from our brides, that many shops were unhelpful, assuming destination brides had lower budgets and therefore didn’t deserve the full dress shopping experience.
Today, it couldn’t be more different with designers having ranges of destination style gowns. At the same time, brides no longer confine themselves to the typical wedding abroad style dress. It really is a case of anything goes.
Finding the perfect shop can be tricky. As with any type of business there are good and bad. My younger sister had varying experiences when shopping for her dress. One shop, for example, was particularly dreadful with several people trying dresses on in one open area. No privacy and not very special at all! Needless to say, we quickly left.
Before you start looking for the perfect dress, there are things you should do to prepare.
- Set your budget: Most dress shops will have a type of wedding dress range they specialise in, from budget to high end. It’s important to know your budget so you can book appointments with the right shops.
- Accessories: Make sure you consider shoes, veil, hair embellishments, underwear and jewellery when you set your budget for the dress.
- Research: Buy bridal magazines or go online to research styles you like, then find local stockists. If you are searching for a particular dress, check they have it. Not every shop will stock every style from a designer.
- The high street: Don’t discount high street shops when looking for the perfect gown. Shops like Monsoon have a beautiful selection of reasonably priced dresses, perfect for a bohemian destination bride. Other high street shops such as Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins and even John Lewis have introduced bridal lines.
- Design your own gown: If you can’t find your perfect gown, consider finding a seamstress and designing your own. You can start with an off the peg style and tweak it to create your dream dress.
- Be flexible: I’ve heard hundreds of times that the dress you thought you would end up with is completely different to the one you bought. If you do your research and find a good shop, trust them when it comes to suggestions and styling. You might be surprised at what you end up with.
- Alterations: Make sure you ask how what alterations are likely to be needed and what the cost will be so you can include this in your overall budget. This will come at the end when money starts getting tight, so don’t be caught out with last minute bills you weren’t prepared for.
- Book at least one year in advance if you can: Most dresses outside the UK can take months to arrive once ordered. You then need to allow time for fittings and alterations.
Who to take with you
Unless you’re super confident, don’t take too many people with you when dress shopping. I suggest instead going with just a few close family or friends. Remember the saying ‘too many cooks’? Having lots of people with conflicting ideas on what look you should go for can add stress and confusion when dress shopping, but at the same time do take at least one trusted friend who will be completely honest with you.
Ultimately, when it comes to choosing the right dress, go with your heart and don’t be swayed. You will know when you find the right one.
If your shop or consultant doesn’t have any experience in weddings abroad (highly unlikely these days), here is a quick list to consider. However, try to find a shop where the assistant has basic knowledge or is at least as excited about the dress and wedding as you are!
- Climate: Hot or cold – dress accordingly. In extremely hot conditions, make sure your dress material breathes easily and the dress feels comfortable. There’s nothing worse than feeling hot and sweaty on your wedding day. You want a beautiful glow and not to look like a sweaty mess.
If you are having a winter wedding or marrying in a cold climate, think about a heavier material but one that will still travel well. Maybe consider a shrug for late evenings, one that compliments the dress and makes you look fabulous.
- Transporting the dress: Will the creases drop out easily or will you need a steamer once you arrive. What are their tips on getting rid of any creases?
- Hoop: If yes, will they let you hire you one for the week/two weeks?
- Packing the dress: Does the consultant have any advice? Even better, will they pack it for you?
- Veil: Are you getting married in a breezy spot? If yes and you don’t want to be repeatedly whip-lashed by your veil during the ceremony, opt for a gorgeous tiara or hair accessory instead.
- Does your venue have difficult access? This could be lots of steps or an uneven surface such as a beach, or perhaps you are marrying on a boat. Consider how versatile the dress is. Is it easy to carry?
A few other things
- Venue considerations: Some religious venues like churches insist on covered shoulders and cleavage for the bride and no shorts for the groom. Check with your church before you start shopping. Don’t worry, though – you can wear a pretty cardigan or shrug and remove it after the ceremony.
- Footwear: Consider access to your venue and the floor surface. Sand doesn’t work with heels and neither does a wooden slatted bridge. There’s no better excuse for having to buy two pairs of shoes! One to get to the venue, another for the photographs. Think comfort as well as style.
- Ground conditions : Is it muddy or sandy? Are you likely to get your dress wet? If yes, do you need a hook to hold your dress up? If you’re intending on wearing the dress back home after the wedding for an after party, think about whether you have time to get the dress cleaned. If not, you’ll need to take extra care with the dress on the day.
- Dress cleaning: Does your shop have access to a steamer to express clean the dress on your return?
- Two dresses: Buy more than one! Yes you heard me, buy two dresses! A few of my lucky brides have had two dresses. One for the wedding ceremony and photographs and another for the reception. You could save one dress for the party back home as it will be have been worn less.
- Fittings: How and when do the fittings take place, how many are there? Will you need your accessories? Make sure you take your shoes to the fitting – it’s very important if you have heels to fit the dress to the right height. This may be the only chance you get to see the whole look before the big day!
- When it will be ready: What date will the dress be in the shop? Note it in your diary. The shop should contact you when it arrives, but in case they don’t you’ll have a reminder to chase them up.
Once you have the dress
It’s a good idea to have a practice run of getting in/out of the dress with your mum or chief bridesmaid. If this won’t be possible, take them to your final dress fitting so they can watch the shop staff fasten you into the dress, especially if you have a laced up back.
Shopping for your wedding dress should be a wonderful experience. For most of us this will be the most expensive dress we’ll ever buy, and the whole process from finding and trying on dresses should be magical; for some this is one of the most fondly remembered parts of the planning . I love boutiques where you can have a private appointment and you’re treated like royalty where you and your guests get to enjoy sparkling wine whilst trying on dresses. Wedding dress shopping should be a fun and memorable experience.
Get your girlies together and go shopping!
Photo Credit Phosart