Chances are you have an idea in your head of exactly what you want – and as I’m sure all your married pals have told you, you end up going for something completely different.
Choosing your dream wedding dress is one of the most magical parts of getting married and even though we’re stuck in a pandemic and weddings have been capped to 15 (boo, Boris), you’ll still want to look and feel incredible on your big day.
If you’re planning a wedding right now and have no idea of the protocol of wedding dress shopping, we’ve grilled the best experts in the bridal business – Suzanne Neville, Kate Halfpenny of Halfpenny London and Eloise Rigby of The Underwear Pantry – to compile a really practical guide to wedding dress shopping.
From exactly which underwear to plump for on your shopping trip, to how to buy a dress in the current pandemic, every bride-to-be should have this practical guide to hand.
Research, research, research!
We’re so lucky to have access to stunning inspiration at the touch of a button and that has never been more useful. Really have a think about what you’re looking for and seek out those brands which offer that. Go through your own wardrobe at home and see which pieces you feel amazing in and make a note of why. Is it the neckline? The waistline? The length? All of these things are useful when looking for your dream wedding outfit.
Kate Halfpenny believes in ignoring all the trends and strongly believes that you should be the best version of yourself on your big day rather than try to fit in with whatever’s deemed to be fashionable at the time. “Ignore all the trends! Be the bride you want to be is our motto, so if it’s trousers you want, or you’re feeling that white isn’t for you, that’s completely fine!” she says. Remember your fiancé is marrying you for you, so find a look that simply makes you feel incredible. Yaaas.
The hair and makeup
Some women find doing their hair in a way that makes them feel great helps to visualise what they might look like on the big day. Fake tan is an absolute no-no in case it transfers onto the dresses – every wedding dress makers’ worst nightmare!
Always check the lead times
Most boutiques need you to decide on your gown at least six months before the wedding but if your wedding is sooner than that, try not to stress as they may be able to rush your order through. It’s so important to communicate that with the stylist beforehand to avoid any disappointments. For example, Kate Halfpenny has some really intricate, beaded pieces which they can’t rush through and it would be a shame if you fell in love with something and then found you couldn’t get it in time.
The team at Suzanne Neville say that during the appointment, it is always good to ask about lead times and what is included in the cost of your gown. “Here at the Suzanne Neville flagship store we do say to allow 8 months to a year’s notice in order to make your gown. We make every dress individually and we do four fitting, these start around 4 to 5 months before the wedding,” they say. “We need the extra time to plan ahead so we book in the fittings as soon as you order your dress, but the measurements aren’t taken until nearer the time.”
Try a variety of styles (even if you have your heart set on one your saw on Pinterest!)
When is comes to trying on the dresses, try on a variety of silhouettes first. It’s all about getting the shape of your dress right, then you can build on this and look at detail. All wedding dresses are beautiful so its just a process of elimination to see what flatters your figure the most.
The underwear to wear
“Whether it be shapewear or underwear, the foundations can often dictate the final ‘look’ of the bridalwear, for example at what height the bust sits or how low the back of the dress ‘can’ be,” explains Eloise.
It’s useful to have seamless neutral underwear, whether it be a thong, briefs or shorts and a strapless bra as you go to try on dresses and outfits for the first time. “However, these will likely not be the optimum solutions for the final choice, so once you have landed on ‘your’ dress, we recommend booking in for a bridal underwear appointment around 2 weeks before the first dress fitting.” Sharing a top tip, Eloise says once you have chosen your dress, ask the store / brand if you can take photos from the front and back, as well as a video moving to highlight any areas that may need specific underwear solutions e.g. low front or back.
“For the big day, we almost always recommend wearing shorts as with the spotlight well and truly on the bride, it can be uncomfortable and actually hotter wearing small underwear. Your bottom tissue is amongst the softest on your body, so even an ‘invisible’ brief will press across the bottom when you walk,” she says.