The Art of Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress
After spending 12 years managing bridal boutiques and sharing happy tears with thousands of brides I refer to myself as an expert on the art of finding the perfect wedding dress. Yes, I admit I am a self-proclaimed expert but expert none the less J
Everyone knows that shopping for a wedding dress is a once in a lifetime event and can be super stressful. So we are here to give you an insider’s view on how to make it a magical and memorable experience.
Let’s start with the easy stuff.
How do you decide where to begin shopping for your wedding dress?
I have to say that this is different for each bride so my overall tip would be to check out the boutiques website. Since everyone lives on the internet and mobile phones these days this is usually pretty easy to do. I train my staff that a bride should get the feeling that she wants to be part of our family and “want” to buy her wedding dress from us from the very first moment she has contact with us. That first contact is everything! So spending a little time on your local boutiques websites is important. Check out the dresses of course, but also read some of the content (that means the words and paragraphs on their pages J ) this will actually provide a sense of “who” they are. Yes, I know that might sound a little crazy but boutiques have life! The boutiques “life” is created by the people that work there and everyone wants to buy from someone they like so if you go to their website and don’t get the warm and fuzzies…move on and check out one of their competitors.
Schedule an appointment
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of brides make is not scheduling appointments to try on wedding dresses or at least inquiring if one is necessary. Coming from a person who has managed a boutique that didn’t require appointments and had 18 dressing rooms to a more personalised and private shopping experience boutique with only 5 dressing rooms this is super important. I see the looks on the bride’s faces when we have to turn them away because we are fully booked. It breaks my heart every single time. Just think about it, you are already stressed or anxious about trying on dresses, you find a shop you want to go to, get your family and friends together, drive all the way there and then the dreaded…. we are booked and cannot get you in. UGH!! Stab me in my heart, it hurts to tell any Bride that. Trust me any good bridal boutique is going to hate turning you away, all they really want is to help you find the perfect wedding dress. So be prepared, schedule an appointment. Don’t start your shopping experience with disappointment.
Extra special tip…shop during the week! All bridal boutiques are busiest on the weekends so if you are overwhelmed by crowds or want a slower pace…shop during the week. And to be honest typically during the week we can allow the appointments to last longer (because we aren’t as busy).
Know your budget (or at least the max you can go)
If you have never been in a wedding or never shopped for a wedding dress you probably have no idea what they cost and why would you? Popular tv shows make it look like everyone can afford £20,000 on a wedding gown and finds it in 20 minutes but let me be the first to tell you, that isn’t true! Ever!!! And bridal boutique websites generally do not provide prices (not by their choice…the designers don’t allow it). So what does a wedding dress cost? Well……..you can find a steal on websites like www.sellmydress.com and get a pre-owned designer wedding dress for half the price or you can buy a wedding dress at a bridal gown sample sale or inventory blow out event and pay as little as £99. But if you want to order a brand new wedding dress, closer to your size then realistically you will have to pay at least £1,200. If you widen that range you will have more to choose from and your perfect wedding dress will find you! Little extra tip from me, make sure to call your local boutiques prior to going there and ask them what their price range is. After all you don’t want to try on dresses, fall in love with one and then find out it is way over your budget. Talk about a heart breaker!
Don’t shop too early (or too late)
Today we are seeing couples with long engagements and the complete opposite getting married in two weeks. So, how do you know when is the right time to start shopping? Most bridal boutiques do not sell their gowns out of stock so you have to shop early enough to allow time to order your wedding dress (typically four to six months), have it made and shipped into the boutique. Then you will also need at least six to eight weeks for the process of getting it altered to fit perfectly. Our general rule of thumb is to start shopping one year prior to the date of your wedding. That gives you plenty of time to shop at a few stores, find the perfect wedding dress and have it arrive in time for your alterations and wedding. On the other side of that do not shop more than one year out because styles change frequently. If you order too early you may find another gown later that you like more and you won’t be able to get your money back for the first one. So, stick to the one year rule. And be ready to buy! Many times you will find the perfect wedding dress on the very first day, so have the funds ready and get her ordered.
I am so blessed to have stumbled upon this industry and must say that each and every day I LOVE my job…to be honest it never really feels like work. Shopping for a wedding dress is magical and emotional, memories are shared and made each day and I am so lucky to be part of it!