One of the very first questions I asked myself whilst planning our big day was this: how do I find my dream wedding dress?! The task seems SO huge, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In this post (which, as a fashion blogger, was one of my favourite things ever to write) I have some fuss-free advice on how to find your perfect wedding gown, and how I managed to make it one of the most straightforward and least stressful parts of putting together our day. In fact, if I had to choose one part of our wedding planning to do again, it would be trying on dresses!
Photography: Sarah Horton
Location: Combermere Abbey
Dress: The Draval by Pronovias
First Decision – Custom Made Or Ready-To-Wear
This really is the starting point when getting your wedding dress sorted. I already knew that I wanted a ready-to-wear dress, as I’d heard some horror stories from people who’d had theirs made and weren’t happy with the end result. This isn’t to say that you should never go down this route! But I think it shows that a huge amount of research is required beforehand, both about the dressmaker and your own vision of your bridal gown. For me, I knew that I wanted a Pronovias dress, as I’ve admired their designs for years.
That said, you definitely don’t have to narrow your search down to one designer – even I, Little Miss ‘I Know Exactly What I Want’, didn’t! Which leads me neatly to my next tip…
Try EVERY Style Out There!
When wedding dress shopping, I made a couple of appointments at different Cheshire bridal boutiques and purposefully went to the one I felt the least connection to first. Even though in my heart I knew I wanted a truly dramatic dress, I entered the first boutique with an open mind and tried on one of pretty much every dress style in the place. What I learnt was that I didn’t particularly like any of them on me, which was actually great as it only reaffirmed what I knew deep down! The dresses were beautiful – mostly slinky, tight-fitting or very smooth, satin numbers – but none of them were my dream dress.
Then I set foot inside The Bridal Path in Altrincham, Cheshire, and everything changed! Janice and her team were amazing from start to finish, and when I told them my vision they immediately pulled out THE most perfect gown I’ve ever seen in my life. I was there with my mum and bridesmaid Laura, and I knew it was ‘the one’ before I even tried it on. Once I stepped out of the changing room, I was sold – it was just incredible. I tried on a few more afterwards, and although they were gorgeous nothing could compare to the Pronovias Draval for me. My sister flew back from Italy for my first fitting, and as soon as she saw me in the dress she burst into tears (and then I followed suit!).
If You’re Torn, Consider Your Venue
When choosing your wedding venue, you might not think about your dress – and vice versa! But this is actually a really handy tip if you’re stuck between two dresses or can’t decide on a style. If you’re planning to get married in a grand venue with lots of space and room to move, a large dress isn’t going to be a problem (and a slinkier one might not have the same wow-factor, if competing with a stunning location). If you’ve opted for a more intimate or relaxed wedding venue, a princess dress might feel a little out of place. None of these are hard-and-fast rules of course (I’m very much in favour of doing whatever the hell makes you happy!) but it could be a handy consideration if you’re struggling to make a dress decision.
I knew my dress was just perfect for Combermere Abbey, and by mid-evening I’d totally got used to dancing in my huge gown. I loved every minute of wearing it, and wish I could just pop it on around our apartment!
As Soon As You Find Your Dress, Buy Your Shoes!
Once you’ve decided on your dream dress, make sure to find your wedding shoes before your first fitting comes around. Some dresses might not need adjusting, but most do – in my case, it was made shorter (I’m only 5’4) and taken in as I lost quite a bit of weight throughout the wedding planning process. I didn’t think about this beforehand, but you need to have your shoes ready as they’ll dictate how much your dress needs to be adjusted length-wise!
Speaking of adjustments, I was so excited to find that The Bridal Path worked with a dressmaker who held appointments at the boutique, which made life so much easier. Whatever you do, makes sure that you communicate properly with whoever is doing your adjustments and don’t be afraid to ask questions – I did, and felt so much calmer knowing everything was properly in hand.
I could not have been more thrilled with my wedding dress. Even though it wasn’t made for me, it felt like it was – that’s how amazing the Pronovias gowns are. If you’re having trouble finding your dream dress, please don’t panic. I promise it’s out there, and when you find it it will be all the sweeter. Just keep making your appointments, try on as many dresses you can and take someone whose opinion you trust with you.
As with everything wedding-related, I know that people have some super specific queries or need particular tips, so please do leave me a comment and ask me anything – I’d love to help if you need some further advice! For now, I’ll leave my tips at that. Happy wedding dress shopping!