Finding the perfect bridal wear is a rite of passage for most brides. Often women fantasise about their ideal wedding dresses from a young age, so when the time comes to search for a gown, it's like a dream come true. The excitement is palpable.
But that doesn’t mean you should rush in without some proper groundwork first! Going shopping without a plan is a surefire way to lose the plot extra fast and – when you've waited this long – you want your experience to be the best it can be!
Take a deep breath, grab yourself a calming cup of tea and read these 6 tips to help you shop for your bridal wear with aplomb:
- Don’t start the search too late. Of course, there’s a chance you might find your perfect gown the first time you hit the shops, but chances are you’ll want plenty of time to make a decision. Also, you’ll need to factor in that a custom wedding dress can take six to twelve months to create with three fittings spaced at least a month apart.
- Pick your posse. Every bride needs an excellent wing woman (or three) to keep her on the straight and narrow during her dress buying journey. Choose a few friends or relatives who know you inside and out, will tell you the absolute truth ("No, that taffeta ruffles extravaganza doesn't make you look svelte!), and will share the joy every step of the way. Just don’t bring along a whole entourage – the more people, the more opportunities for drama and mayhem.
- Do your research thoroughly. Get familiar with the kinds of gowns on trend by flicking voraciously through bridal magazines. Create a mood board or scrapbook of your favourite looks and don't be afraid to get it out at each bridal shop – the staff won't know what to show you without a guide. Remember most of the gowns aren't on the shop floor but out the back – streamline the process by showing you know what you want.
- Know your budget. It’s tempting to try on the most expensive ready-to-wear gowns in the store, but that way lies madness. Your budget could be blown in an instant. If you fall in love with a dress that’s out of your price range, chances are, nothing else you try will measure up. You’ll be faced with an impossible choice between a dress you adore and all of your savings (or a fantastic honeymoon, or a nest egg to start your married life off well). Save yourself the heartache and only try on what you can afford. Spending 10 per cent of your total wedding day budget on your dress is a good rule of thumb.
- Keep a diary. Once upon a time, it was thought of as gauche to snap pics of your favourite dresses in store, but with the advent of smartphones, this has become de rigueur. Make sure you're getting the best shot possible as any dress can look like a shocker in a lousy photo. If you strike a traditional store that doesn't allow pictures, take notes so you can refer back later.
- Weather. Please dont forget about the time of year, and the location that you will be getting married. Nothing is worse than arriving on your big day in a dress will make you shiver, or sweat it out unnecessarily.