So you're getting married and are ready to look for your dress…finding that perfect wedding dress can be quite a long process, it isn't always easy and it's not the same as picking out any other clothing. So to help you avoid any bridal boutique faux pas, tears or embarrassment, and make the wedding dress shopping as fun and easy as possible, we put together this quick guide to bridal shopping with a few simple pointers, gleaned from the experience of many brides. Hope it helps. Xx
Before you start…
Before you can realistically start dress shopping you need to have set a date and have booked your venue, as in addition to your personality and individual style, the time of year in which you are getting married and the kind of venue and wedding day that you are planning are factors that will help towards your choice of style and fabric of your dress. And only start shopping for your dress when you are seriously ready to make your purchase!
Set a budget - Be prepared to discuss your price budget with your sales person. This will allow her to show you dresses that are in your price range, falling in love with a dress that’s out of your price range can break your heart or break the budget. A little over budget is ok but don’t go crazy and don’t be tempted to try on dresses out of your range “just for fun”
Our made to order bridal dresses start from £890 - £2300 with most of our dresses around £1150. This does not include any necessary alteration costs, please do have mind how much you would like to spend on your dress as we will only show you gowns up to your dress limit so not to disappoint!
Give yourself enough time
Choosing a wedding dress can be quite stressful so buying early takes some of the pressure off, an advantage of buying early (about a year before the wedding) is that you know what you are getting so you can match everything else and you can make everything revolve around your dress. It is normal for some brides to purchase their gown as much as 18 months in advance, as they can feel more relaxed and in control
The recommended minimum ordering time is 8 months before the wedding; this includes delivery from the designer/manufacturer. We try to arrange for dresses to arrive in 2 months before the wedding date; this allows plenty of time for alterations and to choose those little extras like accessories and shoes. If you leave it too late though, some shops may have to charge you extra for a ‘rush’ charge’ even if you still have 6 months left.
Make an appointment two weeks in advance, bring pictures from magazines or descriptions of dresses you would like to see, with limited time this will help your bridal consultant quickly identify dresses to bring you and make your visit most productive. Please wear minimum make up and no body lotions or fake tans so not to mark the dresses, contrary to popular belief we have to buy all of our bridal samples and one day it will be on the sale rail and therefore be one bride’s treasured possession. Just like you with your special dress…we like to keep them in perfect condition.
If it is appears that you are wearing fake tan you may be asked to re-appoint, so to avoid any disappointment please don’t wear any!
Who should I bring to my appointment?
Deciding who to take with you when you are shopping for a wedding dress is important but remember it is a very personal appointment and should be all about you and your big day; it’s easier to listen to your head and your heart if you don’t have an entourage with you. In our experience, it can be overwhelming for a bride when too many people are giving their opinions and can sometimes steer a bride away from choosing the dress she truly loves because it is not to the taste of her friends or family. We suggest a maximum of two guests, usually Mum and sister/best friend, you can always have others that you may want to see your dress after YOU have made that all important decision at a Family and Friends appointment. We would also like to request that you respect that on busy days in the boutique, it is difficult to accommodate lots of visitors, so as a guide our bridal dressing rooms can comfortably accommodate a bride and up to 2 guests. And if you have children, please leave them at home (with a babysitter of course!) a bridal shop is not a place for children.
We work by appointment and offer our brides a personal shopping experince, your first appointment will last for an hour and a half, please try to arrive on time as you may not have the full hour and a half we would wish you to have. You will have your own private bridal dressing room to relax in and we’ll start the appointment with a chat about all things regarding your wedding – location, flowers, colours and the look you are trying to achieve for your big day.
Our trained bridal stylists are there to offer you specialist advice and explain the styles and fabrics. It is our job to help you find the dress of your dreams, don’t be offended if our stylists go into the fitting rooms and dress you as it’s their responsibility not only to make you feel special, but to ensure the delicate fabrics on the dresses are kept as careful as possible for the bride that follows. They will select the gowns you choose and may recommend a few other styles too, we aim to try 6- 8 gowns on in the given time.
Just relax, enjoy the attention but please take it seriously as there is a limit of how many gowns we can try within the allotted time, so you need to carefully consider with the selections and not be tempted to try on something only for ‘fun’. It will only take up your appointment time, time where you could be choosing and finding your own beautiful gown. Once you have found a gown that you have made a connection with, you will try it on again and accessorize to see the full look.
When you have found your dress
Brides are never planning on finding the dress at their first appointment but it happens in the majority of our appointments, now it's time to place the order for your ‘made to order’ gown. You'll know it's “the one" when you don't want to take it off. When purchasing the gown, you'll have to sign a contract and put down a non refundable part payment, which is usually 50% of the total value, or if time allows there is the option of our very popular interest free payment plan. The final balance is due when your dress arrives into the boutique.
If you purchase one of our beautiful ex samples gowns (off the peg) then payment will be required in full and the dress will need to be taken away on the day. We would advise that you store it away in your Mum's house or somewhere safe and don't look at it; this eliminates the risk of temptation to keep trying it on and damaging it.
And when you have found your dream wedding dress, stop looking!
Cameras and Photographs
Sorry , we don't allow photos or videos to be taken within the boutique - this is by our designers request to protect their designs and it is also for our own privacy.
Once you have placed your order we are more than happy for photographs to be taken, brides and their guests love it, especially when we take individual and group photographs to commemorate the day you found your gown. It's another special moment to treasure as part of your journey to the big day! Please do inform your guests of this policy.
When you have made your decision on a dress, your sales person will take your measurements and consult the designers sizing chart to determine your size. Don't be surprised if your size is larger than expected the sizing convention used in bridal gowns is quite different from retail clothing sizes. Decide on a size that is realistic, if you have chosen to slim down before the big day then order the dress at your size now. Dresses can be taken in, whereas if you put on weight it is more difficult to release the dress (seamstress speak for "make it bigger"). A dress that is too small is far worse than a dress that is too big, be realistic - you may trim and tone up up for the wedding day, but you're not going to grow 6 inches or lose 3 stone (well it's unlikely) - think about what suits you, not what looks fab on someone else
Alterations are NOT included in the price of your dress. Once your dress arrives, it will almost certainly need some alterations to make it fit perfectly. We do know of a number of freelance seamstresses who on occasion visit the boutique or alternatively, you may select a seamstress with whom you're familiar to alter your gown. The cost of the alterations, however, varies depending upon the extent and nature of alterations required.
When the Dress arrives
As the wedding date nears, we will contact you to inform you that your dress has arrived (approx. 7 – 12 weeks before the wedding) and will request that you come in to try on your dress, this is also the time to choose all the bridal accessories you wish to have.
Customers are welcome to make arrangements with the freelance seamstresses at their own studios or the boutique where we provide our premises at certain times for their use. Details of the freelancer seastress will be found on our reception desk.
The First Fitting
Your first fitting should take place approximately 6 weeks before your wedding day. The first fitting should give you the first opportunity to see how your dress fits on you and allow the seamstress to determine what needs to be taken in, let out, lengthened and shortened. Remember to bring the pair of shoes that you are planning on wearing for your wedding. This will allow the seamstress to determine what alterations need to be done and advise of the cost.
The Second Fitting
Your Second fitting should take place approximately 4 weeks before your wedding day. Remember to bring the same pair of shoes for your visit. The purpose of the second fitting is to allow the seamstress to see how the alterations made after the first fitting look on you. Generally, the second fitting is primarily used to identify any minor alterations/tweaks to your dress. Unless the seamstress has identified some additional alterations that need to be made, your next fitting will be your last. Therefore don't be shy about voicing any concerns you have about the way your dress looks or feels on you.
Prepare a list of questions you may have such as how to bustle your dress, the correct way to put it, the best way to store it, and how to remove stains and wrinkles. This will be your last opportunity to voice any concerns before the dress is ready to go home.
Collecting your dress
Throughout the fitting process, your gown will be stored on the premises in its special dress bag, until you are ready to collect it. Dresses are usually collected the week of the wedding (Thursday mornings)
Your gown will be prepared, pressed and presented on a pretty satin hanger all ready for the big day!