Choosing the Dress – 8 “Dos” and “Don’ts”

Ohhh how I wish I could post a little picture of my dress on here. But, nope. I’m afraid you guys are going to have to wait 11 months for that one!!

The good news (for me at least!) is that I’ve finally chosen one. A whole year after I started me wedding gown journey. Good job I had plenty of time!!

Which leads me smartly onto my first tip!

1. Don’t Leave Your Dress Too Late.

It seems obvious but there are reasons your dress should be a priority, not least because depending on the style you want you may have to wait several months for one-offs, couture dresses and adjustments themselves take several weeks. But, don’t forget that your dress style will steer much of your decor, the bridesmaids’ dresses, the groomswear etc. Get the dress sorted early (I had mine ordered just under 12 months before – that was quite early but I’m a busy bee so I needed it done!) and then you have time to worry about all the many, MANY other things to be sorted, AND some idea of what you’re going to do for them.

In Berkshire, I went to the fabulous Borrowed Blue & Lace and Confetti – the first is just a divine little boutique with extremely friendly, helpful ladies running the place. I felt at home there right away and thank them for the beautiful service. Highly recommend. The second is a family favourite – both times I’ve been a bridesmaid it’s come from Confetti – both my step-sister and my sister-in-law got their dresses from this well established bridal wear business – they ladies are highly experienced and service is excellent.

2. Do Take Your Nearest & Dearest to Share the Moment.

And I emphasise the “share the moment” part. I actually first went dress shopping three months after we got engaged but just less than two years before the wedding (we booked our date far out for all our overseas family), and the reason was because I was back in England visiting my family and friends so I knew with all the saving that was going to happen in the coming year or so that it was likely the last trip to the UK I was going to get prior to the wedding. I wanted to have the experience of wedding dress shopping with my mum, my maid of honour and my bridesmaids. None of whom live here in Australia!! I was glad I did – it didn’t shape my view on what style I wanted but it got me to understand which shapes suited me and most importantly, I will treasure those memories as I know my family and friends will too.

Dress Shopping - me
Me being fussed over by mother and shop owner

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Go It Alone!

A few months ago when I started trying on dresses again I realised I was not even enjoying the process anymore. It felt overwhelming and I really just wanted to pick the damn dress but I felt afraid to make the decision or as if I was waiting for the big moment everyone talks about when they find ‘the one’. I am so eternally grateful that I have some excellent best mates over here who have been such awesome bridesmaid stand-ins – big, big love for Maree in particular as she came with me several times and once we journeyed an hour away and with little luck. I needed her opinion and her excellent understanding of the process to guide me through.

Ultimately though, in order to get the job done I decided to take some time off and go mid week to some great bridalwear shops in the CBD (city centre) at the Dymocks Building – thank you Maree for that suggestion too. First trip there I went with Maree. Next trip I went mid-week and went alone. I was really worried about how much of  weirdo I might look turning up on my own but in fact one of the places I went the consultant told me that she thought it was a good decision (and I know it wasn’t sales spiel – this woman was one of those no nonsense types). She couldn’t have been more right though – having had my friends and family by my side to gain knowledge and ‘try things out’ it was on my own that I had real clarity of mind. Instead of putting a dress on and my mind immediately drifting to what the reaction would be when I walked out of the changing room, I was alone with myself and my reflection in the mirror (I mean, yes there was a consultant tying sashes and tightening ribbons behind me, but you get the idea…). Then, and only then did I think “no, absolutely not” or “yes, yes, yes 1000 times yes!”.

As it happens the dress I chose was in the shop with the no nonsense consultant! Love her!

4. Do Value Second Opinions of Those Who Know You Best.

Once I thought I’d found the dress I still had a competitor I wasn’t quite done with – I decided to get my cousin and another good friend to come with me and get their opinions without telling them which I was feeling more strongly about. These are two girls in a small group of people over here in Australia who I would class as those who know me best on this side of the globe. It was the right thing to do – their faces couldn’t hide their feelings. They loved the same one I did. My gut had been right. I’d found the dress! YAY! So, while you need clarity of mind, those people who will be honest, selfless (not steer you to their favourite styles just because they like them), and true to you are absolutely invaluable in this process. To them as well as Maree – thank you!

5. Do Plan in Advance.

You are likely to need consultation times booked in – particularly if you want to go on weekends. In Australia, David Jones Bridal books in months in advance – months! And do remember to leave space between appointments to get from place to place. Most consultations run for 45 minutes so if you book them on the hour you are likely to be fine but just bear it in mind.

And remember to wear a strapless bra. Some dresses they’ll take you out of your bra completely but better, just in case. And if you don’t want to bare your booty – don’t wear a g-string!! Oh, and remove your chunky jewellry – such a large watches or bracelets – the last thing you want is to be ripping the beautiful dresses. You can always put it back on again once you’re in the dress if you want to.

6. Don’t Forget to Remove Any Pictures or Links.

If you have sent the pictures of you in any dresses or any links to the dress on a website to loved ones not so nearby – like I did to my mum and my maid of honour – then don’t forget to remove them from your phone – especially when you sync your photos with your PC. We have our photos on our laptop screensaver and that laptop gets plugged in the HDMI on our TV for some of the shows we watch – suddenly pictures of me in some of the dresses I tried on started scrolling through to which I quickly pointed out to Mr OC that none are my dress (I don’t have pics of me in my dress yet) but he responded that he didn’t want to see any as it spoils the whole thing. So I removed them as that was fair comment and pretty sweet. And of course the last thing you want is to open up our browser to show your fiance something and the last page you were looking at was your dress! So just be careful!! The pic I included above obscures most of the dress – important!!

7. Don’t Cling to a Vision.

So, like me, maybe one of the first things you did as a newly engaged gal was to get a bridal magazine or maybe someone gave you one. Or maybe you’ve seen a celebrity in a dress you want to imitate. Or you might have had they style of your dress pinned to the memo board since you were eight years old. Whichever of these might be true you have got to be prepared to potentially let that ‘dream’ go. Sorry. But that’s the truth. Some styles that I loved looked so beautiful on the girl standing next to me in the next changing area but when I put it on – errr, doll toilet roll cover anyone? You have a shape. Dresses come in different shapes. Some fits won’t look right on you and some will fit so well it’s like it was made for you! And maybe it was!  Don’t cling to something you THINK you want to wear. Wear what your heart tells you feels right, but take note of what the mirror is saying – you’ll know if it’s not right. Tune into those feelings, and tune in good!

Doll Toilet Roll Dress

8. Do Have FUN!!

This is very important – this is hopefully the only time you’ll ever be picking your wedding dress and memories of doing so should be treasured. The day I chose my dress we actually had a lot of time to kill between appointments so we gorged on dumplings then a after giggling and chatting for a good hour or so longer we went and gorged on tea and cheesecake. It was a proper girls day out and it was fun for everyone! Make a day of it, make it fun for those accompanying you because let’s face it, they’re doing you a lovely favour. And do it for you! It’s your time, your dress, your moment – and you should savour it, breathe it in and feel like the amazing woman you are.

There are many things to bear in mind on your bridal gown shopping adventure and these are just a few. What would be your tips to new brides-to-be? I’d love to hear them!




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