7 things you MUST know before wedding dress shopping

It sounds simple, right? Go to some shops and have fun trying on some dresses, until you find “the one”? It’s only when it comes to going to bridal shops that you realise there’s more to it. It helps to do some preparation before you go wedding dress shopping! Here are my top tips:

1. Consider when you’re getting married

So, how long before your wedding should you buy your bridal gown? I’ve known people to buy wedding dresses up to 4 years before their wedding date. However, I probably wouldn’t recommend it. Bridal fashions might change drastically and suddenly, as they did in the mid-1990s. You might also change your mind.

I bought my wedding dress about 19 months before I got married. Fortunately, I didn’t fall out of love with it. If you’re someone who changes their mind a lot, though, you might want to leave it until later. Likewise, if your body size and/or shape fluctuates regularly, it may be a good idea to wait.

You should also consider the time of year, as if it’s going to be cold, you may want some kind of stole or cover-up.

2.Think about where you’re getting married

You should consider your wedding venue. If you’re getting married on a beach abroad, you probably want something quite light so that you don’t get too hot.

Certain dresses may fit in with certain types of venue better, too. If you’re getting married in a church, you probably wouldn’t want a  dress with cut-outs or sheel panels, for example. A traditional dress might be more suitable for an older building and if your venue is very modern, you may want a more contemporary looking bridal gown.

3. Work out a budget for your dress

It’s good to have a ball-park figure in your head of how much you’re comfortable with spending on your dress, before you go. I went £28 above my ball-park figure, but I didn’t think that was too bad!

Mentally crossing off many of the dresses because they were above my budget helped me to narrow down my choice. This is a good thing, as it can be a little overwhelming being surrounded by swathes of mostly white and ivory fabric!

4. Think about who to take with you

Don’t take someone with you who is going to criticise you or irritate you in some way. Take someone with you who will give you an honest opinion. I took my mum and she was great. She honestly told me which ones she preferred. We even had a secret code word in the second shop that I had to say if I liked any of the dresses there more than the one in the first shop. (The secret word was ‘stunning’, by the way).

Remember that although opinions are important, it’s important that you look and feel how you want to!

5. Consider your shape

Some styles of dresses suit some body shapes better than others. Of course, you don’t have to stick to these ‘rules’! They can just be a good place to start. Think of features that flatter your shape – for example, if you’re self-conscious about your arms you may want to opt for long sleeve wedding dresses. Although, some dresses you might not even think would suit you might look better than you ever expected. You’ll quickly realise that dresses can look completely different on the hanger!

Click here for a good guide on what styles suit your shape.

6. Think about your underwear

When you’re going to try on wedding dresses, the effect of some of them may be ruined if you’re wearing a bra with straps. If possible, I’d recommend trying them on with a nude strapless bra and no VPL knickers.

Likewise, when you’re looking at dresses, you may want to consider what underwear you would wear with them. Some brides wear pretty bridal lingerie during the day, but others just go for comfort and change into prettier underwear later! Remember, it’s a long day, so you probably want to be as comfortable as possible. Some brides even go commando in the name of comfort!

7. Consider your wedding theme and colours

Certain dresses may work better with certain themes. If you were going for a cherry theme, for example, you may want to choose a red dress. However, if you have your mind set on your wedding party wearing red, choosing a blush wedding dress would probably clash dreadfully!

I went for a slightly vintage feel to my wedding. My beautiful Alfred Angelo dress went with the theme perfectly, as it had a slightly vintage look, whilst being modern.

Laura's Alfred Angelo wedding dress
Credit: Robert Marriott Photography

2 thoughts on “7 things you MUST know before wedding dress shopping”

  1. I think it’s a very good idea to remember what season you’re getting married in. You may have always wanted to have long sleeves but if you’re getting married in July, it may not be the most practical idea. December brides have a much better time with long sleeves!

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