The wedding industry is huge, choices plentiful and sometimes confusing, so let’s try and help. The BIG one, of course, is buying a wedding dress, often just after you’ve chosen your wedding venue. Brides can feel immense pressure in making a decision as it is probably the most significant outfit they will wear.

I Dreamed A Dream, Stewart Parvin 2013

I Dreamed A Dream, Stewart Parvin

Where to Try and Buy Wedding Dresses

Some brides call together their party of bridesmaids and head off to a wedding fair. These can be big, busy, noisy and fun, but is that the right environment to make that all important decision? If you want to bag a bargain you could look out for up and coming bridal sample sales.

Alternatively, you can make a one to one appointment with a professional stylist in a boutique (weekdays are often quieter than the hustle and bustle of a busy Saturday). You’ll receive guidance and advice, and you can compare designers, price ranges and customer service. Generally speaking, three or four carefully chosen shops should be enough. Any more and you could get confused and retry what you may have already eliminated before, and end up going round in circles!

Whatever you decide to do, avoid buying a wedding dress online – you may end up very disappointed.

Appoline, Suzanne Neville Vintage Rose 2014

Appoline, Suzanne Neville

How Much Do You Want to Spend? What Will You Get For Your Money?

First I would recommend setting a budget of what you think you might spend on your wedding dress. Then compare the shops and their prices so you can understand what you are getting for your money. Feel the difference between individually cut wedding gowns and mass produced dresses. See the difference in quality of the fabrics… How the dress moves – does the silk train follow you around or does it need constant pulling out and arranging? The weight of the dress – remember you are in it for some 10 or 12 hours. How a dress is technically made makes a difference.

Matilda, Sassi Holford 2014

Matilda, Sassi Holford

Designer or Dress Maker?

The benefit of buying a wedding dress from an established and proven wedding dress designer is massive. There is no guess work involved as you have the actual sample of the dress you are ordering to try on. It’s not just a sketch to look at or bits of fabric draped here and there.

The designer would probably have cut the prototype sample dress about seventeen times before the final cut. A dress maker is unlikely to have done the same as it is not cost-effective.

It is perhaps far better to use the wealth of knowledge and proven success of the professional designer with designs that have been properly tested and fabrics that do what you want them to do, culminating in a reliable gown with a solid infrastructure behind them. This guarantees the consistency of fabric quality and quantity, which are tried and tested before you wear them.

Memoire, Suzanne Neville Vintage Rose 2014 - Buying a Wedding Dress

Memoire, Suzanne Neville

Questions to Ask When Buying a Wedding Dress

It is important that you remember to ask lots of questions when buying a wedding dress. Sometimes it is easy to get carried away with the moment and forget to ask a few key questions before you place your order.

How Does Their Ordering Process Work?

Firstly, it is important to ask how the ordering process works – how long will it take to order your wedding dress? How many fittings will you have and is the fitting service included in the price?

When Will Your Wedding Dress Be Ready?

You will also need to find out approximately how long the alterations will take and agree when you will collect your dress. This may be dependent on when you order, so it is always a good idea to order your wedding dress as soon as possible so you can collect it in plenty of time.

What Underwear Will You Need?

Check what underwear you will need to buy or whether your dress will include padding or a built in bra. Also check whether your bridal lingerie should be nude or white and whether you will be able to wear a garter or not.

What If You Lose Weight?

You should make your designer aware if you are planning on losing weight and find out what happens in the instance that you drop several dress sizes. It is always good to keep wedding dress alterations to a minimum, so if you are going to diet we recommend that you start early.

Do You Need Your Shoes Now?

You will also need to check when you will need to have your shoes by and whether your designer is happy to work with an approximate heel height. I suggest getting your shoes as soon as possible so you can wear them in and try them on with your wedding dress.

What and When Will You Need To Pay?

When buying your wedding dress you will need to find out what the deposit is and when the balance is due. Remember to allow for the cost of alterations and find out when that amount is payable.

Dress Bag or Box?

Ask how you will receive your wedding dress – will it be in a dress bag or a box? This will be important if you are getting married abroad and you may need to check with your airline about the size of your hand luggage before you travel.

Loop or Button?

Finally, check whether there is the provision for your wedding dress to have a loop or button to tie up the back. This is especially useful if you are planning to dance the night away – I find that tucking your dress into your knickers isn’t a great look on your wedding day!

Guest post by Carina Baverstock of Carina Baverstock Couture and Rachell Attwell of Luella’s Bridal (Questions to Ask Section)

Images from…

Memoire and Appoline: Suzanne Neville

I Dreamed a Dream: Stewart Parvin

Matilda: Sassi Holford

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