We all want that perfect dress on our wedding day, but where do you start...?
1. I know What I Want
If - like I was - you have no doubt that you know what dress is perfect for you, you may be surprised once you try it on.
I was convinced a certain style dress was THE ONE, so much so that I did not feel it was necessary for me to try on other styles. But....after some convincing from my mom....I tried on a couple of other styles and to my amazement found that another style actually suited me better than the one I originally thought - and to top that it was the style that I thought would not suite me at all....
And so I learnt that just because the dress looks good on the mannequin (or in your head), does not mean it will look good on you. Different styles compliment different body types and you need to find what will work best for you.
2. How to Start
Whether you have no idea or know exactly what dress you want we recommend you start with the basics.
Once you have found the dress style you can start to look at the other aspect - this is where you can put your personality into the dress - play around with the options available to you; maybe ad a splash of colour or some unique embroidery. Also look at the accessories, this can have a big effect on the overall look and feel - something as simple as a veil, custom hair piece or belt can take the dress pop and make you feel like the princess bride you have always wanted to be.
3. Use the consultant/designer’s expertise
The consultant and/or designer at the boutique has been fitting dresses on brides for years, so you can be sure that he/she will have a good idea of what will best work for you.
Make use of their knowledge and experience, it may make the process quicker and a bit more stress-free - but always remember to go with your gut. Never buy a dress because the designer thinks it is perfect for you (it does not matter how much experience they have), if you are not 100% sold you should rather take some time to think about it or go to a different boutique.
4. Be Sensible
Take the wedding venue, season and time into account; a full ball-gown dress may look absolutely beautiful on you but will not work for the beach wedding you are planning or if you love to dance choose a material that does not crease easily.
You also need to consider how practical the dress is, remember that you will be wearing it for about 8 hours - so it is important to make sure the dress fits comfortably and does not limit your movements. Check that the dress does not affect your ability to sit, dance and use the restroom.
5. Buy a dress that fits
It is always best to get a dress that fits at the time you buy it - do not get a dress that is a couple of sizes smaller because you are planning to lose weight before your big day.
Things don’t always go as planned and you might not lose as much as you want and then you are stuck with a dress that is too small. Keep in mind that it is a lot easier (and cheaper) to take a gown in than to try and make a too-small dress bigger.
When to start looking for a dress does depend on what you want...
A designer dress that needs to be imported you will have to start about 12 months before the wedding. It can take up to 9 months to get the dress here and then you also need some extra time in case alterations are needed.
For a dress that will be made from scratch you can look at about 9 months before the wedding.
If you are buying a dress of the shelf you can start looking about 6 months before the wedding.
Whichever way you go, we recommend that you do a fitting about 6 weeks before the big day, you want the dress to fit perfectly and if you get it altered too far in advance it may not be perfect on the day due to weight loss or gain. Closer to the day will give you a much more accurate fit, the final fitting should be no more than a week or two before the wedding.
7. Take photos
We suggest that you take photos of the dresses as you go. This will allow you to go through them at a later stage in the comfort of your home (with bestie) to compare, especially if you have been to more than 1 boutique.
Just make sure that the boutique allows for photos, some don’t.
Although your wedding dress is one of the most important thing for your wedding day you sometimes need to stand back and look at reality....this is not a dress that you are likely to wear again, so unless you want to keep it for sentimental reasons you may consider hiring.
This does not mean you have to settle for less....there are many boutiques that have beautiful dresses available for rent and many offer you the option to have your dress made and you can then either hire it or they buy it back from you after the wedding.
This option allows you to still have your dream dress on the day but not end up with a dress in your cupboard that just takes up space.
9. Be clear on the details
When you order your gown, make sure everyone is on the same page regarding what you want - and if required get it in writing.
You don’t want to end up with the wrong size, colour or style dress.
10. Once you have bought your dress
STOP LOOKING....when you have your dress (especially of you get it several months in advance) you should make a point not to look at - and never try on - other dresses. This can confuse you and even make you second guess your original choice.
If you feel that you have found THE dress but you still have a long time before the wedding and you are not quite if you should get it or not, we recommend you take some photos of yourself in it and then sleep on it. Make a note of the boutique and the dress name and also make sure they will be able to supply that specific dress in a couple of months. This way if you do come across a dress that you love more you are free to get it; and if not - you know exactly where to get the perfect dress.