A – Z Bridal Guide To Finding Your Perfect Wedding Dress
Although it’s a part of wedding planning that plenty of brides look forward to, finding your perfect wedding dress can be surprisingly stressful! Luckily, we’ve put together the ultimate A-Z guide to shopping for your wedding dress – read on to find out our top tips…
A – Accessories Come After
It’s true, bridal wear is more than just the dress. You’ve got what seems like a gazillion wedding fashion considerations to make.
“Veil or no veil? Do I need fancy hair clips? What jewellery? Shall I have a small purse or bag? Borrowed, new, or blue? AHHHH.”
Sure, it may seem like a good idea to crack the whip and get the accessories out of the way first. But, all this will do is leave with you with bridezilla tunnel-vision, as you’ll be searching for a dress that matches your accessories, rather than have a wedding dress you may actually really love. And chances are this will leave you with limited choices and lots of stress – because “nothing goes with that expensive sparkly butterfly pendant I bought and can’t return.”
Remember, accessories are there to do exactly that – accessorise your outfit. Once you’ve found your dream wedding dress, it will be easy to find beautiful details to enhance and embellish the showstopper.
So, remember: “Dress first. Wedding accessories after.”
B – Be True To Yourself
Whilst every bride wants to look and feel a million dollars on her big day, there’s a common misconception that you have to dramatically overhaul your appearance to achieve this.
Always be true to yourself and your personality when choosing a wedding gown.
There are plenty of breathtaking bridal dresses to match every bridal style.
Choose something that reflects you – take inspiration from your normal fashion style and look for something that makes you feel beautiful. This is guaranteed to leave your partner’s jaw dropping to the floor as you walk down the aisle. They fell in love with you for you, so you don’t want them to feel like they’re marrying a completely different woman.
C – Comfort And Confidence Are Key
This ties in with the above point. Whilst looking amazing is a priority, it’s essential that you feel comfortable and confident in your wedding dress.
Remember, you’re going to be spending a lot of time wearing it, which will require lots of different movements and re-positioning. You’ll be standing around, walking, dancing and having photographs taken (and that camera will definitely pick up on any awkwardness).
Make sure you have plenty of room to move around in your wedding dress – ensure that it’s not too tight, loose or heavy. The last thing you want is to spend your big day uncomfortable, despondent and counting down the hours until you can get out of that “oxygen-restricting dress.”
If you’re comfortable, you’ll feel confident. If you feel confident, you’ll feel comfortable.
D – Don’t Forget Details & Design
Most wedding dresses look the same, right? White, long and a bit puffy! Wrong! There’s so many intricate elements and features that go into designing a wedding dress.
It’s a good idea to do a little research before you walk into a bridal shop. Pick apart dresses you’ve seen before and take elements that you like (and note the parts that you don’t). This will make it easier for you and the shop assistant to find your wedding dress. Our Instagram (@guidesforbrides) has some great bridal inspo.
Here are a few options to consider:
Length: The wedding dresses can be full-length or short and don’t forget about length of the train, sleeves and the neckline too.
Colour: Wedding dress colours include white, ivory, cream, beige and sand (who knew there were so many shades of white?). If white isn’t for you, there are plenty of colourful options too.
Design: Design types include ball gown, mermaid, trumpet, a-line, tea-length, and more.
Style: From chic and elegant, to vintage, boho, babe, and everything in between.
E – Experiment
Whilst it’s good to have a (rough) idea of the type of wedding dress you’re after, it’s important not to get too hung up on on that dream wedding dress you’ve had pinned to your Pinterest board since you were 12. Bridal wear shopping is all about trial and error.
So, do try on lots of different bridal dresses, mix and match the bridal styles you like, and even experiment with those wedding gowns you think you “can’t pull off”.
Don’t be surprised if the wedding dress you hated in the shop window is the one you immediately fall in love after putting it on.
F – Fittings
It’s vital you have at least one dress fitting before tying the knot. It doesn’t matter whether you bought your dress online or even tried it on at the shop, make sure you schedule one prior to the big day.
Fittings ensure that the dress fits you exactly and highlights if any alterations and adjustments need to be made.
G – Gather Your Girls
A great part of the wedding experience is sharing it with your family and friends – and this includes wedding dress shopping. So, round up your Bridal party and make a day of it.
It’s nice to have their support and company (plus you need a chief photographer to take pics for you to look back on at home).
Expect a few tears, so bring along some tissues (looking at you Mums), And don’t forget to reward yourselves with some cocktails after a long day.
However, don’t let the opinions of others influence your decision on which wedding dress to choose. Whilst it’s nice to have their input, ultimately only you’ll know which dress is the one.
H – Have Fun
Yes, finding that dream wedding dress is stressful. So stressful that you’ve thought about calling the whole thing off (on multiple occasions). But it shouldn’t be. Getting married is one of the happiest milestones in a person’s life.
That means planning your wedding should be fun and exciting too. So, relax and enjoy trying on different dresses and designing your overall wedding look.
I – It’s OK If You Don’t Find ‘The One’ Immediately
Contrary to those rose-tinted Hollywood rom-coms films, you’re not obliged to walk into a bridal shop and fall in love with the first wedding dress you try on.
Whilst that seems like the perfect scenario, finding a wedding dress isn’t a drive-thru experience. So don’t make it one.
Take your time, schedule a few days each week / month, where you’ll tackle a few bridal shops or wedding fairs at a time.
Cliches aside, good things comes to those who wait, so before you know it – you’ll have found ‘the one.’ (And if you do happen to fall in love with the first wedding dress you lay your eyes on – don’t worry. That’s perfectly fine too).
J – Just Don’t Leave It Too Late
The above point being said, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to search for a wedding dress. The last thing you want is to be a week away from saying the big “I do” and having to walk down the aisle in your spaghetti-strap prom dress you’ve hoarded in your wardrobe since you were 16.
As a good rule of thumb, brides-to-be should start looking at least nine months to a year before the wedding.
K – Knowing The Dream Dress Probably Doesn’t Exist
Sorry gals. The truth is that the perfect wedding dress doesn’t exist. Well, it does but just not how you imagined.
Because there’s a monumental difference between the perfect dress and your perfect dress.
Years of fantasising over gorgeous wedding fashion in glossy bridal magazines creates unrealistic standards of expectations. This leaves brides-to-be close minded and unwilling to accept any standard short of the perfection they’ve dreamt about.
That doesn’t mean settling for second best, it means letting go of comparisons and experimenting until you find the wedding dress that’s perfect for you.
So no, the perfect dress doesn’t exist. But your perfect dress does.
L – Lingerie, Ladies
What goes under the dress is just as important as what’s on top!
And sometimes, finding bridal lingerie can be just as hard as choosing the wedding dress. There’s a lot of choice, from lace corsets, stockings and pretty white satin sets, to strapless and seamless bras. You’ll want something that’s comfortable and helps flatter your wedding outfit.
M – Make The Dress Fit You (Not The Other Way Around)
Ignore the nonsense of ‘wedding dresses for your body type’ and don’t feel pressured to lose a few pounds before buying that wedding dress.
Because you’re entitled to wear a gorgeous wedding dress that you feel amazing in, no matter what your size, shape or height. Dresses are just fabric. They can be altered and adjusted to perfectly fit you.
And sizes don’t matter – try not to be alarmed if the wedding dress that fits you is bigger than your regular clothing size. Often measurements used by bridal shops do not correlate the same as typical high street sizing.
N – Not Letting Other’s Opinions Sway Your Decision
When it comes to searching for a wedding dress, it seems everyone and their mother (or in this case, especially your own mother) has an opinion. Most people will stay schtum, whilst those close to you may think they are being helpful by voicing their opinion. Although it is nice to hear input from others, don’t let it impact what you do or do not wear on your wedding. You and only you will know which wedding dress looks and feels right.
O – Open-Mindedness Helps
A top tip when wedding dress hunting is to keep an open mind.
Be receptive and enthusiastic to new suggestions and different bridal designs – just don’t compromise on your own individual style (see point B above).
P – Price is Important
Every bride has her own wedding dress budget.
Whether it be a couple of hundred quid or a few thousand pounds, it’s important you stick within your price range.
Saving on money doesn’t mean scrimping on style. There are plenty of beautiful wedding dress options for brides on a budget. From second hand vintage to rental and even making your own.
Q – Questions, Questions, Questions
Choosing a wedding dress is a big deal, so it’s OK if you have a lot of questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask a shop assistant for advice, they’re the experts after all. They take great pride in seeing an apprehensive bride-to-be leaving confident and satisfied.
Note down any questions before you go so you don’t forget. Or if you think of something later on, just call up the shop for guidance.
R – Reward Yourself For Reaching Your Goal
So you’ve finally selected a wedding dress. Congrats. Choosing a dress is a stressful experience, so you should reward yourself when you’ve reached such a big milestone. Treating yourself will de-stress you and motivate you on the rest of your wedding planning journey.
So book a spa day, schedule a date night or hit the town with the girls. After, you’ll be raring to conquer the next thing on your wedding to-do list.
S – Shoes Are A Girl’s Best Friend
No bridal look is complete without a killer pair of bridal shoes. Again, being comfortable is key – you’ll be on your feet for most of the day. Things to consider: flats or heels? (or take a spare pair of flats to change into at the reception). Do you want the colour to match your dress or maybe you’d like to add a pop of colour to jazz things up a bit?
T – To Trend or Not To Trend?
Each season of every year, a new line of wedding dresses and gowns hits the bridal runway.
The latest in designer bridal wear, these upcoming trends serve as perfect inspiration for fashionista fiancées and those who just want to get some ideas.
Whilst, most brides won’t be walking down the aisle in a custom-made, luxury designer dress, wedding trends are a good starting place to pick out the elements that you like (or don’t like).
And – hot off the bridal catwalks are these wedding dress trends for 2018.
U – Uniqueness
To really stand out on your wedding day, try adding some original, quirky and personalised features to your wedding dress. Not only will this make your bridal wear unique, it will also make a perfect keepsake to show the grandchildren in the years to come.
There are lots of ways to personalise your wedding dress, from wearing a family heirloom, to stitching the date of your wedding in the fabric.
V – Versatility Is Underrated
Of course, the dress you wear on your wedding day should be special. But, it seems a waste to only wear it for one day. Thankfully, there are many convertible wedding dresses and bridal outfits that can be adopted into different looks for a later date. A 2-in-1 style can take a floor length ball gown into a chic pencil dress.
W – White’s Not Always Right
Whilst the big, white wedding remains a dominant choice, it’s not every bride-to-be’s cup of tea. Nowadays, opting out of the traditional, white wedding dress has become more popular – with celebrities and designers paving the way for more unconventional and unique bridal wear. Stuck for inspiration? A simple search online will bring up a multitude of results showing stunning non-white wedding dresses in every colour under the sun – including black. Don’t feel pressured into having to wear a dress either. Jumpsuits, tailored suits, and skirts all make gorgeous wedding dress alternatives.
X – XOX (Hugs and Kisses)
Expect a lot of attention on your wedding day. Sounds obvious, but you’ll be surprised to find many brides become overwhelmed due to the amount of compliments and affection they receive. Be prepared to find friends, family, distant relatives and complete strangers telling you how beautiful you look. Return the gesture with a simple smile and thank you.
Y – You’ll Know When You’ve Found The One
This one requires little explanation. Finding a wedding dress is like falling in love. You won’t be able to eat, sleep or think about anything else until you get THAT dress.
Z – Zips, Clips or Buttons?
It’s not just about how a dress looks, it has to be practical too. Make sure to choose one that is easy to get on /off. (Unless you’re lucky enough to have a minion to help you during toilet breaks). Fastenings include zips, buttons, poppers, clips and corset-style lace ups. The latter of which definitely requires a PA!
Looking for the dress?Find a Bridal Boutique
- Our Latest Blog Posts
- Most Popular
- Start Planning
- Ultimate Wedding Planning Guides
- Covid 19
- Wedding Podcast
- Wedding Venues
- Bridal Wear
- Mother of the Bride
- Beauty, Hair and Makeup
- Cakes, Fountains and Sweet Treats
- Caterers and Catering Equipment
- Celebrants and Toastmasters
- Church Weddings
- Discos and DJ's
- Health, Fitness & Wellbeing
- Flowers and Florists
- Gift Ideas
- Gift Lists
- Guest Accommodation
- Hen and Stag Do
- Legal, Financial and Insurance
- Photography and Photographers
- Planners and Co-ordinators
- Spas and Treatments
- Stationery and Invites
- Transport – Cars to Carriages
- Venue Decor and Furniture
- Videography and Videographers
- Weddings Abroad
- Wedding Fairs
- Planning a Wedding
- Wedding Party Advice
- Other Articles