I just can't say it enough! The most anticipated moment of my own wedding day was waiting for Gemma to start walking down the aisle. Nothing had excited me more than seeing what she would look like in THAT dress and I'll admit it now, I was microns away from full blown tears. How I held them back I will never know as I am definitely a crier. So obviously your choice of dress is important, and not just for yourself ;)
That's why I paid a visit to my friend Jadie, who owns Jadie Leigh Bridal Boutique in Ebbw Vale. With a background in fashion, and past experience in the wedding industry, her brand was born out of the love to help make brides dreams come true. We sat down and talked (over many cups of tea) about what you should, and should't do, when it comes to picking out your perfect wedding dress. EDITORS NOTE: The "humour" is all me!
Location, Location, Location
This may not be the first thing that springs to mind when shopping for your dream dress, but it's worth thinking about. Are you getting married in a church with a narrow entrance and aisle? How easy will it be (and how elegant will you look) trying to squeeze yourself through the door and up to the front of the church. That ball gown (along with hooped underskirt) may have made you feel like a princess when you tried it on in the shop, but now your bridesmaids are running back towards you as you bust shapes trying to squeeze between pews, knocking down floral decorations along the way! Maybe that A-line dress would have been a better compromise...
Perhaps you're getting married abroad under more favourable sunny skies? I hear that Italy, Greece and Cyprus are among the top choices for the UK's destination weddings (Yes please!). So how are you feeling now as you're tightly bound into that lace-up corseted dress that you love so much? It's 40 degrees, the air is wet and you're already struggling to breath before your lungs collapse under the pressure of that damned whalebone! If only you'd read a blog citing ̶f̶a̶c̶t̶u̶a̶l̶ ̶i̶n̶f̶o̶r̶m̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ tips on what to think about when buying your dress...
OK, so these are extreme examples of course, but it's something to think about at least. Make sure you wear an appropriate dress for your venue and location.
It's all gone pear shaped!
Let me start by stating that "I don't care what shape you are!". Tall, short, thick, thin, round, square, or a damned triangle. As Bruno would say "You're amazing, just the way you are!" That said, there are socially accepted guidelines depicting what sort of clothes look better on us depending on our body shape. Jadie - "If the bride hasn't tried on any wedding dresses before then we usually advise them to try a variety of shapes in order to narrow it down. What works for one person may not always work for another."
Now listen...I'm a man with no fashion sense. I wear jeans and t-shirts 99% of the time, mainly because I have "large bones" and chinos just wont go past my knees. I tried to get into a pair of skinny jeans when they were in fashion, it didn't go well! Lesson learnt, stick to what you know, and know what's best! Which leads me on to a very important sub-tip for this category.
You're standing there in front of a mirror, wearing your chosen dress. It's the right shape, a good fit, and exactly what you've always dreamed of. Then the big day arrives and you're about to sit down for your wedding breakfast (also known as lunch or dinner to regular folk), only to find out that your dress is now super uncomfortable. You can't sit straight and end up having to ask the waiter to liquidise your meal so you can drink it through a straw! I mean, you could throw in some alcohol and have yourself a great time, but that's probably not the kind of thing you were going for. So while you're standing there admiring your glamorous new look, remember to take a seat for a moment, just in case!
BONUS: The Wedding Secret has this really handy guide on dress shapes to get you started.
See what I did there (lulz)? Yes we're talking about back seat drivers, or dress pickers in this case. You may be excited by the idea of going shopping with your mum, sisters, 3 bridesmaids, your aunt Jane and grandma Pat, but just think of the consequences! Emotions can run high when trying to picking out your perfect wedding dress, and being surrounded by several friends and family with different opinions probable won't help matters. 'Ain't nobody got time for dat!' Jadie - "I had one bride who arrived at her appointment with 10 people. She tried on numerous dresses and was eventually convinced to buy a large princess gown. She came back a week later to cancel it and ordered a tea-length dress instead. Her family managed to convince her to buy a dress that she didn't even want!"
Your mum, aunt and grandma may have more of a traditional look in mind, while your bridesmaids will be thinking about how they are going to look next to you! Your sister will think she knows you the best and will have her own opinion on what looks good. You'll be battling with yourself to stay calm and before you know it you'll explode into tears/rage/a merciless violent assault against those closest to you. You don't want to go there...do you? You'll be much better off going with 1 or 2 impartial witnesses who will support you in making your own decisions. If you're mum is cool though, just take her!
You've blown it!
Calm down, calm down! We're talking about budget. You may have loved the dresses worn by Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton or Kim Kardashian, but the majority of you wont have a budget starting at £150,000. Reduce that by around 100 times and you'll be closer to the average price for a good quality dress. You can of course choose to spend more or less than this, but you need to have realistic expectations from the outset.
Jadie - "Don't try something on that you know you can't afford. It will spoil the experience and keep you second guessing every choice you make afterwards."
So if your dress budget is say£1,200, then make sure you stick to it! You'll also need to remember to budget for shoes, jewellery, accessories and alterations. Blowing your budget on a dress that doesn't fit and then realising you have no money for alterations is a stupid idea at best!
Buy cheap, pay twice!
I'm sure most of you have seen at least one nightmare story from a bride who purchased a "replica" wedding dress made in China. You know the ones that look NOTHING like they are supposed to? Chances are that if something looks to cheap to be true, then it probably is.
I don't have a photo, but Jadie actually had a prom dress given to her by a customer who wanted to warn people of this very thing. The young lady had purchased a not so cheap (£200) dress from eBay, only to have it arrive in a miserable state. It was hanging in a closet at the back of the shop, always on hand if a warning needed to be made. Jadie gladly fetched it for me to take a look at.
The lace detail was cheap, not stitched or lined up properly and falling apart. But the absolute worst part of this monstrosity was easily spotted in the body of the dress. Imagine wearing something shaped like a small bin bag, or in other words, a rectangle. From the shoulder straps to the hip line it was completely straight! Anyway, the poor young lady's mum ended up spending another £400 on another genuine (well made, proper, tidy like) prom dress in Jadie's boutique. So do it the right way people, SHOP LOCAL!
Despite the above....
Our final tip is a pretty simple one. Enjoy yourself! While the tips above could indeed make dress shopping sound like a stressful chore, it doesn't (and shouldn't) have to be. At the end of the day, it's YOUR day and you're free to make your own choices, even if they are wrong (I kid you)!
Jadie - "I'd say, don't think about it too much. A lot of my brides really stress themselves out trying to find the perfect dress. Just relax and enjoy the experience."
So there we have it, a bit of advice and a few top tips from a lady who knows what she's talking about, and a photographer who thinks he's a comedian. I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog as much as I've enjoyed creating it. Please feel free to leave your comments below, and don't forget to share it on social media, we really appreciate all your support.
Anchor House, Ebbw Vale, NP23 6UQ - Call 01495 617416 for an appointment