38 Tips For Your First Bridal Boutique Visit From Our Deputy Editor
Your engagement welcomes you into an exciting club of fellow brides-to-be. One of the most exciting (and admittedly nerve-wracking) parts of being in this club is finding your dream dress. The best place to start is with a bona fide bridal boutique visit.
Here, our Deputy Editor Becci Clubb shares her advice to make boutique visits a breeze. Over to Becci!
What to expect from a bridal boutique visit
Its difficult to know what to expect when you first visit a wedding dress boutique. The shopping experience is completely different to any other I have ever had. Usually, when you are looking for an outfit you head to a couple of shops, pick some items from the rails and whizz them on in the fitting rooms. Decision made.
To a degree, the process is similar in a wedding dress boutique. The level of service and help you will receive, on the other hand, doesn’t even compare. The ladies in the boutiques offer their assistance and opinions. They remember the things you do and don’t like as you try each gown on. They know every dress in the store inside out. And they could probably even tell you how it would look on you before you even try it on! Plus, because you will only get to wear a wedding dress once, you feel far more pressure to make sure you have found the one and only dress for you.
Whether you find your dress in the first boutique you visit or you’re still searching after trying 100 dresses, don’t panic. Everyone is different and has a journey of their own. Six boutiques and counting, I am still searching for my own wedding dress. But, having spent a fair amount of time in boutiques myself now, I have compiled a list of tips to help you on your search, too.
Get the most out of your bridal boutique visit with these tips:
- Don’t take too many people with you. Too many opinions could confuse you and you might struggle to make decisions.
- Don’t feel rushed to choose a dress. Take the time you need to make the right decision. You don’t want to feel like you’ve made the wrong choice a few weeks or months down the line.
- Don’t wear too much makeup or fake tan. You don’t want to get any on the dresses you put on.
- Speak up. Your opinion is the most important one, so you need to feel confident in sharing it, even if it’s a ‘no’.
- Keep your budget in mind and beware of booking appointments at high end, designer boutiques if you’re on a tight budget. Being honest about your budget could save you from falling in love with a dress you can’t afford.
- Don’t risk buying online. We have seen and heard so many horror stories, from dresses arriving and looking totally different to what was expected, to dresses being delivered after the wedding day or even not arriving at all!
- Don’t leave it too late to find your dress. You should aim to order your dress no less than six months before your wedding date.
- Try on accessories with the dresses. Seeing the entire outfit all together will ensure your look is completely cohesive. It could make or break the dress you are trying to make a decision on.
- Don’t get too hung up on wanting everyone to cry when you think you’ve found ‘the one’. Just because your bridal party aren’t teary eyed doesn’t mean this dress isn’t the dress!
- Remember to ask about time frames, whether it’s the time frame for alterations or for any payment plans. You need to get organised now.
- Try walking, dancing and sitting down in your dress. You don’t want to miss out on anything on the big day because you can’t move in your dress.
- Bear in mind that any dress can have minor changes made to it. if you love a dress but don’t like the sleeves, remember they can be altered.
- Don’t assume that pure white will be the right colour for you. Depending on your skin tone, white could wash you out. Be prepared to try champagne, oyster, even blush instead.
- Keep your venue in mind. A grand venue calls for a glamorous dress, while a ballgown might look out of place in a beach setting.
- Share any helpful information with the boutique. For example, if you think you might change weight ahead of the big day they will need to factor this into your measurements.
- Avoid taking any distractions with you, be that children or a constantly ringing work phone.
- Don’t assume that the boutique will be able to store your dress until the big day, they may not have the room and could expect you to collect your gown once it arrives.
- Remember eat before you go! Your tummy will rumble after a couple of hours spent trying on dresses.
- Wear appropriate underwear so that you don’t feel uncomfortable in a flimsy bra and thong while the boutique expert is helping you get into different dresses.
- If you are planning on wearing your hair up for your wedding, wear it up to your dress fittings too. We’re not suggesting you go to the salon and have it styled every time you visit a boutique, but having your hair up and out of the way will give you a better picture of how you will actually look on the day.
- Try on shoes with the right heel height, most boutiques stock shoes too, so you can borrow a pair. This is most important when it comes to measurements for your alterations, but wearing some the height you think you will wear might help you choose your dress more easily.
- Be open minded. You might think you know what style of gown you want, or what you definitely don’t want, but brides often tell us that they fell in love with a dress that they never thought they would go for.
- On the same topic, listen to the consultant! The boutiques you visit know their dresses inside out and will instantly know which dresses flatter your figure, so trust them. They will listen to you when you try each dress on, taking on board what you like and what you don’t. Let them gently guide you and try on their suggestions.
- Whether it’s your mum, your maid of honour or future mother in law, make sure the people that join you on your search for your dream dress are going to be honest, practical and listen to your opinions. If you’re not superstitious, you could even take your fiancé!
- Keep an eye out for and consider going to trunk shows, designer days and sample sales, where you might find a dress that never actually makes it into production – meaning you’re the only bride to wear it, ever – or you could grab a bargain in a sample sale.
- Try on different shapes, styles and designers – you really can’t tell how a dress will look on you from looking at it on the hanger. Once you’ve found a silhouette or designer you love, try gowns with different details so you find the dress that is exactly perfect for you.
- Once you have whittled down your choices to a couple of dresses, try them on without your bra on if it has built in cups (or if you won’t wear a bra). You need to see how this will look and feel before your wedding morning. Plus, it will make having your measurements taken easier too.
- Go with your gut! If you really love a dress, even if it’s not what you were expecting to choose, then go for it.
- Hold up bridesmaid dresses next to the dresses you like. You can see how the colours of bridesmaid dresses look against your own, which is especially important if you aren’t choosing white for yourself.
- Ask if you can take photographs before you start snapping away. Some boutiques will be happy for you to take pictures. They will want you to get the best angles and lighting (as will you!), though, to get a true reflection of the dress. Other boutiques won’t allow you to take photographs at all, so always make sure you ask.
- Ask if alterations can be done at the boutique. This will give you time to find a seamstress if you need to and to book them, or to book a slot in at the boutique.
- Ask how to bustle up your train, it’s not always as simple as you might think, and your bridesmaids need to know so that they can help too.
- Wear the perfume you plan to wear on your wedding day. This way the scent will remind you of all things wedding-related, from start to finish.
- Research which designers the boutique stocks before you visit. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, you don’t want to waste the boutique’s, or your own, time looking at designers you don’t like, and secondly, you need to keep your budget in mind.
- Do you need to store your gown in a dress box in acid-free paper? Should it be hung up in a dress bag? Or even hung up outside of the bag? Now is the time to check.
- Make dress shopping an event. You’ll only get to experience this once! Stop for tea and cake or cocktails with your best girls afterwards.
- Choose with your fiancé’s tastes in mind. You want to blow away the most important person there!
- Be honest with the consultant. If you really don’t like something, don’t beat around the bush. It will only result in a longer journey to find the dress that’s right for you.