Designer, off-the-peg, high street or online? Four real-life brides share the story of how they found their perfect gown.

“I fell in love with my elegant designer gown – with a sexy twist!”

“I’d struggled to picture myself in a big, flouncy wedding dress,” says Rebecca Maberly, founder of pregnancy website “I knew I wanted something quite plain, with no embellishments – more like an evening dress. I wasn’t bothered about whether it was designer or not, I just wanted something different from the typical bridal gown.

“The second designer I tried – Amanda Wakeley – was amazing. I’d browsed her website and liked what I saw – the dresses were beautifully photographed and to my taste. In the boutique, the staff were extremely professional, they made suggestions but didn’t interfere.

After trying on five or six dresses, I stepped into one that was a cut above all the rest. It was perfect – bridal without being too girly or fussy.

“I’d also kept Tom in mind while I was searching for ‘the one’, and imagining how he’d react was one of the most exciting parts of the whole process, so when his first response was, ‘wow!’, I knew I’d got it right.”

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“I customised my off-the-peg dress with vintage bling.”

“I knew I’d found the dress of my dreams when I stepped out of the dressing room and my friend Katherine, who was helping me shop, burst into tears,” says journalist Wendy Wood. “It was about the fifteenth dress of the day, and although she’d been very sweet and tactful, I’d known that none of the previous styles I’d tried had been quite right. Her reaction told me that this was ‘the one’.

“I had a few specific requirements for my wedding dress. It had to have straps for support, and I didn’t want anything too clingy or figure-hugging. Beads and sequins were also a no-no, because I was afraid my baby daughter, Chloe, would try to pull them off.

“I was disillusioned by the time I went into Berketex, but the lady instantly put me at ease, and after chatting to her, I could tell she’d got the gist of what I was looking for.

Of all the dresses she suggested, I originally dismissed my final choice because it was too plain. But when I put it on, I knew it was the one for me.

“My aunt then offered to make a diamanté panel from my late grandmother’s costume jewellery. It was perfect and gave me the added personality I was looking for. I bought an off-the-peg dress, but made it beautiful for me.”


“My dress was a £40 bargain from the high street!”

“As full-time students, Marc and I had a very tight wedding budget, so my main focus when looking for a dress was the price – it had to come in under £100,” says student nurse Jane Miller. “That said, I didn’t want to compromise too much on style, and was determined to get something that suited me.

“I envisaged an empire line dress in ivory. I’d spent hours trawling eBay and the charity shops looking for a second-hand style, without any luck. I’d sifted through dozens of gowns and had tried several on, but everything was either too small or looked like they’d been hanging around since the 1980s.

“Beginning to despair of finding a dress that was my cup of tea, fitted properly and was within budget, I posted my dilemma on Avenue 57, a social networking website where you can upload photos of your outfits and ask fashion advice from other community members.

My online friends got on the case straight away, posting links of possible dresses, and one stood out immediately – an ivory tiered dress from a high street store for just £39.99. I had an immediate hunch that it could be ‘the one’.

“I rushed to my nearest store, excited about trying the dress on, but anxious that it wouldn’t fit or wouldn’t look as good in real life as it did on screen. But I needn’t have worried. I never expected to find a dress that I loved so much for such a reasonable price. It was nothing short of a miracle.”

If you’re looking for help online like Jane, why not try the helpful brides-to-be at the Wedding Ideas Forum?


“Shopping online was efficient and easy.”

“With a ceilidh planned for our evening party, I had my heart set on a fun wedding dress that I could dance in,” says Maria, a professor of law. “I love the style of the 1950s, and was looking for a gown that was a bit retro, but with a modern twist. It also had to be affordable to fit my £300 dress budget.

“I’d already tried on several dresses at a boutique; they were beautiful, but I couldn’t justify the price. With time running out to make appointments and travel to bridal shops, I decided to take my search online, and soon stumbled upon the Kitty & Dulcie website, where I spotted their Pearly Queen dress, which came in just under my budget at £295.

It was perfect for me – fun, pretty and contemporary, with a nod to the 1950s and, best of all, it was suitable for dancing!

“I looked fantastic in the dress, and felt like a million dollars as I partied the night away.”

Top tip

If you’re considering buying your dress online like Maria, only use reputable retailers like Kitty & Dulcie – DON’T fall for cheap fakes on eBay or on specialist Chinese websites!

For more dress-buying inspiration, visit our Wedding Dresses section – or to see more real-life brides, take a look at our Real Weddings!