There are all sorts of routes to buying a wedding dress – but we have to say that possibly our favourite and the one we’d recommend is going to a specialist bridal boutique.

You’ll get fabulous advice from an attentive assistant who will really make sure that you choose something that is right for you and you won’t be pushed into a quick sale of something that doesn’t suit you. You can take your time, bring your mum and your sister, sit in comfort and try on gowns until you find your dream dress.

Different styles for different brides

If you’re on a budget then don’t worry. Bridal boutiques will stock a selection of names and will offer a variety of styles for different prices. You’ll also know exactly what you’re getting and you can have the dress altered to fit you.

One bridal boutique specialist we know very well is award-winning Ellie Sanderson  who has shops in Oxford and Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. We’ve asked real brides who found their gowns at Ellie’s to describe their shopping experience, here’s what they had to say…


Isabel Whelan was married in a Sassi Holford gown

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“Having searched both online and in shops for months with no dress coming close to being ‘the one’, I came across Ellie Sanderson’s website. Ellie had a shop close to my gran, which was perfect because I had wanted her to be part of choosing the dress, along with my mum. The shop has such a lovely atmosphere and the staff are so friendly. I was asked about the sort of style I liked and the first sample dress that was chosen by the staff was a beautiful lace dress – Camilla – that was ultimately chosen as The Dress!”

“The quality and delicacy of the lace was stunning, the shape and length of train on the dress was also perfect. I tried other dresses on too but these just confirmed that the first one was to be my chosen dress. I then had fun personalising it with a lace attachable shrug and a gorgeous sash, which was specially created by the Sassi Holford team. It was a long wait until my first dress fitting but I was so excited to see the gown. I tried it on and it fitted like a dream.  It was more beautiful than I had imagined! I walked out onto the shop floor to show my mum and gran who both appeared to have tears in their eyes and both were stunned into silence. The final bit was attaching the veil and that just completed the look! I felt amazing and I didn’t want to take the dress off. I am normally extremely body conscious. However, in that dress I felt so amazing and I loved how I looked and felt wearing it! And that’s why I chose it!”


Aleyna Bassett wore Lusan Mandongus

“So my wedding dress hunt was on. I always wanted a vintage style lace dress and not too heavy,” says Aleyna. “I had been to a few shops and not found ‘The One’. Unlike other wedding dress shops, Ellie Sanderson does not encourage you to pick out all of the dresses that you like and then have 15 plus dresses to try on. Let’s face it most wedding dresses are beautiful (and tempting). I described my dream dress to Charlotte at Ellie, the dress that I hadn’t yet found! I tried on a couple of dresses and told Charlotte what I did or didn’t like about them, she was absolutely lovely and so helpful.  From the description I gave to Charlotte of my dream dress, and comments on the two I had just tried on, Charlotte picked out a Lusan Mandongus gown. I have to admit I probably wouldn’t have picked it out myself from the hanger.  As soon as I was in the dress I knew I had found the one! It was exactly what I dreamed my dress would be, I loved the delicate lace and the beading, which gave it a slight sparkle. The back was amazing with a long silk bow and train. I choose a long scalloped lace-edged veil to complement the vintage look I was going for. I made a slight change to have a sweetheart neckline and attached a brooch to the waistband, which matched my headband which was no trouble at all for the staff.  I also wore lace cap sleeves which were made for me in the matching lace of the dress. I absolutely loved my dress and I have Charlotte and all the girls at Ellie Sanderson to thank for that.”


Annie James also chose a Sassi Holford gown

“I chose my wedding dress knowing exactly what I didn’t want. To my surprise I found the perfect dress and they really don’t come more special than the Sassi Holford “Ellie”.  It’s the ultimate understated fairytale dress with the simplicity of a big skirt and delicate lace bodice.  The bespoke matching lace top with the stunning detail on the back completed the dream dress.  I felt so incredible and absolutely loved my dress – it was the perfect dress for my perfect day and the team at the store were incredible.”

When shopping for your dream dress, try to make an appointment with the boutique so you can be sure of getting their undivided attention. Also have a few styles in mind, and give them as much detail about your theme and venue as possible, so they can help you find the perfect gown. Be honest, too, about your figure – what parts do you want to hide and what do you want to accentuate. A professionally-trained assistant will be able to guide to expertly to your dream dress in no time!

Our Wedding Dress section has lots more inspiration and real-life stories – check it out today!