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Ready to start wedding dress shopping? From A-line styles to mermaid gowns, there’s a lot of designs (and designers) to choose from. Here, founder of Sass & Grace, Sam Walsh, offers her tips for finding the perfect wedding dress for your special day.

Wedding dress shopping guide

Wedding Dress Shopping Guide: Where Should you Start?

You’re engaged, congratulations! This is set to be such a magical time for you, with beautiful memories to be made, a wedding to plan, and a dress to buy – how exciting!

But with so many horror stories about online dresses not being as described, and boutiques going bust overnight, how do you decide where to buy the most important dress you will ever wear?

As many brides worry about the risk of online shopping, more are returning to independent boutiques for their dress purchase – here’s how to get started…

Read bridal boutiques’ reviews

Continue reading below…

Have a google or use Facebook to see what past customers say about the boutique. We’re living in a digital age, and information is key and can be shared so readily, so see what brides say about the place you are thinking about buying your dress from. How many reviews does the boutique have? How many stars is it rated?

See if they’ve won any awards

Has the boutique won any awards? Are these regional or national awards? Only those that deliver a first-class customer experience will be award-worthy.

Does the bridal boutique charge for an appointment?

Some do, some don’t. Are you prepared to pay to see if it has a dress that you want to buy, or would you rather stick to the boutiques that offer appointments free-of-charge?

Think about your wedding budget

You should have a good idea of your budget, and know if you are prepared to blow it for ‘the one’ or if you want to stick to it. If you don’t want to go over budget, don’t try on any dresses that are priced over your budget.

Wedding dress shop

Make sure the boutique knows you want to stick rigidly to your budget, or if there is a little wriggle room in it. Boutiques will often pick dresses for you and it’s important that you aren’t put in a dress you may fall in love with, but exceeds your set budget.

Check that the boutique stocks enough dresses that fall within your budget. If pricing is not available on their website, a quick email or phone call will soon confirm if it’s worth visiting.

Is there a range of wedding dress styles?

Initial appointments are really important to identify your style and shape of your dress. A consultation with a bridal stylist before trying anything on should ensure they have a good idea of your vision for your day. They should also quickly get to know which body parts are your concerns or problem areas (we all have them), and they will know clever ways to disguise the bits you don’t like and show off your best features.

Are appointments one-to-one?

Will there be more than one bride in the boutique at a time? How do you feel about that? Would you rather be the only bride in the boutique, or are you happy to share the space with another bride? Have a think about what would make you feel the most comfortable during your appointments.

Bring the right people with you

Don’t take people because you feel you should – take the people whose opinions you really value. I know you may feel it could score a few brownie points by taking the soon-to-be mum-in-law, but is she actually the best placed person to give you dress advice? If yes, go for it.

You want people who know you well and will give advice in a constructive manner. You also don’t want too many people with you; lots of opinions can be noisy and confusing, and you’ll need to have a little space to think about what feels good on you.

How far in advance should you buy your wedding dress?

Most dresses take around three to six months to arrive from the time of ordering, plus fitting time, which is generally around four to eight weeks. All this means that the ideal time to shop for your dress with a boutique is around eight to 12 months before your wedding date.

Wedding dress shopping

Where should you store your wedding dress?

Do you need to look after your dress once it arrives, or will the boutique take care of that for you? If the boutique is storing your dress for you, will it charge for that service?

Are dress fittings at the bridal boutique?

You have found your dream dress, so what happens now? The fittings are critical to how you feel in your dress on your big day; this is when it should actually start to feel like it’s made for your body.

Whether there are a few nips and tucks, a total redesign of a neckline, or the addition of straps or sleeves, your fitting is where the magic happens.

Every boutique is different, so find out if it can offer seamstress information and you go elsewhere for the fittings. Otherwise, the fittings may take place  at the boutique, with the person who sold you the dress.

Would you be happy to go elsewhere, or would you like a boutique that provides an end-to-end experience? Wherever the fittings are, make sure there’s room for you to walk around in your dress. The length needs to be perfect and some brides are nervous about walking in their dress, so it’s nice to spend a bit of time ‘practising’!

Sass & Grace is a multi-award-winning bridal boutique, set in the peaceful rolling Hampshire countryside. Within its luxurious boutique, it offers an extensive range, exceptional service and a friendly relaxed atmosphere.

It delivers the full experience for brides, with free storage and all alterations kept in-house with talented experienced seamstress. Get in touch to start your dress adventure at [email protected] or call on 01962 774160.


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