Looking for your wedding dress is an experience that simply can’t be rushed. In fact, even when you’ve seen hundreds of bridal gowns before, like our Deputy Editor and bride-to-be Becci has, finding ‘the one’ still takes time – four boutiques in, she’s still undecided, and it’s okay if you feel that way too.
Our featured brides often experience either extreme. A lucky few are fortunate enough to find their perfect wedding dress on their very first boutique visit. Some even fall for the very first dress they try on. But other brides tell us that they tried 40, 50, 60 dresses, despairing that they would never get that feeling… until, of course, they did.
Wherever you find yourself sitting on that spectrum, be patient and kind to yourself. Don’t pile on the pressure to hurry up, or to slow down if you’re certain that you’ve already found the dress you love. When you know, you know, regardless of at what point in the dress hunt that happens.
It’s best to begin browsing at bridal boutiques one year in advance of your wedding, but be mindful of the season. If you’re tying the knot in summer, browse the spring/summer collections, rather than the tail end of the previous autumn/winter designs. This will help you to find a dress best suited to your special day.
Starting the search this early factors in breathing space, should you need a little extra time to choose, without there being a panic that your dress can’t be made in time. It’s also not quite long enough for trends to change dramatically, so there’s less chance of you changing your mind.
Most wedding dresses are made to order to fit your specific measurements – a process that only rarely can be rushed – so aim to have your dress decided at least six months before the big day. But, if you don’t have the luxury of time, don’t worry either. Prepare to become a scout for sample sales. These allow you to buy bona fide designer wedding dresses off the rack at boutiques. They will have been tried on previously, but never yet owned.
Your search will be much simpler if you have an idea of what styles you like and which dress designers and manufacturers are best known for creating them. Bohemian brides will love Catherine Deane and Grace Loves Lace. Galia Lahav is suitably iconic for a glamorous bride. Timeless brides should make a beeline for Maggie Sottero.
Start by flicking through the bridal fashion features in Wedding Ideas and the dress collections on our website. You’ll identify the styles, silhouettes and designers you’re most drawn to, ready to continue your search on Pinterest.
Try to follow your gut instinct and day-to-day style to avoid ending up with too many very different dress ideas. Once you’ve got a list of designers you like, visit their websites. You’ll be able to locate your nearest stockist and book a boutique visit from there.
When you go to the boutique, go with an open mind – even if you’ve already found a dress you adore. So often we hear of brides choosing a princess dress when they had their heart set on a figure-hugging number, or going for beading and embellishment when they thought they only wanted lace. Fabrics and details can all look very different on. Have faith in the expertise of the boutique. If they recommend you try on a wildcard dress, go for it! You might just be surprised.
Want to make sure you’re perfectly prepared when you visit a boutique looking for your wedding dress? Take this list of 30 questions and you’re all set to find the one!