Choosing the Bride’s Wedding Dress
Picking the bride’s dress is either the second or third most important element of planning your wedding, depending on how you list out your priorities. Therefore it’s essential that you know what you want, have ideas on how to get there, and most importantly you find a dress that makes you feel fabulous and amazing!
You’re probably wondering why a man is writing an article about dresses. Well I wondered exactly that myself. That’s also why it’s not just me writing this, but one of my lovely bride’s and friend Beth. She’s given me a lot of insight into this area, both from her perspective but also from that of her friends. So here goes……
So firstly, before you do ANYTHING else, you need ideas in your head about what you really want and what your dream is. Where do you get these ideas? The list is longer than I can even contemplate. Pinterest, wedding magazines, wedding fairs, your friends weddings, even the web. And hopefully one of the biggest sources of inspiration is this website. Every single page has pictures of brides so why not check them out and see if any of the dresses you see there rock your world? I’ve also put more than a few on this page to help you out!
If nothing else, a few base points and ideas on style, length, and patterning will help with the next steps. Also do take into consideration where and when you’re getting married. In the heat of summer you may want something lighter than you would in the winter. Now before you go off finding the actual dress, five important things to have covered off first!
Firstly – who’s going with you? Is it your Mum? Your fiance’s Mum? Your bridesmaids? Have a think about who’s opinion is going to help you the most and who is most likely to be both realistic and honest about what they see. Also find out how many people you can take with you to the shop you’re thinking about. The last thing you want is to turn up and have to send your friends and family packing. Also consider how you’re going to get this feedback from them: one option to consider is getting some scoring cards made up or purchased.
Secondly, think about your underwear. You’re going to be taking dresses on and off most of your visit so you want to be comfortable and not self conscious. Also, if you can go with a strapless bra do so. It’ll allow you to get a better feel for how different strap styles will work.
Thirdly, think about shoes. In an ideal world you’ll already have your bridal shoes chosen and then you can wear them to get a realistic look and feel. If you haven’t however, make sure you take shoes that have the same height heel as you’re intending to have for your wedding day. The height of your heels will make a difference to how the dress hangs and feels, so it’s important to get the “try on” as realistic as possible. If they are your bridal shoes, make sure you’ve broken them in at home so that you can move freely without pain.
Fourth on this list: think about makeup. Given you’ll be taking dresses on and off all day having a full face done is likely to risk transference to the dresses and potentially land you with a cleaning bill. Some dress stores will provide a makeup mask for when you’re taking dresses on and off but do you really want to be putting that on all the time? I’m not saying don’t put any on, you want to feel and look fabulous, but maybe just go one step lighter than a normal day at work.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, is budget. Go forward with a solid and fairly nailed down £ amount in your head. Also have in mind the very maximum you’d exceed that by if there is an exceptional option you love. It is absolutely pointless and frankly heartbreaking to find an amazing dress, try it on and then realise afterwards there is no way you could afford it. To this end, be VERY sensible about the ones you try on, and stick to your limit. Also tell the people coming with you this number, otherwise they may pick out dresses outside this range. This is meant to be an amazing day for you, please don’t ruin it by coming away disappointed.
So now we’re about ready to go visiting and trying dresses on: we know who is coming with us and what we should be wearing. Let’s think about the experience on the day at the store. Remember that not every experience and shop is the same. In the same way we can be volatile humans, the staff are human too. They might be a different zone or mood on different days. You also might find that you have a shared affinity or a better bond with another member of staff. After all, we all have our ways of being, acting and expressing ourselves and the bridal staff are non different. Finally, if the first trip out didn’t feel amazing and you didn’t find the one don’t be downcast. The next trip may be the one, and if nothing else you’ll feel more confident knowing exactly what this day will look and feel like.
It will now become apparent why picking the right people to come with you was so important. They know you, they know your favourite styles and they also know possibly better than you do what will make you look amazing. So let them pick a few dresses each for you to try on, and also pick some yourself. That way you’ll have plenty of options to choose from, and lots of ideas to take in. Also, remember my earlier point about telling them your budget!!!! Don’t let them pick a dress way over that £ point.
So you’ve got the longlist – time to try them on. Get feedback on each from those friends and family with you, and take into account how each dress makes you feel. Then, put them into two piles, or racks. Yes, and no. Once the long list is done, go back to the yes pile and choose your favourite three or five, depending on how you feel and how many are there.
At this point get your friends and family to get their phones out: walk about in the dresses in this shortlist, go for a strut around the shop and get them to take photos or video so you can see the dress on you, moving about and in the real world. Look at these and think about what you see, what emotions it brings to mind. Also use your voice: tell them how you’re feeling in this dress, what emotions are happening and also what you do AND don’t like about it.
By now you should be getting closer to THE ONE. When you think you’ve got it, put it back on. Play with your hair and get it close to how you think you’ll have your hair styled on your wedding day. Does the hair style suit the dress? Does how your hair is sitting show it off to its full potential? Are all the details visible? If not, is the dress more important than your hair, or is it the other way around? Are there potentially alterations that could be made to the dress to make it even more perfect? Possibly most importantly, does it have a handle in the back of the train so you’re not having to drag it along the ground all day?
Assuming we’re still on the yes side of things, happy days. Final thoughts before you push the big red yes button. How does the weight of the fabric feel for you? Can you safely imagine and envisage wearing this for 12 plus hours? Can you move easily and freely? Are you still smiling and feeling pure happiness? Do you actually want to keep it on for the rest of the day?
If so – woohoo! You’ve got your dress! Congratulations!
Before you take it off, make sure you’ve got a picture of you in the dress looking amazing. You’ll want to have this to look back on in the days to come. It’s only natural to have occasional bouts of paranoia about your choice and this picture will be there to reassure you that you look amazing and fabulous.
But keep this picture a secret: from virtually everyone! Let your dress be a surprise and make sure your friends keep the photos to themselves as well. There is ONE exception to that rule: ME!!!! I want to know what it looks like and how you look. Yes, I know I’m a man. But I’m also your photographer and it’ll help me no end to know how you’ll look, and what I can do with you and your dress on your wedding day. If you don’t know why this is so important, you need to read “Be My Friend” and I’ve linked it below for you.
Plus, I secretly LOVE getting these pictures pinged over to me: it puts a massive smile on my face seeing the joy on your face when you’ve found the perfect dress for you. As your friend and photographer, what I love most is the smiles. Seeing the smiles start early as you find the perfect dress makes my world that little more complete.
Love the Dress - and finding it!
Finding THE dress is one of the best things about planning your wedding day. A lot of people tell me it is super stressful – but it doesn’t have to be if you follow some of the ideas in this post. MASSIVE thanks for the amazing Beth for all her help in putting this article together with me! 🙂 xx