I was talking to my friend who is getting married later this year and she was panicking about finding her dress. Not even about finding a dress, but about all the ones she would have to try on before finding her perfect dress. Would she look awful in them? Would the people she had taken along with her judge? What if they didn't like the one she picked?
Another friend of mine who is also getting married later this year took a very different approach to finding her wedding dress and took herself along to the shops, with no friends or family accompanying, tried on some dresses and found her dress. All very low key. Personally I couldn't understand this, 1. I felt like I needed the opinions of others to validate my own, 2. It meant everyone was looking at me, because it's all about me, me, me!
The point I am making is, everyone has a different experience, or worries about certain things. I went to seven weddings last year and I have four to go to this year and every single dress story that I've heard has been different. There is no point in me telling you how to go about it but I can offer a few bits of advice from my own experience.
1. Ask the shop assistant to pick a dress for you, it is their job and they will pick something you probably wouldn't
2. Don't take typically emotional people with you, take the people that are going to be honest
3. Don't try on dresses that are hugely over budget, it will be the one you end up wanting
4. Whilst on budgets - you will go over
5. Remember the extras, veils are quite expensive as are any alternations if you need them. Build this into your budget
6. Trust your judgement, you'll know when it's perfect
My own wedding dress story started on a sunny Saturday in 2015 as four girls headed to The National Wedding Show, three of whom were engaged. It was never my intention to try on any dresses as I planned to go with my mum at a later date, I was just there to have a look, get some ideas, try on some wedding rings and get some inspiration. But as I walked past the little 'shops' I saw my dress being taken back to the racks and thought 'Oh that's pretty' and stopped to take a photo for reference.
There were other women trying on dresses but I didn't want to be one, as I thought that they were just looking for attention as everyone stopped to look at them twirling. I carried on walking but went back two more times to look at the dress before calling my mum and saying 'Do you mind if I try a dress on without you?'
She gave me the go ahead and so I went back to try it on, despite my earlier refusal! I knew from the moment I stepped out of the changing room and saw my friends face that it was going to be a contender. When I stepped up on to the pedestal and turned to look in the mirror I felt tears come to my eyes because I looked so beautiful. I know you aren't really meant to toot your own horn but I felt like a princess when I saw myself standing there. I just didn't want to take it off.
Still take it off I did and even then I was dithering, not able to believe that the first dress I tried on was 'The One.' I walked away again and left it for a couple of hours before going back, trying it on AGAIN, and deciding that actual it really was as easy as that. I put the deposit down and arranged to go and see it in a month's time with my mum.
The moment I said "Yes!" to the dress!
I spent that whole month before looking at pictures of the dress, until finally the day came round. To be sure I was making the right decision I had made an appointment at another bridal shop to try on some different dress and so we went there first. I took my mum, mother in law and aunt. Women that I knew would give me an honest opinion and not tell me I looked great in every dress.
I tried on five dresses at the bridal shop, every one a different style, but I didn't have the same feeling as what I had started to call 'my dress'. We then went along to the store that held my dress where again I made sure I tried on a few more of their dresses saving the best 'til last. I stepped into the dress, was zipped in, pulled back the curtain and there she was again - Princess Cara! There were no tears, but I could tell they thought it was the best of the bunch. Once again they had to tear me out of the dress, I didn't want to take it off at all.
I never expected finding a dress to be so easy. I didn't expect to go for a style I'd said no to previously. I didn't expect to pay quite so much, although I think I had unrealistic expectations! I had originally said £600 max, I ended up spending about £1,200 with alterations and veil. I also saved money by finding the dress at the Wedding Show because they were offering a discount for deposits put down there and then. The dress alone was meant to be £1,300. I think it is important to go into wedding dress shopping with an open mind. Do some research for sure but be prepared to be surprised.
On the day I was zipped and buttoned in and was unable to take a breath for a good few hours, that corset was pretty strong, but it swished around me and it nipped me at the waist and it was just a dream.
It is currently sitting in my spare room and sometimes I just like to go in and look at it. I'm not even ashamed. I'm planning on getting it framed so I can look at it always, I just need to find the space. People buy expensive art work and my dress is probably the most expensive thing I own so why not!
I just need to think of another reason to wear the dress again now, wedding dress birthday party anyone?
Dress Designer: Madeline Gardner
Bridal Store: Belle of the Ball
Alternations: Jennie West
Photographs: Fulton Photography