Wedding 101 – Dos and Don’ts of Dress Shopping

In my quest to find a dress for our wedding, I explored a lot of avenues – from CosmoBride editorials to personal recommendations from friends. I cut out pictures, pinned things and had a mental catalogue of what felt like hundreds of dresses in my head.

The only problem was, that the thought of trying any of them on petrified me – especially in front of my Mother, Sister and 4 Bridesmaids. Overwhelming much?

I got engaged in June and was too scared to set foot in a bridal shop until December and even then it took a bit of convincing. It was only after I spilled my fears (what if everything looks awful, what if I don’t find anything, I am a hideous, ugly monster…bla bla bla) to one of my old friends who is also a Bride that things changed. She made me set a date, and pick 3 Bridal shops to go to –  just the two of us – to look/shop for both of us.

Together we picked the three shops we thought would be best suited to our style and figures – Karen Willis Holmes, Paddington Brides and Wendy Makin – and away we went.

The big day came and I was a bundle of nerves but I had no need to be, to my surprise, the whole experience was heaps of fun and I had nothing to be worried about.

We kicked things off at Karen Willis Holmes (KWH) where I fell in love with the first dress I tried on. It fit like a glove and I didn’t want to take it off – a pretty good start to the day!

That dress became my ‘benchmark’ dress, against which the 7 or 8 other dresses I tried on were compared. At the second stop – Paddington Brides – I found a dress I loved equally as much as my benchmark dress and after lunch at our final stop (I Wendy Makin) I found the dress that I have since chosen to be my wedding gown. There wasn’t really a wow moment if I’m honest. On that day I found a number of dresses that I adored, I just wanted to take some time to think about which one I preferred the most and what felt the most ‘me’.

Going shopping with just one other person (and a bride at that), really took the pressure off and I would highly recommend it. It allowed us to voice our concerns without judgment and to make up our own minds without our decisions being colour by too many other opinions.

About a month after our dress shopping expedition I took my bridal party and family back to the same three shops to make the final decision on my three favourite dresses. On this occasion I did try on a couple more gowns I had missed on my previous visit and I somehow managed to find another two that I loved but one of my original choices really stood out, so I picked it.

I would still be more than happy – ecstatic even – to get married in any of the other dresses I tried on and fell in love with as they were all gorgeous and what I ultimately took away form the experience is that in the big picture it doesn’t really matter. Whatever I wear is the outfit that I marry the love of my life in and that is the most important thing.

It’s easy to get caught up and overwhelmed by wedding dress shopping. I could have gone to at least another dozen bridal shops in Brisbane if I had the time and energy to do so…but it would have made the decision much harder and I just didn’t want to. Some things to remember are:

  1. There is a LOT of choice and it looks very different on the hanger – DO try a few styles you normally wouldn’t go for and you might surprise yourself.
  2. DON’T try on so many dresses you confuse yourself. Choice is great but it can muddy the waters.
  3. DO look online and choose just a handful of dress shops that you think might work for you. Spend about an hour at each – you can come back again if you want more time.
  4. DON’T let others opinions sway your decision. It’s great to get feedback but ultimately it’s your gown so pick what you want.
  5. DO wear nude, non-sexy, Bridget Jones style underwear and take a strapless/convertible bra. They will make the dresses look a lot better!
  6. Do buy a gown that suits your figure and personality…rather than purchasing something that’s in fashion but doesn’t really suit you.
  7. DO consider the type of wedding you’re having when purchasing. A low-cut dress with a thigh high split might be perfect for a modern city wedding but could be considered a little too revealing for a traditional church ceremony.
  8. DON’T settle for a dress that is uncomfortable. This is your wedding day, you want to feel relaxed and not have to worry about nursing a potentially broken rib after being laced into a too-tight corset structure.
  9. DO talk to the shop-girls/designers/seamstress about things that you like and dislike in the gowns you try on. They know their stock better than you and can recommend things you might like.
  10. DON’T stress about the dress. In the scheme of things it isn’t a huge deal and you’ll look beautiful no matter what you wear.