Whether you’ve been dreaming about your wedding dress since you were six and have known every detail down to the last sequin or you’ve never thought about it until now, we’ve got you girl!
White, off-white, ivory, bone, champagne, oyster, blush, lace, silk, tulle – finding your dream gown can be tough and a daunting task. Let’s face it, you’ve probably never tried one on before! It may also feel like a whole new language: a-line, fit and flare, princess, sheath; not to mention this dress being probably the most expensive article of clothing you will ever buy! Many brides are also considering multiple dresses these days – a more traditional gown for the ceremony followed by a quick change into a party frock for the reception, making wedding dress shopping just that little bit more stressful.
Do your research
Buy bridal magazines, rip out the pages and google like you have never googled before. You can’t do too much research when looking for that perfect dress. Create a Pinterest board (thank us later) go down the wedding dress rabbit hole and emerge oh-so-knowledgeable and prepared to start making bookings at bridal boutiques. What do you notice about your collection? Are they predominantly lace? Fit and flare? Are they sparkly, poofy, and Barbie-esque? You may have just narrowed down your style.
Figure out your budget
Budgets can be uncomfortable to talk about sometimes but are so important. Discuss who is paying for the dress – yourself, your family, your partner – and have that amount agreed upon before trying on ‘the one’. It can save a lot of unnecessary heartache. Don’t forget about alterations down the track – they can be pricey! Veil, jewellery, and shoes fall under this category too. Use the experience of your wedding planner or local bridal store to budget wisely from the beginning.
Book your first appointment
There are some amazing bridal boutiques here in New Zealand and don’t be afraid to try more than one! You can stick local or venture around the country if you find something that catches your eye. Call ahead and make a booking, many stores don’t take walk ins, they need time to prepare, gather dresses, and will already have super organised brides in the rooms trying their dresses.
Go to more than one boutique if you’re not feeling the first one, take your (small) crew with you. Your dream dress is out there waiting for you to find her, but be prepared to try on a lot of gowns.
Bridal dress consultants literally do this for a living, they work with beautiful brides on the daily. Quite often brides will arrive with a set idea of what they want to try on, only to find that style may not be the right fit – literally – for them. Listen to their advice and you may just say yes to the dress!
Shop true to your size and early
Even if you plan on shredding for the wedding, buy your dress so it fits now. All brides need alterations made a few weeks out from their wedding day. Plan for your dress to fit, it’s much easier to take a wedding dress in than work with one that is a little snug. Purchase your dress early to avoid any shipping delays. Many dresses come from overseas and with the current pandemic climate, the wait may be even longer than usual. Most bridal stores recommend purchasing with at least six months up your sleeve.
If online shopping is your thing, maybe purchasing your wedding gown should be done that way too! Don’t feel like you HAVE to make an appointment at a bridal store, however, it might be a good idea to understand what silhouette and shape suits your body shape before hitting ‘Buy Now’. Online wedding dress shopping has come a long way and some websites even offer custom measurements. A word of advice from us though: buyer beware when purchasing online. We have heard many horror stories over the years!
How do you feel in the dress?
Move around, sit on a chair, walk up and down the make-believe ‘aisle’ – you’re wearing this baby all day, you need to be able to move freely and comfortably.
Walk away if you feel pressured
This is your dress first and foremost, don’t make a decision on a dress just because Mum likes it, your sister thinks it’s the right choice or the consultant in the boutique offers a ‘buy today’ price. Throw out the rules, if you want a gypsy dress, do it; if you want a body hugging, sexy little number, do it – it’s your wedding and you need to feel comfortable with your decision in all respects. Walk away and have a think about it if you are having any doubts. If you can’t stop thinking about it (and it fits the budget) – it’s the one for you.
Give yourself plenty of time for alterations. All brides need alterations to their dresses – be it major or minor. You want to make an appointment with a reputable seamstress at least four weeks before the big day to get the process underway. If you have purchased your dress through a bridal boutique, they will be able to advise you on alterations and fitting times either in-house or via their preferred alterations supplier.
Bring your shoes to your fittings so they can get the correct length, there’s nothing worse than a bride tripping over her gown all day. Have a bustle added to give you a rest from lugging around that giant train all day, it’s a life saver come first dance time.
Finally, relax and stop looking
Now that you’ve found your dream gown, stop shopping—it will make you crazy if you keep looking at dresses. Yours is great! Now just look forward to showing everyone on the big day.