10 Essential Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

Guarantee your bridal browsing & buying trip is as flawless as it should be, with these all-important pieces of advice.

If you're reading this, you're probably about to embark on one of the most exciting shopping trips of your life! A once-in-a-lifetime experience, buying a once-in-a-lifetime dress. But ever since your engagement, you've probably had a million questions buzzing around your head. What style of dress should I choose? Who shall I take with me? Do I drink champagne before, after or during my appointment?! All valid questions (in varying degrees), and we're sure you have many more waiting to be answered. That is why our team put their collective heads together, and came up with these 10 essential shopping tips that will help you bring home your dream wedding dress, stress-free.

wedding dress shopping tips

Once you've browsed through our wedding dress shopping tips, start your research early, and take a look at our designer bridal gowns online.

Top Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping

1. Set a Budget

Before you even look at Pinterest, or click on TietheKnot,it’s important that you set a budget. A realistic one that takes into account all of your wedding needs, and wants. That way you won't be broken-hearted when you realise you've spent the money allotted for your wedding cake, on a wedding dress and bridesmaids. And, when you start looking for bridal gowns, either online or in a shop, your focus will be on the ones within your budget. Again, avoiding heartbreak!

2. Start Shopping Early (9-12 months)

It is often a shock for brides when they embark on wedding dress shopping for the first time, and they find out that gowns take longer to arrive than they expected. Unless you are buying off-the-peg, delivery times on wedding dresses can vary between 4 months, to 10 months, in some cases. You also need to factor in alterations, and multiple fittings, which can all take time. Not to mention the extra time you should give the process to allow for any accidents along the way. It's a very stressful experience if everything is resting on your dress being delivered on a Thursday, and you're getting married on Saturday! Don't do it to yourself, if possible, give yourself breathing space and allow for any eventuality.

If you are out of timely options, and you’re lucky enough to fit in sample sizes, salons often allow brides to buy samples off the rack for a lower price. Please don't hesitate to have a browse of our stunning sample sale.

3. Choose Some Bridal Keywords that You Align With

If you're able to walk into a wedding dress shop with some keyphrases that accurately describe what you're looking for, that can help your shopping consultant as much as your Pinterest board can. Things like 'whimsical, floaty and pretty', or 'Sexy, sleek and tailored' can help to paint a picture in everyone's head. Or you could even pick a celebrity who embodies the words you're looking for, if that's easier for you, Dua Lipa!

real bride wedding dress shopping

4. Call Your Wedding Dress Shop Beforehand

Most wedding dress shops keep notes of their prospective brides. Little details that help them prepare for your visit. Normally, they will ask the questions they need answered, but it doesn't hurt to furnish them with extra bits of info about what you're looking for. Also, your chosen wedding dress shop may have the designer you love, but not the style, so ask if they have it, and if they can get it in if not. This is why it's always useful to look out for trunk shows, as they tend to be showing the full collection from a designer.

5. Leave the Entourage at Home

Wedding dress shopping with too many people along for the ride is a big no-no. Though you might think it’s a lovely day out for all of your bridesmaids, your Mum and extended family - but all that will happen is that you’ll end up unable to decide on anything, with too many opinions flying around your head. We recommend just bringing one or two trusted voices with you. Any more and you will no longer be able to hear yourself think. Trust us.

6. Give Yourself a Morning Pampering Session

This is, of course, a luxury extra. But if you can, take a visit to a local salon, and invest in some spa treatments, and maybe hair and makeup. This way, when you arrive for your appointment you're already feeling fresh, gorgeous and relaxed. It’ll be easier to imagine yourself in the dress on your wedding day if you look and feel 'wedding-day-ready'.

7. Bring the Correct Underwear & Shoes

Nude coloured underwear, and only a bra if you're in need of extra support. Most strapless, or plunging wedding dresses are actually more supportive than regular clothing, so 9/10 you won't actually need a bra. Also, shoes, try to bring along heels that match the height that you're going to wear on the big day. Most wedding shops will have spares, but maybe not your size, or height, so play it safe and bring your own. It's always nicer anyway!

8. Size is Literally Just a Number

When wedding dress shopping, it's important to remember that bridal gown sizing is vastly different to street fashion. So, when you see a size being brought over to you that is two up from what you usually wear don't be offended, or panic. Nearly everyone needs alterations, so the gown you buy will eventually be taken in and tailored to fit you perfectly – completely different from the usual 'pick a size number' shopping experience.

9. Remain Open to Suggestions from Your Stylist

We, of course, recommend doing some research before you start wedding dress shopping, but please don't get fixated on one particular style. Don't be afraid to just try what your stylist is suggesting, it may well surprise you. The person pulling gowns and jumping into the dressing room is paid to make this experience perfect for you. They’ve considered everything you love, and is a lot more objective than your family or friends. They are thinking of what you like, not what they like.

10. You're Allowed to 'Say Yes' to the First Wedding Dress You Try

Brides often feel they are making their big decision too quickly, if they walk away with the first dress they tried. However, when you do your first walk-around the shop, your stylist will spot that dress you really love, and they'll put it on you first. It's by design that you 'said yes' to your first dress because we know it's the one for you!

We hope we have inspired your future wedding dress shopping experience, and we would love to go one step further and find your dream gown for you! Head over to our book your appointment page, and you'll find an online form where you can easily book your perfect slot.

We look forward to welcoming you to Opus Atelier xx

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