Wedding dress shopping is so much fun.
But it's also daunting, overwhelming, and requires you to strip down into your Spanx in front of a near stranger, and parade your dress choices to a line-up of your closest friends.
It's a little bit weird!
While we all have this picture perfect vision of how wedding dress shopping will go, that's not always the case.
So today we've got expert stylist Charlotte Munro, who specialises in all things bridal, to give you a reality check, with what to expect, her top shopping tips, and why it's okay not to have tears, squeals or goosebumps.
Charlotte has worked with brides to create stunning wedding day looks, and her aim is to clue you lovelies up, so dress shopping isn't so stressful and is perhaps, a whole lot more fun!
So I think you'll agree, you're in safe hands. Take it away Charlotte…
When you get engaged (or even before!) what is the first thing you start contemplating?
For 99% of brides, I’m sure ‘the dress' is number one.
However not everyone looks forward to dress shopping, some brides-to-be actually tell me they hate the thought of it.
Shocking? Not everyone likes shopping, it’s a fact of life, and if you don’t like wandering around House of Fraser trying on various forms of constructed material, the thought of wedding dress shopping possibly isn’t thrilling you either.
However it doesn’t have to be painful, or even stressful. I have worked with numerous brides in their search to find ‘the one', and quite often they are unprepared for the wedding dress experience. It’s no surprise, most people have never done it before!
So here is my (truthful) guide to wedding dress shopping, best to read before you hit the shops.
It's OK to Feel Nervous
A lot of brides secretly feel some butterflies before their first appointment, it’s normal.
You’re going to meet a complete stranger who’s about to see you half (mostly) naked, and has to help you choose the most important outfit of your life.
Wedding Dresses Aren't Very Comfortable
Be prepared to be out of your comfort zone (literally). Wedding dresses are much more restrictive and heavier than clothes we usually wear, and the fact is they aren't as comfortable as our jeans and tees.
(They can however suck you in and give you great posture, something which our favourite pair of jeans just won’t do.)
Choose your Shopping Buddies Carefully
Take people whose opinions you trust with you, and more importantly, who won’t push with their opinions or style on you.
This might be a bit controversial, but if your mum keeps on about how stunning you would look in a princess gown, and you envisage a slinky- red carpet number, she might not be the person to take with you.
In the appointment you are going to want to lean on your guests opinions, it's only natural, but if they walk into the appointment with a set vision for you, you might be disappointment when they don't love that backless fishtail number because it's not the princess dress they had pictured you in.
Try on a range of styles, but don't try on every style
There's a reason you might not be comfortable wearing a strapless/boho/backless dress to a party, and that reason is probably true for a strapless/boho/backless wedding dress too.
So rule them out and move on.
Be honest with the sales assistant
This one is important, even if you might find it difficult. It's hard to voice negative thoughts in front of the sales team, but it's important, they are there to help you and they absolutely know their whole dress stock inside and out.
If you don’t tell them how you’re really feeling, they might not realise you would actually be perfect for that unseen dress in the corner that your bridesmaids didn’t spot.
You're Not Always Allowed To Take Pictures
If you can't take pictures try to take notes.
Some appointments can be quite rushed, so if you aren’t able to, see if your bridemaid/mum/guest can.
Take notes on the style, the colour (there's ivory and then there's ivory, will make sense once you go I promise!) the good points and bad points, and especially how you feel (emotions are easy to forget later) in the dress.
Go for a coffee or lunch after and re-evaluate
Particularly if you can't take pictures, it's important to assess the appointment and overall experience whilst it's still fresh in your mind.
It's easy for 5-8 ivory dresses to blend into one once you leave the shop, that's why notes are important too.
Double-check before you go
When you book the appointment double check – how long is it? Can you take pictures? How many dresses are you able to try on? Can you pick your own or will the sales consultant pick for you?
That way you will feel less clueless when you walk in and possibly less nervous too.
Don't feel pressured
If you aren't enjoying the experience, it isn't the shop for you. All bridal boutiques work differently and have different sales techniques, which suit different personalities.
If you don’t like their approach, think about what you don't like, and when you book at another boutique ask how their approach differs.
You might not find ‘The One'
And that's OK.
The biggest element of weddings films and TV greatly overplay is that there's only one dress out there for you, and unless everyone's in tears when you try it on, it's not ‘The One'.
There are so many designers and dresses on the market today, that you are bound to find more than one dress you love, (and if you don’t, there are plenty of bespoke options out there too!)
A lot of brides I have worked with narrow it down to two or three dresses they love, and then it's just a case of picking their favourite.
As magical as the whole wedding planning experience can be (did I say magical? I mean excitingly stressful) dress shopping isn't like picking out a puppy/kitten/hamster, they're dresses.
Unless you are a very emotional person it's unlikely you will burst into tears, although I have known of the odd goose bump.
Wedding dress shopping can be exciting, fun and thrilling, and finding the right boutique for you can make it magical too, but remember that it’s only one element of your big day, and whatever you wear, your fiancé will still love you in it!
Such great tips, right? The one about taking notes is so clever!
And I love the advice about leaving a boutique if you don't get a great vibe. I found that when we were shopping for my best friend's dress, one boutique was really busy, and kept rushing her, so even though the dresses were lovely, we just left. You want your experience to be as relaxed and enjoyable as possible!