Shopping for your wedding dress for the first time may seem daunting and stressful. You have no idea how you will look in a wedding dress and the choices are endless! Here are my tips for making your first time a memorable experience:
- Get a recommendation: Ask your friends or workmates for recommendations. Go on to the recommended stores’ websites and browse their online collection. Once you have decided on the store then use Google maps to find other bridal stores in the same area.
- Spoil yourself: Don’t be afraid to visit an up-market boutique (especially if it has been recommended to you), they will generally have a wider selection of dresses and provide more attentive service.
- Less is more: There’s no need to visit a dozen different stores, it’ll just tire you out. Choosing one or two stores to visit is plenty!
- Make an appointment (or not): This may seem obvious but some stores don’t take appointments whereas it’s a must for others. If no appointment is needed, you’ll still need to check the store’s trading days and hours (e.g. some stores may not be opened on Sundays or may open late or close early).
- Bring a small entourage: Everyone has different tastes so too many opinions will only confuse you. Invite a maximum of 2-3 friends who you trust will give you their honest opinions. You can always bring a different entourage to your next visit or share your photos with your other friends afterwards. At the end of the day, you know your body the best so trust your instincts…and if you don’t, borrow your friends’!
- Eat early: Have an early breakfast or brunch before you visit the store. You don't want to faint from hunger but trying dresses on a full stomach is neither comfortable nor flattering in my experience. Save your appetite for the post-shopping celebration (see point 10).
- Be natural: Your first visit is about discovering which wedding dress styles suit your figure so there's no need to waste time on hair and makeup beforehand. It's a good idea to wear a strapless bra but you can ask the store assistant for bustiers and go bra-less. Bustiers will enhance your natural curves and are more comfortable than wearing a bar.
- Keep an open mind: Probably like me, you have already spent the past few months browsing countless online wedding stores and images on Google and Pinterest, and you know exactly which styles you love and which ones you would not be caught dead wearing. Be experimental. There are only 4 basic styles: fishtail/trumpet, ball gown, A-line and sheath, so why not try them all to find the one that will best accentuate your figure. You may be surprised to find that the dress that you would never have picked for yourself is “The One”.
- Bring a camera (if allowed): Make sure to double check with the store in advance. If the store allows photos then ask your friends to take lots from different angles! Some dresses may look better in person than in photos and vice versa. If you find the perfect dress but it's way over your budget, having photos of the dress will provide you with good reference material when shopping at more affordable stores or if you decide to have one tailor made. Just make sure those photos are securely stored so your fiance won't "accidentally" stumbled upon them.
- Celebrate: The fun doesn't have to end when you leave the store. Make a day out of it. The perfect end to my fun and surprisingly relaxing first wedding dress shopping experience was chatting with my girlfriends over coffee at a local cafe while soaking up the sun, followed by more shopping (non-wedding related of course!) and a late lunch.