Wedding Dress Shopping For the First Time: Tips & Advice

Stick to budget
One of the first stages of wedding planning is setting your budget and you do that for a reason so it's important that you don't completely ignore it when you start dress shopping. You don't necessarily have to start your appointment by revealing your budget, it might only come into play when it comes to decision making. Some shops will have the prices on the dresses, others might only tell you the prices of the dresses you show a particular interest in. Whatever happens remember if you go over on the dress something else will have to suffer!

What to wear
You'll spend part of your appointment standing in your underwear and a pair of heels so try to wear something you'll be at least a little bit comfortable in. A strapless bra is a good option to help show the different dress designs off. As for knickers you might just opt for white or nude, or a pair of spanx if that's something you'd consider on your wedding day. You don't have to take heels with you, especially if you haven't even considered your wedding shoes yet, most shops will let you borrow a pair for your appointment. 

Who to take with you
You need to make sure whoever you take with you is someone you trust and someone that will be honest with you. Your Mum and/or your bridesmaids tend to be the best support but Granny's, Aunties and Mother-in-laws to be are all good options. That saying 'too many cooks' can sometimes come true in the bridal shop if everyone is quite opinionated. Some shops are also quite small so you can't fit your whole entourage. I took my 3 bridesmaids and my Mum and it was perfect - everyone chose out a dress which definitely helped at the start and everyone was on the same wavelength. Don't feel bad if someone can't make it to a dress appointment, they can maybe come to a different appointment or a fitting.

Don't worry about style before
I was one of those bride-to-be's that walked into my appointment with no clue in my head. I'd barely even looked at wedding dresses with real focus or intent, except 5 minutes on Pinterest before travelling to the shop. This turned out to be a really good 'blank canvas' to work with. I was open to trying different styles and ideas and I quickly came to realise what styles and designs I liked. The shop owner was an absolute star for taking on board my likes and dislikes and picking out different variations. She also took the time to show how dresses can be changed with straps, sleeves, belts and embellishment. Even if you have an idea in your head, be open to trying different things. It's better to try it on and rule it out than risk missing out on the potential one. Having my bridesmaids and Mum choosing out a dress was a fantastic was to get to see the different shapes and details that really suited me.

Give yourself plenty of time
Choosing a wedding dress isn't necessarily going to happen in the first shop you walk in. Start looking with plenty of time, around a year to 8 months before the wedding is a good time if you can. You need to have time to order, have fittings and make alterations. You don't want (or need) the stress of everything running out of time. Wedding dress appointments can get booked up quickly, especially if you're hoping for a Saturday appointment so be prepared and get booked in well in advance. When it comes to the appointment make sure you've got a good few hours. You don't want to be watching the clock because you've got somewhere else to be. You want to be relaxed and able to enjoy it. My first appointment was 2 hours long and I must have tried on around 10 dresses.

Think it through
Don't rush. After your appointment try and gather your thoughts and take note of what you liked. Find out the designers and style number and have another look online. It might be time to book another appointment or perhaps it's time to try the one on again. Don't be disheartened if you didn't have a movie style dress discovery with tears all round. Keep those preferences in mind and trust your instinct.

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