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3 May

5 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips [Ultimate Guide]

Written by Salewa Osakwe

Image by @temiotedola

We know how daunting wedding dress shopping can be. You want to get it right and look and feel like the most beautiful version of yourself. For any fashion enthusiasts, this is the one day where you want to showcase your personal (bridal) style, but where do you even begin? Based on our first-hand experience of styling brides, we’ve put together a list of five steps we advise you to consider to begin your style journey down the aisle. 

Mood boarding

Mood boards are important for any vision you’re working towards, and your wedding dress is no exception. This is an important step for translating your personal style into your bridal style. Have fun with it. You may only like certain features of specific wedding dresses (or pantsuits, etc.) but not the entire dress itself and your mood board may end up featuring many different elements that could make up your dress. Allow yourself to dream! This is even more important if you intend to go with a bespoke dress. Try to picture your wedding venue, and if you have one already, include this in your mood board, along with any themes or decor for your big day to establish aesthetic cohesion. It is all in the little details.

Budgeting

We can’t stress the importance of this. Your wedding dress hunt is guaranteed to be much easier if you have a budget (and some leeway). We find that brides that have had no prior thoughts of their special day tend to be overwhelmed by this question. The next question is usually “how much on average is a wedding dress?” which is almost impossible to answer as with everything, there’s a wide range.  A good place to start is to work with your mood board. At this stage, it is assumed that you know the sort of styles, silhouettes, and fabrics that you like and have drawn up a list of designers/boutiques that you may want to book a consultation with. Some of these designers/boutiques will have prices listed online, otherwise, you may get in touch to enquire further. We find that it’s easier if your budget is reflective of your style (where possible). For example, a slinky slip dress is unlikely to cost the same as a heavily embroidered ball gown. 

Bonus tip: when your budget is lower than the average range of dresses you like, consider opting for a previously loved wedding dress.

Virtual or not?

This would not have made the list two years ago but the pandemic as with everything else has been revolutionary for the bridal industry and we’re not complaining! Pre-pandemic you would typically have been confined to designers/boutiques in your locality or indeed opt to travel miles to hunt down your perfect dress, however, many designers and boutiques have now mastered the art of offering you a complete bridal experience from your living room. The experience is perfectly suited to brides who are relatively decisive. The downside is that you may not be able to try on your gown prior to it arriving at your doorstep, but fear not! We’re pretty impressed by our experience with virtual wedding shopping, from virtual gown selection to measurements-taking, the process is often seamless. The upside is that many brands you may love are no longer out of reach as far as accessibility is concerned. 

Timelines

The earlier you get started, the less likely you are to have to settle for your second-best option. Many boutiques/designers work with minimum timelines to have your wedding dress ready with enough time for at least two fittings as well as alterations. If you decide to get married within a relatively short time frame, consider express fees and include that in your wedding budget. We advise that there is a sweet spot of roughly 9 months where you have enough time to dream and explore several options but not too long that you start having second thoughts about your choice. 

Accessories

You may have a dream pair of wedding shoes, earrings, veil, or headpiece and may want to work backward to find the dress to match. Either way, accessories can make or break a wedding look, we advise that you do not underestimate them! Again, it is all in the details but there is also so much beauty in simplicity. Be careful that your selected accessories do not steal the shine from your wedding dress (if that of course is not your intention, which it could totally be). 

Bonus tip: do not feel restricted to the veils or earrings selection offered by the boutique where you’ve found your dream dress. There is so much out there!