The Ultimate Guide To Shopping For Your Wedding Dress

Shopping for The Dress can be a very daunting experience, for many Brides-To-Be its unchartered territory so I’ve put together an ultimate guide to shopping for your wedding dress with some tips to get you started.

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So you have found the love of a lifetime and now its time to find the dress of a lifetime. For some of you its what you’ve been dreaming of since you watched your first Disney movie, for others its a more alien concept but whether the idea of shopping for your wedding dress has you jumping for joy or breaking out in a cold sweat my ultimate guide will take away the stress and help it be a more fun filled and enjoyable experience.

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Before You Go Shopping…

Set Your Budget

The average price of a dress from a boutique is €1,300. You can get the dream dress cheaper and you can also blow the bank but whatever your budget is, stick to it. Don’t forget to allow for alterations and accessories like shoes, a veil, a headpiece etc in your budget. The best way to avoid an unwanted surprise or shock about the price when you find your dream dress is to ask the boutique about the price range of their dresses before you make an appointment.

Do Your Research

Buy the wedding magazines, read the blogs, follow the facebook pages, instagrams and pinterest boards and keep up to date with celebrity weddings. Do your research on the designers and the boutiques that stock them. Create your own scrapbook or pinterest board of images of dresses you like. Do bear in mind your own body shape and remember that what looks gorgeous on a 6ft tall model with legs up to her armpits and a 22 inch waist may not look so well on the rest of us mere mortals. No matter what you do you can’t grow half a foot taller or loose 3 stone (it has been done but its highly unlikely) so feel free to dream but try to stay realistic.

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Your Wedding Dress In Real Time…

When To Start Shopping

Its important to have all the details of your wedding in place before you go shopping for your wedding dress since many factors can influence the style of the dress, for example the venue and the time of year. Once those are in place start to look around, see what you like and what suits you and more importantly what doesn’t.

Take Your Time

Don’t order your dress too soon. This is for several reasons. First of all if you order it too soon it gives too much time for doubt and temptation to set in. Wedding dress designers release new collections twice a year, just like fashion designers, so if you order your dress too far in advance its possible you might miss a new collection and later feel like you’ve missed out. Finally, if you are on a diet you want to loose as much weight as possible before ordering your dress so that there are as little alterations as possible to be made when it arrives.

Your Order Deadline

You will need to order your dress 8 months before your wedding date at the latest. Wedding dresses are special order and can take up to 6 months to be made in the factory or design house. You then have to allow for fittings and alterations so its important to stick to the 8 month deadline.

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Your Appointment

Most wedding dress shops are by appointment only so don’t just assume you can pop in anytime to take a look. Book in advance and bear in mind that Saturdays are generally the busiest days and fill up quickly as do any evening appointments if and when they are available.

Who To Take With You

Too many cooks spoil the broth and too many opinions can spoil a wedding dress appointment. Don’t take an entourage. Take no more than 3 people with you and choose people whose opinion you value and trust. Your mam, sister or close friend are always good choices. If you generally shop on your own don’t be afraid to go wedding dress shopping on your own, if you see a dress you love you can make an appointment to come back with your family, friends or bridesmaids. Likewise if you have a lot of bridesmaids and you want them to be part of the experience take them with you when you are returning to a shop to see dresses you have already decided you like. Too many voices and opinions can be confusing, you need to be able to hear your own voice and trust your own instincts on what dress makes YOU feel and look good. If there are too many different opinions at the appointment let the sales assistant lead it and direct it, she knows the dresses and will more than likely know what will suit you even if no one else thinks you should try it on. She is there for a reason and she is an expert.

If you have children, leave them at home (with a babysitter of course, or the hubby to be) a wedding dress shop is no place for children. Aside from obvious reasons they will distract you and pull your focus from looking for The Dress.

What To Take With You

Wear appropriate underwear, the sales assistant will be helping you in and out of dresses. Wear a strapless bra and if you usually wear spanx or support pants wear them too. All shops will have shoes for you to try on with the dresses but its no harm to take a pair of your own. Wear your hair up or take a bobbin as it helps if you are trying on veils and it allows you to get a better look at the necklines and backs of the dresses.

Some shops are fussy about make up and fake tan so its usually advisable to avoid fake tan and wear little or no make up.

Sadie goes shopping for her wedding dress in Licence To Wed, ultimate guite to shopping for your wedding dress, ZeeRailed

In The Appointment…

First and foremost Be On Time. Your appointment is generally one hour long and if your late, its your own time your eating into. The next appointment will be there on time and will be taken on time.

Take snapshots, photos or pullouts of dresses you like to give the sales assistant an idea of your taste.

Not all shops are happy to let you take photos so check before you take out your phones and start snapping, they can get very cross. If you can’t take photos get the designer and name or number of the dress so you can look it up online later.

Be prepared to use your imagination. Shops carry samples of wedding dresses and they will generally have one sample of each dress in one size. You may have to deal with anything from them not zipping up to them being miles too big so you will have to see past this and imagine what it would be like if it fitted you properly.

Don’t get hung up on sizes when you are shopping for your wedding dress as a lot of designers and brands run very small and you may be up to 2 sizes bigger than what you would normally wear.

Don’t get discouraged. If your not getting The Moment in any dress or just not seeing anything you like. Keep your chin up and keep looking. Your dress is out there somewhere and you will find it! Don’t tolerate people telling you your fussy, that is a brides prerogative.

You will order your dress in the size you are on that day, if you are loosing weight don’t fret as a dress can be taken in up to 2 sizes without anyone ever noticing.

Most of all keep An Open Mind. Don’t discount any shape or style until you have tried it on. Nine times out of ten a bride will end up falling for a dress that is nothing like she thought she wanted. Listen to the sales assistant, if she says you should try something on, try it, it won’t kill you, she knows her job and you will more than likely be pleasantly surprised.

Have Fun! Its supposed to be a fun exciting experince so enjoy it. Try on some dresses that are completely out of your comfort zone, at the worst of times you’ll have a good laugh and you never know it just might be The One.

Finally… When you do find The Dress Stop Looking. You will only confuse yourself and sew an unwanted seed of doubt.



By Zita Kelly

Fashion stylist, writer and blogger




Image credits ; Sex And The City, HBO via,, People Magazine, ‘Friends’, Bright/Kauffman/Crane via, ‘Licence to Wed’, Warner Brothers via

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