Your Guide to Wedding Dress Shopping

Whether you’re excited about wedding dress shopping or absolutely dreading it, we’ve got everything you need to know to make sure your experience is a good one!

1. Do Your Research

Wedding dress shopping isn’t like looking for a dress for a party. You’ll need to do a little bit of prep work before you start booking in bridal appointments. Think about budget and designers and start looking around to get an idea of what styles and shapes you like – check out our galleries and list of suppliers for inspiration and our real weddings are a fab way of seeing how gowns look on an actual bride and not just a shop hanger or model.

2. What to Wear

Make it easy for yourself and wear something you can easily slip in and out of. Nude coloured underwear and a strapless bra will come in handy and if you’re a fan of shape wear and don’t feel comfortable trying on gowns without it, pop that in your bag too. Most stores will have shoes you can try on with your gown but if you’ve a pair you love in a height you’ll be wearing, bring them and any accessories you want to wear along too. Most boutiques are not a fan of a full face of make-up or tan so skip the tan and keep the beauty products to a minimum within reason – you want to feel confident trying on your potential dream dress so freshly washed hair and a touch of make-up should do the trick.

3. What to Expect

Unlike your regular dress shops, wedding gowns don’t come in a variety of sizes, just one sample size which tends to be a 12-14 so it might feel a bit under-whelming when you first slip it on. You’ll need a little bit of imagination when it comes to visualising how it will actually look, it might not close at the back, or you might need a couple of pins and a bit of pulling for it to fit properly but once you’ve ordered your dress in your size and the alterations folk work their magic, you’ll be blown away.


Photo by Vicki Bartel Photography via Gorgeous Fairytale Wedding

4. Know Your Budget 

When it comes to the dress, sanity and reasoning can go out the window. If you’re on a strict budget, be sure to try on dresses only in that price range. And don’t forget alterations and accessories will hike up the cost so factor that in before you hand over the credit card. The likes of trunk shows and flash sales can be awesome (hello discount) but they’re often for a limited time only and can make you jump in to something you’re not ready for. Buying a dress that has a couple of zeros after it deserves a little bit of thought so don’t feel pressurised in to buy something you’re not 100% sure about because you’re getting a free veil thrown in or a bit of a discount.

5. Be Open Minded but Trust Your Instincts 

While you may have a fair idea of what it is you’re after in a dress, go shopping with an open mind. Try on lots of different styles and figure out what you like and don’t like about them. Wedding dress sales assistants have seen it all and know lots about body shapes and styles too so be sure to use their invaluable knowledge as well. Of course, you’ve got to trust your instincts too – if you wouldn’t dream of baring you shoulders, a gown with spaghetti straps might be out of the question if it will leave you feeling self-conscious. You’re the one who has to wear the dress on the day so make sure you feel 100% comfortable and happy in it!

6. Don’t Overdo it 

Keep your entourage to a minimum (two or three friends/family members tops otherwise you may get overwhelmed with all the opinions) and be sure to limit the number of dress shops you visit as well. Don’t make appointments for any more than three stores as you’ll get tired fast and won’t even remember trying on half of the dresses you’re trying to consider.

7. Know Your Venue

You might think what’s the venue got to do with my wedding dress but a beach wedding in a multi-tier ball gown might not be the most comfy.  Make sure you go for something that reflects your own personal taste and suits the setting – there’s always the day after celebrations to show off other fun outfits.

8. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Start looking for your dream dress at least 6 months beforehand – it can take up to six months for a dress to arrive in to the store once it’s been ordered and you’ll need to give yourself enough time for fittings and alterations too. The best time to start shopping is 12 months before as it leaves you plenty of time to shop around and mull things over.


Photo by KT Merry

9. The One

People have expectations when it comes to ‘the one’. The movies make us think that there’s either tears, screaming or hugs all round but when you do find it, the dress might not make you do any of the above. It could be more of a little ‘Ooh’ or just a big old smile that your mom and sister instantly recognise. This is totally normal so don’t be disappointed if yours isn’t a move-style celebration when you put the deposit down.

10. Have Fun!

Enjoy the experience! It’s something you may have dreamed of for years so there can be a bit of pressure riding on it but try and have fun with it all. Make the most of trying on beautiful princess style gowns and enjoy the quality time with your mom and friends – they’re moments you’ll treasure forever.

Main photo via BHLDN

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The girls at weddingsonline

The girls at weddingsonline

The girls from the UAE's newest wedding community with real weddings and lots of gorgeous inspiration!
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