Wedding dress shopping can be an exciting and bewildering experience, particularly for the first-time bride. To make it less overwhelming, our friends at Andrea Hawkes put together an essential guide to wedding dress shopping, so you know where to start and what to consider.
Where do you start?
Before you start creating a mood board of all the dress designs you love, it’s important to put a plan in action. First things first, when should you start shopping for a wedding dress and how much should you budget for? Money and time frame are the two factors which will affect the rest of your wedding dress shopping experience, so figuring out the answer to these questions is a crucial first step.
Setting a price
Wedding dresses can vary a lot in price, depending on what is important to you. If you want to buy a simple white dress from a high-street retailer, then it can cost you as little as £70, but these types of dresses are not created with the same level of quality and attention to detail as professionally designed bridal dresses. For bespoke, specially-created gowns that are made just for you, you’re looking closer to £10,000. For expertly designed, ready-to-wear and made-to-measure dresses from bridal boutiques and designers, it’s more likely to be in the range of £1,500 to £4,000.
As there are a lot of other costs when it comes to planning a wedding aside from your dress, it’s a good idea to agree on a dress budget with your fiancé. This will help you decide whether you are going to go for a standard size dress, a made-to-measure gown or a completely bespoke design. Don’t forget to allow some wiggle room for dress alterations, your shoes, bridal lingerie and any wedding dress accessories that you might want to include in your bridal outfit. However, it is normal for brides to spend more than they had originally planned, so don’t worry if you slightly exceed your dress budget!
When should you start shopping for a wedding dress? You might be surprised to learn that finding your perfect dress can take almost as long as planning for the rest of your wedding! To complete an order, it normally takes bridal boutiques between six to eight months to make a dress, even if you are choosing a ready-to-wear gown. So once you know what time of year you are planning to have your special day, work the time backwards to create your wedding dress shopping timeline. However, a shorter turn around is possible, as many dresses are created for weddings less than six months away, so don’t worry if your big day is closer round the corner.
Keep in mind that a lot of boutiques and studios are appointments only, so it’s important to do your research into which stores you want to visit and make appointments within plenty of time. Normally, brides-to-be will have between two to five fittings, depending on whether you are going for a standard size dress, made-to-measure or a bespoke dress, and if you need any alterations made along the way.
For made-to-measure dresses, you should aim to have your first wedding dress fitting (when you first try on your dress) around five to six months before the wedding date. Whereas for standard size dresses, you can get away with scheduling your first fitting roughly two months before your big day. For dresses that are designed from scratch (a.k.a bespoke design), you’re looking at closer to the six to eight months mark.