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Every single bridal boutique is different. Even boutiques that stock that same designers will have a different ambience and approach and in the same way that you’ve found the love of your life to marry, you need to find the perfect boutique. Buying your wedding dress isn’t like buying anything else. It’s supercharged with emotion and meaning and let’s not forget that it’s also a large financial investment too. Put all those things together and the whole experience needs to be special, secure and personal. And that all comes down to your bridal boutique.
So, let’s start right back at the beginning with the first steps that you need to take towards your wedding dress. Now I get that when you’re planning your wedding, there are probably far too many people telling you to be practical, to do your research and not to jump into things too quickly. Well, I’m here, and I’m kinda sorry to say it, to tell you exactly the same thing. Please don’t label me as boring because once you’ve done the background work, you can relax and just enjoy all the excitement that comes next. So, put thoughts of trying on dresses to one side, just for a little while, and let’s get the basics right.
Before you start making appointments and planning your diary around wedding dress shopping expeditions, here are the things that you need to do, check and tick from your list with a rather bold and brilliant flourish:
Budget – Again, not the most joyful word when it comes to wedding planning but you absolutely must must MUST set a budget for your wedding dress before you go shopping. I would heartily recommend that if your budget is £1500, you look for a dress that costs less than that because your gown will need altering to fit you perfectly and these alterations cost money. Know your budget from the start so you don’t daydream over dresses that cost way more than you can spend.
Research – With your budget in mind, get yourself online and I know I’m biased but I’d say start with The Bride Edit every time. Browse wedding dresses by designer or style and from our stylish pages, click on through to the designer websites and check out the lists of stockists. From here, you’ll easily be able to find boutiques who stock the designers that you love. We also display price ranges for each designer on The Bridal Edit so there are no worries about busting your budget there either.
More Research – Now you’ve got a little shortlist of boutiques by your side, you need to do a bit more research. Take some time to browse the boutiques’ websites – does their look and feel suit you? Do the photos of the boutique interior look good? In short, does the boutique seems like somewhere you’d like to be and does the boutique’s brand and approach tally with your own? Then check out their social feeds and check that again, you’re getting all the good feels. If you’ve done all that and you’re still smiling, it’s time to take things to the next level…
The next step – your appointment
An appointment at a bridal boutique is a big moment in your wedding planning journey. Stepping through the door is a little bit like entering a whole new world and because of that, there’s a whole new language you need to learn to make sure that you’re feeling totally comfortable from the word go.
Appointment – Bridal boutiques operate by appointment only so that they can give you dedicated attention and individual advice. Don’t expect to just turn up to a boutique so making an appointment is vital. Some boutiques will charge for appointments and some don’t so be clear on your boutique’s policy when you contact them to arrange a time to visit.
Lead times – You’ll need to allow at least 6 months from ordering your dress until it arrives at your boutique and then you need time for alterations too. Most brides start shopping with around 12 months to go and this does give you a decent amount of time to make sure that everything arrives in plenty of time. If you’ve not got that long before your wedding, speak to your boutique about the possibility of express orders with designers although you need to be aware that these will incur additional costs.
Alterations – No one is a standard size and just like on the high street, bridal designers’ sizes are all a bit different. Your gown will be ordered to a standard size and then when it arrives with your boutique, it will be altered to fit you precisely. Hems might be taken up, seams might be adjusted and once everything is done, your gown will be yours and yours alone. Pay no attention to the sizing on the label, these numbers aren’t important. How you look and feel in your dress is all that matters.
There are a few other things that you need to know about your appointment too. Firstly, however tempting it is (and however many times you get asked), don’t take a huge entourage with you. Too many people equals too many opinions and you might well find that your own thoughts get crowded out in the all the noise. You need one or two super trusted friends with you and even then, your opinion is always the one that matters most.
I’d also urge you to leave your phone in your bag. Don’t take photos of yourself in the boutique even if you’re able to do so. How you’ll look on your wedding day is a world away from how you look in a sample dress without accessories and your bridal hair and makeup. Rely on your memory, not what is, at best, an average photo. You’re better than that.
Finally, don’t worry about how you look. Yes, your bridal stylist will be in the changing room with you but no, they won’t be judging you or your body beyond trying to work out what gowns will make you look you amazing. If you have nude underwear and a strapless bra, wonderful. If you don’t, don’t worry. You’ll also score major brownie points with your boutique if you don’t wear too much makeup or fake tan that could stain their gowns.
Ordering, altering and collecting
Now I’m not here to tell you how to choose your dress because everyone’s journey here is different. Some people love the first dress they try on and others take a little longer and slowly fall for a dress without having that ‘oh yes, this is the one’ moment. There’s not a ‘right’ way to choose your dress.
But, however you decide on your wedding gown, ordering takes pretty much the same format in all boutiques. You’ll be asked to pay a deposit (usually around 50% of the price of the gown) when you commit to your dress and then your boutique will order your dress with the designer. You’ll be given an approximate lead time and then, you can relax while your gown is made.
Once your dress arrives with the boutique, you’ll be contacted and asked to pay the balance of the cost. You’ll also be invited in to begin the alteration process. For your alterations, you’ll need to have your wedding day shoes and underwear. This allows the gown to be adjusted to exactly the right length and fit so it’s pure perfection on the big day. You’ll probably need two fittings and these alterations will cost extra. Your boutique will be able to give you an estimate of costs when you order your dress so don’t forget to ask and then budget for adjustments.
Your boutique will then agree with you when you need to collect your wedding dress and every one offers slightly different services here so do check when you’ll need to take your dress home and consider where you’ll store it. The gown will be steamed and packed for you to take away and the majority of boutiques will give you your dress in a suitable dress carrier to protect it on its travels.
Finally, when your dress arrives home with you, look after it. Hang it from a suitable height so that the hem and train doesn’t crease. If you need to remove it from the carrier it was supplied in, a duvet cover makes an ideal dress cover but whatever you do, don’t leave it uncovered and resist the temptation to keep trying it on!
You’ve now got your gown and it’s ready and waiting for your wedding day.
Words The Bridal Edit
Photography Heart Full of Tea
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