Ready to start looking for the wedding dress of your dreams? Well, the first thing you’ll need to figure out is where you’re going to go. While ASOS and Topshop do carry wedding worthy frocks, you’ll probably want to step your game up and schedule a few appointments with specialty wedding dress shops (you only get to do this once right?!). We’ve put together a list of tips to help aid you in your search for the right bridal boutique.
Here’s how to find the wedding dress shop of your dreams.
Do your research
Since this is most likely your first time shopping for a wedding dress, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with what’s out there. Create a vision board - you can totally use Pinterest if you don’t want to break out the glitter and glue sticks - filled with wedding dress silhouettes and bridal wear designers that you love. Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you’re into, start looking for bridal boutiques that stock them. P.S. our wedding dress catalogue and Real Weddings section are the perfect places to hunt for inspo.
Know your keywords
You’ve created your vision, but now it’s time to describe your style. Make a list of words that apply to the gowns you love (i.e. edgy, classic, modern, sheer, mermaid, a-line). While some shops carry a wide range of gowns, others stick to particular designers and styles, catering to a specific type of bride. Knowing exactly what you’re looking for will help you zero in on the right wedding dress shops for you.
Ask for advice
Chances are you’re not the first person in your inner circle to tie the knot, so talk to your recently married friends and relatives about their dress shopping experiences. Ask which wedding dress shops they visited, which places they wouldn’t recommend and how they felt about the overall experience at each boutique. This information may help you add to your list of must-see stores (and/or strike a few lacklustre contenders off your list).
Be mindful of your budget
Unfortunately, none of us are blessed with a bottomless bank account, so be mindful of your budget when looking into shops. The bride’s wedding attire (including all her accessories) typically eats up 7% of a couple’s wedding funds, so try not to push it too far beyond that (if you need help figuring out the exact figure, try using our Budget Planner tool). Once you know your price range, make sure the store’s you plan on visiting can cater to it. This information is sometimes displayed online, but you may have to make a few phone calls, as well.
Read the reviews
Of course, you want to start trying on gowns ASAP, but before you book any appointments, read the online reviews. Remember, what you see and read on a profile isn’t always what you get IRL, so this step is not one that you want to skip. P.S. don’t forget to rate the wedding dress shops you visit in our supplier directory - it’ll help other brides later down the line.
Don’t call off your search after you’ve found one store you like. Having backups is essential as you may not find your dream dress on your first try (in fact, it’s very likely that you won’t). Try to have at least two or three shops on your “must visit” list so that you can get a feel for what’s out there.
Inquire about alterations
One thing you’ll definitely need to do is get your dress altered. Yup! Every dress needs a bit of TLC to make it fit the bride’s form perfectly (even if you think it fits like a glove). While most wedding dress shops have an in-house tailor or seamstress, not all do, so you’ll want to ask ahead. This is also something you’ll need to factor into your budget, so ask about cost, as well!
Stay close to home
If you’ve prepared for wedding dress shopping by watching hundreds of Say Yes to the Dress episodes, you may be tempted to book an overseas flight to New York so that you can work with familiar faces - but not so fast! You usually have to visit a shop multiple times for alterations and fittings, so hopping on a plane probably isn’t the brightest idea. Look for boutiques that are a reasonable distance from your home so that if you need to pop in it’s NBD.
Know what you’re in for
Every wedding dress shop offers a different experience. Some are appointment only and will clear the showroom for you and your friends and family. Others allow drop in appointments and are on the more casual side. Make sure you know all the details before you drop by.