*SPOILER ALERT* It wasn’t all fairytales and tears of joy I’m afraid girls.
I think there are two types of brides to be when wedding dress shopping; those who have been waiting for their princess moment and who can’t think of anything better than being in a big white gown, and those who feel more natural in their own clothes and see a wedding dress as a means to an end. I definitely sit in the latter camp unfortunately.
I love fashion, I love getting dressed up and I love trying new styles, but a wedding dress is not the kind of thing I wear every day and therefore, it all feels a bit unnatural. I started dress shopping quite soon after getting engaged, as it just seemed like one of the more exciting things about planning a wedding and something my mum would love so I decided to arrange for us to go out shopping together.
The first shop we visited was a real eye opener. Those of you already married will know the experience but for those of you new to this, typically you get given a handful of tags and you basically make your way around the showroom putting tags on the dresses you like the look of. You’re browsing through rails and rails of white lace, silk, chiffon and organza, trying to picture yourself on your big day. Once you’ve picked your dresses, you can start trying on and then the assistants in the store will gather you more dresses based on your likes and dislikes.
I soon found out that the styles I liked did not suit me. This is a difficult pill to swallow when everything on your Pinterest board becomes irrelevant because your body shape is just not made for that style dress. I ended up trying on quite a range, from high necked to strapless, lace to silk, and my mum and the shop assistant preferred me most in a big puffy strapless number. This was NOT for me, and I came away feeling deflated. I don’t want to look like a fairy princess, I want to look like me, and for a while after that first shopping experience it left me wondering whether I’d ever feel right in a wedding dress.
My next wedding dress experience happened by chance. I was at a wedding fayre with three friends (two of whom are also engaged) and there was a big wedding dress collection. We all decided to just pick one and try it on, for the fun of it. I actually really liked the one I tried on and it gave me a bit of hope. I also think having some friends there and it being very impromptu made me feel more relaxed about the situation. I made a booking to go in and visit the bridal store for the following week.
(A range of pictures from my Pinterest board)
Me and my mum went in for round two of the dress tagging, and the same trying on situation ensued. I definitely preferred more of the dresses I was trying on, but it’s hard work getting these dresses on and off and so again, not the most enjoyable experience. I finally tried on a dress that just felt RIGHT. It wasn’t the style that sold it, it was that it was the dress I felt most comfortable in, I looked the most relaxed in and it flattered my figure the most. I decided then that if I felt a little bit like it was right, then maybe it was just right. And also decided, if I decide on this now then it puts an end to wedding dress shopping, yay!
We decided that the dress was the one, but it was a very practical decision and like I said, there were no tears or big celebrations like you see on TV. I don’t mind that it was like that, I am quite a practical person, but I just think experiences are often very different to your expectations.
I’m now trying not to even think about my dress (I don’t even have a picture of it) until I have to go back in August to get measured up. I think it’s natural to keep having doubts but it’s important to remember how you felt, more than what you looked like, and that’s what keeps me sure in the meantime that I’ve made the right decision.
I’ve spoken to a lot of brides who had a similar experience to me, so I know it’s totally normal, and if you’re going through this / expecting to be soon, my advice would be just to not worry. There are enough other stresses when planning a wedding so just go with what feels right! What I’m REALLY looking forward to is the shoe shopping – now THAT is something I can get excited about.
Also before I come to a close, I told you I’d give you some tips when trying on wedding dresses, so here they are:
- Take appropriate underwear. A nude strapless bra and some nude holding in knickers are vital for trying on dresses. Remember you need to give yourself the best chance of looking good in a dress, but you’re also going to be getting changed in front of another woman so make sure you’re comfortable with what you have on underneath.
- Take people who are prepared to give you an honest opinion. I know my mum will say what she thinks, we don’t always agree, but it’s good to know I’m getting some honesty when making my decision. The last thing I’d want is a friend that is afraid to offend and therefore just says everything looks good.
- Go with an open mind. I didn’t suit any of the styles I had originally wanted, and I ultimately had to cast aside any other thoughts and just go with what felt right. Try not to get your heart set too much on a set style before you go, as trying on could completely change things.
Let me know how your wedding dress shopping experience went, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Also if you want to keep up with my day to day planning, follow me over on Instagram @clairelstead.