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In the first of our Shop Tips series, bridal boutique owner Abigail Neill explains how to start shopping for your wedding dress. Find out more about Abigail's Collection here.

How are you feeling about your search for the perfect dress? Are you cool as a cucumber or are you feeling anxious about one of the most important outfits you’ll ever wear? Here are a few words of wisdom to help you avoid stress, wedding dress-blindness and dress FOMO.

You can also read the 17 things every bride needs to know before wedding dress shopping here.

Bride shopping for wedding dress at a bridal boutique

Knowing Your Wedding Dress Styles

It’s impossible trying to shop for a wedding dress without knowing A) the time of year you’ll wed and B) the venue. Trying to buy a dress without those details is like packing for a holiday without knowing the destination.

After your venue is secured you can seriously start researching your outfit. Browse bridal mags, sign up to Confetti.co.uk and explore Pinterest and Instagram. Bookmark favourite pictures and soon you’ll be collating wedding inspo images faster than you can say ‘I’m a wedding planning pro’.

The best cut of gown for your frame is one of the first things you’ll probably decide. There are six basic silhouettes to select from:

Fishtail
Empire Line
Ball Gown
A-line
Column/Straight
Drop Waisted

Consultants at expert bridal boutiques will help you understand what will work for you, so don’t panic if you’re overwhelmed with confusion or uncertainty.

How to shop for a wedding dress guide

Whilst in research mode, you might like to create your own vision board using apps such as Photo Collage Scrapbook or Moodboard On The Go. Alternatively, go old school and create a physical paper scrap book; yes that’s paper, glue and an actual book that you stick tearouts into – you’ll treasure that keepsake in years to come.

Find the Right Bridal Boutique

Next, it’s time for boutique research – you can browse wedding boutiques near you on Wedding Style Collective.

The sign of a great bridal shop is a genuine interest in you and your big day, so seek out those stores who make you feel special and who welcome your enquiry from the get go. Buying a dress online is mega-risky, but no doubt you’ll come across shops that will promise savings and perfect replicas. Know that there are often hidden costs, measurement complications and major shortfalls in terms of quality and design.

Wedding dresses from boutiques take on average 6-10 months to be made (but they can be made sooner), and there’s often the option to buy ‘off-the-peg.’ If you have less time don’t panic, some designers carry stock for fast delivery to stores, but to keep all options open, ideally make appointments around 12-18 months before your big day.

It’s tempting to book multiple appointments at lots of shops, but too many will usually result in wedding dress blindness; you’ll be exhausted.

Don't miss our edit of bridal boutiques in Surrey you need to visit.

bride shopping for wedding dress with bridal party

How Do You Know Your Wedding Dress is ‘The One’?

So how will you know when it’s the one? Well that’s pretty simple – you’ll know just as you knew when you found the love of your life! You’ll feel a million dollars and won’t want to take it off.

Some brides feel emotional, whilst for others it’s a methodical process of elimination. What is absolutely essential is that when you have found the one, you stop looking and trust that feeling! Be advised that dress designers frequently discontinue styles, this isn’t a sales pitch, it’s real – so if you love a wedding dress and don’t want to lose it, don’t leave it too long before finalising your order.

Read more: The Wedding Dress Designers You Need to Know

Paying for Your Wedding Dress

Most bridal shops request a 50% part payment on order and some offer payment plans which can help spread the cost. Ask about this when you call and book appointments so there are no awkward ‘Julia Roberts/Pretty Woman’ moments.

Keep an eye on the price tags while trying on too so you don’t fall in love with a wedding dress that breaks the bridal bank!

Once your gorgeous dress has been delivered, there’s a series of technical alterations that take place. It usually requires an extra one or two appointments at least. Discuss this with your boutique in order to ascertain the process and potential costs associated (these are usually charged in addition, as it’s an extra service by a talented professional).

Make sure you read our tips on how to find a wedding dress to suit your body shape.

Now go forth and embrace your wonderful and personal dress shopping journey. Cherish every moment.

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