Congratulations! You’re engaged! And now the exciting, heady, whirlwind of wedding planning begins.
For many LOVE brides, the first thing on their mind is finding their dream dress. With all eyes on the bride and years spent imagining what they will wear on their big day, it’s an exciting place to start.
But, as the song says, ‘only fools rush in’, and while it’s tempting to tick such an important task off your list and easy to get swept up in the romance of it all, there is a perfect time to make that first wedding dress appointment.
Based on our experience with the lovely brides who’ve walked through our doors, we have come up with a handy checklist to help you avoid ‘wedding dress fatigue’ and make sure you LOVE every minute of finding your dream dress.
Do your research
Not exactly a hardship, and many of us spend lots of time looking at wedding dresses without having a wedding to plan for! But research is invaluable. Looking online and in magazines can help you understand the designers you like and familiarise yourself with the different styles and terminology out there. Rock My Wedding have come up with an excellent guide to wedding dress styles.
Whether you’re planning a Summer or a Winter wedding can have an impact on the dress you choose. Of course, you can still opt for a strapless gown no matter the time of year, but you may consider cover-up options including jackets, stoles etc when styling your gown. Long sleeves on a hot Summer’s day could be a little uncomfortable especially if you chance upon a heatwave, however you could certainly still opt for this if the sleeves/jacket are removable, and then you have the best of both worlds! And what about your venue? If you’re channelling hippie chic with a wedding in a tipi, a more traditional classic look might not be quite the look you’re after, and a designer like Sarah Seven or Savannah Miller might be more your thing.
Looking at different boutiques and understanding who stocks the designers you like means you can follow them on social media and get a feel for their personality, service, prices and the typical bride they cater for. It will also help you shortlist which boutiques to visit when you’re ready to make that all-important appointment. We do have a lot of brides who visit only us to buy their gown, as they may be coming to us for a specific designer or just want to be a LOVE bride, but if you are wanting to try various options we would recommend doing your research and cherry picking boutiques who stock designers who most match your style, and setting yourself a limit of up to three individual boutiques if you can. You don’t want to be overwhelmed after all.
Discuss and agree your budget
What can you afford? It’s important to be honest, with yourself, your fiancé(e) and your family and agree a budget BEFORE you start trying on dresses. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with something that’s out of your price range – it could overshadow your search and leave you feeling as though you compromised on what you really wanted. To help with this, we have included a helpful guide to our designers’ prices on our website.
You will also need to budget for alterations – these costs can often be overlooked but most dresses will need altering, even made-to-measure gowns. We would normally recommend allowing somewhere between £150 and £250 for this, depending on the extent of your alterations. At LOVE, we do not include alterations in our dress prices, as every bride is different and requires a different amount of alterations, so we firmly believe that you should only pay for what you need. Please be aware that when a boutique claims that alterations are included, usually this means that they will have added this onto the dress price already.
To compliment your bridal ‘look’ you will also need to consider your accessories such as shoes, perhaps a veil, or even jewellery. Beautiful accessories can enhance any dress, but they do need to be budgeted for.
If you have a lower budget in mind than the price range of dresses and designers you are drawn to, then you could consider Sample Sales. However, you must be prepared to pay in full at the event and take your dress away on that day.
If you have a favourite designer, then ‘Trunk Shows’ or ‘Designer Days’ could be ideal for you. This is when designers provide a boutique with their extended collection, so you will have more dresses to choose from that particular designer, and usually their full, most up-to-date collection.
The best time to book your wedding dress appointment
Once you’ve shortlisted your preferred boutique (s), the earliest time we’d recommend arranging an appointment is 10-12 months prior to your wedding so that you are shopping from the most recent collections (most designers bring out a new collection once a year, some twice a year). This also avoids you finding out that your favourite dress has been discontinued…
Any later than this though and you could end up feeling rushed and even run out of time for ordering, fitting and alterations. Most of our designers operate on a minimum of 6-7 months lead time for ordering and this does take into consideration timings for alterations.
At LOVE, weekend appointments are very popular, so at busy times of the year it can take up to a month to secure a weekend appointment. Book early to avoid disappointment.
The perfect appointment
Think about who should attend. We suggest a maximum of two people (and can comfortably seat a maximum of three) to avoid being overwhelmed by too many opinions. Think quality rather than quantity! They should be people who know you well and who you can trust for an honest opinion.
We are on hand to guide you through the first appointment. By telling your stylist your likes and dislikes we can help you find your dream dress. And trust us! We do this every day and may have some good ideas about what will suit you. It could even be something you would never have dreamed of trying on.
Wear neutral, seam-free underwear (whatever makes you feel the most confident though really), and this will also ensure the colour of your underwear does not detract from the dresses you’re trying on. We have a range of shoes to try on with dresses, so you don’t need to worry about bringing any with you, unless of course you already have a fabulous pair of wedding shoes!
We have a range of dress sizes from 10 to 18 with the majority sized 10-14. We just stock one sample size of each dress style and if a dress is on the small or larger size then we will do some clever pinning to give you an idea of how the dress will look when it’s fitted to you.
Once you’ve “said yes to the dress” it’s then time to start looking at accessories to complete your look. We will of course be able to try some options when choosing your dress (there’s nothing like that veil moment when you’ve decided a dress is the one!) but we do advise focussing your attention on the dress at this initial stage. We then offer our brides the opportunity to return to the boutique for an accessory styling appointment at a later date to finalise their accessory choices.
Ordering ‘the one’
Ideally, you would order your dress at least 6-7 months before your wedding as all of our dresses are made to order and this will allow time for fittings and alterations too. If you are getting married abroad and will be leaving the country in advance of your wedding, then we will simply work to your ‘fly date’ as your wedding date instead.
When you have decided that a dress is ‘the one’ we will then take your body measurements and will order your gown in the size closest to your measurements on that particular designer’s size chart. Some of our designers do also offer made to measure or split size options, which we will make you aware of at the time of ordering, and there is usually an additional cost for this service.
The perfect fit
Your first fitting will typically take place about 6 to 8 weeks before your wedding date. You will then be invited back to LOVE where our in-house seamstress will carry out your alterations. Most brides have on average 2 to 3 fitting appointments on the run up to their wedding day to ensure a perfect fit of their dress.
A week to go!
By this point your alterations will be complete and all that will remain is for us to prepare and press your gown ready for you to collect. Most of our brides collect their dress a day or two before their big day, that way it’s away from prying eyes for as long as possible and you don’t have to worry where to store it.
If you are planning a destination wedding, make sure you talk to your stylist, so we can help source a travel box to meet your airline’s overhead locker specification, pack and box your dress safely and give you tips on how to transport and care for it, so it looks perfect at the other end.
If you’re in the early days of planning your wedding then please follow us on Instagram @lovebridalcheshire, like our Facebook page for lots of lovely wedding dress inspiration, and if you haven’t already done so then join our ‘LOVE Club.’
If you’ve got your venue and date booked and you’re now on the hunt for your dress, then we’d love to hear from you! Book your appointment here.
Happy wedding planning!
Lots of love,