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Save the Date: The Dress

Posted July 9, 2012 by Karen Mulreid in Lifestyle

Usually, once the date has been set and the paperwork has been taken care of, most brides turn to finding the perfect dress.

Except for me, of course. My now-husband proposed at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris at midnight on a cold October evening. After I said yes and phoned my mother, I took my betrothed by the hand, raced down the tower and went straight for a 24-hour newsagent to buy a bridal magazine.

We had been engaged 27 minutes.

Of course, the magazine was in French, I couldn’t understand a word and the fashion was, well, alternative, shall we say… but still, it was a bridal magazine.

I brought it with me all over Paris for the next week, reading it on the Métro and in cafés where snooty French women looked down their noses at me knowing full well I wouldn’t fit into any of the dresses in the glossy pages, but I didn’t care.

A wedding dress is more than just a dress. It’s not all about how you look, it’s also about how it makes you feel. It should make you feel like smiling, puke-inducing and all as that sounds. It’s true.

It’s not so much about The One – sometimes you’ll find three dresses that could be The One – it’s more when you put on a certain dress you get a sudden flash of yourself on the day. Walking down the aisle, seeing your partner for the first time, making your speech, hugging your Dad… You think: ‘Yes, I could wear this dress doing all of that.’ Sometimes, as mentioned before, there could be three or four dresses that make you feel like this and in that case, lucky you! Then it’s just a matter of fashion to pick the best one.

You do not need to spend a mortgage payment on your wedding dress. You can buy beautiful dresses on the high street (particularly in Debenhams and Monsoon), you can buy vintage dresses in charity shops and you can even buy online. Stockists like RK Bridal are reputable. If you go down the online route, do loads of research to ensure you won’t get ripped off and left with an inferior product. It doesn’t even have to be a traditional wedding dress; plenty of brides are marrying in smart suits, tea dresses, or even something they’ve sewed themselves.

No matter what you decide, please do get something special. Even if you’re getting married in your jeans, please buy new ones. Fancy ones. Wedding jeans. Promise me?

It can be a little daunting going to buy a wedding dress. All eyes will be on you on the day; there is no getting away from that. And generally, most of us only buy the one wedding dress so you want to get it right. And you want to pick something that’s ‘you’, so here are my Top Tips:

  • Try on EVERYTHING. Loads of dresses. Every shape, every style, every colour. Of course some styles suit some shapes better but you won’t actually know until you try on. Don’t dismiss a style or a shape of dress without even trying it. The same goes for veils and accessories; even if you’re sure you don’t want a veil or a sash or a wrap, try them on.
  • If you go to a bridal shop, listen to the staff. They see thousands of brides every year, so they usually know what they’re talking about. If they ask you to try on a dress that you normally wouldn’t be interested in, try it on. It could be worth your while.
  • Only bring a couple of people with you while shopping for a dress. If you bring 18 friends and family members you’ll have 18 opinions to consider. Stick to your Mam or sister and a good friend. People who will be honest but also kind.
  • Consider comfort. Wedding days are long days. Think long and hard before you buy a dress that will pinch, scratch or bruise you in the course of wearing it.

If you use a bridal shop to buy your dress, here are some tips and tricks to help you on your way:

  • Wear decent nude underwear. Don’t wear fake tan, many shops don’t allow it as it marks the dresses and only wear light make-up, again so you don’t mark the dresses.
  • If you have long hair bring a clip or bobbin so you can tie it up to see how the dress would look with long hair or an up-do.
  • Dress in clothes easy to remove like a maxi-dress or simple jeans and a t-shirt.
  • Come to terms with the fact that the shop assistant is going to come into the changing cubicle with you and she is going to see you in your bra and knickers. Do not panic about this. They see approximately 10,000 pairs of knickers every year and yours are as unremarkable as the last.
  • Carry a bottle of water in your handbag. Wedding dresses are heavy and getting into them sometimes takes ten minutes of pushing and shoving so you’ll be sweating and thirsty at the end of it.
  • Bring a notebook with you and note down each shop and what dresses you tried on. Most bridal shops do not allow photography in their shops, but they may give you the style number/name that you can look up later so you can remember which dress was which.
  • Don’t get hung up on the size of the dress. Wedding dresses can run two sizes smaller than high street sizes so there’s every chance if you’re a size eight that the label on your dress might be a size 12. This is just the way it is; nobody else will see the label so don’t freak out about it.

Above all else, relax and enjoy it. Shopping for a wedding dress, no matter where you buy it or how much it costs, should be a fun experience and should be something you look back on fondly. Best of luck!

Images in this article are by Shauneen Armstrong.

About the Author

Karen Mulreid

  • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura C

    This was great! I didn’t actually realise until I went to a dress fitting with my friend recently, how little the bride gets to shop. It may have been just the store we were in but the assistant assigned to us at the appointment asked her what she wanted and brought dresses out to her. We, the nosy people tagging along, got to see more of the stock then she did as she was too busy being ordered into dresses.

    • http://twitter.com/beatingblog Karen Mulreid

       Yeah Laura in some shops you have a chat with the assistant and she brings out an armful of dresses. Or you might have seen a particular dress and ask to see it. In others though I got to go through the rails and mark the ones I wanted to try on and then the assistant made a few suggestions herself. The dress I chose was actually a suggestion from the shop assistant. It’s hard to see on the hanger what a dress is going to look like but these shop assistant have seen 500 girls in that dress so they almost know straight away what it’s going to look like on you. I love wedding dress shopping though I will say there is an element of military campaign about it! IN to the dressing room with you, clothes off, chop chop!

  • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

    I took a different route for my dress. It was a very traditional princess-cut gown but it was in gold, fading to ivory at the bottom. In fact, you can see it here.

    I saw it online, fell in love with it, found a stockist in Galway, tried it on, died inside at the price they were quoting me (nearly 2 grand at the time!), found an online seller in Scotland, bought it for €800 quid. And though everyone was telling me I’d get ripped off if I shopped online, I researched carefully, asked tons of questions, checked out the seller’s reviews, etc, and it was fine. The dress came with its certificate of authenticity, brilliant quality, and at a massive discount. Himself worked in Hospitality at the time, so we saved on nearly everything else. The dress was my big splurge.Buying such an important item online might not be for everyone’s nerves, but it worked out great for me and saved me a fortune. I’m glad you mentioned the positives, Karen!

  • http://twitter.com/beatingblog Karen Mulreid

    Lovely dress Lisa, so glad it worked out for you. I know a lot of brides who bought their dress online and had positive experiences. The thing to do is exactly what you did, loads of research and getting reviews of the seller. Unfortunately a lot of people have been swizzed by ‘genuine’ designer bridal gowns when the reality was very sloppy workmanship and polyester, not ‘hand made and silk’. The price you paid is realistic too, €800. I’ve seen ‘genuine Vera Wangs’ advertised for €100 which is just not right. If something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

    I bought loads of stuff online, like invitations, ribbon, a headpiece for my mother, gifst for people that sort of thing. I toyed with the idea of buying my dress but I’m a fatso and also a funny shape so I was just more comfortable trying on a physical dress and getting it altered for me in the same shop. I was happy enough to pay the price and managed to get the dress, a wee bolero, my veil and all alterations for €1,400. I got excellent service and advice in the bridal shop too, I really couldn’t fault them, so I was happy that they deserved my business.

  • Gillian Oconnor

    I actually picked my dress from one of the 100′s of bridal mags I bought!! Everyone said “oh you’ll think different when you start trying on” but I didn’t!!! I went to two shops, tried it on in both (along with some others) and put a deposit down 12 months before the wedding!!! Of course I had the nagging doubts, oh I should of went to more shops, I should of tried more. But I’m glad now I didn’t. I loved my dress, it was MY dress. It’s one of them things isn’t it? You can over think it till the cows come home, your best off just going for it!!

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