Guest contributor Hanni Frankland-Roberts, Owner and Director of My Funny Valentine Bridal in Chester offers some fantastic advice on choosing the dream dress to compliment your perfect day. Thank you Hanni x
So you have the ring, you’ve booked the perfect venue and now it’s time for the dress… but where to start?
I’m the owner of My Funny Valentine Bridal, a modern luxe bridal boutique in the heart of Chester City Centre. Helping all of my brides find ‘the one’ really is the perfect job and mainly consists of convincing brides how beautiful they already are!
With so many different styles of wedding dresses available, shopping for your dream gown can often feel a little overwhelming, but the experience should also be very exciting and fun! The most popular styles of wedding dresses range from more fitted dresses such as mermaid, fit and flare and fishtail, to more a-line style dresses which fit your waist and flow over your hips, to the bigger classic ballgown style.
Fitted dresses with a detachable overskirt are also becoming more and more popular, which very cleverly can give two completely different looks in one. When first shopping for your gown, I would recommend that you try to find the shape that works best for you. Often brides can be torn between a couple of styles, but having an idea of where you want the gown to fit you will help you narrow the search.
Bridal accessories can also dramatically change a look and can really help you personalise your gown. The options really are endless when it comes to accessories and can include a veil, cape, wings, belt, tiara, flower crown, jackets, overskirts etc. Often accessories can be made bespoke to really bring your dream bridal vision to life, but always ensure that you choose something that makes you still feel like you in, and of course complements your dress. We would suggest finalising your accessories once you have picked a gown, to really give it the wow factor!
Working alongside so many brides, I often get asked the same questions time and time again. Here are my top ten tips to help with your dress shopping experience:
Don’t stress about not liking anything, you will find the one! Every bride has a totally different experience and please don’t compare your shopping experience to that of friends or family who may have recently got married. We do have brides who fall in love with the very first dress they try, but also brides who have had to try on many different styles to find the one. Do not think you have to cry, or just know it is ‘the one’ straight away like it is portrayed on tv, every bride has a different feeling towards their dream dress, so just try to relax and enjoy the experience.
If you love the very first dress you try and believe it is the one, no you do not need to try on another ten dresses! It is always good to have something to compare it to but count yourself lucky if you adore the very first dress you tried! Dress shopping is an emotional and personal experience and if you know you know.
You can try on too many! For many brides including myself, dress shopping can become an overwhelming experience. For so many of us we put this pressure on ourselves about finding the perfect wedding dress. Going to multiple shops and trying fifty odd dresses can become a very stressful and overwhelming experience. We would recommend starting by booking two (or at most three) appointments, where you feel your chosen boutiques stock the styles of gowns that you are drawn to and where you feel you would be most comfortable, then take it from there and see how you get on. The experience is just as important as the dress, as you want to feel at your most relaxed and of course you will have many fittings following once you have said yes.
Do your research before! When starting your dress journey, it is always a good idea to look at styles that you like the look of even if you are not sure what will suit. That way it is easier for you to plan the shops you will visit. I would also recommend focusing on designers you are most drawn to and finding boutiques that stock those designers. Pinterest and Instagram are a great place to start!
Be open minded! Although it is useful to have a bridal vision in mind, more commonly than not once brides start trying on gowns, they find that the dress can often look quite different to professional images online, or on the hanger. It is completely fine to change your mind on your bridal style once you start trying and I would say 90% of our brides end up choosing something completely different to what they imagined.
Just try it! If you are not sure about a dress when on the hanger, just give it a go. So commonly brides will not like the look of a dress, but then fall in love with it when trying it on. That is because the structure and fit of bridal gowns is incredible and seeing it on a hanger is just not the same. Even if you try a style to rule it out, it’s worth a try!
Start dress shopping around 12 to 18 months before your wedding. This may sound like a long time, but these timescales allow you to search for your dream gown, order it in (which often takes around six months), then have your alterations in time for your wedding. Of course if your wedding is sooner than this, please do not panic but speak to the bridal consultant at your chosen shop and they will be able to assist with the best option for you. There is always something that can be done!
Bring only your closest and trusted friends and family when dress shopping. Who to bring with you when dress shopping is often a confusing issue for brides. Of course it is lovely to bring your whole bridal party and share the magical experience, but you need to think about who will have your best interests when picking a dress. So often I find the bride will prefer one dress over their guests and then is swayed to pick a dress, which would likely not have been their first choice had a certain guest not been there. Generally the smaller the number of guests the more relaxed the experience and I would recommend no more than three guests. You want to have the most lovely and calm experience, and often having more people can become quite overwhelming. Don’t forget you can always do a bigger gown reveal at your first fitting, after your dress comes in!
Do not worry about sizing when shopping! Generally shops will stock one sample size and the chances are it won’t be your perfect size. This does not matter however, as there are so many tricks to make the gowns either bigger or smaller, so you will get a really good idea of how the dress will fit. If you like the dress when it is completely the wrong size, you will love it when it is fitted to you perfectly!
Do not carry on looking at dresses online once you have found yours. Given most brides order their dress at least one year before the wedding, it is easy to forget how you felt when trying it. So many brides can convince themselves in this time that they have gone off their dress, or seen another style they like more online. Remember that even if you see a photograph of a dress you ‘prefer’, dresses can look very different when trying them so the chances are you won’t like it as much as yours when on. Have faith in your original decision, as it is more than likely once your gown comes in in your size and you have your first fitting you will fall in love with it all over again!