Now for my favourite wedding related decision... the wedding dress! I had always been a fan of Disney and loved all the Disney princesses' dresses, so there was no doubt in my mind what type of dress I wanted; a grand dress with a big skirt and a special something. I had even found a company that made Disney inspired dresses, but alas they weren't for me.
I am my biggest critic so had come to realise what suited me and what didn't. There are thousands of dresses out there that look amazing on the hanger but don't be fooled into thinking that just because it looks good hanging up that it's going to look good on you. You may even have to sacrifice the style you wanted as it may actually not suit you. There are a lot of wedding dress designers who some hard-core wedding fans would kill to have a dress from but, to be honest, in my opinion I really don't think picking a dress just because of the label is a good idea. (You may have your heart set on a Vera Wang, but Vera Wang doesn't suit everyone.) You also don't want to miss out on all the fun you can have by visiting different wedding shops and experimenting with styles, plus the designer may not even make a dress that will fit your frame. A lot of dresses come with a maximum size and not all designers make plus size dresses. You will, no doubt, try on dress after dress but you will know what is the right dress for you; if you feel incredibly comfortable in it, when you think about it you get butterflies, you feel proud to be wearing it and seen it, you feel sad that it will only be worn once and you wish you could wear it again and again!
Firstly, getting a dress made in this country does not always work out cheaper than actually buying one. It all depends on the dressmaker's charger, the fabric, the style, the detail and the time you want it by. However, if you have tried on hundreds of dresses and still can't find the one you want, getting one made could be the answer. The only downside with getting a dress made is that, after it's finished, if you don't like it you will more than likely have to pay even more to get it altered, running the risk of spending double than you would have done buying a dress from a shop. To prevent the disappointment of not liking the dress you should definitely make sure you do your research. Try on dresses, find the style and colour that best suits you and work from that. A dressmaker will sit down with you and draw up a sketch of the dress you have described to them and will be able to let you know if the design will work or not and, possibly, suggest some amendments to the design. At the end of the day, their reputation is on the line and the last thing they want to do is make a dress they know will look awful. Go prepared as much as possible to your meeting with them. If you aren't very good at drawing, print out or cut out from a magazine an image of the style you like. If you like the top of one dress with a wedding shawl but the skirt of another then stick them together on a piece of paper and see if they work well together. Don't go to the dressmaker with no ideas as you could end up creating a dress on the spot that may look great but might not suit you. Try dresses on in shops so you can get a real taste of what you feel comfortable in.
Back in the day, it was quite common for daughters to wear their Mother's wedding dress. This doesn't happen so much nowadays. Styles have changed dramatically throughout the years. However, depending on the style of your Mum's dress and if she minds you cutting it up, you could always look into getting it modernised to suit your own style. This may not always work but it could still be considered, especially if you have a Mum who wants nothing more than for her daughter to wear her wedding dress on the big day. Besides, you will be able to tick your something old off your list of must-haves.
A few years ago getting a dress online was unheard of. Nowadays, online shopping has become a modern trend. You can buy absolutely anything on the internet so why stop at a wedding dress? If you are after a dress with a small price tag looking on the web is definitely worth a try. Dresses can go for L30 (excluding postage and packaging) which is a fraction of the cost you will pay in a shop. However, as with everything, it can come with a few pitfalls. The dresses are usually sold in standard sizes only. When you get your dress from a shop they take all your body measurements and your dress is made accordingly. When you buy online only some ask for these details.
There have been stories about dresses that have been bought online and arrive looking nothing like the dress that should have been sold and the poor person isn't able to return it. So make sure you look at the reviews to see what other Brides-to-be have said. It is also quite common to order dresses to be made from scratch from countries such as China for as little as L120, meaning you could have the dress you wanted for the fraction of the price you would have paid a dressmaker in this country. If you are willing to do your research and shop around there are plenty of ways to cut corners with the cost.
Before you book any appointments it's a good idea to do your research. Look online at dresses and buy some wedding magazines - though, unless you are able to travel far and wide, magazines aren't always that helpful. They do have some gorgeous dresses but Sod's law, when you look on the stockist list more often than not you'll see that the dress you like is actually in a shop on the other side of the country. Nonetheless, it's a good way to get ideas. But my advice would be to google wedding dress shops near to you and to see what styles they have. Not all shops will give you prices on their website but it's still a good place to start. And do not be put off by the shops that appear to be half the price of others. A dress that costs L300 can look just as nice as a dress that costs L3000.
When you go to the shop to order your dress you are expected to fill out a contract. This will state how much deposit you are paying and what the next instalment will be and when it needs to be paid. The contract will also state whether alterations, a dry cleaning service and storage of the dress are included. If they aren't, the bridal shop will no doubt have several companies they can recommend and are likely to have an in-store seamstress you can use for an additional charge. Storing your dress in the shop would be ideal as it prevents you having to lug it back and forth to the seamstress and it also means your dress will be kept safe and secure. Very few do, but some bridal shops also offer a transport service so you can get your dress sent to your home. This is something that I wish I had available to me; carrying a dress that resembled a dead body in a bag through the town and into the car park was not an easy task.