Congratulations if you are recently engaged. In my experience, one of the first things that most brides will do is to start looking for their wedding dress.   But very quickly many find that choosing their wedding dress is not as easy as they might have expected.  And it’s hardly surprising; for most brides this will be the first time they have bought a wedding dress.   So here are some tips designed to help you choose your wedding dress.

Wedding Dress Budget

First things first, decide how much you want to spend on your dress.   And never try on a dress that costs significantly more than your budget figure.  If you do – there won’t be any going back.

And when considering your budget, remember that you will also need to buy all of the accessories, including underwear, a veil, shoes and jewellery.  Plus, your dress is likely to need at least some alterations and this will be an additional charge.

For top tips on choosing your wedding shoes, head over to the blog post I wrote specifically on this subject.

miss hayley paige wedding dress

Wedding Dress Design

No doubt you will have been looking in bridal magazines, wedding blogs and on Instagram at wedding dress designs and have some idea of what you want.  But until you try on these dresses, you can only imagine what style is likely to suit you best.  So my main tip, for your first few appointments with wedding dress designers or wedding dress shops is to try on wedding dresses in several style ,  even if you think you know what you want.  You might find yourself very surprised – and this will definitely help you to nail the style of wedding dress that you should be wearing.

suzanne neville wedding dress


Wedding Location

When choosing your wedding dress, make sure that you take account of the location where you will be marrying.  For example:

  • if you are marrying on a beach or in a hot climate, do make sure the dress will be comfortable for you to wear all day?
  • if you are marrying in a place of worship, is the dress considered suitable ?

Galia Lahav wedding dress

Who should I take with me to choose my wedding dress?

It’s very tempting to want to take your entire bridal party with you to help you to choose your wedding dress.  Most wedding dress designers would advise against this.  Ultimately, the more people you have with you, the more different opinions and the more confusing it will become.  Only take with you the people that you trust most to help with this important decision and keep numbers to a minimum.  I promise it will lead to a more enjoyable and less stressful experience.

And you can always take the others with you to future appointments as you are likely to need at least one, if not two or three fittings.

In fact, it is always advisable to have someone with you at your final appointment who will help you to get into your dress on the day and can be shown how to do so.  This is particularly important if you dress has complicated fastenings, a corset, lots of buttons etc.

If you have a train,  which will need clipping into a bustle after the ceremony or before the dancing,  you also need to make sure that someone in your bridal party is shown how to do this also;  and they should practice whilst in the shop.

Wedding Dress Shops

Please note that you will need to make an appointment in advance with most wedding dress designers and wedding dress shops.   When attending the appointment make sure that you are taking with you (or wearing) appropriate underwear.  Once you have chosen your dress, you may then need to go out to buy specific underwear that works with the dress (and the wedding dress shop should be able to advise you about this).  If it not possible to wear a bra with the wedding dress,  make absolutely sure that you are comfortable about this before committing.

Before you go back for your first fitting,  do make sure you have purchased both your underwear and your wedding shoes.  You can find out more about buying your wedding shoes by reading this blog post.

Questions to ask:

  • ask about the process including fittings (and make sure that they do them for you;  I would never recommend buying a wedding dress and then taking it to someone else for alterations);  and don’t buy a dress if it needs too much in the way of alterations to make it work for you
  • ask for a sample of the fabric, which is useful when you are choosing other items for your wedding

Jenny packham wedding dress

When should I order my wedding dress?

Most wedding dress shops and designers will expect you to place your order at least 8 months prior to your wedding date.  The dresses you try on in the shops are samples and your dress will be made specifically for you.  Of course, it will not take them 8 months to make the dress but they need to slot it into their production schedule, along with all of the other dresses they are making.  If you find you have less time than this,  don’t worry as it is always possible to put through a rush order,  although there may be an additional fee for doing so.

Wedding Dresses for Destination Weddings

If you are marrying overseas, you will be wondering how to get your dress over to the destination country.  You are unlikely to want to let it out of your sight; certainly not in the hold and most likely you won’t want to ship it in advance.

Unless you are travelling long haul first or business class,  it is very unlikely that you will find any airline that will commit in advance to allowing you to carry your dress on as hand luggage.  But, whilst there is always a first time, I have yet to find a cabin crew who has not been accommodating.  After all, who wants to upset a bride?

If yours is a destination wedding:

  • if you can, travel business or first class, if this is an option (even if it’s just you that does this)
  • some airlines will allow you to book an extra seat for the dress – but don’t just book the seat,  do make sure the airline is aware that it is for the dress,  as many won’t allow it
  • call ahead to the airline, mention it at check in and then aim to arrive early at the gate.  If you can be first on the plane it’s likely to be easier to get your dress stored away.  If you are last on board, there is less likely to be any space,  however accommodating the cabin crew would like to be

Finally, if you are travelling overseas with your dress, think ahead about where you are going to hang it once you arrive at your destination.  It will need space and secrecy so this is something that should be discussed in advance with your hotel or accommodation.  You might also want to plan for a steaming service and/or for a fitter or seamstress booked locally who can help you with any last minute issues on your wedding day.

miss hayley paige wedding dress


If you would like to find out more about my wedding planning services, please do get in touch. You can contact me by email, by phone on + 44 020 3930 9459 or by heading over to the contact page on my website.


All of the weddings featured in this blog post were planned, designed and co-ordinated by Elegante by Michelle J.