I started my wedding dress search this time 4 years ago and it was a nice bubbly equal mix of joy and disappointment.
I’ve been hearing a lot of disappointing accounts from some of you about your wedding dress shopping experience not proving as exciting and (happy) tear-inducing as you expected.
From overwhelm and discovering every dress you highlighted in magazines, looks completely odd on your body. To pushy sales assistants making over-excessive and irritating follow-up calls, feeling like you are on a conveyor belt, to unsupportive friends and family.
One reader comments:
Despite how glamorous wedding dress shopping looks in the movies, it didn’t even come close to that. It was very much a ‘take a number and we’ll get to you’ mentality. In some shops I felt I had to do the work by suggesting different underskirts/hoops with certain dresses, or the assistants just seemed very bored and wanted to be somewhere else, and at no point was any champagne ever offered!! The ridiculously tiny size of some of the sample dresses as well made me feel like a proper heifer so that was a bit deflating
Reading this made me feel pretty sad and frustrated because, even though I admit my wedding dress experience had some ups and downs, I certainly got champagne and cupcakes lol. On discovering many beautiful bridal boutiques in the industry (whose owners often started as a result of wanting to provide quality services to brides), the wedding dress shopping experience can, is and should be so much better than what some of you seem to be experiencing.
The anticipation of finding my perfect wedding dress was immense. Somehow searching for my wedding dress made everything feel ‘real’, this was actually happening to ‘me’! (You can read about my dress shopping experience here).
I was so excited planning which shops to pick. Blocking out a date in the diary to spend with my mum and best friend and of course the obligatory wedding dress debrief over a spot of lunch and champers.
After a really, really positive start, I was certain it wouldn’t be long before I found ‘the one’….
Roll on 3 months later, dress number 50 and shop number lord knows what, the customer service just seemed to go downhill.
I was told I could not even touch the dresses in one shop (yes really – needless to say this store has now closed down) and others were evidently working on sales driven targets, trying to push certain designs on me regardless if they were right for my body shape or not…
As you can imagine, the excitement soon wore off, overwhelm was quickly followed by underwhelm. I remember thinking ‘what’s happened?’ Well this sure isn’t like the movies!’
Where was the glee, where were the squeals from my girls, where the heck were the tears from my mum (lol) why did everything I liked on the hanger look completely rubbish on my body or simply just ‘nice’….. I remember a sales assistant saying ‘what do you think’.. I said ‘it’s nice’ She said ‘it’s your wedding dress, it’s got to be more than just nice.’
I received another email from a gorgeous reader;
So after a pretty horrible 5 month stint looking for a dress, I bought one last weekend. I got ‘a feeling’, and shed a tear. However, since then, I’ve spent literally every minute doubting myself, wondering if indeed this is the right dress. It’s truly been exhausting.
I’ve fallen out with family and have been called crazy and a Bridezilla for feeling unsure about my wedding dress…
I feel your pain, it’s really not uncommon to feel anxious about your wedding dress choice, even more so when it doesn’t ‘play out’ the way you expected it to. The wedding dress styles we see in magazines or think will suit us, often look very different on our bodies. I remember I was adamant I didn’t want a lace dress. And they suited me so much better than anything else I tried on!
Friends and family do genuinely feel like they’re helping by giving you positive words of encouragement, but sometimes all you really need them to do, is just listen. To validate how you are feeling at the time, rather than trying to change it or make you feel like you are over exaggerating. Just remember it’s coming from a sincere place.
None of my friends, including my bridesmaids, have been particularly supportive, telling me I’m being silly and to stop worrying. So I started trawling the bridal forums on Facebook and found a thread FULL of brides feeling exactly the same as me: Trying to avoid bridal TV shows for fear of seeing different dresses, trying to deal with the mental mountain that is accepting you’ve chosen a dress very different from what you wanted to pick, etc.
Whilst this forum doesn’t fix my problem, it is reassuring to know what I’m going through is normal! I’m trying to arrange another try on with my bridesmaids (who haven’t seen it) so that I can recapture that moment again and stop freaking out…
A really good point to make. We place a lot of pressure on ourselves to have this euphoric perfect moment.
The wedding dress experience is NOT the same for every bride. Think logically for a moment, why would it be?
There are so many factors thrown into the mix, putting aside that not all of us enjoy shopping and most of us will never have shopped for or worn a wedding dress before. A lot of it is down to feeling confident in our own sense of style, managing our expectations, receiving a quality overall experience from designers / bridal boutiques. Just having people out there to understand you can be a massive support and also a relief that you’re not completely morphing into bridezilla or simply that you’re being heard and understood.
After bursting into tears in the shop, I tried the dress again and hated it. I’d been right all along. I now have a gorgeous dress in a totally different style that I love. And yes, I don’t want to try anymore on!
Hurrah! I think this part is true for all brides, once you have found your dress you will just know. It might not come with the bells and whistles, tears and amateur dramatics, but when you know, you know and you won’t want to look at anything else.
- Trust your instincts, go with a design that suits YOUR personality and consider that you may not know what that looks like in your mind, or on the hanger!
- Be open to try anything. You’ll be surprised what looks good on you in the world of bridal.
- Taking your friends and family with you is great, but try to keep the numbers low, as everyone has such personal and different tastes when it comes to wedding dresses. Their opinions, of course, will influence your decision, so take a hand-picked selection of your friends / family who are honest and genuine, but not forceful with their views.
- Do your research. Search for boutiques online with great customer feedback. Ask your friends for recommendations. Make use of magazine or online forums like my reader did.
Shopping for a wedding dress should be a positive experience, it might not be easy and full of bells and whistle’s but it should be pleasant.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Shopping for a wedding dress can be hard, but it can be made easier by receiving the customer service you deserve from quality designers and boutiques. There are absolutely loads doing a gorgeous job; including Coco & Kate, Ritva Westenius Morgan Davies, BOA Boutique, Churchgate Porter, Miss Bush Bridal, Ian Stuart Blewcoat, Kosibah, Emma Hunt, Helena Fortley to name a teeny tiny few. Research!
I think in an ideal world, we all want our wedding dress big reveal to be like the movies; mum bursting into tears, our friends jumping, clapping and squealing with delight (and a pinch of jealousy). And you, feeling like a million bucks like Carrie Bradshaw swirling around with giddy excitement in her Vivienne Westwood dress. For some, it absolutely is. For others it isn’t and that’s ok.
How was / is your wedding dress shopping experience, can you relate to any of these experiences?