Wedding Dress Woes

Hello lovely

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.

Lydia Stamps Photography 011© Lydia Stamps Photography

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.

Rabbit & Pork Photography© Rabbit & Pork Photography

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.’

Dulwich-College-Wedding-My-Heart-Skipped-Photography-www.nubride.com_2741.jpg© My Heart Skipped Photography

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.

anna_jez0072© David Pullum Photography

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!

MikiPhotography Sophie & Willem Wedding Photos-83© Miki Photography

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.

K (2 of 14)© Rabbit & Pork Photography

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 BlewcoatKosibah, 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?

The Talent

Lydia Stamps Photography

Rabbit & Pork Photography

David Pullum Photography

Miki Photography

My Heart Skipped

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13 Responses to “Wedding Dress Woes”

  1. Olwen
    February 2, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    Absolutely spot on Nova. Many of the brides I meet feel overwhelmed in their search for a wedding dress and the amount of choice available. Your tips are absolutely right – do your research, don’t be too influenced by others and trust your instincts! Wait for the dress that gives you goose bumps! Great post x

    • Nu Bride
      February 6, 2015 at 9:44 am #

      Thanks very much Olwen, so simple when you break it down like that! x

  2. Chantal Mallett
    February 2, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    I don’t understand why more brides do not expore the made-to-measure route. Brides come to me, chat, drink coffee, try on samples, browse sketches & fabric swatches & we design exactly what they want & it’s unique to them. I also think you have to very careful with who you take to appointments. You need supportive people who are on board with your vision & are all about positivly helping you achieve it. Weddings bring out the best & worst in family & friends.

    • Nu Bride
      February 6, 2015 at 9:43 am #

      I definitely also encourage brides-to-be to go bespoke. I think there is a common misconception that it is more expensive (which it can be) but it can also be more affordable than anticipated and the overall experience is well worth the investment. However it does involve a LOT of trust in the designer and for some the anxiety of not seeing the finished product first does come into play. Great point re: who to take to appointments, it makes a HUGE difference who your ‘cheerleaders’ are!
      Weddings really do bring out the best in some and the worst in others!

  3. Karen - SmashingTheGlass.com
    February 5, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    Great post as always Nova. When I was dress shopping in 2012/13 I tried a few London boutiques to start with to really establish an idea of what I was looking for. I was amazed how few dresses I really liked! There was a lot of lace around in response to Kate Middleton’s dress, and I was just not a lace person. I wanted something simple and traditional but with a modern edge with structure and draping. After no luck with several boutiques, a friend recommended Stephanie Allin in Chiltern Street. Her team were a joy to work with and really connected with what I wanted. Stephanie gave an amazing service and I ended up with a dream of a dress 🙂 I think the lesson I learned was to stick to my vision… wouldn’t necessarily work for everyone, but it worked for me.

  4. liz inigo jones
    February 7, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Lovely piece and spot on as usual! For my first wedding I had a dress made by a designer friend and it was just what I wanted, as we both had input. But it did take a LOT of trust as you say, we can’t all imagine the finished product, as I know happens many times when I’m designing a bridal bouquet xx Who to take with you – 1 best friend who you know will be absolutely honest, mums get too emotional, too many friends can be just confusing. Take mum when you’ve got it down to three perhaps!

  5. Krishanthi Williams
    February 12, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    Great post, Nova! I’ll be passing this on to one of my best friends, recently engaged, as she embarks on her wedding dress shopping and all the joys and challenges that come with it! It all melts away on the day of course when the bride exudes happiness and confidence from being clothed in her perfect dress 🙂 Krish xx

    • Nu Bride
      February 13, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

      Thank you in advance Krish for sharing! So important to remember perspective when planning a wedding. Easier said than done of course!

  6. Fiona Campbell
    February 13, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    So great that you are addressing this. As wedding industry professionals it is our responsibility to make sure that brides have the most wonderful experience when getting married. It should be a journey of self discovery, creativity and preparation for married life. It makes me quite upset when I hear of bridal shops that make people cry.

    • Nu Bride
      February 13, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

      All we can ever do is educate and inform. I agree about the journey of self discovery, it really was for me and I didn’t expect it to be! Thanks for commenting Fiona

  7. Jana
    February 19, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    I bet it’s always so difficult to choose the right dress… We had just ceremony with two witnesses and I had a red dress, so it was a little bit easier for me… haha ))

  8. jamie leigh ryan
    March 23, 2015 at 12:45 am #

    I dont like my dress but the one i really really wanted cost way too much even tho my partner said i could of had it, me being me said, no, lets look for something cheaper. All i can say is go with your heart. I wish i could go with my first dress because now in 61 days i get to marry the one i love, in a dress i hate and i regret not going for the first 1 and not because it cost more, but because i had goose bumps and it was a perfect fit

    • Nu Bride
      April 2, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

      Hi Jamie Leigh, thanks so much for your comment although I’m so sorry to read you ‘hate’ your dress. Hopefully by the time you’ve read this you have learned to love it and trust that you will feel and look beautiful on your day, but if there is doubt it’s not to late to hit a sample sale , enquire about the one you loved, or buy something off the peg that you adore. Don’t give up! You can always sell this dress and recoup some costs back if you really don’t want it! Wishing you luck. Great advice to always go with your heart .