As the shopping trip of all shopping trips there is no doubt visiting bridal boutiques in search of that one special dress is one of the most exciting elements of planning a wedding.
You’ll want the experience to be fun, enjoyable memorable and stress-free, which is why we think its uber-important to enter into the search fully equipped with all the dos and don’ts that will see you well on the way to securing your perfect dress.
And who better to deliver such golden advice than a lady who has helped to dress hundreds of beautiful brides for their moment in the wedding spotlight, Hayley Hoyle, proud owner of top Yorkshire bridal boutiques, The Bridal Collection Harrogate and The Harrogate Wedding Lounge.
So, we’ll waste no time in handing over to Hayley to impart her insider knowledge in the form of a handy step by step guide to make your dress shopping, an absolute dream!
Homework – what research/preparation can brides do when initially beginning their wedding dress search?
hayley says: There is certainly no shortage of wedding inspiration in this world. Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, social media, magazines, wedding fairs, designers’ websites the list goes on – I would start a Pinterest board specifically for your gown and keep it as a secret board, use it to collate a collection of images you like; from a fabric, a neckline or even a specific dress or designer. This board will be useful when you start the shopping process, show your stylist and ask them to select some styles for you based on what you have been liking so far. If you are a technophobe a scrap book works just as well.
Booking appointments – how should a bride go about selecting the boutiques she makes appointments at?
First of all, I would consider the designers that have caught your eye from your research, check their websites and find your nearest stockist. Get on social media and check out the profiles of your local boutiques and see what resonates with you, each boutique will have their own brand personality and it should inspire you. Check out their reviews on Google and Facebook and look at how they respond to complaints as well as praise. Most importantly try to support your small, independent, service driven boutiques, to them you are special, you are a unique bride not just another sale.
Attending appointments – what advice would you give to brides when attending boutique appointments?
Most importantly – relax, remain open minded and let the stylists do their thing. It might be wise to wear modest seam-free flesh coloured underwear and a good strapless bra. Don’t slap on the fake tan before your appointment as it may damage the dresses and definitely don’t take too many people shopping with you! Remember the less people that see the dress the bigger the impact on the day. Finally remember to ask your boutique what extras will need paying pay for? Do they have an in-house alterations team, can you use it and how much are anticipated fittings?
Making a decision – what would you say to a bride who can’t make up their mind on a dress or that is unsure whether to visit more boutiques before making up their mind?
Don’t over think it. Think about both of the gowns in the setting of your wedding, does one work more than the other? Is there anything you would change about either of the dresses? Do they make you feel amazing? Over shopping will only make the process harder and more choices will only confuse you more. Remember there will always be more dresses and selecting yours is not the end of the process, it’s actually just the beginning. If after all of that you still have reservations, chances are you haven’t yet found your gown so head to your next appointment and keep looking, the perfect one is out there.
Fittings – is there anything you would advise brides to be mindful of during their fittings?
By the time it gets to your fittings your weight needs to be stable and you need to have the correct shoes and underwear, so your gown can be fitted to perfection. It is impossible to make a garment fit a moving target and because we want your gown to fit perfectly we advise no further weight loss once your gown has been pinned. Don’t take photos during your fittings, the gown isn’t perfect yet and looking back at a photo of a dress that doesn’t fit correctly will only cause you stress and anxiety. Trust the professionals and leave the photos until the day.
Accessories – after the dress comes the accessories. What elements should brides take into consideration when it comes to picking their finishing touches?
Your accessories should be the icing on the cake, they should complement the gown perfectly and not overpower you or the dress. When styling any outfit, I believe that less is more with regards to accessories and a wedding gown is no different. Choose one piece to shine and keep everything else simple. Oh – and always try a veil, there is only one day in your life you can wear one.
The big day – any tips on how brides can look and feel their absolute best in their wedding gown on their big day?
Make sure one of your bridal party knows how to get you in to your gown and how to bustle the train for dancing if there is one. Try practicing at your final fitting to avoid unnecessary stress on the day.
Most of all, keep calm and remember what the day is really about: you and your partner celebrating each other. Everything else is just stuff.
Aftercare – once the big day has been and gone, what should brides do with their dress/what are the options?
Depending on your sentimentality there are a few options you can choose post wedding to either preserve or recoup. If you intend to have your gown professionally cleaned I recommend you use a specialist gown and luxury fabric cleaner. We offer a post wedding dry cleaning service in our boutiques with the option of a long-term storage box in a design of your choice. Speak to your boutique to see if they do something similar or have any recommendations.
Timeless dress design: Swanson by Suzanne Neville
Showstopper dress design: Margo by Enzoani
Favourite dress trend: I love unusual fabrics, so I’m a big fan of gowns that have plenty of texture to them such as brocade, printed organza and thick textured Mikados. There is nothing more beautiful than a simple gown, expertly cut in a beautiful fabric so I’m a big fan of the simplicity popular with brides at the moment.
Celebrity style: For everyday fashion I love Holly Willoughby, she always looks expertly put together and I am constantly Googling where her outfits are from.
Favourite wedding trend: We have seen so much in the way of blush pinks, rose gold, greys and mixed metallic colour palettes over the last couple of years, I am very excited to see some strong opulent tones coming through now too – think peacocks, exotic landscapes and rich jewels.