And here we are at another weekend. I hope that whatever you’re up to, you have a fabulous time. Last weekend, we published the first instalment of this feature and today, I’m back with more advice to help you avoid a pre-wedding meltdown.
Last week, we heard from some of the fabulous venues in our directory and today, it’s the turn of the bridal designers, accessory designers and bridal boutiques. If you feeling stressed about finding the dress, if you think you’ve changed your mind about your gown or if you’ve just got niggling worries about the big day, stop whatever you’re doing and read on because you’re sure to find reassurance right here.
There’s no doubt about it – choosing your wedding dress and bridal accessories is a big deal. In fact, I’d say that it’s quite unlike any other purchase that you’ll make in your life. It comes wrapped up with so many emotions and expectations (yours and everyone else’s!) plus you can’t deny the fact it’s a big financial commitment too. You want to look and feel fabulous, you want everyone to love what you’re wearing and you want to stay on budget – oh yes, the dress is a big deal!
So, it’s not really surprising that the bridal ensemble can be a cause of tension in the build-up to the wedding and all those feelings usually stem from that fact that you want to get it so right. It’s absolutely natural for sure and, if you’re feeling like this, you’re certainly not the only one but there are things you can do to help yourself feel infinitely better.
A dress on a person is very different from a dress on a hanger!
I’ve spoken to the bridal boutiques and designers plus a clutch of the bridal accessories designers too to find out just how you can avoid an outfit induced pre-wedding meltdown so, let’s start right at the beginning – choosing the dress:
“A wedding gown is a magical thing,” says Elbeth Gillis. “It’s a rare opportunity for today’s woman to completely transform herself. I love being part of that magical transformation that brides embark on when they start looking for the perfect dress. I like to tell brides to live in the tension of knowing who they are, and therefore what they want, and keeping an open mind. It’s important to know what you like, but don’t be so bound by that that you aren’t willing to try on a dress. A dress on a person is very different from a dress on a hanger!”
“Shop for your dress when you are ready to buy,” says Laura at Brides of Winchester. “That may sound obvious but if you go too early then you’ll struggle to make a firm commitment and when you are ready – 6 months or a year later – you’ll be looking for that feeling you had when you first saw yourself in a dress you loved. Truth is that moment has passed and if you didn’t buy back then, chances are you won’t get that feeling back.”
Appointments at bridal boutiques are a great way to try on a range of dresses with an expert on hand to guide you. However, there are other ways to find your dream dress as Chloe at Black Swan Bridal Studio explains:
“Try a Trunk Show! When it comes to wedding dresses, not all are created equal which is why brides love a Trunk Show. A Trunk Show is an opportunity for local bridal shops to introduce brides-to-be to designer gowns they otherwise might not carry in their shop at a discounted price. Trunk Shows offer brides a chance to order straight-off-the-runway styles that the bridal shop will then make sure are promptly delivered for the big day. But be ready to buy – the discounts are part of the promotion.”
With so much choice, it’s easy to be bamboozled and it’s easy to get to the stage where your head’s swimming because you’ve tried on a lot of gowns or just because you’re not sure which one is the one for you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed – stop!
“If you haven’t found your wedding dress yet and are beginning to feel stressed out, take a break,” says Kerry at Bridal Indulgence. “When you’re constantly thinking about, looking at and trying on wedding dresses it can become too much. Put your wedding dress hunt on hold and take on another wedding task to take your mind off wedding dresses, even if it’s just for a couple of days.”
Finally, when you’ve found your dress, keep it special. Stephanie at Stephanie Moran Couture explains how:
“If you buy your wedding dress well ahead of the big day, don’t be tempted to keep looking at it and trying it on! This could result in the dress feeling less special and more ordinary because you’ve seen it that many times – resist the temptation!”
Of course, however well you know yourself and however sure you are what you like, it can be really easy to be swayed by friends and family. This, as Carina from Carina Baverstock Couture explains, has more knock-on effects than you might expect:
“We often meet a bride who at the beginning of her journey is cool, level headed and excited by her upcoming wedding – then, eight months down the line she is fraught, indecisive and living on her nerves…. Why? Because in the beginning, she had a vision of her Big Day but then having set in stone her look, her colours, her style, she has allowed others to influence her and question her decisions. Also, brides constantly compare their look, their wedding to everyone else they see on social media, which causes immense stress.”
“So, stick to your own vision and don’t be influenced by a ‘helpful’ friend who is new on the block with new ideas and don’t change your mind at the last minute – decisions made in the cool eight months earlier are probably the right ones.”
You can cut down on the input from others right at the start of the process – don’t invite too many people along when you try on dresses!
“As much as we love the idea of a party in our studio, we want your appointment to be as intimate as possible,” says Chloe at Black Swan Bridal Studio. “We want the focus to stay on you and what style and feeling you want to exude on your wedding day. Sometimes too many opinions can be overwhelming and stressful. We suggest keeping your crew to fewer than four guests so that we can comfortably accommodate everyone.”
One of the things that can catch brides out is the amount of time that’s required to choose and order a wedding dress, not to mention the additional time needed for fittings and alterations. If you’re planning a wedding on a shorter timescale, there’s no need to worry…
“If you don’t have the usual 6+ months to order your wedding dress there are always options so don’t panic,” says Kerry at Bridal Indulgence. “Some designers offer an express service to get your gown in quicker although you should note that there will be an additional cost for this. Some designers carry a few gowns that are available for immediate delivery. And then of course there’s a sample sale dress which is available to take away that day and usually with a very good discount!”
To avoid running out of time in the build-up to the big day or even on the morning of the wedding itself, factor in a little extra:
“Plan in a bonus day off or holiday day in the run up to your wedding,” suggests Natalie at Exquisite Bridal Couture. “So many brides save all their holiday for after their wedding but you need a time contingency in the run up too. You may need an extra dress fitting, you might need to make a last-minute dash for a more comfortable pair of shoes. Yes, it’s good to have those days off after the wedding but likewise you don’t want to be running around like crazy in the week ahead of your wedding.”
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Our Jenny Packham trunk show started today and what a wonderful way to mark it by showing your these beautiful pictures of our bride Annabelle at her wedding this summer 😍😍😍 📷 by @carrielaversphotography 🌸 by @lilylupinfloraldesign Dress - Lilya by @jennypackhambridal with matching Valencia edge veil by @hmveils & shoes by @harrietwildeshoes all from @exquisiteofwinchester Hair by @bloomer_and_bloomer ✨✨✨ #realbrides #exquisiterealbride #winchesterbrides #quintessentiallyhampshire #jennypackham #lovetosparkle #dreamteam #jennypackhambridesmaids
Give yourself time on the day as well and allow yourself plenty of time to get into your dress,” advises Stephanie at Stephanie Moran Couture. “You don’t want to feel flustered and rushed and remember that you might want time for photos too. Oh, and make sure that everyone handling the dress has clean hands!”
Another step in the wedding dress journey is the moment when your boutique calls to tell you that it’s time for you to come in for alternations and fittings. When you reach this stage, it’s important to remember a few things as Carina from Carina Baverstock Couture explains:
“Once dress fittings have started, it’s important to be happy with and maintain the weight – not lose or gain from that point on. Having decided on underwear with the fitter, stick to the same bra (if wearing) and remember to bring it with you to each fitting – along with your shoes. Speaking of shoes, if you feel you may wish to change your shoes during the long day of your wedding, try and get the same heel height so the dress doesn’t drag and get horrible grey marks around the circumference of the skirt, which will never come out.”
“Be prepared that the buying of a made to order wedding gown is a process,” says Natalie at Exquisite Bridal Couture. “Your dress is unlikely to fit as you imagine it should on your first fitting – but this is what the first fitting and the alterations process is all about…to sculpt the dress to you. So, don’t freak out if your dress isn’t the perfect fit on your first try, because once the seamstress has worked her magic you’ll love every inch of it.”
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Signing off on Sunday with an image from this shoot we shared today on Love My Dress, with bridal designs by @stephanie_moran_couture. Wishing you sweet dreams peeps 😘 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ lovemydress.net/stephaniemoran ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Photographer @joestensonphoto Venue @priory_cottages Dresses @stephanie_moran_couture Florals @rebel_roses Cake @quitecontrarycakes Bridal Hair Accessories @hfcoutureaccessories Millinery @simplydevinehats Hair Stylist @aquacreativeteam Make-up Artist @katrusha94 Stationery @rae_graphics Venue Stylist @somethingnew_wp . . . . . . . . #lovemydress #bridalhat #widebrimmedhat #bridesinhats #bridalaccessories #backlessweddingdress #weddingdress #bridalgown #bridalfashion #coolbride #modernbride #avantgardebride #bridalglamour
It’s a good idea to also take someone with you to your fittings and don’t forget to ask your seamstress for advice:
“Make sure that your seamstress takes you through how to get into the dress on the morning of your wedding,” says Stephanie at Stephanie Moran Couture. “You may need help so make sure the person who’ll be with you on the morning attends the fitting with you so that they can see how the dress is put on and any fastenings, hooks, buttons etc. are pointed out to them.”
Once your dress has been altered to fit you perfectly, you’ll be able to take it home and this can be quite a nerve-wracking moment as your gown becomes your responsibility! Karen, designer at Karen Willis Holmes has these words of wisdom:
“Once you take your wedding dress home from the designer, hang the gown on the hanger, using the hanging tags attached near the armholes on the inside dress and in the gown bag provided. To store your gown until the big day, hang the gown somewhere high, the back of a door is usually best as it is high enough. Pick a spot which is cool, dark, dry, free from moisture and insects, animals and somewhere safe and away from foot traffic so there is no risk of it getting caught on someone or something.”
A couple of days before, if you have a long train we recommend that you open your bag and pull your train out. Be sure to leave the gown bag on the hanger to cover the rest of your gown. Most small creases will drop out while hanging so do not worry about ironing or steaming your gown.”
Now, let’s get on to the topic of losing weight or toning up in the run-up to the big day. Whatever you think about this, we can’t deny the fact that lots of brides (and grooms too), use their impending wedding as a catalyst to make some lifestyle changes.
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This dress (the 'Fitted Toledo dress') and others in the new @temperleybridal collection, is available to try on NOW through to 10th September at @blackswanbridalstudio in Oxfordshire as part of the Temperley Bridal trunk show. You guys get thee selves to your emails now and send firstname.lastname@example.org a message to book an appointment before it's too late. Once the trunk show has ended, the gowns will be going elsewhere. You heard it here first ladies. You are welcome. . . . . . . #lovemydress #littlebookforbrides #lmdblackswan #blackswanbridalstudio #temperleylondontrunkshow #temperleylondon #temperlelylondonbridal #alicetemperley #floralweddingdress #floralbridalgown #modernbride #alternativeweddingdress #modernweddingdress #holyswoon #longsleevedweddingdress
However, the key here is to manage this in as healthy a way as possible and, most importantly, to make adjustments because YOU want to, not because anyone or anything pressures you into it. As Mette, designer from Freja Fashion explains, this decision is yours, and yours alone…
“This is something I really get upset about, because so many people have an opinion on this very private matter. You will find that somehow when you are getting married, suddenly family, friends and work colleagues find it acceptable to comment on your weight and say things like ‘ohh, are you having that cake? I thought you had a dress fitting tomorrow?’ It is absolutely hideous, and you should really be prepared to take no nonsense.
“Many people think brides automatically loose a stone by writing the invitations. It is not so! Losing weight safely takes planning and determined effort. Today many people deal with stress by having a chocolate bar or a glass of wine when they get home, and perhaps you have so much on you didn’t make it to the gym as often as you normally do. Perhaps you have extra nights out, hen nights, work dos, food tastings for your wedding meal, all of which will spoil your plans of slimming.”
“If you want to change, plan and do some healthy eating and up your exercise. You may find you feel better soon and your skin will improve but do not do that fruit fast a month before the wedding, for so many reasons. You will just look tired, your dress will not fit, and it’s not healthy. If you desperately would like to lose weight, then do it EARLY, as early as you can, 6-12 months before, that way your body will adjust to your new shape and the pressure is off you close to the wedding. Be realistic and remember your partner wanted to marry you for who you are, not your dress size.”
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Monday is looking like this over on Love My Dress and we are liking it a lot. Sarah wore a @jennypackhambridal gown for her glamorous winter wedding in East London - she found her dream dress at the wonderful @ThePantilesBride in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Her bridesmaids wore @houseoffroufrou. ⠀⠀⠀⠀ lovemydress.net/sarah-jake ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Images by @beatriciphotography and @chrisbarberphotography (thank you for sharing you guys!) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ENJOY! #lmdjennypackham #jennypackhambride #eastlondonwedding #modernwedding
Alexandra at The Pantiles Bride agrees:
“If you are going to change your body for your wedding, start as soon as you have found the dress, or not at all! Remember, your groom did not say he would only marry you if you are slimmer or more toned! Know that it’s you who is applying the pressure and the man who wants to marry you loves you as you are! My suggestion would be to start as soon as you have found the dress so that you will have time to have fun, eat and exercise and not lose sight of the happy day ahead in the midst of starvation and unrealistic goals.”
If you’re worrying about your body shape or indeed anything to do with your dress – talk to someone because they’re be able to reassure you as Natalie at Exquisite Bridal Couture explains:
“We all know it; the dress can be one of your biggest stresses in the run up to your day. So, don’t keep this stress to yourself! If you are nervous about anything to do with you dress, call your boutique and have a chat. We totally understand what you are going through and will help out your mind at ease. If you think you’ve lost or gained weight, don’t wait, let your boutique know before your first fitting, we may need to bring your fitting forward to allow for more time.”
Now, let’s address one of the areas of wedding planning that isn’t often talked about but does happen more than you might think – falling out of love with your dress. This can happen for a myriad of reasons but what’s most important is what you do so I’ll hand you over to Karen at Karen Willis Holmes:
“Brides sometimes question their decision, worrying that their taste has changed and the wedding gown they choose is no longer right. At KWH, we invite these brides back in to try their gown or sample dress on again, which gives them an opportunity to refresh their memory of why they chose the gown in the first place. In our experience, retrying their dress and rediscovering their love of it all over again removes any doubts they had. Our best tip is to make sure you choose the gown which makes you feel the best version of yourself, this way you will never fall out of love with it, even after your wedding day!”
“Stop looking at photographs of your dress, particularly if you’ve got photos of you wearing the shop sample that doesn’t fit you perfectly and try and remember how you felt in the gown when you had it on and decided that this was your dress,” says Kerry at Bridal Indulgence. “If you’re still having doubts, contact the boutique and ask if you can come in and try it on again just to put your mind at ease.
Now, let’s turn our attention to bridal accessories and we’ll start with your shoes. Victoria at Faber Novella has this great advice for you:
“A lot of brides buy their wedding shoes and stack away the box until the big day. I highly advise brides to start wearing them in a couple of weeks before the big day, in order to avoid any surprises. The last thing you want to focus on your wedding day is your feet and shoes. Wearing them a few minutes every evening will also allow you to get used to them, especially if do not wear heels on a regular basis and want to be able to walk confidently down the aisle.”
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How gorgeous is this vintage inspired midi length civil ceremony dress by @edmondsonbridalcouture styled with our Savannah strappy pumps in Apricot Blush suede and Champagne metallic leather! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Photography @beccygoddard | Dress @edmondsonbridalcouture| Venue @rmgvenues | Hairstylist @lovehairbylou | Make Up Artist @makeupana | Jewellery @agneswalker_jewellery | Wedding rings @london_victorian_ring_co | Videography @rachel_takes_pictures | Florist @bloomologieuk | Model @charlotte_louise_baker ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #weddingdressdesign #citywedding #chicbride #shortweddingdress #stylishbride #elopementdress #bespokeweddingdress #bridalstyle #queenshouse #bridestobe #gettingmarried #couturebride #luxurywedding #londonweddings #bridalstyle #weddingideas #weddingplanning #outdoorweddings #bridaldesigner #weddingideas #weddingshoes #weddingdetails #metallicshoes
Ann Guise, designer of truly gorgeous silk wedding veils offers these words:
“Don’t wear something because you think you should, wear what you want – your guests should say that YOU look stunning, not that your outfit looks great. Practically, if you’re nervous of pressing your veil, ask the store where you bought it if they will steam it for you a couple of days before the wedding. You can transport it home in a pillow case or duvet cover, depending on its length.”
And finally, when it comes to headpieces and bridal jewellery, who could we ask for advice but Hermione Harbutt:
“It’s so easy to get caught up in the abundance of choice and options for any bride, especially those with unique schemes and a huge wedding party to cater for. Choosing what your heart desires most will keep you on your path to wedding planning peace. Our brides are happiest when choosing accessories that they love which suit their personalities most. Whether you’re planning your wedding day 18 months in advance or have 2 weeks to spare, first things first, never panic! We’ll find a solution to your wedding woes whatever they may be.”
There definitely seems to be a common thread running through this advice and that’s to ask for help and speak about things that are worrying you sooner rather than later. This extends all the way through your wedding planning too – a problem shared is most certainly a problem halved:
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For those who love something completely original, our rose gold collections are the perfect accessory tone to suit your style. We adore this capture of @markiepearl wearing our Rose Gold Galatea. This wonder of a piece is a crown of geometric height in rose gold wiring and sparkling @swarovski crystals, perfect for those evening soirées ... Stunning! Are you all about the gold or steadfast for silver? Photography @amy.oboyle Accessories @hermioneharbutt Make Up @amyemakeup Hair @becksthairapy Location @sophiebevents Gown @katyakatyalondon Shoes @freyaroselondon
“My main advice is to realise that weddings are stressful, don’t try to be a superhero and pretend you are not stressed,” says Alexandra at The Pantiles Bride. “It’s ok, you are not alone, relax, exercise, do other things apart from work and wedmin. Try not to focus on just the one day, its over sadly so quickly, focus on it being a beginning of an exciting journey with your partner.”
Karen at Karen Willis Holmes agrees:
“Don’t try and do everything yourself! Is there something someone else could do for you that would help, even in the smallest way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and delegate.”
Pick reliable and capable bridesmaids, not just women you think will look great in your wedding pictures,” says Chloe at Black Swan Bridal Studio. “We all have friends who will be the life and soul of the party on the Hen or Stag do but they may not be the ideal candidate to support you when you are picking your dress or when you need someone to look after the rings. I’m a big believer of the three C’s so surround yourself with friends who are confident, capable and calm.”
Finally, if our bridal experts could each share one piece of great advice with you, what would it be? Well, here it all is…
The most important tip is something that is put into place right from the start,” says Emma at Perfect Daze. “Use the right professionals. Get recommendations, check reviews, do your homework. Making sure you have the right people in place will mean when the pressure is on you have all the support you need.”
Emma at Perfect Daze continues:
“When you have the right professionals in place, you need to LET THEM DO THEIR JOBS!!! We micromanage every part of our lives, check, follow up, make sure. The people you have chosen to look after the different aspects of your wedding do this every day, they are the experts. By all means ask the questions you need to, tell us your worries and let us reassure you. Don’t bottle things up, my brides have access to my messenger and mobile phone I believe it is better to nip things in the bud as quickly as possible if there are any worries.
As seasoned professionals, ‘we’ve got this’ you can concentrate on enjoying the run up to your big day while we sweat the small stuff on your behalf.”
Mette at Freja Fashion offers these words:
“I think what is most important is at one point to say, this is enough! I have done enough DIY and be realistic about what you can do. Don’t end up having no time to spend with the people who have travelled to be there for you on the day, because you are too caught up in the table plan. Spend time enjoying each bit of it all without too many pressures, as it all happens so fast.”
Karen at Karen Willis Holmes says:
“Remember to enjoy the process, it is very easy to get caught up with all the organisation that comes with planning a wedding. Find enjoyment in ticking things off your to-do list as it all comes together. And on the day, remember to have fun! You have planned this day to enjoy it and celebrate so if anything goes wrong, remember that no day is absolutely perfect and that it is all part life, don’t let it stress you out!”
“The calmest brides we meet in our appointments always say the secret to remaining chilled out is to just enjoy the process,” agrees Luna at Britten Wedding Accessories. “Planning a wedding shouldn’t be for anyone else but yourselves – you’re planning your own happiness so don’t try to please too many people and lose sight of why you’re actually getting married.”
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I’m going to leave you with these words from Chloe at Black Swan Bridal Studio as they come with a big dose of positivity and perspective which is all what we need:
“Remember it’s OK to have a meltdown – a meltdown isn’t compulsory but getting married is a big moment in your life. You’re not alone, your friends, family and your partner will pick you up and dust you off.”
“Embrace your hiccups and don’t sweat the small stuff. Of course, there’s the big stuff such as venue, your outfit and being in the right place at the right time on the big day. But it’s OK to let other things go and compromise. Remember the things that don’t quite go to plan are the things that you’ll laugh about and become the stories you tell in the years to come. After all, perfection is one woman’s aphrodisiac and another’s poison.”
And, at the end of the day, you’ll be married which really is what it’s all about.