How To Shop For Your Wedding Dress – Experiences and Expectations in ‘Finding The One’

wpid334707 finding the perfect wedding dress 4

Happy lunch time all, it’s a beautiful sunny, but very blustery day here and it seems to have blown all the cobwebs away and really got me thinking about this lovely world of weddings, and the whole process of dreaming, planning and creating that we go through in order to create the day that is ideal for us.

As a long-time devotee of Love My Dress, I have always loved the real weddings featured; the inspiring photos, the beautiful detail, the captured moments of intense love and emotion and the lovely things up for grabs in the offers and competitions, but possibly most of all, I enjoyed the discussion posts which focussed on more serious issues- everything from the under representation of black brides in the wedding industry and the decision to change your name after marriage (or not) to Annabel’s very personal post about her previous money issues.  There have been some very thought-provoking posts over the years and I am delighted to be writing my first contribution to this archive today.

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Wedding dress shopping.  Billed as one of the most exciting parts of being engaged; the shopping trip you’ve been looking forward to forever.  Its the most enjoyable part of the planning process, yes?  There will be champagne and giggling friends and admiring shop assistants right?  You’ll feel like a princess!

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wedding dresses, wedding dress, lovemydress, wedding blog, love my dress

Shona in her wedding dress (see her full wedding here on Love My Dress)
Photography by Karen McGowran

Well, quite possibly, yes, it might be this way, I certainly absolutely loved elements of dress shopping, and had some wonderful experiences, but unfortunately it isn’t the case for many women, and for many different reasons – size worries, weight concernsbudgetary considerations, or perhaps you’ve even already bought your dress and aren’t sure about your choice?  Or perhaps, like many brides, you have put a lot of emotional investment into your dress, and although the shopping was great fun at first, it’s getting more and more stressful with every puff of chiffon and slide of silk you pull on in the changing room and the dress you walk out to show your friends or family just seems, well, like another dress.

“Oh you’ll cry when you know it’s the one!” we’re told.

“You’ll go all shaky at the knees”

“You’ll just know!”

But what if you just, don’t?

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Elizabeth Avey 1940’s Vintage wedding dress (photographed by Rachel Hayton)
Rue de Seine wedding dress (photographed by Philippa James)


Perhaps this is an odd topic to broach, given the name of this blog and the industry we work in on a daily basis.  Furthermore, isn’t the wedding dress a massive part of any wedding?  Should I be suggesting that the idea of ‘the one’ has perhaps gone too far?

Unarguably a bride’s dress is a very visual part of the day at many weddings, but I feel quite strongly that for many women, there is so much pressure to find ‘the one’ that instead of being a fun and light hearted experience, dress shopping becomes incredibly stressful, and no longer enjoyable, and when it becomes more of a chore than a pleasure, it’s time to take a step back and consider why.

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Alan Hannah wedding dress (photographed by Nabeel Khan)
Belle & Bunty Wedding dress (photographed by Christopher Currie)

As I said earlier, I loved wedding dress shopping, certainly at first.  I was lucky and never dealt with anything but the most friendly assistants and my closest friends and lovely Mum were all very happy to come with me (several times) and sit patiently while watching me parade around the dressing room, trying on an enormous range of dresses, as I had no idea what I wanted.

I tried on big dresses, sparkly dresses, very understated dresses, even a striped dress (beautiful!), A line, princess, straight and mermaid cuts (until I was finally persuaded that it really didn’t suit me – thank you bridesmaids!).  But then the realisation hit that actually, I really did have to make a choice eventually, and so far, none of them had given me the shivery, teary feeling I had been told I would feel when I found the right one.  I liked plenty of them, and really loved a couple, but I moved on, in search of that elusive feeling.

sally lacock

Dress by Sally Lacock wedding dress (photographed by Free-Range Wedding Photography)

I have no idea how many dresses the ‘average’ bride tries on during her dress hunt, but I suspect I exceeded it by quite a few.  Months went past, and many a Saturday afternoon was spent in boutiques across the country, with my ever patient mum and bridesmaids.  Yes, I exaggerate a little.  I didn’t eat, breathe and sleep wedding dresses, although I know many people do, but I was very aware that I had been looking for a long time, and hadn’t been completely convinced by anything I had tried on- everything was just not quite right.  It wasn’t ‘me’, or didn’t give the impression I wanted to give, or was ‘too bridey’ (I have no idea what I meant by that one).

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Dana Bolton bespoke wedding dress (photographed by Caro Hutchings)
Katya Katya Shehurina wedding dress (photographed by Rebecca Goddard)

I considered having a dress made – a wonderful idea if you know what you want (I didn’t have a clue), but dismissed it, as to be sure I’d found ‘the one’ – I wanted to be able to try ‘the one’ on beforehand.  And then, one afternoon, walking back through York City Centre, I had one of those long chats – the like of which you only have with your closest friends, and I realised that I was looking for a dress that represented me, in all my many guises and in every state of mind, and that one dress simply can’t do all these things.  Moreover, I had so bought into the idea that I would ‘know’ when I had found the right dress, that just because I hadn’t cried, or made my mum cry, I had dismissed some really wonderful dresses, that might just have been perfect, had I been trying them on with a different mind-set.

A couple of weeks later I started dress shopping again, with a clear head.  All I wanted was a dress that made me smile, suited me perfectly and that I felt great in – a dress I could imagine myself walking down the aisle in and feeling happy.  It didn’t have to represent ‘me’, it didn’t have to be the culmination of every dress that had gone before, all I had to do was love it.

On that trip, thanks to the new open mind and clear head, I tried a dress on I would never have considered previously.  It was ballet length (I didn’t want short) and had a layer of lace over the top (I didn’t want lace) and a row of beautiful pearl buttons right down the back (I didn’t want pearls).  I didn’t cry, my Mum didn’t cry, and I didn’t feel as though all my problems would be sorted by this dress.  But I did feel great.  I did feel comfortable, and when I looked in the mirror it suited me beautifully.

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Elizabeth Stuart sequin gown (photographed by SOSAC Photography)
Halfpenny London wedding dress (photographed by Barney Walters)

The full skirt and little sequins made me want to twirl and I had the biggest smile.  The decision was made by an elderly lady knocking on the window with her walking stick and nodding enthusiastically at me – who was I to argue?

The moral of the story?  There are hundreds and thousands of absolutely stunning dresses out there, many of which will look fantastic on you (ok, so many will look dreadful too, but that’s all part of the fun!) but really, what you are looking for is just a beautiful dress to wear on an important occasion; it isn’t a symbol of your marriage or the most important part of your wedding day, and therefore the level of stress and pressure that a lot of us feel while shopping to find ‘the one’, something which makes us weak at the knees, is really unnecessary.

wedding dresses, wedding dress, lovemydress, wedding blog, love my dress

wedding dresses, wedding dress, lovemydress, wedding blog, love my dress

Charlotte Balbier the designer in her own design wedding dress (photographed by Polly Alexandre)
Jesus Peiro wedding dress photographed by S6 Photography)
Claire Pettibone wedding dress (photographed by Ross Harvey)

I’m not for one moment suggesting you shouldn’t feel and look fantastic on your wedding day- when I did finally find my dress I loved it to bits (still do!) and adored wearing it on our wedding day- I felt fabulous, confident and happy- that’s the power of a dress you love, but at the end of the day, it is just a dress.  Open your eyes and don’t restrict yourself.  Most importantly, don’t go into the shopping process feeling that you have to find the most important dress of your life. 

Relax, go into it with an open mind, find something you really like, but don’t necessarily expect starbursts and tears from everyone involved, or for you to feel anything other than perfectly happy when you do find a dress you like.  Most of all, enjoy every moment.

I’d love to encourage you to leave a comment below about your own experiences and expectations.  Did you find your dress straight away or wasn’t it as straight forward as that? How many dresses did you try on? What advice might you leave for other brides starting out in their journey to find the perfect wedding dress?

With love, Shona x


P.S.  you might also want to read this popular ‘Don’t Love My Dress feature.  Also, if you’re looking for a shop or a designer to buy a dress from, we highly recommend several – you can learn more on this page


Shona Raffle-Edwards

Shona Raffle-EdwardsView all Shona's articles

Shona is a wedding admiring bookworm with a love of the countryside, flowers and all things organisational who is currently based in sunny Yorkshire with her husband and beloved cat

91 thoughts on “How To Shop For Your Wedding Dress – Experiences and Expectations in ‘Finding The One’

  1. I think that’s the best thing to do when you go wedding dress shopping is keep an open mind. I was not looking forward to it at all and was very daunted by the process. I started off by finding some dresses I liked, finding a stockist and ruling those out first…..which I did. I then tried on shapes recommended to me by the (first) bridal shop I went into. I happened to fing “the one” but only because I then visited about 5 other shops and I kept looking for that dress or one like it. I couldn’t really shake the feeling I had when I tried the dress on. I tried on all different shapes, sizes and colours. The only thing I didn’t do was try on any dresses that were way out of my budget…..which pretty much meant avoiding London shops. Even if it is supposed to be once in a lifetime I just didn’t want to love a dress I would never be able to buy.
    Finding a good bridal store is worth the journey too. The first shop I went to were so hopeful and knowledgable and I was thankful that I ended up buying my dress from them. Good customer service makes a huge difference and finding a shop that is brave enough to say “no I don’t think that’s quite right” and giving you options you wouldn’t choose yourself is worth paying for. They will also not make you commit on the day unless you’re absolutley 100% sure. Even if you think you have found the one it’s good to go away and have a think about it. The worst thing you can do is pay the deposit then have second thoughts.
    At the end of the day if you feel great in your dress that’s all that matters. You might not ever wear it again. I love my dress (!), but I will be buying another one when I renew my vows!!

    1. ‘Keep an open mind’ >>> Brides, please take note!

      Also, this:- ‘Finding a good bridal store is worth the journey too.’ This is such a valuable message, thank you Sarah!

    2. Completely agreed, thank you Sarah! Budget is always an interesting one- do you go all out for your wedding day or stick within an allocated amount? I had a set amount personally, it increased a little, but I had a top limit I refuses to go over- luckily my dress came in just under and I was lucky enough to be offered the (almost entirely brand new!) sample, which helped too- both with the decision making and the cost!

      Now, a vow renewal dress, there’s a thought… 😉

  2. I cant tell you how happy this article makes me!
    I spent months and months trawling dress shops and endlessly looking online for different designers to find my ‘perfect’ dress. I put so much pressure on myself for how I thought I should feel in the right dress and I never felt this way- I end up feeling deflated like ‘the one’ just wasn’t out there.
    Then I eventually found a little boutique and find several dresses on. The last dress I tried felt so comfortable, but again no tears from me or my sister…it just felt really comfortable! I could dance in it, the fabric was beautiful. So I decided this is what I wanted. I came away feeling chuffed to bits. But after a few weeks the dreaded feeling of it not being the ‘one’ suddenly hit me. I have since been back twice to try my dress on, both times as soon as its on I love it-give me a few weeks of thinking about it, I start to panic again!
    I am getting married on 11th April and I just know the dress is perfect for me but the pressure of finding the ‘one’ certainly made the experience of finding my dream dress a difficult one.
    Kayley x

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience Kayley, it just goes to highlight the crazy pressure we (the media?!) put brides under when it comes to finding their wedding gown.

      I bet your look absolutely beautiful in your dress and I’d love to see some photographs in due course please 🙂

      Love Annabel xx

    2. Hi Kayley, thank you for sharing your experience- very similar indeed to mine! Just try and hold on to the feeling you get when you put it on- its hard though I know! My boutique allowed me to have a swatch of the fabric which I loved as it reminded me how beautiful it was every time! Perhaps an option?


    3. Ahh our very own Kayley!

      Annabel, I can personally vouch for the fact that she looks absolutely beautiful in her dress, I very much hope to see this lovely lady grace your pages 🙂 xx

  3. This really resonates with me! I was almost fearful of dress shopping partly because of body confidence issues (I’ve always been very tall and am about a foot taller than my husband to be!), partly because of budget constraints and partly because I just didn’t relish the possibility of being centre of attention with an entourage of people (albeit lovely, each and every one of them) all wanting and hoping for me to find “the one”. In the end, I went and tried on a few high street numbers one afternoon in Manchester with my sister, whilst out and about on a general shopping trip, as much to get an idea of colours and styles and be able to wander into a regular changing room with no pressure or expectation. Nothing really fitted but it did enable me to pick out bits and pieces that I liked about each one (definitely NOT strapless) and come up with an idea of what I might ultimately like. Armed with this information, I thought I would then pluck up the courage to book an appointment at a “proper” dress shop…but as it happened, the following week, I was running to meet a friend for lunch and a dress that appeared to fit the criteria on my “wish list” was in the window of our local bridal shop. I popped in after lunch to shyly enquire as to the price (knowing I couldn’t let myself try it on if it wasn’t within budget) and then made an appointment to go back in my lunch hour the following day which I did, taking my sister with me! The sample size fitted perfectly and I was taken aback to discover that I actually liked what I was seeing….I did get a bit tearful, as much I think because I felt an enormous sense of relief that it might actually be possible to find something that was right for me. Several weeks later, after various trips back to look at it in the window and another lunch hour try-on with a friend, I ordered it, to then be met with astonishment from various people who couldn’t believe I’d not taken my mum shopping with me! (My Mum, incidentally, was entirely cool with this) I’ve since had a wavering “But what if it’s not “the one”?!” moment after being at a friend’s wedding where the bride looked utterly beautiful in a gown that is the polar opposite of my dress but have given myself a talking to, realised from other brides that it is perfectly normal to have these moments of doubt and moved on, taking on board the advice of my friends that I will look stunning on the day but the reality is that my husband to be loves me for me, not the clothes I am wearing and it is our marriage, not the dress, that is the most important part of the day. I’ve since bought an awesome pair of shoes, commissioned a bespoke headpiece (neither particularly “bridal”) and am telling myself that all will be well, whilst hoping against hope that my partner will be bowled over when I walk down the aisle at the beginning of April!x

    1. Oh Claire M, I absolutely loved reading through your comment! Firstly, I’m really pleased to find that after getting yourself a bit worked up, that finding your dress turned out easier than you had expected – I serendipitous moment if ever there was one.

      I think the key thing that stood out for me was your ability to accept and ‘move on’, despite ongoing niggling doubts. I think this is such a key piece of advice for all brides. Imagine how much energy is wasted worrying about the ‘what if’s’…..imagine how much better spent this energy could be if you just stopped worrying and ‘moved on’.

      Also, I’m pretty sure from what you say, that your husband’s heart will fill with pride and admiration at how beautiful you look on your wedding day when he sees you 🙂

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Claire,

      All my love, Annabel xXx

    2. Completely agreed, thank you Sarah! Budget is always an interesting one- will you go all out for your wedding day or stick within an allocated amount? I had a set amount personally, it increased a little, but I had a top limit I refuses to go over- luckily my dress came in just under and I was lucky enough to be offered the (almost entirely brand new!) sample, which helped too- both with the decision making and the cost! Xx

      1. Apologies Claire- I meant to post the above reply to the comment above yours.

        Annabel has already said it beautifully but I’m delighted that you ended up having a great experience after being worried about what it would be like- and almost by accident, perfect!

        I agree wholeheartedly with the idea about accepting and moving past any doubts (within reason of course)- as you say, everyone gas moments of doubt- there are so many options, we only get to choose one (or most of us do anyway!) and we often try to build so much expectation into it all- if it makes you smile, its just right 🙂 I’m certain your partner will be bursting with pride on your wedding day.


  4. Shona,
    I’m so happy that you wrote this post. I definitely think that there is an expectation as a bride-to-be that you will just love dress shopping. I didn’t have any horror stories, I didn’t hate dress shopping and there weren’t any tears, but I certainly didn’t love the experience. Actually, I found it exhausting!

    Firstly I thought there was lots of pressure – from some shop assistants in particular but also from other people. Not necessarily my bridesmaids or my mum, but colleagues and friends who wanted to know if I had found “the one” and would grill me after each shopping trip. I didn’t mind that at first, but when I hadn’t found anything after a few trips they made me feel unnecessarily stressed. Even shop assistants were a bit tough, a few seemed to throw dresses at me when they realised I wasn’t liking some of their stock. I felt like they desperately hoped that I might like something “different” to what I had asked for and it tired me out. Those dresses are heavy!

    I probably tried on 30 dresses in my search and I think I would have been happy wearing 3 of those dresses on the day. Those 3 weren’t what I was looking for when I started the search. In my head was Jenny Packham or a slim fitting dress and the reality is that I’ve gone for a Naomi Neoh A line number with a full skirt and I absolutely love it! When I tried that one on, I didn’t know it was “the one”, my mum didn’t cry and nor did I, but over a few weeks I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Once I had pictured myself in that dress suddenly I came up with other ideas about the rest of the day and everything clicked into place. I knew that I had to go back and try it on again.

    I think every bride wants to find the perfect dress and it would be great to find it quickly – but for me that definitely wasn’t the reality. I did have a few very nice days out with my mum, aunties and my favourite girls, who made the experience more special (despite the complete lack of fizz in any bridal shop!) and that was probably the best part for me xxx

    1. Hi Sophie!

      Oh I love that you’ve left this message, it highlights the relationship that you have with your wedding dress is not guaranteed to be a ‘love a first sight’ style affair. It might be a slow-burner and you might not realise until you ‘think’ you’ve developed a platonic friendship, that actually, you’ve fallen in love – and that’s completely OK!!

      It’s great to hear that you had a few enjoyable days out shopping for your dress too. I think whenever we share a post like this, it’s tempting for the boutiques to be nervous that they’re going to get a grand old slating. On the contrary, I love how these posts end up highlighting really good, positive and enjoyable experiences for brides!

      I bet your Noami Neoh gown is absolutely beautiful. I’d love to see!

      Love Annabel

      1. I love the idea of some dresses being love at first sight while others are the type that sneak up on you- very true indeed! Xx

    2. Sophie,

      You sounded just like me when you said..’In my head was Jenny Packham or a slim fitting dress and the reality is that I’ve gone for a Naomi Neoh A line number with a full skirt and I absolutely love it!’ My wedding is going to feature on LMD in February and you will read virtually the same words! I thought I wanted slinky and sexy when in reality I wanted to be a pink princess 😉 (Worried I sound a bit like Katie Price with that comment!) It pays to try on a wide range of dresses that sometimes take you out of your comfort zone. I adore Naomi Neoh dresses so I have no doubt that it will be beautiful! xx PS No fizz round these parts either!

  5. I refused to even set foot in a bridal boutique! I knew that they wouldn’t stock ‘my’ kind of dress and that even if they did, they wouldn’t be selling it for under £300 (my top budget). I always shop alone for clothes, so the idea of inviting other people to call judgement on MY dress seemed weird and I would hate to think that someone else’s opinion influenced me in any way. So, I stalked a few online and ordered one. Fits perfectly, completely happy, within budget. I’m getting a friend’s Mum to hem it and will do a bit of customising myself too. Can’t wait to wear it, and I feel relieved that I didn’t have any stress or have to part with more money than I’ve allowed.

  6. I found wedding dress shopping quite easy because I’m a fairly decisive person who knows what they want. Unfortunately because of my budget, I had to shop for sample dresses and the service I received at the bridal shop was less than perfect. I had always dreamed I would have had the perfect experience to match the wonderful dress I purchased. It was a reputable bridal shop but I just felt rushed and not cared about because I wasn’t purchasing the current stock. Looking back, now as a married woman, I have gotten over it however, I hope going forward bridal shops will treat all brides the same and give the perfect experience of champagne, good advice and even the ability to see the colour of the dress in different lighting,
    despite the budget. I am glad I bought my sample lazaro dress and though it was amazing on me and fitted my style perfectly but wish I had had the perfect experience to match.

    1. Oh sorry to hear you had a less than perfect experience at the boutique Samara (I visited 5 boutiques myself and four of them were so helpful and encouraging, really wonderful actually – one was pretty awful, so I know what a discouraging experience it can be). I think it’s important to remember that as in all walks of life however, bad experiences are usually limited to just a few bad apples. Opting for a sample gown if your budget is limited is a really great idea – I actually went for a sample dress at first!! (Funnily enough, it was the ‘bad customer service’ experience on going to collect it that put me off the dress entirely, – so I ended up buying a brand new Jenny Packham. Now that really *was* ‘the one’!)

      Thanks so much again for taking the time to comment,

      Love Annabel xx

  7. Gosh, I got married 18 months go and wanted my dress to be tea length ( as I’m a keen lindy hopper!), in the style of a dress I’d normally wear but white, (and I wasn’t even that set on white)’ no sparkley stuff and not too expensive. I tried on a few vintage styles but couldn’t find anything that fitted, suited or I could afford, so I ended up getting a made to measure dress from Whirling Turban who are based in the U.S and Indonesia, I was cutting it fine with the delivery with it arriving 2 weeks before the day, luckily it fitted like a dream and was perfect for what I wanted. But if it hadn’t arrived until a? My plan B was to buy a Vivien of Holloway dress, I would never have thought I wouldn’t be stressed about buying my wedding dress but for me, it was more about how the dress made me feel rather than how it looked, and I loved my choice!

  8. I studied fashion in college and work in the fashion industry so I bought my dress second hand from a friend for 70 euro and altered it to look how I wanted. The dress is a princess style D&G gown in ivory and blush. I put new straps on it (it originally had skinny straps) and altered the size as it was a little big on me. I love to look my best but I know how to do it without spending a heap of money. I tried on a dress in a boutique that looked like it was unfinished (the top half was a lacy vest top and the skirt was just plain tulle with no over skirt) and it cost over 2,000! I think there’s a lot to be said for second hand websites/stores, vintage shops and places like TKMaxx. H&M even do a bridal range. I know everyone wants to look special on their wedding day but there are ways to do it without eating into half your budget.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Melissa – really interesting reading about your experience of your own dress.

      I do think there’s a lot to be said for second hand, however, I’m a big advocate of designer bridal wear too. I appreciate the craftsmanship, the fit, the way a beautiful designer gown will make you (well, me) feel like a million dollars and I think that the prices that are being charged in most boutiques are completely justifiable when you take into account all the many elements involved in getting that dress from ‘idea’ to the hanging rack. But that said, I would never discourage brides from considering second hand or vintage! It’s all down to personal preference and so often, budget! 🙂

      Thanks so much Melissa, I hope you have a fabulous wedding 🙂

      Love Annabel x x

  9. What a great topic, Annabel! I often have brides who ask how other brides react to finding the “one” but it’s just not the same for everyone. Yes, some people will shed a few tears, some will be totally decisive & know straight away while others will want to take time to think & come back to try the dress again. There are no hard & fast rules but it is definitely up to us, as boutique owners, to make sure brides have the best experience they can. I have had brides visit with body confidence issues (like all of us) but we do our very best to make our brides feel comfortable and find the experience exciting, rather than stressful.

    It is such a great experience, finding the dress & we LOVE being part of that journey!

  10. Gosh this post & comments have made me feel so SO much better!
    I lot a good bargain and was convinced that I would not spend more than £500 on my wedding dress – even this I thought was extravagant! I trawled through the internet & in particular good ole Pinterest. I knew before I started looking that I wanted a lace dress. All the dresses I saw photos of and absolutely loved were all big. The first two dresses I tried on were at a wedding fair (thoroughly recommend – SOME – of these) and they were big. I loved them but they were so heavy and I soon realised I wanted to be comfy too and not knackered on the day from having a heavy dress on – not something I’d considered before! I set about going to different bridal boutiques to see what I liked and what suited me. I visited about 6 boutiques, and had a brilliant experience in all but one (the assistant was lovely but the shop was really tired and just didn’t match the price tags on the dresses). The fourth boutique was lovely and the assistants were brilliant. After that visit I was willing to completely blow my budget after I fell in love with one dress and couldn’t stop thinking about it and looking at photos online. I’m so indecisive though and thought if I went to one more boutique the dresses I tried wouldn’t compare to the one I fell in love with & I’d have found ‘The One’. I left that final boutique having put down a 50% deposit on a £1600 dress I’d just tried on! A 10% discount and free £200 veil was as close as I got to a bargain, oops! I pressured myself into making a decision and knowing most dresses have a lead time of 4-6 months put the pressure on too. I have doubted my decision everyday since, even though I know it is the right decision, I should have thought about it as rushed decisions make me feel so uncomfortable. I need to have a strong word with myself & just relax!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Rox 🙂 Goodness knows I’m terrible at making decisions , but remember you chose that dress for a reason! Can you go back and try it on again to remind yourself why you love it? Its so hard to remember once you’ve left the shiney world of the boutique sometimes… Xx

  11. I can’t believe after that wonderful article there’s so picture of you in the dress!! 🙂

    I’m getting married in August 2016 and holding off to go dress shopping until at least this August and I CANNOT WAIT! I’m so excited and getting a bit worried that I’m falling into the trap of building up this ‘ideal dress’ in my head. I know exactly what I’m looking for (lace, dropped waist and off the shoulder) and I know when I begin shopping I’ll struggle to find this and even if I do, what’s the chances of it looking amazing on my shape (slim/rectangle/boyish)

    I’m going to try my hardest to keep an open mind but I know it will be hard! Wish me luck for when the time comes!

    Cat xx

    1. Oh you mean my dress? Well as Shona wrote the article, I thought I’d share her images instead 🙂 (see the top few photos).

      You sound like you’re pretty clued up and being very sensible about things Cat – high five to that!

      ALL MY LUCK for August this year Cat!!


        1. Thank you very much Cat! You know what? I adored my dress, but i still have ‘what if’ moments about it! Maybe we should have several wedding days, so we can have several styles of dress….? 😉


  12. With my (very) petite frame, just shopping for any type of clothing that fits is a bit of a nightmare. I do have a few children’s clothes in my wardrobe (no VAT – bargain), but obviously I couldn’t really go down that route with my wedding dress… I think that everyone will have their own individual worries dress shopping, and mine were a) having no idea about what I even wanted and b) only being able to try on sizes which were ten times too big and not knowing what they’d look like if they actually did fit. After visiting several shops, and trying on a variety of styles, I started to feel a little bit of pressure, what if I NEVER find my dress?? Though one of my bridesmaids pointed out that the only time I’d had my ‘happy face’ on was when I’d tried a shorter dress. I may have not liked the actual dress, but being able to move, not having anything too long which I don’t wear normally, must have just made me feel more comfortable. After finding Timeless Couture (who make bespoke dresses in the UK) on the internet, I have discovered that travelling is well worth it – going to my first appointment and nattering away with a cuppa for the first half hour rather than frantically picking out a set number of dresses to try on was quite refreshing. I may not have known what dress I wanted at the beginning (and I still don’t exactly know now, even though they are now in the process of making it!), but I knew that I wanted it made at that shop. They are making me a bespoke dress, using the lace from my mum’s wedding dress, and lining it with the material from the waistcoat of my dad’s wedding suit… I may not know yet what it will look like, but I have faith, and knowing it’s used those materials gives it that extra special meaning, and I am trying to stop wondering ‘what if’ I could have had another style, another shape, and just know that it will be bespoke for me, and oh so special with the fabrics it’s made with. I am positive I will love it!

    1. Yes! Proof again from a tried and tested approach that travelling to the right boutique is well worth the time (and travel expense).

      You’ve hit on something so key here too Rach – which is that finding the right supplier can make one helluva difference. Someone you connect with and trust. And sometimes that might require shopping around a bit, but that time and effort required for that is worth it.

      I truly love the idea of you having elements of your parents wedding attire incorporated in to your wedding dress, what a wonderful thing to do, such a special way to add meaning and personal/emotional value to your dress!

      An earlier reader commented about the need to ‘move on’ at a certain point and stop worrying about the ‘what if’s’. I reckon it’s about that time for you to do that now my lovely 🙂

      Thanks so much for your comment,

      Love Annabel xx

    2. A good supplier is a wonderful thing- its fabulous to just be able to trust in someone just knowing what they create will be perfect- I love the idea of making it from your parent’s wedding outfits- how fab! Xx

  13. It’s so tempting to dash out and try wedding dresses on – I mean they’re bound to look gorgeous, right? Not for me! My first foray into wedding dress shopping just left me feeling flat. I knew what i wanted and what I didn’t want. Finding a dress-designer maker on your wavelength that you can afford can be your best bet if you can really visualise your dress. Claire Pettibone, Charlotte Casadejus and Alice Temperley were three of my favourites.

    1. All great choices Cat – clearly a woman of fine taste 🙂 I was pretty sure what I did and didn’t want too – though I was encouraged in to all manner of gowns on visiting the boutiques. However, at least the experience proved beyond doubt what did and didn’t work on me.

      Sorry to hear your experience wasn’t so positive though! Did you try another boutique after this? The boutiques we recommend on this page each offer a really good service:-

      Love Annabel x x

  14. I am not a ‘dress’ girl, I just don’t wear them I find them uncomfortable and more so unflattering on my figure. The thought of being on show in a boutique is bad enough but then being encouraged to try dresses on that I just found samey and had to pretend I liked as not to offend was just a waste of time. I knew I didnt want a traditional dress, I needed something that i was comfortable in and that echoed my style and the style of our day and I couldnt find this anywhere-etsy was as close as I got but can you ever be sure that it will arrive and fit? Then will you like it in the flesh? I did do the boutiques and I tried to keep an open mind and I did buy a dress and yes it flattered me and I looked very lovely in it but I just wasnt comfotable I was worried about my problem bits and If im honest I couldnt particularly move I certainly wouldnt be able to chase my son around the grounds or play the lawn games I’ve lovingly put together. So I completely buried my head in the sand unfortunately this sand was in a big glittery wedding hourglass! Our wedding is in May so today I have been fabric shopping with my very talented little cousin who is going to make my dress based on the only dress I have in my wardrobe that fits like a glove and will go with my cowboy boots – that was another challenge trying to find a wedding dress in a boutique that will go with your wedding cowboy boots!
    In the end I think I became de sensitised to wedding dresses after looking at so many of them, I scoured the Internet for styles/colours etc that I loved but that didn’t love me and I certainly didn’t want my dress to wear me which was the main feeling I had in the ones I tried on, looked good in but didn’t feel good in – Will this dress be ‘the one’ I really hope so, I will have to let you know! X

    1. I hope so too Sarah- if you’re not a big flouncy dress person why force it? I’m sure you’ll look fantastic either way, and I’d love to see the dress with cowboy boots! Initially I really wanted to wear boots with my wedding dress too, but it just didn’t look right with a tea dress! (I did wear it with wellies the following day to plant our wedding tree though!) Go with what suits you- you’re the bride!

      S xx

    2. Thanks for sharing your experience Sarah, I certainly look forward to hearing more from you! Please keep in touch – I want to see a picture of you in those cowboy boots 🙂
      Love Annabel 🙂 xXx

  15. Brilliant article! So glad it’s not just me – I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to find ‘the dress’ and actually got quite stressed about it. There have been times I’ve bought an item of clothing, loved it, but then six months later decided it was really unflattering, and wondered what ever possessed me to buy it – and I was absolutely petrified of this happening with my wedding dress. I went to many shops and would come away liking a dress – but would then overanalyse it, look at pictures on pinterest and finally decide I didn’t like it. Initially I’d gone to one shop, tried on the one dress I’d seen a photo of that I loved, liked it and came away thinking that if that was the dress I chose, I’d be very happy. But then I confused myself and overanalysed it, and instead of just trying to find a dress that I liked, I was trying to find a dress that did everything – was really flattering, comfortable, would wow people, was subtle, elegant, etc, etc. In the end, I bizarrely didn’t have to actually make a decision. I entered a competition with Brides magazine and Jenny Packham picked me as the winner, meaning that I got a dress I’d picked from her new collection. I had the most amazing experience at her boutique and the dress is a work of art. In the end the decision was made for me, so I’m extremely lucky (not everyone has a fairy godmother in the form of Jenny Packham – if only!) but this piece has got it spot on. One dress can’t do everything – I will treasure my dress, but I also treasure the ratty old jumper I got engaged in. If you swish the dress around like you’re a little girl, and it makes you smile, go with it 🙂 x

    1. Emily, thankyou for your comments, I’m so glad the article has been helpful. I think one of the big things is not to over analyse wedding dress shopping- as you say, we try and make one dress be all things and represent every side of us, and a dress just can’t do that! I love your comment about treasuring the tatty old jumper you got engaged in as well- im now trying desperately to remenber what was wearing when my husband proposed… Ive got a horrible feeling it was my waterproof!

      Your dress sounds gorgeous and how completely fabulous to win a Jenny Packham frock! What a wonderful way for your choice to be made,

      Much love, Shona x

      1. You look stunning Annabel! Beautiful dress 🙂 I’m now completely obsessed with everything Jenny Packham – it’s like being part of a very special (glamorous) club! xx

  16. Thankyou all so much for your kind, thoughtful interesting comments! I’m so thrilled this article has resonated with so many people and been helpful to many of our lovely LMD brides and I’m so sorry its taken me hours to write a response of my own- the day job calls!

    We all have unique experiences of the wedding dress shopping experience and while there is no getting away from the fact that big-white-dress shopping (or whatever kind you fancy- one of my favourite LMD weddings was a short blue frock!) is a big deal- we know we’ll be looking at the photos for a long time, we know all eyes will be on us on the day and for most of us, its the most expensive dress we’ll ever buy! I’m certainly not suggesting you should simply buy the first one you see, but I do think that we have been ‘trained’ almost, into building it into such a big deal, that if thunderbolts don’t come down when we try them on then it simply isn’t good enough! As so many of you have said- open mind, and relax. Shop with a free mind and throw out your expectations- it’ll make it so much easier.

    Please do keep commenting everyone- we’re reading every single comment as always, and its really interesting to hear the thoughts of the LMD community 🙂

    Much love,


  17. Reading this post has done wonders for me today and I’m so glad that the not-so-fairytale side of wedding dress shopping is being discussed. I remember commenting on Lovette Kay’s post on a similar topic. At that point in time I had tried almost 50 dresses over 5 months of searching and had resigned myself to the fact that I obviously wasn’t ‘normal’ and wasn’t ever going to have that ‘this is the one’ magical, tearful moment…so I’d ordered the dress I felt ‘most OK’ about from a designer that could allow me make changes to the design at a later date (I must have known then that I wasn’t 100% sure). After barely sleeping over Christmas, I admitted (to myself more than anyone else really) that I’d made the wrong decision.

    The boutique have been absolute stars with me and luckily I was in time to cancel my original order and have the opportunity to select a different dress. I visited them at the weekend and went with a completely open mind (effectively starting again) and was actually more relaxed than I think I’d been at any of my numerous previous appointments around the country! There was one particular Watters dress that I felt really happy in and actually didn’t want to take off as I swooshed around the boutique in it so I guess that’s a good sign. The only trouble is, I’m now VERY cautious about making the wrong decision again, or having a wobble about my choice a couple of months down the line. Also, I think at the back of my mind I think I was still kind of hoping that the whole fireworks, bridesmaids and Mum in tears, shaky knees moment might in fact be real.

    Having read this post I’ve realised the amount of pressure I was putting on myself to find ‘the most important dress of [my] life’ and the moral of this story is now going to be my mantra: ‘what you are looking for is just a beautiful dress to wear on an important occasion; it isn’t a symbol of your marriage or the most important part of your wedding day’.

    I really hope that other brides-to-be read this article and remember to just enjoy the process because there really are some lovely boutiques and stunning dresses out there (I should know after the amount I’ve tried!) Thanks Shona for an excellent post! xx

    1. Thankyou Kirstie, fingers crosses the Watters dress is just what you’re looking for- I’d say if it makes you feel good, come back to it, one or even twice (a good boutique will definitely understand!) and then try to stop thinking about it- don’t push yourself into making a decision, but if you want the dress, go for it! (I’d say wanting to swoosh in a dress is a very good sign!)

      Shona xx

    2. SO pleased to hear you’ve been able to seek comfort and reassurance from this post Kirsty – that was our sole aim.

      ‘What you are looking for is just a beautiful dress to wear on an important occasion; it isn’t a symbol of your marriage or the most important part of your wedding day’.

      Oh, this!!!

      I also really appreciated how you pointed out that the experience is to be ENJOYED as there are many wonderful boutiques out there offering an amazing service.

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience Kirsty,

      Love Annabel xXx

    3. Another of our lovely brides, hi Kirstie!

      We would hate for any of our brides to be less than 100% confident with her choice, so we are more than happy to help you find an alternative! I am a bit of a hesitant decision maker myself (It’s a lady’s prerogative to change her mind…no?) so I completely understand your dilemma 🙂 I loved the Watters dress on you too, it definitely made you smile! Come back to try it on again when you’re ready xx

  18. Despite getting married in September 2014 I can’t help but still read all your wonderful blogs! My dress shopping experience was pretty disappointing. I’d been an avid user of Pinterest as soon as we were engaged and found some truly beautiful dresses for inspiration…unfortunately my boobs and curves didn’t quite look right in the beautiful slinky 20’s style dresses I’d fallen in love with.!! I visited 3 shops and found a dress that I thought was “ok” and told my mum “this one will do” but felt really disheartened. The amazing lady in the bridal shop overheard and asked if she could pick a dress for me, I let her and it was perfect! I loved every minute of wearing it and felt a million dollars. I’m now thinking of ways for me to wear it again! xx

    1. Hi Kirstie,

      Its so disappointing when what you imagined you would love turns out not to be quite right… Delighted that the lady in the shop knew her job inside out though, and everything worked out! Out of interest- was it anything like you had imagined you would buy?

      S xx

      1. It was completely the opposite…I was set on what I liked and didn’t like – definitely not strapless or with a corset bodice, and I was desperate for it to be beaded. My dress was full lace, corset and strapless but completely perfect for me. The assistant told me to embrace my curves and show them off, she was completely right 🙂

    2. Proof that the boutiques really do know what they are doing – and it is well worth taking a deep breath and letting them guide you! Thanks so much KIrstie 🙂 x x

  19. I am so glad you have brought this to your readers attention. I got married in April 2014 and despite loving every second of planning our wedding, I think I found shopping for a wedding dress the least enjoyable. When we got engaged in 2011, we were living in the UK and out of curiosity, I went to a few bridal shops with a colleague of mine. I didn’t try on any dresses and wasn’t looking to purchase, I just wanted to see what was out there. I knew I didn’t want to wear a strapless gown but that seemed to be all that was on offer and many of the shop assistants were in complete disbelief when I asked what else they had in store . I came away completely disheartened but as we hadn’t a date or anything set I put it to the back of my mind. By the time we had set a date, I had spent many hours on the internet looking at wedding dresses and thought I found ‘the one’ when I spotted Jenny Packham’s Apsen. However, when I went to try it on – it did nothing for me. I went to two bridal shops that day and came away more confused than ever. There wasn’t one that stood out. So I went back to searching online and came across a beautiful Joanne Fleming dress. I knew instantly it was my dress. I decided after the previous day of wedding dress shopping (where I brought my mum, my sister and my now sister-in-law), that I was going to try on this dress on my own. I found the only stockist of Joanne Fleming in Ireland and within seconds of trying it on I knew I found ‘the one’. Talking with Pamela about different things I could do to the dress to make it my own had me excited. I had a slight ‘Oh my god’ moment but nothing like what you see in the movies. I went for a cocktail with my future sister-in-law to celebrate. However, when I brought my mum to see it, she wasn’t convinced. Thankfully, I was completely in love with my dress, that her opinion didn’t change my mind and I knew that on the day she would love it. I suppose I was lucky in that I found a dress that was just right for me – but the experience up until you find your dress, isn’t what you imagine it to be. I look at my friends now who are dress shopping and they appear to be stressed by the experience. I worry that they are missing out on the best things about planning a wedding. Yes the dress is important and the pressure women feel today to find that perfect dress is overwhelming for some but surely THE most important thing is that on that day you are marrying your best friend. And doesn’t every bride look beautiful on their wedding day and I believe its not because of what dress they are wearing but because they are full of happiness and love which is infectious and lights the room.

    1. Oh I LOVED your wedding Linda (readers, here it is! >>

      Another really strong message I’m so pleased you’ve shared with readers (having been there and done it!). ‘….The dress is important and the pressure women feel today to find that perfect dress is overwhelming for some but surely THE most important thing is that on that day you are marrying your best friend. ‘

      And I completely agree with your final comment – they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but if you ask me, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing a bride smile, radiate happiness and confidence and just losing herself in all that wedding day joy!

      Thank you Linda,

      Love Annabel x x

      1. Love your comments Linda (and I absolutely adored your wedding, and your stunning dress- I remember reading it) thank you so much.

        ‘….The dress is important and the pressure women feel today to find that perfect dress is overwhelming for some but surely THE most important thing is that on that day you are marrying your best friend.’ THIS, 100%.

        Love Shona xx

  20. This post came at just the right time for me! I started looking for dresses in Sept/October without a clear idea of what I wanted. I’d envisioned wedding dress shopping to be a sublime experience…I’d look skinny, sip fizz and cry when I found ‘it’…but in reality I was a bit out of shape, hot, sweaty and not a drop of fizz in sight! (I even had one particular appointment where I soldiered on through six dresses while crippled with a bladder infection, not fun!)

    So far I must have tried on over 60 dresses in 10 different boutiques. It’s not that I’m fussy, I actually love the majority of them and I’m far too polite to lovely shop assistants, they ARE all beautiful dresses after all. It’s exactly what Shona pointed out…I’m trying to find a dress that is all things to all people, including the many versions of myself!

    I also feel the extra pressure of guilt for dragging my mum and bridesmaids around several shops at a time, which is ridiculous because when they get married I’ll love nothing more than to sit and watch them try on beautiful dresses and be treated to lunch (I always insist on picking up the tab), but somehow I feel like I’m wasting their time by being so indecisive.

    After a few months break I recently started the hunt for my dress again, this time with a clearer mind and more focus…and possibly found my dress, the second one I tried on with my new mindset. I’d also done my hair and make up for the appointment which helped with the overall vision! It made two people cry, ticked every box I was looking for (including budget, hurrah!) AND put a huge smile on my face. But that was last week and now I’m starting to doubt again…… Why do we put so much pressure on this purchase?! Reading this post has really helped me evaluate the over analysis I’ve been putting myself through. Going back for a second try again soon… Fingers crossed I love the dress as much as I thought I did!

    1. Oh I hope you love it as much too. I think it’s probably time for you to accept your beautiful dress discovery and, as an earlier reader said, ‘move on!’

      Get the dress, put it away, don’t try it on again until you really really need to. And focus on enjoying the rest of your wedding planning!

      Thanks so much Joelle,

      Love Annabel x x x

    2. Never feel guilty for taking people dress shopping- I can assure you from the other side of the gown, as it were, it isn’t boring in the least, and a privilege to be involved. Fingers crossed you love the dress as much this second time, and if you do- go for it, and don’t look back! It sounds very positive indeed if it ticked all the boxes, made people cry, and most importantly, gave you a huge smile!

      Love S xx

  21. Thanks for this feature. I’m a 44 yr old bride to be heading into my 2nd marriage. I could not find anything I wanted in bridal shops so opted to have my dress made for me by Erica Stacey who is based iManchester. I went along with pictures of what I liked and she drew me a sketch of my dress along with fabric samples. We had to delay making it because I had breast cancer treatments and surgeries to contend with which altered my shape but she was amazing and patient. I’m getting married on Valentine’s Day and I only tried the dress on in December and it was just the basic shape. We tweaked it while it was on me. II will be seeing the dress with all its detail on Friday. She is very talented and I trusted her from the beginning. I knew the style I wanted which helped but if you were unsure she would start by asking you what you don’t like etc. The service I have had has been wonderful. Appointments have been in her private studio I had confidence in her from the start. I can’t wait to see my finished dress especially as I’ve finally chosen my headdress which had been my main dilemma as i’m wearing a wig due to my own hair not growing back in time. Oh .. and ive changed my shoes 3 times! Haha. Xx

    1. Hi Janet!
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I am sorry to hear of your illness Janet, sending you my love and strength – but by the sounds of it, you are recovering, very well I hope!
      Having the option to have a bespoke wedding dress designed from scratch is wonderful and especially if you can find a designer/seamstress who is adaptable and flexible but can quickly help you hone down your design ideas – I’m really pleased that you’ve had such a positive experience with Stacey – a new name to me, I must look her up!

      All my love and best wishes,
      Annabel xXx

    2. Hi Janet,

      I’m very sorry to hear about your illness, much love. I have just had a sneaky peek at Erica’s work and she’s a very talented lady- her work is beautiful! She also sounds like a star in terms of customer service too- perfect.

      Best of luck for the big reveal on Friday, xx

  22. What a wonderful post and one I wish I’d read in the planning process of my wedding.

    What didn’t help my wedding dress shopping was not being at my goal weight (something I should have changed before dress buying which would have made it much easier for myself).

    I also choose shops which sadly had very bad customer care!! I was however shopping in France at the time and there wasn’t much choice unless you lived in Paris which I didn’t. I hated the pressure put on me and I felt rushed to purchase a dress I didn’t really love!

    Knowing what I know now I would have looked through Love My Dress to find an article on the best places to shop, I’m sure that would have ensured a smooth process.

    I loved my dress, was it ‘The One’ I don’t think so, it was one of many and yes it was lovely. If I could choose again I would but did it destroy the day no, I felt good on the day and we had a lovely wedding, memories I will treasure forever so I guess the pressure is crazy.

    I think finding a lovely shop/designer is key, someone who will help you with your choice and who will not pressure you into a decision. Your suppliers are the key to a stress free day, choose wisely!

    Happy Tuesday Lovelies
    Christina x

    1. ‘I think finding a lovely shop/designer is key, someone who will help you with your choice and who will not pressure you into a decision. Your suppliers are the key to a stress free day, choose wisely!’

      Such wise advise. It can be a big investment, and, I mean, you’d ‘shop around’ for any other big purchase wouldn’t you, before departing with your hard earned cash? I think it should be the same with a wedding dress – find a boutique you feel a strong connection with – that you trust and feel have ‘got your back’. There are many out there, it just requires a little shopping around 🙂

      Thanks so much Christina,

      Love Annabel x x

      1. Hi Christina,

        Annabel took the words right out of my mouth- I agree completely (I seem to be saying that a lot!) A boutique that makes you feel comfortable and happy and treats you like a person, is so important. You want to look forward to going there, not dread it! Thanks for your comments,

        S xx

  23. I knew what dress style and designer I was after but I made sure I tried on lots of styles and designers to be sure. Until you go wedding dress shopping then you don’t know if that ‘perfect dress’ you have seen online or in a magazine, would actually suit your shape. Don’t let the bridal shops force you in to choosing a dress. Its probably the most expensive dress you will ever buy so you have every right to walk away to take time out to think over your purchase. I went to three different stores and I couldn’t choose between two so the store kindly let me take pictures and I went away and compared them to see which one looked the best. You can’t always tell when you are in the dress. Its useful to have some honest friends or family with you at the time of choosing.

    I was after the tea /ballerina length style dresses and to my dismay they just didn’t look right on me. I am big busted and they seems to flare out from just under the bust which was not flattering. I then tried on a Justin Alexander dress which was long with a train at the back. It had a longer body which flared out from the hips so was a very flatterings shape for me. I fell in love with this dress and then made the huge decision to have it cut in to the length I wanted. I was so excited I had a huge smile on my face. Don’t feel under pressure to cry when you find the one. People feel emotion in different ways. I was excited!

    I was nervous taking the dress to a dressmaker to have it cut but it was absolutely the right decision and it was perfect for me on the day. I only wish i could wear it again!

    Good luck ladies. Enjoy the process. Its the fun part of wedding planning! x

    1. Well, I can categorically say I did not cry when I found my dress – and reading through these comments, we’re not the only ones. We’re clearly not alone!

      So important to point out too that dresses you *think* look beautiful might not flatter our body shape – so key to try on dresses in a boutique you trust will be honest – completely honest.

      Thank you so much Claire 🙂
      Love Annabel x x

      1. The best part was I kept the train that was chopped off to use as a christening gown when we have children :o) x

        1. Hi Claire- that’s a great idea- waste not want not!

          As I said in the article, I didn’t cry either- neither did my Mum- I guess its just not what we do! Instead I grinned and twirled and didn’t want to take it off…. We’re all different!

          Thank you too for pointing out that dresses can of course be altered in many cases- so if you’ve found a dress you love which just isn’t quite what you want, speak to the shop- they may be able to make alterations or suggestions for changing it.

          Much love,

          Shona xx

  24. Hi Shona, thanks for such a great feature. I had a very similar experience to you when I went dress shopping before Christmas. Everyone I spoke to told me that I would ‘know’ as soon as I tried The Dress on… but after squeezing my bottom into dress after dress and being clamped up to the nines I sort of lost the will to live. The dresses all started merging into one and whilst on the one hand, nothing was quite perfect; on the other hand, I wanted them ALL! For me it came down to what suited me – being just over 5″ I was sad to discover that certain dress styles that I’d oogled online didn’t make me look like a lithe twiggy model ‘like in the pictures’, more sort of… squashed. Luckily I had great experiences with nearly all the shops I visited and I have the best Mum in the world, who tried to forewarn me about the pitfalls of wedding dress shopping and managed to make me laugh through the squashed moments (Lou, this isn’t about us crying over a dress, it’s about the business of finding you a dress you’re happy with)…and I did find that dress in the end, thank you very much Jesus Peiro. The story didn’t quite end there though as the boutique took my measurements and kindly advised me that I would have to order in a size that was 2x sizes bigger than clothes I wear on the high street. I’m not going to lie, I wept a bit inside and had a salad for lunch. But then I got over it – apparently bridal sizes come up small and if that was the kind boutique assistant trying to spare my feelings then do I care? No! I’m in love and get to have a wedding and wear an actual wedding dress! On the day I start to have crippling doubts about whether my dress is really ‘the one’ (and I’m sure that day will come so thanks Shona for the heads up!), that will be my mantra.

    1. Hi Louisa,

      Thank you for your comments! It sounds like in many ways you had a good dress shopping experience on the whole- I agree completely that its usually our own expectations that make something seem not as amazing as we expected, not the experience itself- as you say, sadly sometimes what you imagined sometimes just isn’t quite the same in reality! As you say though- there is a dress out there (probably lots of them!) that will look fantastic on you (and Jesus Peiro is gorgeous stuff….) it just might not be the one you thought!

      S xx

  25. Hello!
    I’m getting married in June and I knew I wanted a 50’s style tea length dress for the big day. I fell in love with House Of Mooshki and tried on Evie, convinced it was ‘The One’.
    I made some more appointments – just to cover my bases and humour my mum, who wanted to see me in a big merengue, just because.
    Ten minutes into my appointment at Pronovias and I was blown away by a dress I chose to try on for a laugh.
    Over coffee afterwards, we debriefed and I discovered that I was trying to ‘play it safe’ with a shape I frequently wear. I also came to the realisation that, in trying hard not to look like just another bride by opting for a shorter, non-white dress, I was actually doing what everyone was expecting.
    So I took the plunge and went for the grown-up, curve-hugging, beautifully sexy Pronovias number, and said goodbye to the girly, pretty and cute House of Mooshki dress.
    And I can’t. stop. thinking about it! I am SO in love with this dress, and I cannot wait to see my Fiance’s face when he sees me in it, he will NOT be expecting this!
    Having been to a lot of weddings over the past couple of years, I didn’t want to wear a dress similar to those we’ve seen before: I wanted something different and unusual that people would remember. I didn’t want floor length and I didn’t want white or ivory, convinced that these were boring and standard. How wrong I was! It turned out to be not about the dress itself, but how I look and feel in it: I’m wearing the dress, it’s not wearing me!
    I learned not to try and please or surprise anyone but yourself (and your Fiance!). In trying to be what I thought was different, I was actually playing into everyone’s hands, as my Mum said lots of people had been guessing I would go the 50’s route as it’s my kind of style.
    Definitely keep an open mind and have fun and LISTEN to other people around you – I find looking at photographs of myself rather than my reflection in a mirror infinitely more helpful. I know many places don’t allow photos, but even if you ask to take a snap and promise to delete it before you leave the shop, it’s helpful.

    1. Hi Sam,.

      Your comment made me smile- because I did end up going for a 50’s tea dress sort of style, but it so wasn’t what I’d imagined I would choose when I started shopping- I wanted a grown up, slightly Victorian style dress in blue and cream stripes I had drooled over in a window for months…. But funnily enough- that too was what people expected, so its lovely to give them a surprise and go with a different element of your personality for a change!

      I particularly loved this: ‘It turned out to be not about the dress itself, but how I look and feel in it: I’m wearing the dress, it’s not wearing me! Yes yes yes, absolutely! 🙂

      With love,

      Shona x

  26. I can totally relate to this article. I recently bought my dress for my May wedding after months of searching. At first, the search was fun. I would take pictures of the different dresses I tried on, send them to my sisters for comment (they live in a different country) and show them to close friends. They would all give me their comments on what looked good and what they liked, and we had a laugh.

    But after weeks went by, and later months, and I was still looking, it was no longer fun. I realised I had no idea what I was looking for. The pushy consultants at bridal salons didn’t help either. At times, I was put under pressure to buy dresses I wasn’t sure about, which were often over my budget. And getting conflicting comments from friends and my sisters as to what I should wear didn’t help at all.

    I eventually realised I had over-consulted! And I realised that the dress that I should buy needed to be one that I felt comfortable in and really loved.

    So I ended up changing how I approached the search, and took the pressure off myself of having to find a perfect dress (that others agreed with).

    The dress I ended up buying is nothing like what I had imagined I would wear. It has lace (I didn’t want lace), it’s long (I wanted short), and it’s ivory (I wanted something colourful). But when I tried it on, I just felt beautiful. And it just fits me perfectly and hugs my figure in all the right places. Plus, I am pretty sure that my fiancé will love it, too.

    The bottom line is that you don’t need to find a perfect dress, just one that makes you feel pretty and that you feel comfortable in. And there are many dresses that may fit that description.

  27. I have just come across this post, and Shona, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Shopping for your wedding dress should be fun, happy and exciting!

    As the owner of a bridal boutique, I see poor distressed brides on a weekly basis who have convinced themselves that there is ‘the one’ out there for them, and they are endlessly searching for that elusive gown that encapsulates every aspect of their personality, as well as being entirely flattering and affordable, of course.

    The idea of falling in love at first sight with your dress is a lovely romantic notion, and some lucky brides do get that eureka, ‘This is it!’ moment. For others, it seems to be an intangible myth, the pursuit of which can be exhausting, demoralising, and saps all the fun away!

    Shona’s advice is perfect- don’t let the pressure get to you, choose a dress that you love to wear and that makes you feel good and you can’t go wrong. Keep it simple, and Happy Shopping! xxx

  28. I remember returning from my first dress shopping trip and crying to my fiancée that I was never going to find a dress as I hated everything ! It didn’t help that the dresses where all size eights held together with bulldog clips. God help anyone bigger than a 10/12. I then walked into my next shop Agnape ba month later who started from scratch with me again all styles and shapes. I tried my dress on and I smiled not cried or knew immediately but just felt right in it I was told go away think about it and I’d know. I’d already made an appointment for the same afternoon elsewhere and thought I best go along I tried a dress on and my mum and sister cried when I walked out but I just did not get it. After much dilemmas should I go with the crying dress or what I know I’d be comfortable in, after a further trip I just knew that my dress was the one that I smiled in not the one that made anyone cry or say that’s the one but the one that said yes I make you smile. The fact I love the amazing shop and girls helps with Sara, Alex and Karen. The key to your perfect dress I think is a combination of you, your personal style and feeling comfortable and also a very good shop and staff i am so looking forward to my next fitting and seeing my dress. X

    1. Oh I’m so sorry that your initial foray in to the world of weddings left you feeling so down Lou! So pleased to hear you eventually found an amazing boutique though! Would you mind sharing their name again so that future readers know they come with a ‘highly recommended’ – you said ‘Agnape ba’ is that right?

      Thank you Lou xx

  29. I love this post and it has resonated my feelings over the past 6 months. I’m getting married in July and despite having a zillion pinterest images of beautiful gowns when I tried them on they were all lovely in their own right, but just nothing that made me feel amazing, or have that illusive feeling as ‘the one’. I tried on well over 100 dresses all over the country and became increasingly frustrated; I visited many beautiful shops with a variance in customer service which I have to be honest really made a difference to whether I would consider buying from the boutique. I lusted endlessly over low backed dresses, however, I got caught up in the trade off between having a really low back and losing and structure. I love the whimsical Claire Pettibone dresses but sadly they just left me a little ‘meh’. Finally last week I realised I had to bite the bullet and buy something; normally I am the queen of impulsive and I was in a continual panick everytime someone asked ‘oh my gosh, you don’t have your dress????’ ARGH! In the end I went back to Rachel Scott Bridal Couture in Edinburgh, who had been absolutely flipping fantastic with her helpful emails and never ending suggestions as to how I could alter something. She spoke very nicely to the lovely Sassi Holford who is amending a very simple super fitted silk crepe gown, and she will lower the back slightly to keep some curves and add some straps. So that’s me! It will arrive in July and I really, really cross my fingers hope I may think it is indeed the one! Don’t despair ladies, you will get there in the end, it’s a dress after all, and I’m sure you will look amazing on the day. Just wear it with a massive smile xx

  30. This post is fab, I think all brides to be need to read this, when I found my wedding dress I didn’t get that tingly, this is ‘the one’ feeling, I loved the dress and I felt amazing in it but didn’t get that feeling, it made me think that it wasn’t the dress, I went away and tried on more dresses, I found more that I liked and it confused me, I gave myself a few months off dress shopping and went back to the original dress and tried it again, I loved it but still didn’t get that feeling, I decided that maybe I wasn’t the type of person to react in that way and went with my gut and ordered the dress, I absolutely loved it on my wedding day, I felt amazing and I really really want to wear it again 🙂 after my wedding and talking to other brides, I realised that alot of them had the same experience, I think if you love it, feel amazing and look fab, you don’t need that this is the one feeling 🙂 brilliant post x�

  31. Great article. Being shorter in height I knew wedding dress shopping was going to be a challenge, normal dress shopping is. A local shop did a sample sale, I went in beforehand and they were so lovely. I ummed and ahhed whether to go but thought what do I have to lose. None of my wedding party was available but I thought it’s just to get an idea. I picked out all styles that I had been admiring and one ‘rogue’. Everything I thought would suit me didn’t and it ended up being the full length ‘rogue’ dress that made me feel like a bride. I could imagine how I would look with it altered, accessories and hair and makeup down and more importantly I could imagine my h2b face when he first sees me in it. I wouldn’t say I thought it’s the one but it made me happy and it’s comfortable.

  32. I’m so glad you’ve written this. I feel like I had a hell of time!

    My mistake: I knew the exact dress I wanted and i loved before I ever tried it on. This is such a mistake.

    I scoured for Claire Pettibones Adagio. “This is definitely it” I thought. So much so that I travelled a 4 hour round trip and even had the salon hire the sample from London for me (which I paid P&P for). I came out of the fitting room and squealed with excitment – more from wearing the fantasy dress than how it looked on me. It was so beautiful! Surely it must make me look beautiful (right?). I so desperately wanted it to love it – and I did, just not on me. However, I still couldn’t see this at the time and I wept a little from exhaustion and hunger and confused this with joy! Thankfully, due to fate I didn’t put the deposit down that day (I was going to ring back and do it) but “I knew it was the one”. Despite my certainty, I couldn’t shake the feelings and thought I was wrong for feeling them! I showed SO many people photos – I convinced myself it was because I loved it – it wasn’t, it was because I wanted reassurance.

    The bridal shop were amazing and I went back 4 weeks later and they hired the Dress again. I went TOTALLY open minded. I even tried on pink(!). When I put Adagio on again I didn’t even like it!! In the end I walked away with a dress I never knew I wanted. So much so that it was there the first time I went but I’d discounted it “because I know that’s not what I want”. I could have saved myself so much time!

    Now I know it’s the right dress because I want to keep it secret, because when I see other dresses I don’t wilt inside thinking, “oh God I should have picked that!” And because I didn’t want to take it off. No tears, just “yeah…. I really love it”.

    So my biggest piece of advice is: yes look around to have an idea but don’t try and fall in love BEFORE you go. You can’t find your dress from a computer screen and a different body. Be open minded and relax. And trust your instincts – but don’t have unreal expectations. (And find a good salon with plenty of patience!)

    1. Hi Clare,
      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. You will hopefully help someone else who falls in love with their dress, before meeting it in real life, only to find that it’s not what they expected after all! I’m so pleased that you did meet THE ONE in the end. When is the big day when you get to show off your beautiful dress? xx

  33. I found this article last week the night before my dress appointment and it gave me a completely fresh perspective on what I was actually looking for. Even though I had tried on a dress in my first appointment that I loved, I decided to visit a few more shops and was feeling such pressure to find “the one”. What if there is a better dress out there? How do you know it’s the one?!
    After reading this I realised there’s probably so many amazing dresses but what matters is to feel happy, confident and comfortable. I went to my appointment the next day, tried it on again and knew it was the dress for me. It’s only been a week but I have absolutely no doubts!

    1. Hi LJ, thanks for taking the time to comment and so pleased to hear that you’re happy with your dress. There will ALWAYS be other very beautiful dresses. Working for LMD I could have chosen a different dress 20 times over and could cry at not being able to wear some of the stunning gowns to grace these pages! ? However, on my wedding day I loved my dress and really, that’s all that matters! Hope you’re enjoying the rest of your planning! Xx

  34. This article has put my mind at ease a bit, but I’m still worried. I’m getting married in June 2016 (we only got engaged 6 weeks ago) and I’m worried about buying the dress. I live in South East London, and my friends and family are in Bristol. I won’t be able to afford a central London boutique, but I’m not sure if wedding dresses are the same price around the country or if it would be more cost effective to get it in Bristol (considering travel costs as well) rather than greater London. I also know that my mum will want to come, which is fine, but she’s not the best person to help me with this, but my bridesmaids either have a new born or are pregnant and can’t really come to London for the day to go shopping! I think I’m putting to much added worry onto myself, but I can’t see this being an easy or enjoyable experience.

    1. Hi Claire, how did it go? Did you manage to find a solution to your worries and a dress that you’re happy with? We’d love to have an update! Good luck with everything xx

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