Shopping for THE dress

Maybe it’s the pressure of having to find that one perfect dress; or the overwhelming number of choices that make shopping for bridal gowns like finding a needle in the haystack; or that so much already demands your attention. Whatever the case, shopping for your wedding gowns – day or not – can be a stressful, draining affair. So we put together this list of tips to help you navigate the aisles of lace, tulle, embellishments, sequins, organza and satin.

Before hitting the shops

  1. Research everything including the points below. The more you know before you start shopping, the easier and more enjoyable the process.
  2. Have a dress in mind. It’s a lot easier if you have a rough idea what you like and don’t like. (But keep an open mind!)
  3. Set a budget; not just for a dress but the whole package including shoes, veil, alteration, dry cleaning, additional accessories, for example.
  4. Know your body shape and shop to flatter it. If you’re pear shaped, don’t insist on a dress that emphasizes the lower half of your body; play to your strengths.
  5. Keep your theme in mind. A voluminous skirt for a beach wedding? Not such a good idea.
  6. Look up bridal studios or dress shops or get referrals. This will help you eliminate those that do not meet your price range, brand or style, or have lousy customer service.

The big (shopping) day

  1. Dress for the deed. That is, wear proper undergarments and high heels so you have a good idea of what you would look like on D-day in the dress.
  2. Take all your must-haves along like the veil you bought a year ago or the gold chain your grandmother gave you.
  3. Bring a crew. Shop with people who know your tastes and can help you make a judgement call. Leave pushy aunts, BFFs and future in-laws at home please!
  4. Try everything on. Even if it’s the 20th one you have tried and you’re sure it isn’t your style. Because there is no way of telling how a dress will actually look on you unless you put it on.
  5. Buy for your current size. You may be hitting the gym daily and have 2cm more to shave off your waistline but taking a gown in is much easier than letting it out (it might actually be impossible!).
  6. Move in it. Because that’s what you will be doing all day long during your wedding! If you can’t walk at a decent pace or twirl gracefully or get up and sit down countless times comfortably, move on to the next dress.
  7. Shop off-season or clearance stock. Bridal studios do offer discounts on older dresses to make space for new collections.
  8. Ask about packages. Sometimes bundling a gown with a photography package or buying/renting both the wedding and evening gowns from the same studio can make a lot of financial sense.
  9. Walk away if you are not 100% in love with the dress. It’s your day, your dress so if you don’t feel like you’ve found the One (dress, that is), don’t feel pressured to buy or rent it. There will be others.


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