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  • Writer's pictureGeorgina Thompson

Wedding dress shopping: Preparing to find 'The One'

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

You've booked your dress appointment with us and the excitement is building! Will you fall in love with Gaia or House of Saint Patrick? One thing is for sure is that we have so many beautiful gowns to choose from which have all been handpicked exclusively for our brides!

So ahead of your appointment, we want to share with you our 'Top Tips' on how to prepare for a day of wedding dres shopping!

1. Set a budget

I wish this part didn't exist, but it is a very important thing to consider before going on your search for a gown. Sit and work out exactly how much of your wedding budget you want to spend and whether that includes accessories, we can then help you find your dream dress that is affordable and tailor your appointment to your budget. We wouldn't want you falling in love with a gown above budget and no matter the budget there are an endless amount of beautiful gowns out there to choose from with price tags to match! We also want you to be honest with us, for us, it gives us an idea of what the options are and which of our beautiful gowns to show you!

2. Start shopping 12 - 18 months in advance

Every bride is different and where on your journey you begin searching for your dream dress can also vary, but we recommend around 12 months before your big day to take any pressure off your search! Lots of brides will book a venue and begin their dress shopping experience straight away, that is absolutely fine, but your taste can change too so if your wedding is three years away we'd recommend looking closer to the time! We do like our brides to have booked a venue first and have thought about your theme - this gives us a great idea of style so we can find the perfect style dress for you to complete the wedding 'look!

Just to note... although we recommend a 12-18 month lead time for finding your wedding dress if you have less time we can usually accommodate bespoke rush orders. Our leading designers' order times are usually around the 6-month mark, so if you are tight on time please get in touch as this is something we would love to discuss in person ahead of your appointment! We are here to make your dress buying experience stress free!

3. Use social media to do your research

Instagram is our favourite tool to look for dress inspiration and using the app to find out what you initially like (and dislikes) is highly recommended. Another social platform to use is Pinterest; create a board of everything you love so you can begin to narrow down choices and create a wedding theme! We love you to come to your appointment with ideas, we love to nosy through anything you already have and can discuss this with you before we begin looking at gowns! We'd recommend following wedding blogs, your favourite wedding gown designers, and bridal boutiques to give you inspiration. This is the best way to find secret sample sales and to find out about the nearest trunk shows to you.

4. Choose your bride tribe wisely

Due to Covid restrictions, we're currently only allowing one additional guest per bride to allow for safe distancing and for us to remain Covid-secure however, we would usually allow up to four! This is something we advise you to think carefully about, you want a supportive bridal party that will let you take the lead and won't upset you if you completely fall in love with a dress that they aren't keen on!

Everyone has different tastes, some of us shop in Zara or New Look and others in Topshop or Fatface, they all have very different styles and trends, what one person would choose to wear from one shop another would never even walk into that shop! Think of this when you chose your tribe! Are they going to like the same styles as you or are they going to put you off?

We'd also recommend thinking of if anybody is going to help pay for your gown, do they need to be there to see the gown before ordering, if so is it worth taking them along to all appointments? For example, if you fall in love with a dress that's off the hanger (maybe due to discontinuation) you run the risk of losing that gown if you don't purchase it on the day!

And finally, if you need to, go it alone! Don't feel embarrassed about trying them on by yourself if you are happy to make the decision alone! We love independence and sometimes you then will go with what you truly feel yourself and not be swayed by other people's reactions! We are here to make you feel and look beautiful and we promise to find the perfect gown for you.

5. Have a list of questions ready for your bridal consultant

There is so much excitement in choosing your dream dress, that sometimes all of the practical things go completely out of thought! So, we recommend coming along with a list of questions for us that only your bridal consultant can answer! These could include things like, how long does it take for your dream dress to be made, how alterations work, can the dress be custom made, what accessories would we perfectly pair with your gown, the best way to travel with your gown, and will your dress be steamed before the big day! There's an endless amount of things you can ask us and we'll always do our best to help or accommodate.

6. Wear the correct underwear

This most common question... what underwear do I wear for my appointment?

This is completely up to you and what you feel most comfortable in; we'd recommend a simple pair of seam-free nude knickers, you won't need a bra as most, if not all, of our dresses have cups already in them! However, if you want to wear a bra we recommend a nude strapless! Please don't feel the need to go out and buy new underwear for your appointment if you don't already have these, as we will recommend the best-suited underwear for your dress on your wedding day once you have chosen your dream gown which may differ from this.

Let's also talk about shapewear here, for your appointments whilst choosing your dream gown we do not recommend shapewear, the reason being it can pull you in different places and the gowns you try on may then not actually fit as they should! Our dresses have very heavy high-quality materials that offer lots of support, however once your dress is measured to you we would then help you to choose the best shapewear to suit your gown if needed!

7. Forget about sizing

The elephant in the room! The way wedding dress designers make you feel! In all seriousness, this is something we feel very strongly about at Gina Lou and we more than likely won't share the size of your gown with you. Wedding dress designers are well known for sizing on the very small size, they are often based on overseas measurements so conversion makes sizing appear small! When we order your gown for you we take your own measurements and order based on those.

We do not recommend you thinking about this shopping experience like your usual high street afternoon shop. These dresses are custom made or altered to your exact shape unlike off the peg clothing you usually buy from your favourite high street shops!

8. Keep an open mind

You've spent hours researching the style of dress you are certain you'll go for, get into a boutique and try it on, and it's not quite right... This isn't uncommon when shopping for your gown so we like to remind brides to keep an open mind, select between 4-6 dresses to try, and don't be scared to ask for our opinion, we are here to help! Tell us what you love about your body and what you usually hide, we may have tips to help you find your dream gown and may even select one out for you! Dresses always look so different on models and definitely look completely different on the hanger so be open-minded about trying anything on! It's often the way that you'll fall in love with the gown you least expect to!

9. Shoes

One close to my heart, I hate heels, although I do know that posture looks so much better if you add a couple of inches in heels, especially in a fitted gown! So, just to let you know we do have shoes in boutique for you to try on with your gown however, if you prefer to bring your own or already have your dream shoe then bring those long to search for your gown too.

This is slightly different at your actual dress fitting as you will need to have your shoes by them so the seamstress can alter your dress length to your own wedding shoes!

10. Hair, Makeup and Tan

I'm biased but I do think it's important to go with your hair in a similar style to how you think you would like it on the day! Even if it's as simple as you think you'd like your hair up so go with it in a bun, or if you'd like it down wear it down. This will help give you an idea of how the gown will look, but of course, this could all change based on your gown! We do offer joint appointments for this where you can book to have your hair styled before trying your gown on.

Next makeup... ok this is a tricky one, you want to feel like you so go with how you feel comfortable, most brides go for very simple makeup on their wedding day so bear this in mind when putting your makeup on before going to try gowns! We also kindly ask you to avoid fake tan at dress appointments so avoid staining the gowns, but again we want you to feel comfortable so please message us with any questions you have.

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