Saying Yes to the Dress
I watched my first episode of Say Yes to the Dress a couple of weeks after I got engaged. And then I watched another.
And then I literally binge watched/inhaled every single episode I could possibly find.
And then I moved on to the next show, and the next, and the next, and I could never get enough.
I miss that time.
Finding a wedding dress is a rite of passage, a once in a lifetime indulgence, an absolute whirlwind and treat, and one of the most wonderfully stressful but also magical experiences you will ever have.
Gosh I really miss that time.
If there’s one thing I would re do about my wedding, not just once, but year after year, it would be the hunt for the perfect wedding dress.
I know buying a dress can be an awful experience for some brides to be, and that makes me sad. Whether its the pressure to drop a few dress sizes, or the fear of showing your arms, or the fear of not finding anything good enough in your budget, buying your wedding dress doesn’t always feel like a dream, but there are so many things you can do to try and make sure the experience is as beautiful as the dress is going to be.
My own story is littered with lessons and is, somewhat embarrassing I have to admit.
We got engaged in September of 2017, with a wedding date swiftly set for June of the following year. That gave me a mere nine months from the moment I wore the ring to the day I would become an official Mrs. I thought nine months sounded like absolute ages.
That was of course until I heard story after story from others who had recently married about how my dress took an entire year to order into store.
Right. Well I was three months short of a year now wasn’t I?
So I got stuck in right away. I was all kinds of confused in the beginning about what to do, where to go, who to buy from. Should I go for a big name wedding brand with massive stores and hundreds of options or for a small boutique? Should I buy my dress in Dubai where I was living, or in London where I was getting married? How was I going to transport it, would it get lost on the way? I mean I know that’s highly unlikely, but what if it did?
I was torn between the endless dress shops in and around London and the more limited number of stores in Dubai that would be far easier to shop from, but give me less choice. What if I took the easy route and in the process missed out on an amazing dream dress I would never ever regret?
There is a lot of FOMO involved in buying your wedding dress, let me just warn you of that.
In the end, for logistical reasons, I decided to stick with buying a dress at home, because of the need for fitting appointments, and any potential set backs or unforeseen problems.
And that’s where the story really starts!
I have to say, this isn’t something I’m proud of, but I bought two wedding dresses. And not in the modern bride sense, where I changed into a slinkier one in the evening. No I was just indecisive, made hurried and wrong choices, and then changed my mind. Two months later.
In November of 2017 I bought my first wedding dress. I didn’t go straight the brand, I made the mistake of going to a boutique that stocked a few different well known wedding dress brands, but not enough of them to give me a good selection and really make sure I could select the dress I really wanted. I had been thorough before going into my first fitting though, scouring dress websites so I knew the collections inside out, or so I thought.
I made my decision swiftly, thought I had my dream dress, and then purchase it a week later, with an expected arrival in February. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I had some doubts come up, I can’t lie. I wasn’t feeling that 100 per cent all in I can’t wait to wear this dress feeling that is a pretty good marker that you’ve found the one, but I figured that was normal.
And then come January, I was innocently scrolling Instagram when another boutique I follow, posted a picture of a Pronovias gown they had just received. And it was was My. Dream. Dress.
Right there, in my phone, staring back at me and throwing my mind into an instant whirlwind. This was my dress. I was sitting at the dining table with my family and my cousins and I was totally and completely shocked. The dress looked exactly like the Zuhair Murad creations I had really dreamt of but where just ridiculously out of anyone’s budget, and it was Pronovias, and Pronovias has a large flagship Dubai store in the Dubai Mall, and I just knew that if I called them… they would be able to get me this dress.
It was January, and I was getting married in June, and I had just found my dream dress, when the dress I had already bought, was arriving for me in a mere few weeks.
Right. Well. That was a bit of problem then.
Call me bridezilla but I decided then and there that that was to be my dress and I would do whatever I had to to get it.
The next morning I had an appointment at the Pronovias boutique, I had tried on the dress, fallen in love, booked it, and the rest is history.
I mean it wasn’t quite that simple. I had to find a buyer for my first dress, admit it to everyone much to my embarrassment, and then also rely on the kindness of the ladies at Pronovias who chased down the right size for me and managed to rush order it in time.
I loved every minute in my dress. It was beautiful, just what I wanted, made me feel amazing, and I never wanted to take it off. That is exactly how a dress should make you feel on your wedding so I have no problem with the slightly crazy process that I went through to get it. But I did learn some invaluable lessons along the way, from others and from my own hard won experience.
So here you go- what you need to know to say yes to the dress. SO you don’t have to buy another dress like I did.
Take Your Time (Within Reason)
Yes there are time pressures when it comes to ordering a dress in your size. And yes, the more niche and boutique-y the brand you go for, and brands like that are lovely, the longer you’ll have to wait. It is definitely not unheard of to have to wait a year to get the dress you want. But it’s also not the absolute norm, especially not if you’re buying from a slightly larger brand that’s used to supplying thousands of wedding dresses a month.
Make sure you’re not going in for that first viewing three to six months before the big day, but also don’t feel pressured to have to make your mind up in a week. You’re likely to fall in love with the sight of yourself in one of the first dresses you try on, because let’s face it most of those dresses are ridiculously gorgeous. But that doesn’t mean its the dress for you, or that the next week you won’t find one you love even more. So please, please, please, take your time.
Do Your Research (But Remember It’s Just Research)
To help you make sense of the madness that is walking into a store replete with 50 or more wedding dresses, literally a five year olds girls heaven, a candy store on steroids, make sure you’ve had a look through the recent season’s designs for whichever brands you know you’re going to be riffling through. Most bridal boutiques have a listing of the brands they carry, if you’re not going straight to the designers store itself.
And if its a good boutique it’ll often also carry a listing of specific dresses within those seasons that they stock. Because almost no store stocks all the dresses. It’s great to get a preliminary idea of what you might like to try on, so take stock of dress names or numbers, and take them with you to your consultation. But remember, research is only research.
Dresses can look vastly different online and in real life, and vastly different on you than in the picture. So be open to browsing everything the store has to offer and…
Try On Everything
I’m not even kidding with this one. Try on everything you can. Even the dress you are so sure is not going to be the one…
And Try It On Again
Try on everything. And come back and try it on a week or two weeks later just to be sure. Try it on twice the same day. You never can predict how your feelings change the more you wear something.
Take Your Friends and Family
There’s nothing wrong with going to a dress fitting alone but if you can do take at least one friend with you. That can be hard sometimes, and it’s not always going to look like it does in the all reality wedding shows, because booking slots are slim and people are busy- but having the eyes and opinions of people you trust and who know you as a person is so invaluable in getting feedback about whether or not a dress is you.
It’s easy to get swept up in the process of trying on new wondrous finds, and get sweet talked by the well meaning but still effusive sales people, but having someone there who can remind you of what it really looked and felt like once you’re out of the heady experience of the bridal fitting room is invaluable.
Don’t Rush the Experience and Remember to Record
Bookings can be short, although an hour is standard. But you’d be surprised how quickly that time goes by, especially if you really are using the time to try on as many dresses as you can. Make sure to get photos and videos to really capture the dress from every angle, how you moved in it, how you stood, and how it looks close up, and from far away. It seems excessive but you’ll be glad of it when you’re at home weighing up your options. Just be sure your fiance doesn’t stumble across the evidence by mistake!
Think About How You Want to Feel As Well As How You Want to Look
There are two aspects to every wedding dress: how it looks on you, and how it makes you feel when you wear it. Both factors are equally important but one could almost argue how you feel is that bit more important. At the end of the day no matter how lovely you may look in a given dress, if you don’t feel good, don’t feel like yourself, or don’t feel confident in it- it’s probably not the right dress for you. Don’t squash your feelings about a dress, let your feelings guide you towards the one you’ll be happiest on the day.
Don’t Feel Pressured to Change
I had no intention of losing weight before my wedding, but I did fall prey to the usual ‘oh I’ll just spend every day in the gym to tone up’ routine. The truth is you don’t have to change a single thing about yourself to get married. There is no one particular way a bride needs to look and whilst you’ll no doubt be bombarded by opinions that suggest the exact opposite, the truth is most brides will not meet their ‘targets’ in time and will just ruin a perfectly happy, unique period of their lives with unnecessary stress. By all means improve you skincare routine, eat well, and get moving, so you feel the best you can on the day, but try to limit the strict goals and numbers, because they’re just going to create the most unpleasant and toxic cocktail that you don’t want to be sipping.
Remember: Stick with Your Dream
I was in no doubt right from the word go that I wanted a princess dress, despite their waning popularity in the mainstream. Whilst I love brides who can carry off a beautiful boho dress or a sleek silhouette, I had no interest in being one of those brides, and I knew I would regret it deeply forever if I didn’t go for the kind of dress I would have dreamt of as a girl. If you’ve always had a vision for what you want, and if you’ve given other options at least a fair chance, don’t let go of the dream. It’s your dream day and you should have your dream dress.
Don’t Forget Alterations
Be very, very alert when you’re at appointments for your dress alterations. It’s so easy to overlook something, like the width of a sleeve or the presence or absence of padding, that sometimes a fitting or two can pass when a sudden problem presents itself. So take your time, factor potential alterations in as solutions for problem areas, and make sure everything fits, with just a little room to give incase you’re having a bit of a bloated day, and you’re as good as gold.
Have Several Fittings
In the same vein, one fitting is just not enough! Some shops will push for one final fitting if you’re pressed for time or if they’re slightly larger and deal with more orders, but you need to make sure you’re getting a fitting a month before, two weeks before, and if possible, even a week before.
Don’t Forget the Additions: Veils, Head Pieces, Shoes
Whether you’re opting for a head piece or not (I didn’t in the end as it didn’t go with my preferred hair style), a veil or not, you need to factor all of these things in as you pick you dress, and not much after. Shoes will have a serious impact on how the dress is altered for length, so its important to have at least an idea of the heel height you’re likely to go for, before doing any drastic alterations. Your dress is not just a dress but an ensemble and you want every element to work together.
Enjoy the Process
And finally- really, really, really enjoy the process. Make your fittings a day out, with breakfast or lunch, and take plenty of photos of the process and the day itself, because its the kind of sweet memory you will always look back and treasure. You’re going to find a lovely dress and you’re going to look amazing regardless of the bumps in the road, so enjoy the road whilst you’re on it.