Choosing your wedding dress
Where to start
Your wedding day is an incredibly special day for you, your other half and any guests attending. But sometimes, you can feel swept along with the motions of planning your big day, rather than in charge. Wedding planning has become such a big industry that sometimes the focus can stray away from the stars of the show: the brides, their dresses and their partners. We are in favour of bringing you (the bride) and your dress back into the spotlight and making your wedding feel more about you.
Are you feeling overwhelmed with choice?
In British tradition, the wedding dress has symbolised affluence, purity, femininity and lifelong loyalty. As our culture has developed and diversified, the colours and forms used to convey this have changed and today your dress can represent whatever you want it to. While the freedom and plethora of options available for brides to choose from is wonderful, this can make choosing a dress overwhelming.
Give yourself a workable timeline
As with many daunting tasks or projects, the best way to approach finding your wedding dress is to work backwards. Once you’ve set the date for your ceremony, you can work out when you need to begin shopping for your wedding dress, giving yourself a workable timeline. All bridal shops differ in how they approach the sales and fitting process but we advise clients to aim to choose their dress at least 6-8 months before the wedding. Lots of our brides order Andrea Hawkes wedding dresses a year in advance, but we can also work to shorter lead times as we produce in the UK.
Book your first appointment
The process of choosing your wedding dress begins with an initial appointment, followed by the dress fittings to ensure you’ll have the perfect fit when you walk down the aisles. It’s good to have a conversation with designers over the phone, by email or in-person before your initial appointment. This helps your designers find out more about your wedding day, style and any ideas you may have for your dress. This not only helps you feel at ease, but enables us to start thinking of ideas and styles for you to try when you come in for your first appointment.
What can you expect at your first appointment?
When you come in for your first appointment, we offer tea, coffee and prosecco during an initial sit down with you (plus any of your guests). This is so we can get to know you more and discuss your ideas. The boutique staff can then begin to form ideas based on your body shape, type of wedding dress and personal style.
Depending on your needs, we will either look through the dresses with you and make some recommendations, or one of our designers can guide the appointment and choose styles for you. The dress shop team can then help you try these on, pinning and adjusting the samples to your shape.
What should you bring to your first appointment?
Most good shops will have shoes in store to try on with the dresses, so don’t worry about carrying around a pair of heels with you. It’s also advised to wear nude seamless underwear if you have any. Photos and mood boards such as Pinterest boards, plus images of the wedding venue are also helpful for our wedding dress professionals.
Should you bring guests?
Absolutely, if you would like to. We advise up to 2 guests. We suggest keeping it to friends and family who you know will be helpful, honest and understand your personal style and taste.
Read more about making the most of your first bridal appointment
How many dresses should I try?
There is not a set number of dresses to try during the appointment – sometimes we find the perfect idea straight away and other times our brides want to explore more options. With this in mind, we recommend agreeing on an appointment length before you go into the shop. Our appointments are for 1 hour to allow you enough time to discuss various options and try on different styles.
At the end of trying on dresses, you will hopefully have found a style or design that you love. If you would like to go ahead with the order, the shop will probably then proceed with a deposit, any paperwork and go through the next steps.
Get a second pair of eyes
If you don’t find the perfect wedding dress at your first appointment, don’t panic! We’re more than happy to book you in for a complimentary second appointment after you’ve had time to have another think. This is always a lovely idea if a bride is torn between two dresses – some breathing space helps to clear the mind so you can make a final decision. You may also like to come back with your mum, friend or bridesmaid for a second opinion – a second pair of eyes can be really beneficial!
We would recommend visiting no more than 1-3 shops or designers. Make sure you do your research on the designers or shops prior to booking your appointment so you can choose the ones that feel right for you. Usually, we’d see brides 1 or 2 times before they choose their dress.
The second appointment
Again, a good bridal boutique will offer a second appointment as this gives you the opportunity to have another catch-up on how you’re feeling about your favourite dresses. We would then retry the favourite choices to whittle down the options and get you a step closer to picking your dream dress.
By the end of the second appointment, you’ll have usually made a decision on your chosen wedding dress or style. This is the point you’ll put down a deposit and arrange any paperwork. From this point onwards, we would go into the fitting stage.
When should you have your first wedding dress fitting?
- For standard-sized dresses that need altering. 2-3 fittings are recommended, starting 4-5 months before your wedding date
- For Made to Measure dresses. 4-5 fittings are recommended, starting 6-10 months before your wedding date
Visit shops as soon as you’re ready. We like to have an order placed roughly 6-8 months before your wedding or 8-12 months for Made to Measure. This allows for a nice amount of time to schedule a relaxed fitting plan and order fabrics. However, we can also accommodate for shorter lead times as we make our dresses in the UK.
Before your first fitting
You’ll need to bring shoes and underwear to your first fitting – ideally the ones you plan to wear on your big day. So if you’ve not yet bought these, it’s best to make them your next purchase! A particular bra or heel can determine how a dress fits and hangs, as well as how you hold yourself. Similarly, if you are planning to wear any jewellery or other accessories such as hair pieces or over layers, bring these along too. This way you can perfect every element of your dress with your designer.
Andrea Hawkes created her line of bridalwear for women like yourself, looking for dresses that bring simplicity, elegance and detail without fuss. Being flexible with design changes means we work with you to build on what you love – mixing and adjusting anything that may not be 100% right. For example, raising necklines, lowering backs or adding sleeves is all part of our wedding dress alterations service.
We love being creative and working with you to curate your finished look. Your chosen wedding dress should suit your personal taste so you can feel empowered and confident on your wedding day.
Begin your wedding dress journey today
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