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Your Guide To Wedding Dress Shopping

We know and appreciate that as soon as you become engaged there are 101 questions that come to mind when considering your dress. What type of wedding dress style should you choose? Where should you get your dress from? Who should you invite to the appointments? We have created our guide to help you answer some of your wedding dress shopping questions. If you’ve still got questions at the end of this guide, come along to our open house event to talk to our team or get in touch via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

As a team of experienced bridal stylists, dress fitters, seamstresses and pattern cutters, we have the skills and experience to help with your wedding dress shopping. So, we’ve put together our answers to the most common questions we get asked by our brides to help you have an enjoyable and relaxed bridal shopping experience.

Bride trying on modern wedding dress

When should you start shopping for a wedding dress?

Ideally, brides should aim to choose their wedding dress around 6-8 months before the big day, as this gives plenty of time for your fittings or alterations depending on the service you require. Once ordered, dresses can take anywhere between a number of weeks to a full year to be made for you, especially for bespoke designs. Here at Andrea Hawkes, it is not uncommon for our brides to order their bridal dress a year in advance. However, being a British bridal designer all of our dresses are designed and made in the heart of London, which means that we can also work to shorter deadlines. 

Often, brides will visit multiple bridal shops before choosing which designer to go with. So we recommend trying to book a couple of appointments in one day or over a weekend so you can compare the different dresses while they are still fresh in your mind. Each bridal designer has their signature style (for instance, ours is minimalistic, modern bridal design), and will offer different services and quality of fabrics. 

After this point, it is normal to book a second or third appointment at your favourite bridal salon to give yourself the chance to be sure of your choice of dress. We’ve covered the difference between your first and second appointments, as well as your dress fittings in more depth in Choosing A Wedding Dress: Where To Start.

Do you have to make appointments to try on wedding dresses?

Yes, normally you will have to book appointments at a bridal shop or studio as opposed to being able to walk in at any time. Wedding dress appointments give the bride dedicated time with the bridal team, so you can discuss in depth your initial ideas, wedding theme and personal style (while sipping on complimentary tea, coffee or prosecco of course). 

This wouldn’t be the same personal experience if other brides were popping in and out of the studio throughout the appointment to browse dresses, diverting the staff’s attention away from you. At Andrea Hawkes, our bridal dress appointments last 1.5 hours to give our brides apple time with our bridal stylists and Andrea herself to discuss various dress options. To book an appointment at our London bridal studio, get in contact here. We also have open house events where you can come and meet our team in person, and view our latest bridal collections without needing to book an appointment. Browse our bridal events here.

bride wearing low back silk wedding dress

How long does a bridal dress appointment take?

Typically, a wedding dress consultation appointment will take 1 to 1.5 hours. At Andrea Hawkes, your first bridal dress appointment is booked for 1.5 hours to ensure you have time to discuss your dress, ask any questions and try on our range of dresses.

What should I wear wedding dress shopping?

Before your first wedding dress appointment, you might be wondering what underwear you should wear to try under wedding dresses. When it comes to choosing your underwear for wedding dress shopping, it’s best to wear skin-toned, seamless underwear as this is more like the type of undergarments you are likely to wear on the big day. As a lot of dresses are structured to provide built-in support (like many of our gowns) you will not need to wear a bra with them. For more information on bridal underwear, check out our blog post on the Best Underwear For Wedding Dresses

At our bridal dress appointments, we supply shoes for our brides to try on with our wedding dresses, so there is no need to bring a pair along to your first appointment.

bride trying on ivory silk wedding dress

What to bring to a wedding dress appointment?

The best thing to bring to a wedding dress appointment is your ideas. Before you set foot in a bridal salon, think about what types of wedding dresses you want to consider. Maybe you have a specific wedding theme in mind and want your dress to fit in with the overall look of your wedding. Perhaps you want to go for a traditional bridal style, or something a little different like one of these alternative wedding dress ideas. You might even want a separate dress for your ceremony and reception or want to go for a dress that does both to create two looks from one gown. If you are unsure of the style you want, you’ll find plenty of guidance on the types of wedding dresses that suit each body shape here, or explore our bridal collections for inspiration. 

By doing this research beforehand, you can narrow down the endless wedding dress styles to a few favourites. Pinterest and Instagram are brilliant resources for discovering bridal designers, new collections and unique dress styles you might not have considered. Save ideas that you love so you can show these images to the staff at each appointment and discuss options with them. You can also attend bridal events like our open house events which give you the opportunity to see the latest bridal collections before your appointment. 

Another aspect to consider is what type of wedding dress you can afford to buy. As mentioned in our blog post How To Plan A Wedding Step By Step, budget is an integral deciding factor in planning a wedding and is likely to impact the type of dress you choose – whether that’s a bespoke-designed collection piece, a made-to-measure gown or a standard size dress. We’ve explained the differences between these dress types in our blog post Collection Piece, Made-To-Measure & Standard Size – What’s The Difference?

bride in white bridesmaids in lilac dresses

Another important thing to bring along to your wedding dress appointment is your family and friends! With so many beautiful wedding dress styles to choose from, sometimes a second opinion is needed to help you decide which one to go for. Your closest friends and family can be invaluable in providing honest feedback on different bridal gown styles and which ones suit you the most. 

Bringing along guests to your wedding dress appointments also helps to make them a memorable experience. Bridal dress appointments and fittings that you share with your loved ones are all a part of the build-up to your big day, so why not make the most of them. At Andrea Hawkes, we give you a private personal appointment, where we encourage you to bring your special guests. Unlike other wedding dress shops, we do not charge for appointments. 

 

We strive to make wedding dress shopping a memorable, positive experience for each of our brides. At every appointment and dress fitting, our experienced bridal stylists work with the bride to ensure they receive an individual and personal experience.

Using our expertise, we are able to offer an objective opinion on what dress styles compliment them and their personal style. To experience a more personal approach to wedding dress shopping, book an appointment in our London bridal studio here

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From wedding dress ideas & inspiration to how-to guides and expert know-how. You'll find everything you need in the run up to your big day and beyond on our bridal blog!

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