Five things I’ve learnt about wedding dresses {revisited}

Christmas, New Year, and Valentines day have to be some of the most popular dates for getting engaged, so there are likely to be a whole lovely lot of newly titled  ‘bride to be’s’ out there at the moment. And because of that, and because I had so much positive feedback from this post originally, I felt it was a good time to run this post again (with a little bit of updating). Looking back from a position where I will  (hopefully) never have to look for a wedding dress again, these thoughts that I had still ring true, and if it helps just one engaged lady feel a bit better about the dress shopping experience, it’s done its job. Those of you who’ve been through the dress buying experience already, please feel free to add anything that you think I’ve missed….

Over the course of the engagement, I have had much (self-inflicted) dress stress. I *know* that really, it’s just a dress, but something inside me can’t let go of the wedding industry mantra that ‘the dress is the most important thing’, and that the day is all about looking beautiful. In fairness, I like to attempt to look semi-attractive on most average days, so it was highly likely that I was going to put a fair bit of thought into how I was going to look. I am also, however notoriously indecisive – hence the dress stress.

So I thought I should write down all of the things I’ve learnt about wedding dresses and the never ending search for the perfect one. I fully understand that not one of you early brides, still in the excited flushed states of new engagement, yet to make the foray into a real life bridal shop, will take a blind bit of notice. I know I wouldn’t have when I first started to look at dresses. But it helps me to right it down, so I’m going to do it anyway. Ok?

For newish followers, you might want to check out my ‘dress debacle‘ to get a bit of a background . I have, older followers may wish to know, now found a solution to my problem. If I told you what it was though, I’d have to kill you. Check back in 9 weeks to see it in all its glory. (Update – you can see it here, here and here – although I’m not sure it is glorious as such, it is rather lovely, if I do say so myself)

So, on with the things I’ve learned….

1. Wedding dresses are designed to make you look good.
I have still to prove this point to my (non-married) friends who came along to the marathon dress sessions, but they really really are. I had so many comments along the lines of ‘oh you’ve obviously got the figure for wedding dresses’. NO. I really don’t – you will all look good in the right wedding dress. They suck you up, pull you in, push you out in the most incredible ways. So don’t be afraid of the wedding dress. It is your friend.

2. You can try on too many dresses.
I know I know. Right now, this seems impossible. Too many of those little beauties? Surely not. But you really can. I am living proof of this. I have come to the conclusion that you have to liken the search to finding the right man (bear with me on this).
You go out, with an open mind, not quite sure of what you’re going to end up with, but having a few specifics that are non-negotiable. You try a few out for size. Some really do nothing for you. Some seem like a good fit, but something just doesn’t feel right. Some are so hideous you can’t even bring yourself to show them to your friends. But then you find one that just seems to…fit. Everything about it makes you feel good (even if it does have a couple of annoying little things about it – nothings perfect). You don’t like the idea of leaving it in the shop for other ladies to try on. Just thinking about it gives you little fissions of excitement. This is when you should commit. Take the plunge. Do the deal.
What you shouldn’t do (either in reference to searching for a man, or a wedding dress), is continue to search, ‘just in case’, there is something better out there.
Take it from me. This will mess with your mind. There is no way in the world you can try on every dress out there. There will always be different dresses, and prettier dresses/sexier dresses/insert relevant adjective to you here dresses. But you fell for one because it was right for you. Much like with your man, you decided that this was the one for you, despite its non-perfectness. Because it made you feel like you want to feel.
Looking at too many will just confuse you – you will end up in a vortex of dress shopping distress, with no way out. Every dress will morph into another dress. You’ll like different aspects of 18 dresses, none of which can be combined. You’ll get flustered and stressed, and maybe even cry at an innocent wedding dress shop owner. Or that might just be me. But anyway, the point is, don’t try on too many dresses ladies. Look around, get an idea of what you like, and when the right one comes along, snap it up.
3. You might not get the ever mentioned feeling of ‘the one’.
I didn’t. So stop worrying. You might not cry, or get overwhelmed, or feel sick with excitement. Some people just don’t. It doesn’t mean your dress isn’t going to look flippin

4. Buying a dress from a bridal boutique isn’t the only way.
I know I know…everyone tells you that. But really, deep down inside, you want the special experience of buying a dress from a vintage-esque bridal salon. I know you do. I did. So I ignored everyone and went head first into Dress Shopping at Wedding Dress Shops. Which in all honesty, was actually a bit of a disappointment. I know that there ARE these wonderful vintage-esque boutiques out there, but none that I could find in my area, and none that made me feel all that special. In most I was very aware that I was a customer. A mark. A potential sale for them. I knew that they would have told me I looked beautiful wrapped in the changing room curtain if I’d have shown signs of buying it. But I went ahead and bought a dress from one anyway.
What I WISH I’d done, and would recommend to any one, is go to a couple of boutiques, try on dresses, see what styles you like, what colours work for you, what you would neverconsiderinamillionyears. If, during this time, you fall head over heels in love with a dress, and its at a price that you feel comfortable with, go for it.
If you don’t though, do not despair. What I would recommend then is looking elsewhere. Look on the high street, look at sample sales, go to charity shops, go to a dressmaker, use the internet. Really people. By going to dress shops only, I was sucked into the belief that spending the equivalent of a months salary was the only way to find your dress. This is not true. There are so many other options out there. So many in fact, that right this minute, as I type, I’ve decided to do a whole separate post on this. Keep an eye out for it. (Editors note – that post never got posted in the end due to much wedding panic, but fear not, it will do. Soon)
5. It is important that you like your dress.
You don’t need to love it. This is a myth. If you do, great. I don’t think I will ever *love* a dress, and I’ve come to terms with that now. You do however, need to like your dress. I mean really like it. Somehow, the first dress I chose I now don’t even like, which would definitely have put a downer on the day. My new dress I will like. I know I will. And that’s all that’s important.
Categories: Wedding Planning, Wedding Pretty
7 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted February 24, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I bought my dress in Oxfam. If you'd like a post on that subject, I can write one.

  2. Posted February 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I was talking to a lovely engaged friend about this the other day. This is a beautiful girl who just isn't sure she has bought 'the one' for her autumn wedding. I think there are about 100 dresses (and they're just from the one's I know about) that would suit her, make her feel gorgeous and be 'one of the one's'. I might just email over the link to this, thank you…x

  3. Posted February 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    And no. I'm not sure I've used the correct apostrophe there either…

  4. Posted February 24, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Aw I love this. I had second thoughts about my dress too, it wasn't 100% Everything I Ever Wanted, I never had that "moment", and even now I fantasise about other dresses I might have chosen… but on the day it felt beautiful, and I have come to love it because of all its associations – my mum so generously bought it for me, my dad teared up when he saw me in it, my husband couldn't take his eyes off me – what more can you really ask for?

    (Also, my top dress-shopping tip – make an extra-special effort with your makeup and hair when you go shopping, whether it be in a fancy boutique or a charity shop. You're going to be looking at yourself in the mirror a LOT, and it can get really depressing really quickly if you think you look gross before you've even got the damn dress on.)

  5. Linsey
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    i found a few dresses I really liked, none were 'The One' and I didn't cry, neither did my mum or sister (maybe heartlessness just runs in my family!) But there were 3 dresses I tried on that I would've been happy tp wear on my wedding day. I came home, googled them and found a woman selling one of them…in my size, 30 minutes from my house and ¬£700 less than the shop quoted me. Sold! It's now in my mum and dad's house patiently waiting for me :)

  6. lisa
    Posted August 24, 2011 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Hi everyone, so glad i read all your comments. Iv brought my wedding dress home today after ordering it 5 months ago; and im really not sure it is the right dress, i was so excited it had arrived and just felt a complete sense of anti climax when i tried it on. My mother said it looks stunning. But im not convinced. Made the mistake of looking at other dresses, but cant afford to change my mind now. Your comments have reassured my that on the day it will look fine teamed with my hair styled and make up done. Im just stressing. Its nice to read others go through the same wedding dress emotions. x

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  • By Where did you get that dress? {Part 2} on February 29, 2012 at 12:29 am

    [...] did you get that dress? {Part 2} Following on from the last two wedding dress posts, here’s my final say on the [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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