Bridal designer Elizabeth Stuart (below) shares her 10 top tips for finding the wedding dress of your dreams
Lay the right foundations
Wear appropriate undergarments for your bridal appointment. I always recommend seamless underwear and a strapless bra to my brides as these create a smooth line and are a great foundation for your bridal look.
Consider your venue
Is it going to be a laid back bohemian garden wedding or a chic city do? The venue is often one of, if not the first thing, couples choose about their wedding, so I always find this is a great help when picking a style of gown.
Don't limit yourself
Be open-minded. Most brides have a pretty good idea of what it is they are looking for when they begin shopping but don’t let this hold you back when trying on wedding gowns. This is the one opportunity you get to play dress-up so take your time and even if you went in looking for a simple lace sheath gown, if that princess-style dress with an 8ft train takes your fancy, try it on!
Stay true to your big-day vision
Whilst I always recommend my brides to be open-minded, that isn’t to say that they shouldn’t be true to themselves. If your typical style is chic and tailored, don’t go for slouchy and boho (or vice versa) on your wedding day. Whilst I think it’s important to always be comfortable stepping out of the box, your groom is waiting to see his true love walk down the aisle and he certainly wants to recognise her.
Make their most of your bridal consultant
Your bridal consultant is not just there to help you in and out of dresses this talented group of ladies (or gentleman) have some great pearls of wisdom hidden up their sleeve. Whether you want advice on the latest trends or what blooms to use in your bridal bouquet, these are the people to ask. Blessed with an in-depth knowledge of the wedding industry and a great eye for timeless style, be sure to not miss out on this unbiased advice.
Don't feel daunted
Whilst shopping for your dress is a very exciting time, a lot of brides also find it a little daunting; don’t add to the pressure by bringing along to many different opinions. I often find the best appointments are when a bride comes with just one or two honest but kind friends or family members as this prevents too much conflict of interest. Whilst it is exciting to bring along your entire bridal party and the mother of the bride, each individual will have a different vision of what they expect. This can make the appointment a little confusing and detracts from the enjoyment of the most special shopping adventure a bride will ever take.
Sample sale it!
Whilst I know every bride wishes she had an endless budget to spend on her dress this is very rarely the case; that isn’t to say though that every bride can’t have the dress of her dreams. There are countless options out there to suit every budget; sample sales are a great way to find designer gowns at budget friendly prices with samples selling at around 70% of the RRP! Another great option is to keep an eye out for the Elizabeth Stuart sales, which run at different points throughout the year and are a great way to get a brand new dress at 25% off. Be warned though, ladies - appointments fill fast for these occasions so be sure to book one in good time!
Keep an eye on the time...
Planning a wedding is a very time-consuming affair so make sure you leave time for any last-minute dress alterations - I'd recommend having the dress at least six months before the big day. Most designers have a lead time of around four months and then there are alterations and shipping to be taken into account. If you are a bride who has already gone past the six-month deadline don’t panic though - most boutiques/designers will have samples available or alternately can offer a rush order with a small surcharge.
Don't be afraid to ask for changes
I know that as women we are often told about finding 'the one', but even if it is your dream wedding gown, that doesn't mean you can't ask for changes to be made. Whether it’s the addition of a strap or a small amount of embellishment, don’t be afraid to ask your bridal consultant if you can make some small personalisation to your gown. Here at Elizabeth Stuart Bride we love working with brides to make their dress personal to them and we offer a handdrawn sketch so brides can see exactly what their special requests will look like; this is also a great keepsake for after the big day!
My final and most important tip for finding 'the one' is... Don’t forget to have fun! It’s not every day you get to play dress up and whether you want to play the Princess or an old hollywood film star, this shopping adventure is all about you!
Elizabeth Stuart's White Label 2014 collection is now available at retailers across the UK. Visit www.elizabeth-stuart.com to browse the range in full and find your nearest stockist.