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What to expect at your first bridal boutique visit - 24 Top Tips

Being engaged means you now get to visit those fabulous bridal boutiques and find the dress of your wedding dreams. This is like clothes store shopping but on another level!

But what do you need to know when visiting a bridal shop for the first time?

The service is by far the difference you will notice. The boutique owners and their teams are devoted to making you feel as special as you can only hope for.

Knowledgeable, understanding, patient the bridal consultants are ready to celebrate with you through the whole process.

They will listen, really listen and know what you do and don't like, what you feel comfortable with and what body parts you want to show off or hide.

Image: Townhouse Bridal

You may walk into the first boutique and find 'The One' or you may visit several until you are ready to "Say Yes to the Dress."

Here are top tips from our suppliers that will make it a wonderful adventure and help to live up to the expectations:

1. Know your budget.

2. Check the Covid rules – they can vary from store to store.

3. Don't take too many people with you – everyone has an opinion but they might not be right for you. Do speak up, if you love it and others don't, say you love it! It's you that will be wearing it.

4. The time at a bridal boutique visit is YOUR time – leave any distractions at home, that includes work phones or children! They can cope without you for a few hours.

5. Start looking asap – don't leave it to the last minute (unless of course you had to postpone due to Covid) there are plenty of amazing off the peg stores that you try buy and take away. A year to nine months is generally the rule but with the reopening of weddings appointments are booked well in advance – so get yours booked in asap.

Image: Shades of White

6. Make up and fake tan can come off when you are trying on dresses so think about this before you go.

7. There may be tears of joy although not everyone will be as excited and moved as you so don't be offended if they don't.

8. Ask what is expected regarding payment before your appointment, typically it would be 50% on ordering and then the remaining balance when the dress arrives, unless you are buying off the peg and taking away on the day.

9. Are you comfortable in the dress? Can you breath, move, eat and dance?

10. Depending on your skin tone, white could wash you out. Be prepared to try champagne, oyster, blush or your fav colour.

11. Ask about the time scale for any alterations, can they recommend someone or work with a seamstress. Seamstresses get booked very quickly so make sure you get your alterations booked in.

12. Appointments are on average 90 minutes to a few hours depending on the boutique.

13. Smaller independent boutiques may have one appointment at a time whereas larger shops may have a larger team and able to hold several appointments at once.

14. Eat before you go to your appointment – food is generally not available near those delicate beautiful dresses. Maybe arrange an afternoon tea with a glass of bubbly after your appointment to continue to excitement.

15. Choose appropriate underwear – remember you will be in and out of your clothes with the bridal ladies helping you.

16. Do check out the boutiques stock and designers before you go, check the price range and whether they offer off the peg or brands you have t order in. Check delivery times especially if they are coming from outside of the UK.

17. Don't forget to try accessories on with the dress – most boutiques have a selection of veils, hairbands, tiaras and detailed belts even jewellery and shoes.

Image: Rachel Sokhal Accessories

18. Do you need to store your gown in a dress box in acid-free paper? Should it be hung up in a dress bag? Or even hung up outside of the bag? Now is the time to check.

19. Once you choose your dream dress – consider if you will need support getting into and out of it. Will you have someone there to help you on the day?

20. Unless the store is 'off the peg' most dresses will be sample sizes that need to be ordered in so they may not fit perfectly, the bridal consultant will pin the dress for you to see how it would look.

Image: Dolly's Bridal

21. Go with an open mind! It's highly unlikely that you are used to wearing wedding dresses – so be prepared to try different styles and silhouettes, you'd be surprised how many people buy a dress that is the complete opposite of what they imagined. Determine what features you want on your gown. These features include the type of neckline, waistline, train, beadwork or lace on the bodice and skirt, and other decorations or embellishments.

Once you have determined which silhouette, colour and fabric you like best, decide if the gown should have sleeves, straps or if you prefer one that is strapless – talk it through with your bridal consultant.

- Ball gowns best fit the traditional category. It has a full bodice and waistline that leads to a full skirt.

- Empire silhouettes have a high waistline which falls to a slimmer skirt.

- A-line or princess gown features vertical seams flowing from the shoulders down to an A-shaped flared skirt.

- Sheath silhouettes following your body line closely

- Separates from corset and strappy tops, tailored jackets or capes with tailored trousers, a short or ruffled voile skirt.

22. Many boutiques like to share your special moment with a photo or boomerang of you saying "Yes to the dress" to share on their social channels. They won't include your chosen dress however if you would like to take a photo of your dress, or you in it, do check before you start snapping – some boutiques do not allow any photographs to be taken.

23. Really important – once you find "The One" – stop looking. Any exception being if you're buying more than one; one for the ceremony and one for the reception.

24. Enjoy every moment of it. This will be the most important dress you will purchase, and possibly the most expensive.


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