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Advice
Wedding Dresses: Everything You Should Know
So you’re engaged – congratulations! Now here’s what you need to know about buying a wedding dress.
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Words by Karina Lowndes
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25 May 2020
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Wedding dresses are one of the most pinned items on the Internet (coming in behind chicken recipes?!) and it’s hardly surprising – even the most chilled brides want to look and feel like a babe on their wedding day.

The process of buying a wedding dress is different for everyone (take our co-founder Amy for example, who bought her wedding dress on a whim before she was even engaged) but if you’re going down the traditional route, there are a few things worth noting.

1. Set a budget

It’s worth nipping this one in the butt early. Set a budget, do some research and find out which labels and boutiques are within your price point. If it’s not listed somewhere on their website, don’t be too shy to pick up the phone and ask the question.

2. Bring extra underwear

Since you’ll be trying on lots of different designs it’s always a good idea to bring spare underwear to get a good idea of how the wedding dress will actually look. We’d recommend packing a g-string, a pair of Spanks and a strapless/convertible bra.

3. Remember alterations cost money

All wedding dresses (unless it’s custom made) are probably going to need some alterations – especially the hem which is purposefully made long so it can be measured perfectly against whatever pair of shoes you decide to wear. Some designers and boutiques offer their own in-house alternations service or you can find your own – just remember to factor this into your budget.

4. Know the lingo  

There’s a whole language surrounding wedding dresses and it can be confusing. Here’s a quick glossary:

  • RTW or OTR = ready-to-wear or off-the-rack. This is a term for factory made clothing, sold in finished condition in standardised sizes. It’s much cheaper than something custom made.
  • MTM = made-to-measure. This is when standard patterns/designs are modified to fit your figure. There is usually only one appointment where they take your measurements before your final fitting. *Note that not all MTM companies do the same amount of modifications (Eg. number of measurements, option for sleeves/no sleeves etc.)
  • Bespoke or custom-made. If you’re prepared to splurge on your wedding dress, nothing compares to a bespoke gown. It’s where you can literally design your dress from scratch and have it made to perfectly fit your figure. There are multiple fittings and no standardised patterns used.

5. Allow enough time if possible

Obviously some couples want to get married as soon as possible but if you have your heart set on a particular dress be aware that the lead-time for most made-to-measure wedding dresses is anywhere from six to nine months (potentially longer if you’re having a gown custom made). This can sometimes be fast-tracked at an additional cost.

6. Book an appointment

Wedding dress boutiques are almost always by appointment only so it’s essential to call ahead and secure a spot. Some boutiques also charge a fee (approx. $40) which is redeemable if you purchase a dress.

7. Shop for your current size

Do yourself a favour and shop for your current size. Putting pressure on yourself to loose weight within a certain time-frame is a) stressful, b) time-consuming and c) not the reason your partner proposed. If you do happen to drop a few kilos you can always get the dress altered.

8. Keep your entourage small

For your own sanity, don’t bring too many people with opinions along with you. It will cloud your own instinct/decision-making ability and often there’s not enough room inside the boutiques for too many people, anyway.

9. Be open-minded

This is probably the most money you’ll ever be spending on an item of clothing and that’s because they are (for the most part) very well made with high quality fabrics. That means that styles and silhouettes you would normally find unflattering can look amazing. Be open-minded, experiment and you might be pleasantly surprised.

10. Ask to take photos

Not everywhere will allow you to do this as they don’t want you taking the photo to a dressmaker and having the design copied but you can always ask. By the time you’ve tried on the 10th dress you’ll have forgotten what the first one even looked like.

11. Remember what the day is all about

Finally, remember that the day is not about the dress. It’s part of the process but remember the only thing you actually need to get married is a celebrant. Everything else is icing on the cake.

Image credit: Mrs Fray.

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