It was the most important dress I would ever buy, so it had to be right, right? The process of finding the perfect dress for this fashion industry professional, was, honestly, not the most enjoyable shopping experience I’ve ever had. I had dreams of sipping champagne in various bridal shops across Dublin, sashaying around show rooms as if I was walking on clouds. But this turned out to be a mirage. I will add the disclaimer that this is about my own experience and no one else’s. I have so many lovely stories from my friends of how they came to find the dress of their dreams. Some found it in the first shop and for others it took a while. I fall into the latter category. I’ve been married for over five years now, and upon reflection, and at this time of year, I thought I would share my wedding dress shopping guide based on things I did and didn’t do. 

Wedding dress shopping guide

Don’t visit the place you always dreamt of buying your dress first

Ok this might sound very convoluted, but the shop I always wanted to visit did not live up to my expectations, so I advise going to somewhere else first. I had built up my imaginary experience in this shop so much that it let me down in so many ways. I had a vision of waltzing in, trying on dresses and feeling like Kate Middleton in custom McQueen. Nah. Didn’t happen. Instead, I could only find two I liked, both of which were samples that had seen a much better (and cleaner day) and it left me deflated that I didn’t go looking again for weeks. The sales assistant was also incredibly pushy and it put me off. Dreams shattered. 

Put any idea of what you’d like out of your head

I had a very strong idea of the style I would like, but when I put a similar dress on, it was not for me at all. It’s amazing how I sometimes think I know my body shape so well, I put on the wedding dress and saw myself in an all too different light. This was where the advice of the wedding shop specialist in shop number two was invaluable. I listened to so much advice over the course of the dress search, but none stayed with me like that of one person who suggested this: I think of my favourite dress at home, and how it fits, why I love it, and what kind of cut it is. This is the style that on a day to day basis flatters me and I love. Once I had that dress in my head, I found I could seek out those styles more astutely. 

That thing called “a budget” 

This can limit and expand your options I have to say. I ended up spending double my budget and here’s why – after five shops and two months I couldn’t find anything I liked. And that was nothing to do with the price, I just didn’t like any. I went back to the drawing board to widen the search across Ireland and came across a shop with a designer pop up so I made an appointment. I had an inclination I was going to find the dress here and I did. But, I made a solemn promise to myself that if I was going to spend this  money, I would sell the dress afterwards. Two days after my wedding, I had the dress cleaned and off it went to a second hand designer dress shop. After commission I made 2/3 of my money back, which meant I had only spent my budget. I’m definitely not saying you have to have a big budget, not at all, but selling the dress to make some of your money back is always an option. 

“Say Yes To The Dress” and all that jazz

I thought when I walked out of the fitting room my mum would fall over in tears, shock and awe at my devastating beauty when she saw me in the dress. That didn’t happen. I brought my most honest critic with me and she delivered. When you go wedding dress shopping, bring someone that you know will tell you the truth so it helps you make the right decision. I learned everything I know about fashion from my mum and naturally I knew she would know exactly what would suit me and she was right. I didn’t want a veil as I preferred not to look my Communion photographs from 1988, and this was a topic of much debate. But when we found the right dress, the veil wasn’t needed and we all agreed. I’ve watched “Say Yes To The Dress” several times and I do gasp at how every single bride is told she looks beautiful, even when the dress is not quite right. I’m glad I had an honest opinion shopping with me. 

Don’t go without some shoes!

You don’t necessarily have to have the exact shoe with you when you go wedding dress shopping, but do bring a shoe with the heel height you expect to wear. Each shop has a selection of shoes of course, but I found none were in my size as they were sample size 7 and in my own shoes, I felt I could walk around the shop in the dress more comfortably, as well as having a clear idea of length. I actually wanted to wear black shoes on my wedding day at one point, but it just didn’t end up working with the silk in my dress so I went for gold in the end which was a nice soft contrast. 

I could do on for days on this experience, but I wanted to narrow it down to the five most essential learning points for me. If you are a bride to be, and want to know some places I went to, or if you have any bridal questions, please leave a comment below or drop me an email on the contact form here




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