Wedding gown by J’Aton Couture Photo by Marcus Bell of Studio Impressions from Athena and Dariusz’s Sophisticated Brisbane Wedding

Following on from my last wedding planning list, I thought today I’d write one for dress shopping. It’s such a big, overwhelming task that I would love to hear your own tips you’ve figured out!

1. Keep an open mind

This is always said, but its one of my top pieces of advice I have heard again and again from brides is that you should try on gowns you never thought you’d pick. Lusting after that strapless ruffly number? How about trying on the v-neck slinky gown? Sometimes our perceptions and knowledge of what we wear every day can get lost when we go bridal shopping. Love V necks and constantly wear them? Experiment with a V neck gown. Trust your designer or consultant if they suggest styles out of your ordinary. Go to the bridal salon with an open mind as you may just be surprised at what you fall in love with!

2. Break out the good stuff

If you’re a little nervous about getting half naked in front of a shop assistant, it’s going to happen at your bridal fitting because you’ll definitely need help getting your head through the many layers, zipping up the back and adjusting the gown. So here’s an obvious but probably forgotten tip – wear your best underwear! It helps if it’s nude or white coloured too so you can’t see it through the dresses. If you’re looking at trying on strapless gowns, it might pay to invest in a decent strapless bra as not all gowns have support built in. If you’re really worried, perhaps wear a slip.

3. Style it up

While full hair & makeup is not the most practical for wedding dress shopping, styling your hair in the basic style you’d like to wear and making up your face can go a long way to how you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror. If you’re planning on wearing your hair up and having a formal wedding, it pays to spend some time styling your hair into an up style and putting on a little makeup so you can get a better feel of how you might look when everything comes together.

Gown by Connie Simonetti. Photo by Deus Photography from Belinda and Christian’s Elegant Beach Wedding

4. Elevate yourself

If you think you’ll wear heels on your wedding day, bring a comfy pair along. They don’t have to be your wedding day shoes, but if you’re like me, you walk differently, hold yourself differently in heels and it makes a difference to how you look and feel in your gown. The same goes if you want to wear flats on your wedding day!

5. Give it time

The timing of your dress shopping is a pretty important point! It needs to happen after you’ve figured out the style, dress budget and timing of your wedding (because shopping for a ballgown and then deciding you’d rather marry in Thailand in a light chiffon number can be a costly change!) but you also need to give enough time for the bridal salon to make your gown or order it. Then there’s fittings! The earlier you can start, the better! Most couture bridal salons need at least five months notice, some salons ordering in gowns need at least eight. I promise that’s the only “timeline” I’ll include in this post!

6. Downsize the entourage

You know that saying’ too many cooks’? It applies to dress shopping too! Dress salons are often pretty small when there are numerous brides inside and a plethora of opinions can sometimes make your very solid decision turn into a completely confused one. Stick to a max of two or three people that you really trust the opinion of and consider inviting loved ones for fittings or different dress shopping excursion. You don’t actually have to buy a dress on your first shopping trip, or your second, or even your third. You can buy your dream dress in your own time.

7. Fill your belly

Are you one of those people who forgets to eat and then feels all funny and realises it’s because you’re actually really hungry? (Or is that just me!) Eating a decent breakfast the morning of your bridal gown trek is vital. This also goes for lunch- make sure you stop and take a break if your mind is filled with layers of white silk, a coffee and a few carbs can help clear your mind!

Gown by Johanna Johnson Photo by Pobke Photography from Emelia and Anthony’s Coastal Glamour Wedding

8. Designer date

If you’re buying a made to measure gown or one off the rack, keep your eye on their websites for designer days. Often bridal gown designers will travel the country visiting salons that stock their gowns. You’ll not only get personal attention from the salon, but the designer will be there for an extra special experience in choosing your gown and there may even be a plethora of special offers for you to choose from!

9. Leave the camera at home

The bridal gown market is a tough one and with online sales and copyright, most salons nowadays don’t allow photographs to be taken in store.  It’s best to leave the camera at home, or at least ask before you snap away at pictures of yourself in the gown. The last thing you want is to start the experience with your bridal gown shopping, by offending the bridal shop owner.

10. Celebrate

You know I’m a big believer in celebrating, so make sure you buy a bottle of bubbles, or go out for a glass after you have made that final decision. Buying your wedding dress is special. Finding the right one deserves celebrating!