Today’s episode of The Wedding Edit is all about my wedding dress, where I bought it, how I chose it and how you go from trying on samples in a bridal shop to walking down the aisle in the dress of your dreams.
I will be honest I had quite a bit of anxiety when it came to dress shopping, no idea why, but I did; so finding the right shop for me was really important. I had no idea where to start, or even how to go about wedding dress shopping! I had seen a few different bridal stalls at the many bridal fairs I had worked at and had talked to a few people, I suppose it was more last Spring that I approached the stalls as I was now a bride to be and got a lot of mixed reviews of when I needed to buy the dress etc. I was also a little put off as the majority of companies bring their size 8 dresses down with them to display, so me, a size 16 looks at them and goes ‘I’d never suit something like that’ or ‘they would never do my size in their shop’, which is lies; the majority of shops go up to a size 28 odd.
Anyway, my first experience of a proper bridal shop was one my friend and I nipped into ‘Go on’ she said, ‘why not? Just a wee look’; they had an open day or sale or something. However we were about 30 mins too late and we were told we couldn’t have a quick look at the dresses (that were upstairs) but that I could book an hour and a half appointment. Well straight away even though the staff were lovely that put me off, thoughts went through my head like; ‘but what if I don’t like any of the dresses’ or ‘what if I can’t find anything and have a horrible time and just waist both mine and their time?’. As we left I asked the girl could I have one of their little brochures which had photos and links for their social media accounts. Right away I knew my gut had been right, the photos of dresses were not what I was after or my taste, yes they were beautiful, but no that slinky, half there or glitzy princess style dress was not what I wanted and I knew I’d have to wear about 10 pairs of Spanx to look anywhere half decent in them! Imagine if I had went ahead and made the appointment, my face would have dropped when I seen them all and I would have struggled to pick at least one when they would ask what I’d like to try on, never mind fitting into them!
Perhaps it was from here my anxiety formed as I didn’t want to feel forced into trying on dresses I didn’t like or have to wear Spanx on my wedding day. My brief was always; I want a dress I can move in, feel good in and be comfortable in; not one that I am constantly pulling and fixing at the control underwear in.
D I V I N I T Y B R I D A L
With that in mind mum and I were in Lisburn one day and decided to pop into Divinity Bridal, a couple of friends had recommended them to me, I had spoken to them at a couple of wedding fairs before and they were really really lovely, and from day one I had said to mum that I wanted to try them for my dress!
Straight away we were put at ease and of course it was no problem to have a little look around the shop as they were in between appointments. This meant we could browse through the dresses and I could see ones I wanted to try on and say to the girls a few ideas I liked and get some advice from them, and most importantly for me, control underwear and Spanx were not a necessity! After this 10/15 minutes of just looking at the dresses and talking to the girls with no pressure at all, I knew I was ready to make an appointment with them and I had, no let me rephrase that, mum had actually spotted a dress that when I seen it I had a feeling it could be the one!
P I C K I N G T H E D R E S S
And as you can see, just a couple of weeks later we were back in and I was trying on dresses. My appointment was with Rachael, who was so lovely and absolutely fantastic, she put me at ease straight away, as did the other girls. Seriously if you choose to visit and make an appointment at Divinity Bridal then you will be spoilt for choice with amazing, welcoming, knowledgeable and friendly staff to help you pick your dream dress with no pressure to buy! Rachael initially asked me my budget; this was to make sure I didn’t try on and fall in love with a dress that I couldn’t afford. However Divinity Bridal are so reasonable with their prices, they have an amazing range of dresses that you won’t have to remortgage your house for!
First off I went straight for the dress I had spotted on my first visit and then I picked a couple of others I liked the look of. The girls also showed me some of the dresses they thought I would suit and ones they thought matched the idea of the dress I wanted.I was able to pick out as many dresses as I liked to try on, then I headed to the dressing room area. I tried on 5 dresses in total, with Rachel choosing the order I tried them on in, asking each time what parts of the dress I liked and disliked, this made it easier to narrow down the number of dresses I picked to the number I tried on, all in order to find my perfect dress.
*Note some of the photos are not at a very flattering angle, but it gives you an idea.
T R Y I N G O N T H E D R E S S E S
First off the aim is to find the shape you want and then that helps to reduce down the number of dresses you have picked, no point in trying dresses in the shape you don’t like. I had also previously been watching The Posh Frock Shop on Channel 4, and I had remembered them saying about you wearing the dress, not the dress wearing you. I didn’t really get what that meant until I started trying wedding dresses on, but that first dress above wore me; it was just so heavy and I had to keep lifting it and dragging it along with me. I liked the shape, but just knew straight away it didn’t tick the comfort box and that train was a pain in the ass, I kept getting caught in it.
This dress was lovely, but what you can’t see is the sequence all around the bodice, I liked the lace but not the sequins, it was a little too glitzy for what I wanted and also it was so uncomfortable! I must have had this on for about 10 mins max and I actually had cuts/scratches under my arms from the sequence; apparently some brides will ignore this for the perfect look they are after, but not me.
This dress (terrible angle) would have been the one probably if Philip and I had gone for that ‘traditional’ wedding where we would get married in a church and then head on to a hotel or wedding venue, but for our wedding this was just too formal.
T H E D R E S S
Quite possibly the most unflattering photo ever, but this is THE DRESS! Yup the dress my mum spotted the very first time we went into Divinity Bridal and the dress I fell in love with, it just ticked all my boxes, it was comfortable, I could move in it, I felt good in it, and it just matched what I was going for in my head. Now the belt I have on there was extra to the dress, there was a line of diamante around it, but I really didn’t like it so was able to choose a belt I preferred. This is the belt I went for and bought separate to the dress from Divinity Bridal, however you can get ones made or buy ones elsewhere.
W H A T N E X T ?
Now that I had decided on the dress, yup I didn’t look anywhere else, no other shops; I knew this was the one, I tried it on a couple of times and yup I knew it. I then got measured, as you can see in the photo the sample didn’t fit me (it’s rare that a sample size will fit you perfectly so don’t ever worry about that!). Another thing not to worry about is the size they actually order, wedding dress sizing is crazy! So I would be a UK size 16 in dresses, however my wedding dress was actually ordered in a UK size 24. Yup I nearly died too, but like I said wedding dresses are sized really strangely depending on individual designers, I know someone who is a UK size 12 who fitted both into a UK size 6 wedding dress by one designer and a UK size 28 dress by another designer.
Divinity Bridal had a promotion on at the time that if you said YES TO THE DRESS on the day of your appointment you got a percentage off your dress. This was fantastic as it meant the money off could go towards the belt I wanted and the addition of extra length on the bottom of the dress as I am tall. I went ahead and paid my deposit and then all I had to do was wait for my dress to be made and arrive in.
I T A R R I V E D
I had to wait a few months, but the dress arrived in January. I was filled with mixed emotions, excited to see my dress again, but scared in case I didn’t like it anymore, I mean it had been about 4 months since I had first tried it on. But it was all good I still loved it! The dress was massive on me, so Rachael bless her had to stand behind me and pull it all in for me to have an idea of how it would look. Just by fluke the straps I suppose you could call them fell down just off my shoulders because they were too big, but it made the dress look completely different and for me 100% perfect!
A L T E R A T I O N S
Finally it was time for the alterations, with any wedding dress you order, you always will need alterations. The dress you get will not fit you, the size they order for you will be to fit the largest part of your body and then the alterations are done on the rest of the dress so it fits you perfectly. I was really lucky that Donna from Sew Handy was able to fit me in. She is one of the seamstresses Divinity Bridal work alongside and recommend for their dresses; this worked out great for me as Donna was able to pick up my dress from Divinity Bridal and take it up to her studio in Banbridge, just 15 minutes from me.
This is the beautiful, amazingly talented, down to earth and fabulous Donna, the face behind Sew Handy she didn’t just alter my dress, but she basically totally redesigned my whole dress! She totally got my vision and went with it, she was able to make me feel absolutely fantastic in my dress. When you choose Donna and Sew Handy for your bridal alterations, you get:
- A minimum of 3 secured fitting appointments
- The services of an independent seamstress with 40+ years of sewing experience
- Complimentary storage and steaming of your gown in preparation for your wedding day
- The option to “add on” other dresses to the fitting appointments regardless of where they were purchased
- Security in the knowledge that your seamstress carries independent insurance to store, work on and transport your dresses
- Professional advice- what can and can’t be done, what should and shouldn’t be done and loads of tips and tricks that will help you on your wedding day
- A “ morning of the wedding “ dressing service (dependant on my availability)
- A bit of craic !
I went for the 3 secured fitting appointments, however thinking back there could have been 4, because one part of my dress wasn’t playing ball. Donna’s experience is amazing, like I said some parts of my alterations were a bit tricky, but nothing to Donna, I had my gown steamed for the big day, she added on a little extra embroidery for me and I got so many tips and tricks (‘Boobs and Bellybutton’) and oh my word so much craic and laughs and the stories she could tell. Honestly Donna is one of the loveliest people I have ever met and she 100% put me at ease and was a total perfectionist about my dress and what I wanted!
‘On her wedding day a woman should be certain that she has found a dress that makes her feel confident and above all else, beautiful.’
A D V I C E
Oh and just before I go, the one think I had no clue about and wanted to know before going dress shopping is what to wear or what to bring so:
- Strapless bra
- Heels the height you think you’ll be wearing
- Pants you feel comfortable in
- Spanx are optional
- A hair bobble because boy it gets hot trying on dresses
- Minimal makeup, you don’t want to leave half your face on the samples