Let's talk about wedding dress shopping. You're likely to either be fully ecstatic about it or feel a bit nervous. Either way, we're here to walk you through what to expect and more importantly, how to get what you want when shopping for a wedding dress. It's the ultimate wedding dress guide for shopping.

Finding A Wedding Dress Designer you like

Let's try and look at this in some sort of logical order. The first thing you need to do is try and find some dresses and/or designers that you like. A great way of doing that is to follow Rock My Wedding on Instagram and visit our real weddings section. It is SO useful to see dresses on real brides in action to get a good idea of how they actually look. When you've found a couple of designers you like, why not pop on to their Instagram too? It's a great way of keeping up to date with any offers they might have or where you can find them in a boutique near you. We put this wedding dress guide together to help you understand some of the jargon that goes along with wedding dress shopping and grasp what you're actually looking at when you walk through that boutique door.

When Should I Buy My Wedding Dress?

There's no real right or wrong time to go shopping for your wedding dress. The most important thing is to make sure that the dress you want can be ready in time. The usual lead time for dresses is about 6 months. But that's not to say that you can't get a rush job through in 8 weeks. Obviously, that isn't ideal for anyone really but it can be done. The sooner you can find your dress the better. Giving yourself the time to save up for the balance of the dress is a bonus. If you have 12 months that would be ideal for you in terms of savings and also the designers in terms of being able to get it to you in plenty of time for you to have fittings should you need them (and you probably will)? Wedding dress shopping is likely to be something new to you and can be daunting so it's nice to be able to take your time with the process. You don't need the extra pressure of having to choose something on the first day of shopping because you don't have time to go anywhere else.

What To Consider When Shopping For A Wedding Dress

Ultimately, you want to feel like you on your wedding day so it's really important to stay true to yourself and bring your personal style into your day. Don't feel like you have to have something strapless if you're uncomfortable with that style of gown, equally don't feel like you have to have long lacey sleeves a la K Middy if you find them... itchy. You do you and incorporate your own style. With that in mind, here are some other pointers we think you should consider when shopping for your wedding dress:


Work out your budget (you can get some help with that here) before you start looking at dresses and stick to it. Make your boutique assistant aware of your budget when you arrive so that they can point out to you which dresses you should be looking at. Remember to factor in those alterations - ask your boutique for average costs on that.


It is so important to get the right undies for your wedding outfit, be that a dress or a jumpsuit or suit. You want to be completely comfortable and having underwear that fits well will be key to that. You can find out more about how to choose the right underwear here.

The Right White

Think about the tone of your skin. Is white the best colour for you? Maybe Ivory might suit you better... or pink or blush or red? You don't have to have white, go for what suits you best, and remember to bring your personal style into your outfit. You can see some amazing real brides here who opted for alternative wedding dress colours here.

Should I Have a Veil?

Again there is no hard and fast rule about wedding veils, you do what feels right for you but it is always worth trying one on. You have a lot of options (because that's what you need, even MORE choice) so check out our guide to wedding veils before you go along so you have a good idea about the styles you might like and what they're called. Remember, veils are also something you can get secondhand, potentially hire or even have as your 'something borrowed'.

Who Should I Take Wedding Dress Shopping

You should be choosey about who you take along to your fitting with you. You want honesty but you also don't want someone who might bring a downer on the experience. If you're feeling nervous or struggling to decide who to take with you our top piece of advice is to go by yourself. You might think that sounds a bit daft but the most important thing about your wedding outfit is that you love it and you feel great in it because the better you feel in something the more radiant you look. Fact. If you are taking friends or family with you, another top tip from us to not let them take photos of you. I know, I know, you want to remember what you look like in the dress because it might be 10 months before you see it again but trust us, you don't want to be looking back over a blurry iPhone photo that your friend sneakily took whilst pretending to take a load off on the chaise lounge. Your hair may not be right, the angle could be terrible and you could look back at that photo and start getting doubts. The best thing is to remember how you felt in the dress and you will stay in love with it until you meet again.

How Much Does A Wedding Dress Cost?

How long is a piece of string? Designer gowns can start from £400 all the way up to the thousands. That's why it is important to let your boutique know your budget when you arrive. Remember you will need to pay a deposit for your dress when you decide on which one you want and you'll be looking at an average of 50% of the total cost to secure your order. Have you thought about buying secondhand? If so you need, Recycle My Wedding (our very own preloved wedding marketplace) It's a great option to get the dress of your dreams at sometimes half the cost depending on the condition of the used dress and helping look after the environment too. You can also hold out for sample sales at boutiques where you can sometimes get up to 75% off.

I'm Worried About Wedding Dress Shopping

Ladies, listen up. We are forever banging on about having your day your way (and we always will too because you know, your way is the best way) and if shopping for a dress at a boutique isn't working out for you then let's find a way that will. Have you tried the high street? You can get some incredible wedding dresses all year round from stores such as Phase Eight, Monsoon, and even ASOS. And what about ordering straight from the internet? You obviously need to make sure the designers are reputable but with the likes of Grace Loves lace, ordering your dress online is now super easy. And if you'd like to hear all about what it's like to own a bridal boutique and get extra tips on how to have the best experience you can then head over to our podcast and listen to this episode with Maddi from The Bridal Boutique Warwickshire. You can also find bridal boutiques up and down the country that we wholeheartedly recommend, we know you'll be looked after well.  

Wedding Dress Sizing

You are ready to start your bridal shopping journey! This is one of the most exciting parts of your pre-wedding experience so let’s get into the nitty and gritty bits when it comes to sizing. The bridal industry follow some pretty outdated size charts. Don’t let this freak you out! Wedding dresses can run up to 2 - 3 sizes smaller. This means that although you may normally be a size 10 when buying from high-street fashion stores, when it comes to your gown it could easily be an unrealistic size 12 or 14. Both Lauren and I (Bethany) have experienced brides feeling disheartened and uncomfortable with this huge difference between sizing. The last thing any bridal consultant wants is for their bride to feel self conscious, so we are here to tell you that size really is just a number. Bridal sizing is not a reflection on yourself and everyone is a different shape and size, we are all unique and we are all beautiful. Always remember the dress should change to fit you, rather than you need to change to fit the dress. If a dress is too big it can be altered to fit your body shape to the T. Always remember to embrace the journey and be mindful that the size of your wedding dress is not a true reflection on modern high street sizing. Each designer also follows their own size guidelines with no uniformity between brands. While most run small, a lot of independent bridal designers (such as ourselves) are updating their measurements to match the modern, more realistic sizing of today.

Bethany - House of Boemia Bridal
Becky Sappor

Written by Becky Sappor

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