What Stef Did… Dresses & Decisions


Well hello there! This second post has come round quite fast!

In my last post I talked about my amazing photographers, Ten21, because I had chosen them before I had a man to marry. So I thought today I would bite the bullet and talk about the big one, because it was the first thing I put money down on…before we even had a date…:

The Dress

I have heard so many simple stories of ladies finding ‘The One’; it was the first one you tried on or the 101st and there was a glowing light emanating from you along with a chorus of angelic hallelujahs and weeping friends and relatives. No?! This didn’t happen to you?! Hmmm. It did?! I am jealous. I don’t have the most romantic or entertaining dress finding story but (like all things with me apparently) it is a little ridiculous.


Well it all goes back to my final year at uni where I shared a flat with 4 amazing girls. Conversation with us five always seemed to end up on the topics of boys, babies and wedding and it was during these conversations (and serious planning) I found my dress online. A gorgeous Caroline Castigliano gown with lace and sleeves!!!! To get to uni I didn’t quite have to walk past the Edinburgh Boutique, but I may have sneaked past a few times and man that was a gorgeous shop!

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So when I got engaged I looked the dress up again and found out that the Leeds Boutique was having a sample sale as they were closing down, and I just so happened to be visiting a friend in York so this seemed to be fate. However I decided to go to a local shop because I didn’t want to buy the first dress I tried on = sense. Going with no idea of a budget and no idea what was reasonable for a wedding dress = silly. 

I grabbed a friend and went to Perfect Bridal Rooms and Emma, who looked after us, was lovely, really knowledgeable and helpful. I knew the shape and style that I wanted, the kind of material I liked, however I was also willing to try on anything that was suggested and was pleasantly surprised how amazing I looked in totally different dresses, especially the figure hugging ones; which I wouldn’t normally go for. I went away with a short list of two dresses: the dress that was pretty much my wish list; and one that was the total opposite. Emma at the shop said I had the most comprehensive idea of what I wanted of any bride she had met (I take that as a compliment). Did you know what you wanted from day one and find it? Or were you (and your guest) surprised with what you went for?

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The following week we went back still with no real clue how much everything cost and what was normal I was lured into look at the beautiful designer expensive dresses. Emma knew exactly what I wanted by now and after a few dresses picked out the most beautiful Suzanne Neville dress. I don’t think I had a ‘the one’ moment but I just knew that none of the others compared! It was no surprise to me that I in love with an expensive dress because of the material I love and who doesn’t love what they can’t afford?!

I Even Crossed The Border For A Gown!

So with that in mind I crossed the border to England to be informed that I had been beaten to buying my dream dress by an hour (!!). However even though they were shutting down they were offering to make the dress for a reduced price. So even though she knew she probably shouldn’t have the lovely lady in the boutique let me try on the dress anyway and man, the dress was not what I imagined! It did not suit me at all! To add to that the lovely lady very politely informed me that my more than ample bosom was never going to fit in to a sample dress and that I would need some special thing to measure said bosom to ensure the dress they made fitted. I tried on some beautiful dresses and was informed that there is a difference between a lady shopping for a dress and a bride shopping for her gown! I loved that!

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So anyway I wavered over a few dresses there but after a few G&Ts, in the end I ran home and got my mum to see the dress I had fallen in love with at home. The gown that I just couldn’t get out of my head and put down a deposit!!! Now you may presume that I had the glowing hallelujah crying mum moment that confirmed the dress. No no! I had the ‘I hope you know we ain’t paying that much for that’ moment with mum. It was the fact that my stubbornness came through and said I don’t care I am buying it anyway that confirmed it was the one for me. 🙂

Wedding Blindness

One thing I have heard of is dress blindness. Where you try on so many white dresses you can no longer tell them apart. I mean when I first walked into the shop and saw all these Gowns hanging up I just had no idea where to start! So once you have tried on a few it is hard to remember which ones you liked and why. But 4 months into our engagement I had wedding blindness! I had looked at so many venues, so many blogs, so many gorgeous and different Real Weddings:  including RMW’s own Lolly’s wedding which made me want to drop everything and copy! So many ideas were pinned on my Pinterest that I no longer knew what my opinions were. I mean I loved the glamorous wedding, I loved the rustic weddings, I loved the homemade weddings, I loved traditional weddings but I also loved the modern contemporary weddings AND the vintage wedding!!! RMW you confused me with all your pretty!

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So what did I want?! I had to work this out. We were originally planning for an August 2013 wedding and I had planned out a summer wedding at Coos Cathedral: completely blank canvas; amazing converted cow steading. RMW featured a wedding at Coos which you can see here. It is an awesome relatively unknown venue, but when we started looking to move our wedding to March/April 2014 the possibility of snow filled us with dread and this blank canvas just seemed like too much work and too much of a risk for us and was working out more expensive to do everything ourselves.

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So again we were back to square one. What did we want? What could we afford? Rustic country barn? Or glamorous Scottish historic castle? Modern chic hotel? Or anything in between?! Did anyone else feel this? Or did you always know from the off what your day would look like?

Tell me some tales of how you found your gown. Was it the first you tried on? Did people cry? Did it take you 12 shops and 492 dresses? How far did you travel? Halfway round the world…Sophie?

Speak soon,

Love Stef

x x x

Author: Adam Crohill
Adam likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

29 thoughts on “What Stef Did… Dresses & Decisions

  1. Eeeeee…….I spot my beautiful dress amongst those pics!!!!
    (sorry, not spilling which one….but you’ll all find out soon enough!!)

    As for the process of choosing it….well i went to my first few shops with a really open mind – basically I had no clue and wanted to try on as many styles as possible to see what really suited me.
    Deep down though I always thought my dress would be a lacey number and a few friends had commented that they saw me strutting down the aisle in lace ****spoiler alert**** I didn’t!!!
    When I found my dress it was very surreal, in fact I nearly never tried her on – as I tried a dress of similar style and hated it so the lovely lady helping us put a whole load back of that style so as to not waste our time. But for some reason she kept my dress back (even she didn’t really know why!). So I put her on last and I just wanted to walk about in her (which I didn’t bother with any of the other dresses!) eventually it dawned on me that ‘I think this is the dress I am going to buy’! Then some tears came. Then a blur of measuring and paying half the amount! ouch!
    And then the weirdest part came…….a numb feeling almost a slight feeling of disappointment. I could no longer try any other dresses on. What if there was another dress out there just as amazing. What if I should’ve waited. What if, what if!

    That feeling was one of the scariest moments of the wedding planning. There was so much money on the line and I couldn’t even discuss it with Dave (other that to tell him I was only £150 over budget – pretty impressive for me!!!!).
    Luckily I spoke with my bridesmaid & best friend who had recently got married and said she had the exact same feeling but how she really loved her dress once the day came.
    So I stuck with her and boy am I glad I did, as I had a whale of a time in her and loved showing her off to all our guests! 🙂

    As for the whole wedding. Well ours went from an outdoor festival/fete style wedding in a field to a day of cocktails, posh food, art deco and glitter!!!!

    Fab post Stef. I just know you’ll look stunning in your beautiful dress 🙂 xxx

  2. after flirting around a few shops I fell in love with a Neville design early on and had the heart stopping moment of handing over the deposit! It was very exciting and a lovely moment….and I THOUGHT i was right, but its tough, as Rebecca said there are so many options out there and you do get white blindness.

    I then ended up seeing something previewed on these very pages that made me stop and stare. and freak out a little. I had to wait MONTHS for it to actually be available in store. Finally when I tried it I knew it was the one for me and was what i had originally envisaged. Its really easy i think to talk yourself into a dress when you’re trying lots on and when you know you can adapt this, tweak this. The new dress was just me, 100% no alterations and i LOVED it.

    Which then was a nightmare as I had to try and change my dress order!!

    I would probably say if you have loads of time to decide on your dress by all means but maybe don’t hand over the deposit and place the order until you’re under a year to go and you are totally sure by then that your head isn’t going to be turned!!


  3. Loving your posts Stef!! Please can I get married again and wear that slinky number in the picture with the horse? So pleased you found your one in the end and I know for a fact that it’s a stunner!! xxx

  4. Ahhh Stef!!! SUCH a good post! Your dress hunt is so exciting! It sounds like you really followed your heart with the one you picked. I can’t wait to see it. That venue really is amazing, but I definitely understand your reservations about a blank canvas. I’m finding (the hard way…!) that it’s not to be taken on lightly, especially if there is risk of snow. xxxxxx

  5. Fab post Stef. I’m always fascinated to hear about how other brides to be made that final decision and picked the dress. Mine is still a bit up in the air (with 7-and-a-bit-months to go…argh) but I’m hoping it’ll all come good in the end. I set a budget for my dress at the start of planning that I soon realised, after having done some research and drooling over dresses online, was ludicrously tiny. But by that point I had come over all stubborn and decided that I MUST be able to find a dress, even with the limited funds.

    This means I haven’t allowed myself to set foot into a bridal boutique, as I know what my brain is like. I will fall irrevocably in love with a Jenny Packham and have to sell both my kidneys. This cannot be allowed to happen *sob*. But, I have had great fun trying on some of the high street dresses in Coast and Monsoon, some of which are gorgeous, and one of which I thought might be the one for a while…

    Problem is I’m a picky so and so, and all the dresses I tried were almost-but-not-quite right. I have since found a lovely dressmaker in Cambridge, who has taken the 3 dresses I tried and liked, and come up with a sketch that is an amalgamation of the best bits of all of them. It’s still only a sketch, mind you, but I am so excited to see it as a real dress!

    Stef, I can’t wait to see the dress you’ve gone for, I bet it’ll be a thing of beauty. x

  6. OMG im so glad that it was not only me who had a bit of a moment finding my dress, I had lots of images of loveliness, tears and champagne but it never quite happened like that!

    I had done so much research – by this I mean buying wedding magazines long before I was engaged so I knew what style of dress I wanted and had fell in love with a mia mia dress by Alan Hannah, I was so utterly convinced this was my dress I had already showed my mum and sisters and said this was ‘ the one’!

    I scheduled a day with all my fav ladies to go to another store ( perfect day bridal – I had to say their name as they are a RMW supplier and they are AMAZE) I had never been to try on dresses and was nervous, what if i couldnt fit into any and what if I ahd to amny people with me?but they could not have been any more welcoming. Perfect Day were so lovely, calling to confirm my appointment the day before and anwsering my questions and queries ( no other shop did this for me and in between the craziness i visited 2 more).

    I narrowed it down to one amazing dress and I said that I had arranged an appointment in southamptopn the day after to try the Mia MIa dress on.

    The Ladie in the store in southampton, put an announcement of FB at 8pm to say that she was ill and all appointments were cancelled ( I wont name that store) I managed to try the mia mia dress on at the national wedding fayre and it looked awful!! My sisters faces when i walked out were a sight and I felt so uncomfortable!

    Que a quick call to Perfect Day to schedule an appointment and a week later I had decided on what dress I wanted and my sisters were playing dress up with the bridesmaid dresses when the lovely shop lady came in to say all our phones were ringing, my mum answered hers to say that my nan had been taken to hospital seriously ill, que lots of tears ( not the good kind) what seemed like an army of ladies from Perfect Day came to take me out of the dress and helped my sisters to get changed and even offered to drive us to the the hospital!

    I eventually managed to get back to Perfect Day and order my dress and they made me feel so lovely after all the stress I ended up buying all my accessorise and bridemaid dresses from them.

    Thank you for posting your story Steph, Im so glad im not the only one who traveled miles and had a bit of an epic task finding the one but it felt so good when I did!

    Looking forward to reading your next post xx

  7. Stef what a great post!

    I found my dress after 8 shops and after trying on 63 dresses!

    The first trip was amazing. Mum got the girls together, we headed to a shop in Kent because it stocked a designer that i had been obsessed with for months before i was even engaged (Sarah Seven-amazing boho style dresses to die for).

    The problem was that i felt so overwhelmed by everyone els’s opinions and emotions that i kind of forget to examine how i felt in each dress. This then led to a few more trips out with all the girls, lot’s of stress and frustration and total confusion and massive ‘dress blindness’ as you call it.

    Anyway, i happened to find my dress when i was driving home from work. I was sweaty, had all the wrong underwear on and no appointment (and no intention of looking). I drove past a shop local to my Mother-In-Law-To-Be, drifted in, selected three gowns and chose the second one. I was still wearing the dress when i negotiated on the cost and laid down a deposit there and then on my own. No second opinions, nothing.

    I can totally relate to how scary that is. I have since had a couple of dress wobbles (one major one where i began looking for a second dress) but seem to have recovered. Apparently this is pretty normal so don’t panic if this happens to you nearer to the wedding.

    Good luck in the rest of your planning. i look forward to reading the rest of your posts.

  8. Oh I too love hearing other peoples dress stories!!

    @Rebecca I know for a fact you looked stunning in your dress and I remember when I was first looking and found out it was your dress!! And I totally know what you mean, I still worry. Due to our change of date I ordered my dress about 18 months before before our wedding and I wobble every time I open up these glorious RMW pages!

    @Vix I am waiting until getting my measurements taken in November and hoping the new Miss Neville collection will be in to try on another dress and you never know. I may change too! So had you originally picked a different SN dress?

  9. Love that post. The dresses are gorgeous. It must be so overwhelming to decide which dress to go for. Too many choices in terms of dress, venues, theme etc. I can’t imagine doing all this preparation and planning. But you managed to find your dress. That’s great! Really happy for you. xx

  10. @Jen, I am sure it will all work out for you. And you really don’t have to go to a boutique to get a stunning dress.Sometimes all you need to do is look a little harder and not just round one shop that has lots of white dresses. Also massivly jealous of you getting your dress made!

    @Amy! I too and glad to hear I was not the only one with such a story to tell about finding ‘the one’! I am glad everything worked out well with the shop and I was exactly the same with the Castilingo dress! Was convinced it was the one until it was on me! So glad you had such a great experience at the boutique because you would not get that kind of service anywhere else!

    @Oh yes Vix I remember the jacket. You definitely made the right choice. Your dress is just perfect for you and you looked truely stunning!!!!! 🙂

  11. I am in LOVE with the dress in the picture near-ish the bottom, on the left: next-to-no back, lace, fluffy ruffles – where is it from? I ordered my dress months ago (should arrive any day, eek!) and totally love it but I too am easily swayed… and also feeling a bit sad about not trying on any more. I’m thinking of having another day of trying on, just for the hell of it, but I’m too scared I’ll find a dress that’s even more perfect than the one I have!! Either way you will look gorgeous I’m sure, very excited for you xx

  12. Oh @Lisa! I can totally understand that. I think it was good for me not to go in with too many people as I tend to ignore their opinions anyway! haha When you find the dress you will do anything for you know.

    @Ann-Mairie I will tell you who makes the shiny dress but you have to promise me you wont be wobbled!! Ersa Atelier https://www.ersaatelier.com/preview-2013-collection.html It is from the fashion collection not bridal! I personally would casually wear that out as it is NOT a wedding dress 😉

  13. Lovely post Stef!! I wouldn’t mind getting my pesky fingers on that gorgeous dress with the dropped open back… divine! I love your dress story, pure dedication to the cause! As for me, I am crossing a few borders too for THE dress, actually I am crossing a continent… flying 8944 miles just to get my dress, before coming home to go back via there for my wedding next year! It is a good excuse to have a weekend away with my mum though as we live so far apart. The things us girls do for the perfect dress… Cannot wait to see you in your perfect dress!

  14. Yey, another belting read stef. Your dress hunt sounds like it was so much fun. The venue is amazing, you could do so much to it and really make it your own. Can’t wait to see more. Well done Hun xx

  15. Wedding Blindness!! I KNEW I was suffering with something, so glad I’m not the only one! We’ve set a date for June 2014, and with the day looming ever closer, I still am overwhelmed by all the choices. How do you choose just one of anything when there are so many lovely things?! I still haven’t braved the dress shopping yet, the thought of yet another decision seems too much right now so I’ll just procrastinate for a while longer and kid myself it will be easy….

  16. @Sarah I cannot wait to read all about your dress hunt. Sound epic and always a good excuse to have some mother daughter time!

    Thanks ladies. Any more GOWN hunting stories out there?

  17. I tried on 24 dresses in my search for ‘the one’ and went to 4 different shops (2 in Italy where my in laws live !) I was feeling so disheartened that no dress felt like my dress that I started to wonder if I would feel that way about one. When I reached the 4th shop and tried on no 19 that all changed ! I really love it ! I found myself trying to hold back the tears ! I left and thought about it overnight and barely slept…needless to say, I returned asap the next day and ordered it !

  18. Yay – you got the one Stef-baby!! Nice one!! I can’t wait to see you in it, I am also loving all the inspiration in this post… ahhh… i just love frocks, especially wedding frocks – short, long, slinky, pouffy, just fab. Loving your story so far and looking forward to hearing all about the decisions you’ve made along the way

  19. @Jen I am glad someone else is suffering from this too. I too have been putting off decision making for fear that if I make choices I will them see something I like better at a later date. But with 7months and 19 days I have had to man up and we have started thinking about invites and decorations. My bedroom is currently covered in our mock up bunting 🙂

    @Kirsty I am so glad you found the one!! When you know you know!

    All the dresses are gorgeous! And that is what I thought when trying dresses on. They were lovely just not my one wedding dress. If I had parties to go to all the time (and the money) I would have bought the shop! But just not enough excuses in life to wear such fabulous dresses! 🙂

  20. My new ‘top tip’ to my engaged friends it now ‘STOP RESEARCHING’!! having previously working in the wedding industry, I have tried my level best to not get sidetracked by the HUGE amount of options out there, not because I don’t love all of it, but because I fear for my decision making sanity! We sat down early on and discussed all the things we would like in an ideal world (where there was no budget), without using mags or the internet and went from there. In fact, the only wedding related research I have done is my daily cuppa and RMW in the mornings! I have on occasion felt bad that I have no inclination to DIY any aspects, but I promised myself I would try to stay calm and not stress, DIY-ing would stress me out, so I’m not doing it, simples! However, in saying all that, The Dress Hunt was the most daunting part of the process for me – a wall of ivory and lace, with no idea what I should expect in prices. I had very good advice from friends to expect long lead times for a dress, and I’m so glad I took the advice as we’ve only had an 8 month engagement. I was lucky, my dress was the 6th dress I tried on in the first shop…I knew I didn’t want strapless, which thankfully reduced the options massively. I also thought I wanted something slinky and simple…turns out that wasn’t the case at all – they felt like evening dresses in ivory, not a bridal gown! I went with my two best friends and my Mum (who has always been brutally honest with me about what I wear) and when I came out wearing it, we all burst into tears. After a knowing ‘mmm hmmm’ from the woman in the shop, the dress was ordered. 5 months later when it finally came into store – I had a minor wobble wondering if it was really how I remembered it. Thankfully, it was more beautiful the second time around, clean and new and in my size. As the woman in the shop said ‘You cannot be overdressed for your own wedding’!

  21. Lovely post, I really enjoyed reading it! And I am one of those whose dress turned out completely different from what I had expexted! As did the dress shopping…
    One of my best friends at university has a mother who TADAA: owns a bridal boutique and amongst us friends we always speculated about visiting her some day and trying on dresses just for fun. So June 2012 came and we actually went on the road trip to visit said friend. I hadn’t told her about my recent engagement so figure her surprise when “trying on dresses just for fun” turned into actually looking for my wedding dress! The whole day was absolutely awesome and so much fun and I actually found MY dress! It was the second I had tried on and after 4 more my other friend put down the camera and said “Oh come on, stop this farce, we are all thinking about no. 2!” and so we did! I love my dress and I felt like a proper princess when getting married! However I had always figured that I wanted some lace and cap sleeves. Turns out: no lace and no sleeves 😀 But it was just me and I know my husband was pretty pleased as well! Then again I had always threatened him with pink tulle and a lot of it 😀
    Oops, there goes a long story, but I just love the dynamics of RMW!

  22. Great post Stef!
    My dress story is a little boring, 1 shop, 6 dresses tried, DONE!
    I do worry I bought a little too quickly and should have looked more but so far I still love my Sassi Holford dress.
    Looking forward to the rest of your posts x

  23. Oh I love hearing everyone’s stories and learning some advice.

    @Emma too much research can defininetly be a bad thing, especially when you are researching way out of your budget with our realising. I feel like I knew what I wanted because I knew the style and cut of dresses I wear every day. I knew what I would feel comfotable in and I knew what I would feel self conscious in. No so much market research but self research. So glad you found your dress. And that is certainly good advice from the lady in the shop!

    @Anja that is such a lovely and personal way to find your dress!

    @Dawn never boring. I wonder too if I should have looked more. But I do love my dress 🙂

  24. What I really want to know is, what is the dress in the top left corner of your moodboard, which shows the front and reverse? I love it!

  25. @Isabella sorry for the late reply but that image is curtsey of of RMW from Suzanne Neville’s Diamond collection launch. Search for it on the site!

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