Wedding dress shopping doesn’t have to be stressful or over budget. But with so many choices out there, and so much pressure to "get it right", we know it can be overwhelming.
At Brides do Good we're proud to do Bridal a little differently. We sell our collection of donated new, sample and preloved designer wedding dresses from our Kensington boutique, where you can spend time getting to know our lovely team without crowds of other brides or a hard sell. Best of all, at least 1/3 of the proceeds from our sustainable dresses funds charities working to empower women and end child marriage.
Over the years we've worked with thousands of Brides, and come across some fantastic brands who are also mixing things up to provide a more stress-less Bridal experience. We've put together our best tips and recommendations to help you navigate through the process.
12 Simple Rules
Decide Who to Bring With You
It’s important to choose the right people to join you on your wedding dress adventure. Choose trusted friends or family who is sensitive to what YOU want and experience, rather than just giving their own opinions on what they would have chosen in YOUR situation.
Be Patient and Organised
Bridal appointments are a bit like Tinder dates. Do your research, turn up with enthusiasm, and see what happens. If it doesn't work out - don't be disparaged, and be patient in finding that special dress. Know what shops you want to visit, and make sure to book in advance. Don't feel like you have to go to every shop in town - take your time and be realistic about what styles are right for you. Lastly, think carefully before you block-book a day of visiting every bridal shop on the planet, we promise you it's exhausting.
Reviews and Recommendations Be smart with your savvy when picking where to shop. Nowadays all good Bridal shops will have reviews on Google, and have Real Bride posts on their Instagram full of happy customers. Make sure you ask your married or engaged friends where they bought their wedding dresses and if they would recommend their bridal boutiques. Ask for their opinions and check if they had any disappointing experiences.
What Day is Best? We know it sounds counterintuitive, but consider avoiding Saturdays for your appointments. Saturdays are busy in most places, and stylists are only human! You may find weekdays a more leisurely experience, when everyone is at their best, and with a more flexible finish time if something catches your eye at the last minute.
When is The Best Time to Start? The question we get asked the most. At Brides do Good, our dresses are 'off-the-rack' and ready to take away with you, so we can accommodate Brides whose wedding is next week (but we wouldn't recommend it!). Most Bridal Boutiques work on a made-to-order basis, and your dress could take between six and nine months to arrive. If you have got your heart set on a particular designer, then make sure you call ahead to understand their lead time.
The Budget Have a clear idea of what you want to spend, and be upfront with the boutique. Stylists will ask what your budget is in advance - this is not a sneaky method to max out your ££ - it allows them to pull the right dresses for you to try on. Being secretive may only lead to disappointment.
Do You Need New? Considering samples and preloved is a great way of getting more for your budget when wedding dress shopping. At Brides do Good all of our dresses are up to 65% off, and elsewhere sample sales are often held as soon as new stock comes in, which can mean that you can get hold of a designer dress that has been tried on before, but at a cheaper price. One of our favourite partners Charlie Brear host super popular sample sales several times a year. Simply keep an eye on their website and Instagram to be first in line for the next one! With all sample shopping, as long as you're careful with quality, there really is very little difference.
Buy What Works For You We can't emphasise enough the importance of choosing a wedding dress that reflects the person you are. Consider what suits you and what styles you feel most comfortable in. Look at the clothing you love and feel your best in, and think about what details make it work for you - is it a V neckline, an empire waist or a sassy thigh split? Look for wedding dresses with these details so you’ll feel as comfortable and as good as you do in your favourite outfit.
Our friends over at P.S. Bridal Styling offer a free virtual styling consultation. Simply tell them your preferences and they create a personalised style pack for you to choose from, including designers and boutiques suited to your budget. They're fabulous - look!
Let The Dress Choose The Underwear
Nothing will ruin a bridal look quicker than black lace through ivory. So that you can get a better idea of what the dresses will actually look like on the big day, we would recommend taking a neutral strapless bra with optional straps and minimal detailing (like this one from The Pantry Underwear - below) and combine it with a seamless control short or neutral microfibre knicker or thong. Of course they may not be exactly right for the chosen dress style, but they'll make choosing one much easier and they are also bra-drobe staples that are useful for any event!
Once you have chosen your dress, your bridal store will ask you to have your final underwear ready for your first alterations fitting, and we'd always recommend seeking expert advice to help you navigate this tricky task. Watch this space for Brides do Good's upcoming pants collab!
To Heel or Not to Heel? Think about the shoes you love to wear, and what your feet will be doing on your wedding day. You might not have your wedding shoes yet, but bring a similar heel height with you, so you can get a better idea of what works with the dresses and how they fall. Emmy London stock some of our favourite wedding shoes that won't break the bank or your feet.
Does Everyone Cry When They Find The One? No, it's actually pretty rare. In fact, some Brides get so caught up in waiting for that perfect "moment" that it overwhelms the experience entirely. Focus on finding a dress that makes you feel like the best version of you, that ticks all your boxes, works for your budget, and that you can't wait to wear. Don't pass it up when you find it because you didn't cry, or because there are other shops to visit!
Trust Yourself 70% of all brides find their dress in the first bridal shop they visit, and most instinctively know when they have found "the one". Don't be worried about committing, or move on from a dress you LOVE just in case you see something else. Don't question it too much if you find what you're looking for straight away - you came to fall in love!