Buying your bridal gown is a magical time — but it can also be stressful.
Here are 43 common mistakes brides make when they are choosing their wedding dress; once you know what they are, you won’t make them!
1. Shopping too early — set a date and choose a venue/destination before you shop so you know your time frame and the setting you'll be wearing your dress in.
Karen Taft, Managing Director at Benjamin Roberts, explains: "As soon as she is engaged, any bride can get caught up in a whirlwind romance with the choice of ‘which dress will it be?’ Nowadays weddings are often themed so if it’s a festival style barn wedding with bales of hay to sit on and a hog roast, a sophisticated, glittering, mermaid style gown may not suit the venue as well as something a bit more comfortable and relaxed would! So consider the venue and the kind of wedding you’re planning for before rushing off and placing a deposit on something that might not work."
2. Shopping too late — start looking at least nine months before the wedding to allow time for your dress to be ordered in and for any alterations.
3. Not doing your research — browse the hitched wedding dress directory, check out Pinterest, browse through magazines; the more research you do, the better informed you’ll be.
4. Being baffled by terminology — before you step foot in a bridal boutique, read our guide to bridal necklines and dress styles.
5. Forgetting the extras — factor in alterations and accessories when you set your dress budget.
6. Being unrealistic about money — a dress should be dreamy, but the price needs to be realistic; it’s not worth sacrificing a honeymoon for!
7. Trying to please your partner — yes, they should love it, but you must love it too and feel amazing in it.
8. Being indecisive — ultimately, you need to make a bold and confident choice. Ask for help if you need it!
Image Credit: Ellis Bridals
9. Taking too many people shopping — one or two people you trust is enough for a second opinion. If you bring a crowd you risk getting lots of conflicting opinions which might make you second guess yourself!
10. Taking the wrong people — if you know your best friend has a tendency for bitchy comments and your mum can't listen to anyone's opinion but her own, maybe think twice about asking them to come dress shopping with you.
11. Forgetting about lingerie — take a selection of underwear when you go dress shopping and, as soon as you have chosen the dress, work out what kind of underwear you’ll need to go underneath. It's best to wear strapless underwear in a nude shade when you're trying on dresses as it will work under most dress styles.
12. Accessorising too early — wait until you've found your dream dress before you shop for your accessories - if you buy accessories first, they might not match the gown you fall in love with.
Image credit: Aruna Seth
13. Being ill-prepared for fittings— the bridal consultant will be in the changing room with you; it’s an intimate experience! Make sure you wear underwear you don’t mind being seen in and be prepared for them to see a lot of you.
14. Shopping in the wrong store — be realistic when going to bridalwear shops. Make sure the shop you choose stocks dresses that are within your price range and that they cater to your size too.
15. Not asking if a stockist is registered — a reputable retailer is best. Make sure your bridalwear shop of choice is RBA (Retail Bridal Association) registered and be cautious when shopping for dresses online. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
16. Dismissing the bridal advisor's advice — the staff at the bridalwear shop will have dresses hundreds of brides in hundreds of dresses. They know their stuff and will be able to offer advice on how a dress fits and which style suits you best.
17. Not asking for expert advice — make the most of the sales assistant's experience and knowledge - they can help you with everything from picking the right wedding dress style for your shape to picking out accessories and customising your chosen dress.
"Your perfect dress should match your personality, figure and the style of your wedding day. I recommend seeking a reputable bridal boutique and rely on their bridal consultants to help pick out the perfect wedding dress. Communicate your likes and dislikes in regards to how you feel in the dress, and allow the consultants to offer advice on what best fits your figure. Be open minded to their advice, you never know! Remember, do not settle until you find the style that makes you feel the most beautiful!" comments Terri Hilferty, Creative Director at Justin Alexander.
18. Settling for poor service — some stores make every client feel special, others don’t have the time or resources. Read reviews and choose wisely.
19. Being closed-minded — your heart may be set on a certain style, but be open to other designs in case the one you wanted doesn’t suit you. You'd be surprised at how many brides says 'I ended up with a dress I never expected to have!'
20. Hiding in a comfort zone — be prepared to at least try on dress styles you may not have considered before as you might find you absolutely love how a different style of wedding dress shows off your figure or enhances your best features.
21. Turning a blind eye to colour — a coloured dress might be better for your skin tone or hair colour.
22. Worrying about sizes — wedding dress designers use different sizing methods so ignore the label; if it fits, that’s all that matters.
23. Being snobby about “second hand” — whatever your budget, it could be worth considering a second hand or vintage wedding dress. You might even find a gown you previously thought was out of budget if you're willing to look a pre-loved wedding dresses.
24. Trying on too many dresses — stick to between four and seven dresses if you can; trying on 10 or more will only confuse you. Make a shortlist of styles you love before you start trying dresses on to help narrow down the list and include a wild card (a dress you ordinarily wouldn't consider) just in case it turns out to be perfect!
25. Making rash decisions — even if you think you’ve found “the one” within seconds of arriving at your first boutique, try on a couple more dresses to make absolutely sure. It could just be excitement from actually trying on wedding dresses that has made you feel that way.
26. Buying a dress you don’t absolutely love — if you have any reservations at all, keep looking. When you've found 'the one', you'll know. Don't worry if you have wobbles after buying your dress though - this is totally normal. As soon as you see it (and try it on again, just because!) you'll remember why you fell in love with it.
27. Being lazy — put the time and research in to find the perfect dress. By leaving it too late or not visiting enough places you could end up rushing and with a dress you don't love.
28. Ignoring your budget — don’t try on dresses you can’t afford “just to see how they look” as it’s torture if you fall in love.
29. Doing everything on the web — even if you’re buying online, make sure you visit a boutique and try on a couple of styles as it's the only way you'll see what style suits you before you've paid out for it.
30. Buying a 'discount' designer dress online — it could well be fake or a scam. Check reviews and talk to other brides to see what experience other people have had with the retailer you're considering.
31. Succumbing to sample sales — you could be lucky and find a dream dress, but don’t buy a dress just because it’s a bargain.
32. Expecting expensive to be best — a wedding dress should suit you and you should love it, irrespective of the designer or price tag. It doesn't matter where it's from or who it's by as long as you can't imagine yourself wearing anything else.
33. Ignoring practicalities — from time of year to type of venue, consider how external factors will impact on your dress choice. You might love the strapless dress in slinky satin, but if you're marrying in the midst of winter you will need a little more fabric to keep yourself warm. Likewise, if you're having an August wedding, how comfortable will you be in a heavy dress with long sleeves?
34. Underestimating weight — whether you have to transport the dress to another country, or just wear it for hours on end, think about how much it weighs. You want to be able to dance the night away so make sure you can spin around in your gown!
35. Focusing on fantasy — even on a dream day, you’ll still need to use the loo! Think about the less glamorous aspects of your day to make sure the dress can cope. How will you go to the bathroom in it, can you sit down comfortably whilst wearing it and how easy is it to get in and out of?
36. Forgetting about fabric — the way your dress feels is just as important as the look; fabric plays a huge part. Make sure it feels comfortable and allows your skin to breathe.
37. Dressing in the dark — under the dim lights of a salon or shop, your dress can look completely different than in daylight so try to see the dress in natural light.
38. Being a slave to fashion — trends change constantly, but a fabulous wedding dress should be timeless. It's fun to look at the current dress trends, but don't panic if your wedding dress doesn't tick all the trend boxes - if it suits you and you love it, it doesn't matter if it has a high-low hem or an illusion neckline.
39. Sacrificing your personal style — if you have a quirky style of dress, embrace it. If you're more classic, work with that. Don't feel like you have to pick a dress that isn't true to you.
Image credit: House of Mooshki
40. Failing to consider transport issues — check you have the appropriate box or cover if your dress will be travelling to a destination wedding and if you're going by aeroplane find out if you need to check your dress in or if you can carry it with you on the plane - your airline will be able to advise you.
41. Overlooking details — get to know every last detail of the dress, from buttons and zips to the exact length of the hem so you can buy shoes with the right heel height and will know how to actually get into your dress on the morning of the wedding.
42. Buying a dress that doesn't fit - It's much easier to have your dress taken in that let out, don't gamble on the fact you think you will lose weight.
43. Taking the dress home too early — you’ll be tempted to keep looking at it/trying it on — and your partner might accidentally see it ahead of the big day.
Now you know what not to do when choosing your wedding dress, why not start your search for the perfect bridal gown by browsing our list of wedding dress shops to find stores local to you.