Buying your wedding dress is one of the most exciting purchases of your life.
Every bride wants to walk down the aisle feeling gorgeous, glamorous and relaxed – and that means choosing exactly the right dress for you.
But with all the pressure to find ‘The One’, dress shopping can be stressful.
Image: Grace Loves Lace
We asked everyone from experienced experts to brides-to-be for the 43 common mistakes brides make when choosing their wedding dress.
READ MORE: How to Choose a Wedding Dress
Once you know what they are, you won’t make them!
1. Not Trusting The Experts
David Emanuel, host of Say Yes To The Dress UK and Princess Diana’s dress designer, says, “Brides have to have an open mind because what they think they want might not be right for them. Remember that bridal consultants do this all day long and they know what they’re talking about.
“Before I think of the silhouette, I think of the occasion. How many people are going to be there? Where’s it going to be? Is it a country house wedding, a village wedding, or a town wedding? I look at the bride’s body shape and also her personality. You can’t put a quiet, low-key girl in a flamboyant dress; it’s not going to work, it’s not her.”
2. Doing It All Online
Even if you end up buying your dress online, make sure you visit a boutique and try on different styles as it’s the only way you’ll see what suits you before you’ve shelled out for it.
3. 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: Justin Alexander
4. Being Closed Minded
Bride-to-be and host of upcoming TV show Second Chance Dresses, Olivia Buckland, says you can’t dismiss styles out of hand. “I think the majority of brides, including myself, have an idea of what kind of wedding dress they would like to wear. This is great, however you should always try all sorts of styles of gown on.
“The main reason is because you will be shocked at what suits you and what doesn’t. So many of my brides have come in wanting one thing and left with the total opposite! Get those princess gowns on, the mermaids, the A-lines – go for it!”
5. Shopping In The Wrong Store
“For our plus-size sisters out there, don’t feel you can walk into a regular high street boutique and you will have lots to choose and try – you won’t!” say Curvy Brides’ Boutique stars Jo Cooke and Alison Law.
“That’s not because the shop is fattist but it all comes down to buying collections and territory. Go to a specialist boutique for choice and an altogether better experience. If you are happy and confident your dress-buying experience will be a pleasant and memorable one that will stay with you forever.”
READ MORE: The Most Beautiful Lace Wedding Dresses
6. Ignoring Your Budget
A dress should be dreamy, but the price needs to be realistic; it’s not worth sacrificing a honeymoon for! Don’t try on dresses you can’t afford “just to see how they look” as it’s torture if you fall in love.
7. Worrying About Sizing
Wedding dress designers use different sizing methods so ignore the label. If it fits, that’s all that matters.
8. 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. On the other hand, don’t ignore the goosebumps you get from your first dress just because it’s the first.
Image: Maggie Sottero
9. Getting Baffled By Terminology
Sweetheart? Illusion? Bateau? Before you step foot in a bridal boutique, get to grips with the different words you might hear in the shop. Read our guide to bridal necklines and dress styles for a quick 101. If in doubt, ask the bridal shop consultant.
10. Shopping Too Early
Set a date and choose a venue 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, “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!
“Consider the venue and the kind of wedding you’re planning before rushing off and placing a deposit on something that might not work.”
11. Shopping Too Late
Start looking at least nine months before the wedding to allow time for your dress to be ordered and for any alterations.
READ MORE: Amazing Wedding Dresses Under £1,000
12. Taking Too Many People With You
Say Yes To The Dress UK’s David warns, “Think carefully about how many people you bring shopping with you. Don’t take everyone with you just to keep them all happy, take one or two people who you can trust and will give you honest feedback.” Conflicting opinions will make you second guess yourself.
13. 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.
Image: Jenny Packham
14. Trying To Please Everyone Else
“I find so many brides get obsessed with finding the perfect dress – me included – that you end up forgetting what you’re doing it for,” says Second Chance Dresses’ Olivia. “I felt very ‘dress blind’ by the end of my search because I just love fashion and I would adore every one I tried.
“My top tip is to look at YOU and imagine walking to your husband-to-be down the aisle. Imagine that moment. This may sound silly, but I found myself staring at these beautiful dresses and forgetting to look at me IN the dress. I forgot to look at the whole package. It’s all about you on your day, so make sure you search for a dress that makes you happy and you feel like the best version of you in it.”
15. 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 and don’t put that pressure on yourself during the already stressful time of wedding planning.
READ MORE: 46 Beautiful Wedding Hair Accessories
16. Hiding In Your 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.
17. Worrying Too Much About Being ‘Classic’
Designer David says, “Brides often worry about choosing a contemporary look that will date easily, but that doesn’t need to be a big concern. Fashion moves on. Don’t be too rigid. Yes, classic is great, but you dress for the time.
“Whether you like it or not, in 10 years’ things will have moved on. Fashion doesn’t stand still. To find a gown that’s going to be classic at the time and last 30 years, that’s a big ask! More importantly, it’s got to suit your figure and suit your personality.”
18. 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 like before you start and always allow for a wildcard (a dress you ordinarily wouldn’t consider) just in case it turns out to be perfect.
19. 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.
20. Bringing an Opinionated Entourage
“I’ve had tears of sadness because the bride is pulled by her entourage, and she doesn’t know who to listen to. I keep on reminding my brides that they are the star of the show; they have to feel good in this dress and be confident; they have to wear the dress, the dress doesn’t wear them,” says David.
21. Not Asking If A Stockist Is Registered
Buying from 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.
READ MORE: Gok Wan’s Best Wedding Dress Advice
22. 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. If you’re feeling self-conscious, remember this is their job and they see bodies of every shape and size all the time. They’re not focusing on you, just the dress and how you feel in it.
23. Settling For Poor Service
Some stores make every client feel special, others don’t have the time or resources. Read reviews and choose wisely. This is one of the most important – and expensive – purchases of your life and you should be made to feel important.
Image: White by Vera Wang at David’s Bridal
24. Being Lazy
The right dress takes time and research to find so do your homework, say Curvy Brides’ Boutique’s Jo and Alison. It can pay off big time! “Make sure you know your labels and what it is you are actually after. You can go on to the designer’s websites to see where stockists are and make sure you set your budget and stick to it! If you are on a lower budget, all boutiques sell off samples at the end of the season so you can still have your dream dress without feeling like you have to compromise on quality, i.e. buying a replica online from China.”
25. Buying A ‘Discount’ Designer Dress Online
Watch out for too good to be true offers – 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 if it’s online.
26. 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.
READ MORE: The Best Wedding Dress Styles For Older Brides
27. Being Snobby About “Second Hand”
Second Chance Dresses host Olivia says, “Wedding dresses are notoriously pricey. If you’re after a certain designer, or you’ve found your dream dress in a store but the cost of it is keeping you at bay, go pre-loved! There are so many gorgeous dresses being sold second-hand: some are worn, some are not.
“Go out with your bridal squad, try on lots of dresses, then go home and get your search on! I recommend sites like stillwhite.co.uk or Bridal Reloved, where you can find your dream dress for so much cheaper. More money for the prosecco… or the cake!”
28. 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.
Image: Elio Abou Fayssal
29. 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 middle 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?
30. Not Communicating Enough
“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!” says Terri Hilferty, Creative Director at Justin Alexander.
READ MORE: 2018 Wedding Dress Trends You Need To Know
31. 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.
32. Underestimating The 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!
33. 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?
Image: Ines di Santo
34. Turning A Blind Eye To Colour
We associate brides with wearing white but a coloured dress might be better for your skin tone or hair colour. Don’t dismiss it – you might not even want a dress once you’ve seen all the options!
35. 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.
READ MORE: 16 Incredible Black Wedding Dresses
36. Not Calculating In The Extras
Factor in alterations and accessories when you set your dress budget. Almost all dresses will need to be altered in some way so don’t think you can skip this one.
37. Feeling Embarrassed To Ask Questions
“Ask every single question that comes into your head – however silly you think it might sound, do it!
“Being forearmed is being forewarned; not only that but you won’t be waking in the middle of the night in a panic over the most random question you forgot to ask,” recommend Jo and Alison of Curvy Brides’ Boutique.
Image: Essense of Australia
38. 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.
39. Being Indecisive
Ultimately, you need to make a bold and confident choice. Ask for help if you need it!
READ MORE: The Emotional Stages of Choosing Your Wedding Dress
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 plane 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 Small 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.
Image: Blue by Enzoani
42. 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.
43. Forgetting To Have Fun
Last but definitely not least, remember that dress shopping should be a fun experience; how often do we get to feel like a A-list celeb getting ready for the red carpet with a personal stylist on hand?!
Olivia says, “Try on lots of different styles because it’s fabulous to make the most out of trying on beautiful dresses! Make sure you’re experiencing the experience!”
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.
If you want some more dress inspiration from the TV experts, you can catch Curvy Brides’ Boutique on TLC on Fridays at 8pm and Say Yes To The Dress UK straight after at 9pm. Olivia will be hosting Second Chance Dresses on TLC from October and if you want to see her real life wedding dress then tune in for Olivia & Alex Said Yes in late September!