WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING

After reading dozens of bridal shopping posts (and compiling plenty more for Bridal Musings!) I went against all the advice.

I only went to one shop. And I bought the first dress I tried on.

But I really do feel like I’ve found ‘The One’.

So, for this installment of my Real Bride Diary, I figured I’d gush all about, my gorgeous wedding dress!

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Dress from Jane Hill Bridal, Photo by Fiona Andersen Photography via Hello May

NOVEMBER 11TH, EIGHT MONTHS, TWO WEEKS AND FOUR DAYS TO GO.

Writing that countdown always makes me feel a bit sick.

– My current obsession: Jennifer Behr hair accessories. (I’m trying to work out if I can pull off a metallic purple flower crown.)

– Mark’s current obsession: Cool groom separates.

– This month we’re mostly: Making our menu choices – nom!

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I basically want to steal everything about this bride’s look! Photo by Tori Hancock.

So, as I told you in my last post, our excitement and enthusiasm for the wedding was starting to flag, but buying my wedding dress has officially got me back in the realm of butterflies, and constant pinning!

So my original inspiration for my dress came from an LBD I bought for Christmas two years ago. It was lacy, long-sleeved, high-necked, and fully lined. It was the kind of dress that makes you feel confident, and I fully remember saying to myself, that I’d look for a full length, white version whenever I got married. And that’s exactly what I did.

Obviously in my line of work, I see dozens of wedding dresses on a daily basis. And while many of them are all kinds of gorgeous, there are very few that I feel would suit both my shape and my style.

Because, well, my shape and style don’t really fit together.

I’m curvy, so fitted, low-cut, retro styles (think Christina Hendricks in Mad Men) are probably what I should be wearing. But what I actually love to wear, are loose, floaty, boho styles (think Vanessa Hudgens at Coachella). So it’s often hard to find something that will not just flatter, but alines with my personal style too (it’s basically my lifelong struggle!)

When it came to finding a wedding dress, I had the exact picture of what I wanted in my head, it was just a matter of finding it. High neck, low back, fully-lined lace, long sleeves and a skirt that didn’t have too much volume, oh and fitted, without being clingy. Easy, right?

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I was obsessed with this Grace Loves Lace dress! Photo by Shane Shepherd  via Hello May

Thankfully, what I had in mind, and the timing of our wedding, just happened to fall with a resurgence in cool seventies style, and a trend for long sleeved wedding dresses – I was in luck!

I narrowed my choice down to a few designers whose dresses, I not only adore, but I thought could suit me too. Rue De Seine, Katya Katya Shehurina, and Grace Loves Lace are among my favourites.

I would recommend that to brides who have a good idea of their own style. Identify designers whose aesthetic suits your own, it makes it much easier than simply going into random boutiques and trying on dresses blind.

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This Katya Katya Shehurina dress is just amazing. Photo by Rebecca Goddard via Love My Dress

I was also determined not to spend too much money. Even though style is important to me, it’s not as big a part of mine and Marko’s life together as say music, food, our loved ones, and taking photographs, so it really wasn’t an area I wanted to focus too much of our cash on. Plus, (despite my line of work!) I just couldn’t justify it.

I’d never judge a bride for splashing out on a couture dress (if she can afford it!) but for me, spending hundreds on an outfit is a pretty big deal, let alone thousands! Oh another top tip, never try on a dress you can’t afford, because if you fall in love, it will damn near break your heart having to hand it back to the shop assistant!

After doing our ‘How Much Does a Wedding Dress Cost‘ specials earlier this year (essential reading!), I saw how many stunning dresses there are for under £2000 (which is still a lot of money!).

While holding them next to a £5000 dress, of course you might notice a difference, but it’s important to remember, unless you’re marrying another woman, yours will (hopefully!) be the only wedding dress in the room on your big day.

For a while I even tried to find a non-bridal dress, that felt special enough to wear for my wedding day. You can get incredible gowns from big name designers, that don’t cost a fraction of the price of a wedding dress, just because they don’t have the ‘bridal’ tag.

I came pretty close to buying this epic, gorgeous, colourful Temperley gown, but alas, it went out of stock, and when it came down it, to the white dress was calling. Man, I hate it when my inner stereotypical bride comes out!

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How awesome is this Temperley dress? Photo by Jessica Peterson via The House That Lars Built

But despite all my scouring of the internet, attending bridal fashion shows, and writing about new collections and real weddings daily, I had yet to try on a real life, in-the-flesh wedding dress.

So when it came to biting the bullet, I decided I would go with the dress I had revisited on Pinterest, bookmarked and re-bookmarked, googled to find real brides wearing it, and pictured myself in, more than any other.

My very favourite gown, from ridiculously cool, super talented, utterly inspired San Francisco bridal company, Daughters of Simone.

I looked up their London stockists, and found Hearts Aflutter, a cool boutique, right near where I live in Hackney.

I made my appointment, and decided to go it alone. I don’t like shopping at the best of times (unless it’s online, I LOVE that!) plus I was really nervous about trying on dresses, so the thought of having anyone with me for the first time, made me break out in a cold sweat!

Luckily, the lovely Cecelia who owns Hearts Aflutter was not just sweet and helpful, but really chilled out too. I was worried I’d feel all this pressure to pick ‘The Most Important Outfit of My Life’, but it wasn’t like that at all.

It was so fun, and so exciting, but I didn’t feel the need to cry or anything, like they do on TV!

Cecelia stocks lots of gorgeous brands and niche styles, so Hearts Aflutter is perfect if you’re looking for something a bit different, from both your dress, and your shopping experience.

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The beautiful Elizabeth Dye Dunaway dress was a close second. Photo by Anna Ambrosi

I picked out The One, and a back-up, only because everyone had told me to try on a wide scope of styles, and not just pick the first one I tried on *ahem*. The back-up was the stunning Dunaway dress by Elizabeth Dye, which I absolutely adored and was super flattering.

When I tried on the Daughters of Simone though, all my dress anxieties went out the window. I had been so worried that wedding dress shopping would be this big ordeal, that I’d need to try on a hundred dresses and end up just settling for something that fit me but I wasn’t crazy about.

But this dress was the perfect mix of flattering and bohemian, with all the features on my wishlist. I won’t disclose the exact dress just yet, (I’ve got to keep some surprises!) but it’s pretty perfect to me.

As one friend said, when I showed her a picture, ‘It’s like you, in a dress’ – what a great compliment!

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Not my dress, but another insanely gorgeous gown from the new Daughters of Simone collection.

The sample was a short-sleeved version of the dress, so it was tricky to try to imagine how it would look with the long, lined sleeves, but luckily Cecelia had one to show me, and once I saw it, I was sold.

I decided to take a week to think about it, but really, I was pretty sure as I walked out of the shop. I had a couple of other appointments lined up, but I ended up cancelling them – and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone to buy the first dress they try on, but I can be pretty decisive!

I had found a dress I loved, that suited me, was what I’d set out to buy AND it was under budget. What more was I hoping to find?

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I hope I look this happy in my dress! Dress, bespoke, Photo by Nectarine Photography via Hello May

I went back to Hearts Aflutter the following week, with my friend Trish (for a second opinion, just to be sure!) and paid my deposit on my gorgeous gown.

And I can safely say, even after going to New York Bridal Week just two weeks later, and seeing, oh only thousands of gowns while I was there, that I’ve definitely chosen my perfect dress.

Oh and Elizabeth and I got to meet Brit & Ashley from Daughters of Simone while we were there (and see there ah-may-zing new collection), and after much fangirling, I’m so excited that these cool sisters are the ladies behind my wedding day dress!

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I could be the (shorter!) third sister, right?

Wedding dresses are really important, and trying them on can be a big (emotional!) deal. But for me, I took it as shopping for a gorgeous dress for an awesome party, nothing more, nothing less!

It only needs to be as stressful as you let it be!

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How fab is this custom dress by The Row? Photo by Heather Kincaid via Green Wedding Shoes

Okay, so I’ve somehow made an easy decision into a really long blog post, but that’s my dress shopping story – I’d love to hear yours. Please do share it in the comments below – we’re in this together!

Oh and as a P.S. I also want to note, for fuller-figured brides, never feel like you need to buy a specifically designed ‘plus size’ wedding dress, most designers can create your favourite gown to fit any size, and customise it to be more flattering, so never feel like you need to settle for anything less than your signature style!

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