Choosing a wedding dress that is perfect for you

Friday, 24 August 2018
I found the process of finding a wedding dress nearly as difficult as finding a husband. I fell in love with designers like Berta and Ghalia but these designers were way out of my price range. I saw the dreamiest styles and silhouettes on Pinterest that looked incredible on 6ft, slender models but I am a lot shorter with a tiny waist and an African bum. And I saw gorgeous, modern, nude style dresses that would have sent my soon to be mother in law into shock even though I secretly loved them. Then I battled with trying to find a fit that was me and an overall style that would be approved by the mothers while not compromising on what would still reflect my personality on the day.

If you are finding the task of finding a wedding dress as daunting as I did then here are the things I wish I had realised earlier.

Start the search for your wedding dress sooner than later

It took me about a year to eventually make up my mind and decide to design my own wedding dress. Once you get engaged, start looking at wedding dresses to get an idea of what you like and what you have available locally because what you see on Pinterest may not be what you are going to have access to. If you are ordering a dress or getting one made you may also need to allow a few months for this, so do your homework.

Find out what you like first, before you ask the opinions of others

Spend time getting to know what you like. As soon as you start asking people what they think you will get everybody’s two cents. It will come from a place of love but it will be overwhelming and drive you crazy. Also, be careful who you listen to because at the end of the day you need to make sure that YOUR wedding dress is something that YOU love. I had a rough design of the wedding dress and fabric I wanted before I showed my ideas to anyone else. Then I went to the fabric store on my own to see what I liked without being swayed. Once I knew what I loved my mother in law helped me narrow down choices and source options because I whole heartedly trusted her to be honest and she has great style. I also only shared my wedding dress ideas with a few close people that I truly trusted. Make sure you have someone that will tell you if your butt looks big and won’t just agree with everything you say. You need someone who has good style, knows your style and will be honest to ensure you get truly valued feedback. Not having everyone see your dress is also a lovely way to capture real expressions when you walk down the aisle because they wouldn’t have seen you in the dress before. I’ve always loved those getting ready pictures when the bride puts on her dress and her bridesmaids light up with genuine emotions of love.  

You will only wear your wedding dress once

Set your budget then stick to it. I couldn’t believe the quotes I got back from Durban wedding dress designers. They were as expensive as international designers and I couldn’t justify spending the price of small car on a wedding dress that I would wear for one day. Let’s be real, any future daughter I might have will never think I am cool enough to re-wear my wedding dress so there is no chance of me hanging onto to it for that “one day”.  Besides I only want a son. Maybe I’m too practical for my own good because I would rather invest a large sum of money into stocks and shares rather than into a dress that I would never wear again and will only get a yellowish tinge over time. I also live in an apartment where storage is limited, I don’t have space for my clothes never mind a wedding dress! I am so thankful that in hindsight I kept myself in check and didn’t just swipe that credit card for a ridiculously expensive dress because on our wedding day it rained. Not just a little morning light drizzle. No, it poured. ALL DAY. And although it stopped at perfect times for us to do the ceremony and have our first look the ground was wet and muddy. But it didn’t bother me one bit that that bottom of my beautiful wedding dress became a beautiful cappuccino colour by the end of the night. If I had spent my whole savings on a wedding dress only for it to be ruined I would have been gutted. Even if your dress is in excellent condition after your wedding, you probably won’t get back close to what you paid for it if you sell it.
Which leads me onto my next point…

Look at new / used wedding dress sites

If you are live somewhere like the UK or US then go to the designer trunk shows. You can get sample dresses from well-known designers for a fraction of the price. Look around online and save all the dates so you don’t miss out. If you live in South Africa try finding your dress on still white which has dresses available worldwide and can be shipped to you by courier. There are sample dresses from designers and new and used dresses which you can pick up for a bargain from brides who have worn their dress once, or they bought two and decided to sell the one they won’t be wearing for less than what they bought it for. Instagram is also a great tool. I bought my headpiece I wore on our wedding day from a girl that lived in Mexico. I knew the exact headpiece I wanted. I searched the tagged photos on the store’s Instagram account and found a girl who had worn it for her wedding day. I messaged her and she was happy to sell it to me for 50% less. Bargain! I had a friend who rented a wedding dress from a girl she knew from her hometown but wasn’t good friends with. I thought this was such a great idea. They were a similar size and no one at her wedding had been to this girl’s wedding so they would never have known.

It doesn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful

This extends on from my first point but I just need to say that I think it’s so easy to get caught up in all the glitz and glam of weddings and comparison that sometimes you just need someone (me) to help bring you back down to reality so you don’t make expensive purchases you might regret if you are trying to stick to a budget. You don’t have to have the most expensive dress or spend a fortune on well known designers to be a beautiful bride on your wedding day. I had a lovely, lesser known lady by the name of Carol Palmer in Durban North make my wedding dress and bring my vision to life, and she made it perfectly (she is moving to Canada soon so if you are getting married soon contact her now). Try find an up and coming designer or someone not as well known to make your dress if you need to watch those pennies.

Designing my wedding dress

I had two words in mind when thinking about what I wanted out of a wedding dress, “Italian Vogue”. I wanted it to be elegant, romantic, modern and dramatic as we were having a small wedding on the Amalfi Coast. I love textures, so I knew very early on I wanted something a bit different and loved the idea of flowers. I manged to find all my fabric from Mintys in Durban. The staff were INCREDIBLE and so knowledgeable. They also advised me on fabrics that would work for what I had in mind. We had our first look in the square of Parrocchia Di San Gennaropraiano church. For this I wanted a full, soft tulle removeable skirt and removeable cap sleeves which were an inexpensive way to jazz up the first look. For the ceremony I wanted Brett to still have an element of surprise seeing me walk down the aisle, so I had my hair pulled back, removed the tulle skirt and added a 3m veil. Having a dress that was versatile and could take me from the dramatic backdrop of the Amalfi Coast to dancing the night away under the fairy lights was perfect for me.

Are you a bride to be? How are you finding wedding dress shopping? Or if you are newly married what would are the most helpful tips you learnt about finding your perfect wedding dress?

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