A bridal stylist on how to find your dream wedding dress

’Til death do us part.

Last year my boyfriend took me on a trip, woke me up at 4am and proposed. I didn’t know where I was or why I was awake while it was still dark outside, but I knew I wanted to say yes. And after 10 minutes of sitting on the edge of the bed in a towel staring at the wall, that is what I did.

Some girls save up for their wedding during their teenage years and some have their whole wedding planned before they’re even engaged. I am not this girl. I spend all my disposable income on espresso martinis and am so indecisive I overthink the menu and have to go up to the counter to change my order.

I also love clothes (like, really love clothes) and work as a stylist where I’m bombarded with inspiration all day, errday. People kept telling me they couldn’t wait to see what dress I’d wear. What designer will it be?! What will it look like??!! You guys, will it be pink!!!???!! Enter panic attack here. 

Combining all these parts equals someone who will never, ever find the right dress for their wedding day. One they love more than any other dress they’ve ever seen, one that lives up to expectation and one that requires a firm, confident decision (and lots of money). 

Surprisingly, my wedding dress was the easiest (and only) decision I’ve made thus far. All it took was a little Instagram stalking, a bit of imagination and a no-fucks-given attitude for anyone else’s opinion.

I spoke to the stylists from The Bridal Atelier – where I found my dress in one easy appointment – to find out how the hell you can do the same.

OK! Our boyfriend has finally come to his senses and realised we’re a catch. Where and when should the dress hunting begin?

After getting engaged, start by enjoying that moment. This is such an amazing time in your life, so make the most of every second! The craziness that is wedding planning will soon take over, so start slow and be sure to not to lose sight of why you are holding a wedding – for the ever-lasting marriage, not the extravagant party! 

When you are ready to start planning, choose two or three inspiration sources or planning tools so as to not become overwhelmed. 

We suggest first locking in a venue and photographer, as these things tend to book out the furthest in advance. Then, you can start the dress search!

You have to understand: this is the most important dress of our whole entire life. What are your best tips for finding The One?

1. Remain true to your personal style

It’s so easy to get swept up in the moment, but the right one should feel like you’re wearing the dress, rather than the dress wearing you! You want your guests to comment on how beautiful you look – not just the dress. You and your dress are a package!

2. Listen to your heart – not always your friends and family

While your closest friends and family love being involved, it can be difficult for them to separate their personal taste from what the bride looks and feels most comfortable in. 

You know you best, and your intuition will tell you immediately if a dress is not quite right, so trust in that. 

Also, if you normally shop alone, do so! You can always bring your nearest and dearest for the final tick of approval once you have found The One.

3. Don’t try on dresses out of your budget 

Trying on dresses that exceed your budget only ends in heartache. You are destined to fall in love with something and then spend the following months trying to find something to match it, but nothing stacks up. 

Don’t over-stretch yourself! Remember: it’s only one day. Think about what the money could ultimately afford you for your future together.

4. Research online but keep in mind, things look different in person

Researching online can be beneficial in helping you define your overall bridal look, but try not to get too emotionally attached to a particular dress or style. More often than not, they can look and feel different in person. You really need to try on dresses to rule the style in or out!

5. Once you have found your dress, stop looking!

With Pinterest and Instagram, it’s so easy to be overloaded by wedding inspiration. There are going to be new collections and dresses released every day, so once you have found your dress and paid the deposit, remind yourself why you love it and block the rest out.

At this time you should unfollow all of your dress inspiration on social media – it will only cause doubt and uncertainty!

So now we’ve rounded up Mum and our best gal pals, and we’re ready to hunt. Should we know exactly what we’re looking for or submit to the bridal stylists? 

Some brides have done their research and have very specific ideas about what they’re looking for, but we always encourage girls to keep an open mind. Often what they’ve found online doesn’t translate in real life, or they end up wearing a totally different to what they had initially envisaged!

That being said, many of our brides are not overly ‘traditional’ and take a little more relaxed approach to dress shopping. In this case, we ask girls to pick at least three dresses that catch their eye, and then we can make some of our own suggestions. 

Changeroom time. What key things should we look for in our dream dress?

It should flatter you now! Brides often comment on how they’re planning to tone up, lose a little weight, get a tan and change their hair. These are all great, but the last thing you need in the lead-up to your wedding is to feel enormous pressure to look a certain way in order to feel amazing.

You should be able to imagine the day unfolding while wearing your dress, and how it will look and feel in big picture. It should feel natural and cohesive with your style, and the style of the wedding.

Finally, it should make you feel like you want to walk down the aisle now and not want to take it off!

What about things we should avoid at all costs, even if our mum said she liked it?

Avoid the feeling that ‘it will do’, simply because you haven’t found a better option. It’s better to keep looking, as you’ll regret looking back at your pictures and feeling this way.

Never choose a dress based on the fact you want to lose weight in order to feel comfortable in it.

Don’t feel pressured into making a decision by family, friends or sales assistants!

And of course – avoid dresses that feel uncomfortable! You’re going to wear this dress for a minimum of eight hours, so make sure you can sit, go to the bathroom, dance, move your arms and generally enjoy the day.

Rachel Zoe said accessories can be more important than the outfit. Any tips for styling shoes, accessories and makeup once we’ve decided on a dress?

We generally look to fashion publications and blogs for styling inspiration, as a lot of our brides want to steer away from the traditional bridal look.

A makeup and hair trial is an absolute must, too. It’s worth every cent for piece of mind on the day! Try to schedule this for the same day as your bridal shower or bachelorette party so you are feeling extra special. 

What about if nothing goes to plan and our wedding is right around the corner and we’re hyperventilating into a paper bag?

If you’re at a loss as to what style to choose, assess your own wardrobe and consider what your favourite pieces are. Why do you love them? Is it a flattering neckline, or the ability to wear a bra underneath? Is it a fitted skirt or something floaty? Are the pieces patterned, or lace, or plain? This can help guide you towards finding the right silhouette – the biggest step you can take towards finding the perfect dress! 

Ideally, you should have your dress ordered six to 10 months before the wedding to ensure plenty of time for it to be made and for any necessary alterations. Nothing is more stressful than being dress-less two weeks before your wedding, so allow plenty of time!

That being said, if you’re short on time, often designers will have a rush service available, which involves paying a fee to have the process expedited. It can be expensive, but it’s far better to absorb this cost than feel like you wore the wrong dress. 

Illustration by Twylamae.

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