I have never felt in over my head so much as when I stepped foot in a wedding dress shop. Isles and isles of big, beautiful, sequined, lacey, puffy dresses. And there was me, quickly realising that this may not be as simple as I had planned.
My whole life I thought that when the time came I would wear a grey dress down the isle. It was what my mother did, and my grandmother. I really liked the idea of continuing the tradition. But then I started looking at wedding dresses and I was captivated by their beauty. I realised this was my one opportunity to dress like a disney princess and boy, did I want that!
The princess style unfortunately did not seem to suit the grey colour I had originally wanted, so I made the decision that I would just go traditional and wear white. That was before I walked into that wedding dress shop and realised there was no such thing as just ‘white’ when it came to wedding dresses.
Diamond white, ivory, alabaster, white, gold, cream, champagne. There were so many different colour choices it was overwhelming to say the least. On first seeing how bright ‘white’ actually was, I decided against it. I didn’t want to glow like I was standing under a UV bulb. I decided the softer shade of either diamond white or a light ivory was going to be perfect with my skin tone, and really, unless you are looking at the colours in the shop with all the different colours as a comparison, everyone will just see it as white anyway.
Next came deciding on a style of dress. If you don’t have much of an idea, this is where I do recommend going into a boutique. A helpful assistant will be able to convince you to try on styles you would never have picked yourself, which may lead to you falling in love with something different than you may have expected. And hey, that is not a bad thing!
I tried on so many dresses, most focused on having a big beautiful princess skirt, but a few different ones thrown in to make sure that was the style I was happy with. Now, I’m not going to lie, there was definitely a moment in which I was standing in front of a mirror at a bridal boutique in the city actually trying to rationalise in my head the $3000 price tag. The dress was gorgeous and I felt so good in it. But I really couldn’t get past the price that was associated with that feeling. Surely you didn’t HAVE to spend this much?
Everyone has heard of horror stories when it comes to buying wedding dresses online. But I do so much online shopping that I figured it was worth a shot. I knew exactly the style of dress I wanted from visiting stores which made it so much easier. Then it was really just a matter of finding an online store that had good reviews.
These are the 5 key things that I think are important if you are looking at ordering a wedding dress online. They will hopefully save you from disaster and allow you to save those thousands to spend on more important things (aka the honeymoon) and still feel incredible on the day. Because really that’s what it is about, as long as you feel amazing in the dress then it doesn’t really matter how much you paid or where you got it from.
1. If it seems too cheap, then it is probably too good to be true.
There are so many websites out there including on ebay, claiming to make wedding dresses for around $100 or sometimes less. This should be a warning sign as even with costs being lower, there is still a lot of materials and work that goes into making a wedding dress so it is important to keep that in mind. I paid just over $250 which seemed about right considering it was a multi layer skirt and detailed bodice.
2. Read reviews.
If there is one thing brides are good at it is sharing their experiences, especially if they are negative! You want to find a high percentage of brides who are super satisfied with their purchases and who are willing to post photos of the actual dresses they receive. Often the sale website will post the designer dress picture that they make copies of – you want to see actual dresses they make. I spent a lot of time online, reading forum posts so that I felt comfortable with the website before making my purchase.
Make sure they are a legitimate company by having some form of communication. I asked many questions including if I could get them to make alterations to the dresses and I always received a fast reply. I also purchased fabric samples first; this also eliminated any colour shock that could be caused by photos and different screens and I would 100% recommend this as a bonus tip.
4. Double check the sizing.
I was able to send through custom measurements so the dress came perfectly in my size. That was an extra $100-200 at least I saved not having any alterations done. I also opted for a lace up back so I had the ability to tighten or loosen if sizing was not quite right, this also allowed for any weight fluctuations leading up to the day. Through your communications with the company, you should be able to find out if they offer this option.
5. Buy early, just in case!
Sometimes we can do everything right and still, it does not go to plan. Buying something you have never seen before always comes with a risk but for me, the benefits ie the money saved, made it worthwhile. Even still, I had a back up plan. I bought my dress over 12 months in advance of my wedding date. It was a copy of a designer dress I had seen in a boutique, and I was totally in love with it. I knew therefore, that if my online shopping did not go to plan, I could walk into that boutique and drop the couple of thousand dollars to get the dress I wanted.
As soon as I got my dress in the mail, I was overwhelmed with excitement. It was beautiful, great quality and exactly what I wanted. It fit perfectly with no alterations, and for some one who stands 157 cm, let me tell you it was a relief to have the dress the correct length and not have to get all that tulle chopped off!
I felt so amazing on the day feeling exactly like a disney princess. I honestly do not know if I could have felt any better in a dress that cost thousands, and I doubt it would have lead to more compliments. But the main thing is that because I bought my dress online, I got to wear exactly what I wanted without compromise, yet still save. And the money saved allowed us to splurge on an Italian honeymoon which to me, was so much more worthwhile.
The website I chose to purchase my dress from was Dressilyme. Keep in mind it was in 2014, however if you follow the steps above then you will be able to eliminate a lot of the risk and walk away with a beautiful gown for a fraction of the price you would expect.
Wedding dress shopping can be overwhelming, but it is a unique experience and one that you should enjoy. Congrats and happy shopping, I know you will be stunning no matter what dress you find 🙂
Photography of my wedding dress by the amazingly talented Ray Williams.