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Choosing a wedding dress

Once the question has been popped and your fantasy wedding rapidly turns into a reality, the task of finding ‘that dress’ can be pretty daunting.

These top tips should help brides-to-be narrow down their search for the perfect wedding dress.

1. Work out your budget

First things first, you’ll need to decide what you want to spend on the dress. Most wedding dresses start at around £1,000, though of course there are cheaper and much, much more expensive options. If you do find a style you adore that is way out of your league financially, one option could be to pay a dressmaker to recreate the design at a fraction of the price.

2. Learn the basics

There are limitless websites and magazines for you to trawl through to your heart’s content. These will give you an idea of popular trends as well as different styles. You’ll quickly discover there are a few different basic shapes, which is a good place to start:

  • A-line: Vertical seams with varying degrees of flare
  • Column: Slim profile following the curves of the body
  • Mermaid: Similar to the column with a pronounced flare at the bottom
  • Fishtail: Similar to the Mermaid with an extra, fanned out panel at the back
  • Ball gown: Also known as a ‘Cinderella’, has a full skirt paired with a fitted bodice
  • Empire line: The skirt starts just below the bust for the least figure-hugging option

3. Book some appointments

Once wedding season rolls around you’d be amazed at how tricky it can be to get wedding dress appointments, especially in the best shops and at the weekend. Your best bet is to book a few appointments well in advance to get an idea of what’s on offer in your area. Recommendations from friends can be helpful at this stage.

4. Choose advisors wisely

When first trying on wedding dresses make sure you take people with you who’s opinions you trust. Any more than two or three people will probably be overwhelming and a good mix is always advisable. It’ll be nice to have someone who gets all emotional at the site of you in white, but you could also do with someone who gives you an honest opinion if the dress you have on is totally unflattering.

5. Try everything

You may have an idea of what you think suits you but it’s worth trying everything, as you might surprise yourself. Different shapes and necklines can be flattering on different figures and while too much detailing can look busy on some brides, it can dazzle on others.

6. Use your imagination

Most bridal shops tend to stock larger dresses as samples for trying on, so they’ll fit everyone. More petite brides-to-be will be pinned into these to make them fit, which can sometimes lead to surplus material and bunching. Don’t let this put you off potential contenders…

7. Think about your theme

Some wedding dresses are versatile enough for any theme, but if you have your heart set on a vintage-style wedding, then a contemporary dress could look out of place. Think about the shape, colour and the era the dress evokes to ensure all the elements of the day will work together. If you’ve found ‘the dress’ and it doesn’t work with your colour palette or overall theme, you can always change those.

8. Consider practicalities

No-one would ever claim a wedding dress is a practical item of clothing but it pays to take a few things into consideration:

  • Temperature: Brides getting married in winter may consider a more substantial dress for warmth, or perhaps a bolero to keep from looking goose-bumpy on the photos. Conversely avoiding heavy dresses for the height of summer and weddings abroad can be a good idea.
  • Length: If you’re going to be on the grass a lot on the day, try to avoid a long train, which could get ruined easily, especially in the rain.
  • Comfort: You’ll be wearing this dress on one of the most important days of your life, so make sure seams and boning don’t steal your attention from the main event. Also, remember you’ll have to do your first dance wearing it!

9. Don’t forget the accessories

Some brides may choose to make an accessory the focal point of their wedding attire. A simple dress can look fantastic with an ornate, Cathedral length lace veil, while show-stopping shoes paired with a shorter skirt can add the wow-factor. While the dress is important, don’t forget to consider all the options for accessorising, from head-pieces to elbow-length gloves.

10. After the big day…

Some brides hate the thought of spending all that money on a dress they’ll only wear once. If you’re one of them why not look into having your dress dyed or shortened? Remember, if you choose to dye your dress once you’ve tied the knot, the cotton on the seams and edging will need to be receptive to the colour to avoid looking odd!

How can John Lewis Wedding Insurance help?

Whatever style of wedding dress you decide to get married in, John Lewis Wedding Insurance can help your special day go smoothly. And whether you’re planning a lavish ceremony at home or an intimate wedding abroad, our Wedding Insurance is flexible so we can arrange the right amount of cover for your big day.

For further tips and advice, please see our quick guide (PDF).

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John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England (No. 233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. John Lewis Wedding Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc (No. 93792). Registered in England and Wales at St. Mark's Court, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1XL. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 202323). Calls may be recorded and monitored.

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