A Step By Step Guide To Choosing Your Dream Wedding Dress

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Choosing your dream wedding dress is one of the best parts of the wedding-planning process.

Hands down.

The moment you find THE dress, you start to visualise yourself on your wedding day. And that’s a pretty amazing feeling in the build up to saying “I do”!

For me, finding my Sassi Holford wedding dress happended pretty quickly and easily. So I thought I’d put together my advice for finding your dream dress, should you be in the wedding planning process too.

I’m conscious that for brides getting married this year, or over the next few, planning looks very different to what it did pre-COVID-19.

So to help you to get a sense of what your wedding dress shopping experience may look like now, I called up the Sassi Holford boutique in Fulham, where I bought my dress, to get their take.

Here’s what the Sassi Holford team had to say about your wedding dress shopping appointment, in light of COVID-19:

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Precautions to be aware of for your wedding dress appointment at Sassi Holford, during COVID-19 restrictions

(For other boutiques, be sure to call ahead of time)

  • You can expect a virtual consultation a couple of days ahead of your first dress appointment
  • Wear a mask, and expect the team you deal with to be wearing masks too
  • There will be a hand sanitiser station on arrival
  • You will be  given linen gloves to wear whilst browsing dresses
  • You will have a 60 – 90 minute appointment, and will be the only bride browsing the store at one time
  • Expect to invite 1 – 2 people to browse with you, maximum
  • There will be extra cleaning between each appointment, and 30 minutes free between each bride to allocate for this
  • All of the dresses you try on will be steam cleaned immediately afterwards
  • All Sassi Holford staff members are currently avoiding public transport to minimise the risk of contact with COVID-19

Expected Timeline For Your Wedding Dress (NB: this was for 2020, so it is worth calling ahead to double check what’s currently applicable)

Last minute: There are plenty of samples available at the Sassi Holford boutique in Fulham. The team has specifically been putting aside sample dresses for brides who need to find a last minute dress. Most samples are roughly a UK 10 – 12. Other sizes are available too on occasion, and you can always have adjustments made.

1 – 2 months: For rush orders, Sassi Holford are able to create dresses within 1 – 2 months as all dresses are made in their UK atelier.

6 – 7 months: This is the standard timeframe you can expect to allocate for a bespoke dress.

OK, now that the corona-logistics are covered, let’s get on to choosing your dress!  . . .

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Choosing Your Dream Wedding Dress

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Where to Start? 

If you’ve read my wedding day blog posts, you’ll already know that my wedding dress is by Sassi Holford.

I can’t say enough good things about the whole process of choosing my wedding dress, and having it made, by Sassi and her team. The Sassi Holford boutique in Fulham is truly beautiful, and gives you all the bridal goosebumps you could ask for. The process of browsing dresses, selecting ones to try on, and trying them on is so seamless. It was a wonderful experience from the moment I stepped foot in the door on my first appointment, all the way through to collecting my finished dress months later.

I wholeheartedly recommend Sassi Holford as a wedding dress designer, and brand. The whole process is one I look back on with the warmest heart.

The moment I set eyes on the ‘Emma’ style I had a gut instinct that it was ‘the one’. The classic silhouette, gentle sweetheart neckline and subtle high/low hem, mixed the elements of timelessness and modernity I was looking for.

But funnily enough, prior to getting engaged, I really thought my wedding dress would be a more bohemian affair! Funny how things change when you’re presented with a reality isn’t it?!

If you are just starting out with your wedding dress search, here’s my advice:

  • start saving/pinning/scrap-booking wedding dresses (or any wedding-style dresses) you love. I developed a very thorough ‘save’ file on Instagram, and a focused private board on Pinterest too.
  • think about any dresses or outfits you have worn in the past which have made you feel amazing. This can help you to hone in on a shape which makes you feel your best. I was first drawn to my wedding dress because it mimicked the silhouette of a cocktail dress I’d worn previously and felt a million $$$ in!
  • give thought to the climate of your wedding venue. Will it be hot? Cold? Windy? Etc. The climate and setting of your venue has a huge impact on the type of dress you choose.

Once you have a good sense of the general style of dress you’re looking for, and silhouettes you’d like to try, you’re ready to move on to the next step . . . !

Book an Appointment to Try on Wedding Dresses

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Do you remember the scene in Bridesmaids where Kristen Wiig’s character Annie turns up to the bridal boutique without an appointment?!

Skipping what then happens in said bridesmaid dress appointment! . . . booking an appointment to try on wedding dresses is a must for most boutiques. 

By booking a wedding dress appointment you give yourself the freedom to explore dresses at ease. Plus, given recent events, it may be harder to snag a walk-in appointment.

In my experience most appointments are around an hour long (again that may vary RN). That’s plenty of time to browse dresses, choose a handful to try on, and see if there’s a dress which you fall head over heels for. 

It’s important to note that there is NO pressure to find your wedding dress on your first try-on! Or your third, or whatever-number. Take all the time you need to find your dress, and make sure it is one you truly feel amazing in.

Though I knew beforehand that I loved the look of the ‘Emma’ dress from Sassi Holford, I still tried on other styles. 

It’s FUN to make the most of playing dress up for the day. Plus you may fall for a dress you’d never have thought you’d love.

Here are some of the other styles of dresses I tried on . . . !

Sassi Holford Wedding Dresses | How To Choose Your Dream Wedding Dress | The Elgin Avenue Blog Sassi Holford Wedding Dresses | How To Choose Your Dream Wedding Dress | The Elgin Avenue BlogSassi Holford Dress Detail | The Elgin Avenue BlogSassi Holford Dress Detail | The Elgin Avenue BlogSassi Holford Wedding Dresses | How To Choose Your Dream Wedding Dress | The Elgin Avenue BlogSassi Holford Dress Detail | The Elgin Avenue Blog

Who to Bring With You to Your Wedding Dress Appointment

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Now that you have your wedding dress appointment/s booked, who are you going to take with you? 

First and foremost, (IMHO) it’s important to invite people who make you feel good. And whose opinion on style you trust. 

For your first appointment I’d also err on the side of less-is-more in terms of guests, since too many opinions = analysis paralysis! Plus, during this time of social distancing, many boutiques will likely limit the number of guests you can bring.

Take your bestie, your Mama, your auntie, sister . . . whoever’s in your inner circle that makes you feel like the very best and most beautiful version of you! 

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And on that note – make an occasion of your appointment/s!

I took my Mama with me to my first appointment at Sassi Holford. And as luck would have it I found my dream wedding dress right away!

Over the next few months, our semi-regular appointments at Sassi Holford became one of my favourite parts of the whole wedding-planning process. Sassi’s Fulham boutique is right around the corner from the V&A Museum (one of mine and my Mum’s favourite spots), and so we made an occasion of every fitting.

Often we’d head to the V&A for lunch in the garden and a peruse of the permanent collections before my fitting. Those are memories I’ll treasure forever.

Choosing your wedding dress and going for your fittings is absolutely a cause for celebration! So go for some fizz, or brunch, or whatever and really treasure this special time together.

Once I’d chosen my dress I invited my bridesmaids to a handful of my fittings and it felt amazing to have them there!

It was so moving to get into my dress, have the fitting room curtain pulled back, and to see my BFFs there. Tears all round!

I also found my wedding earrings during one of my bridesmaids’ visits which made the appointment feel all the more special. 

Hair and Makeup for Your Wedding Dress Appointment

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One of my biggest pieces of advice ahead of your wedding dress appointment and/or fittings, is to do your hair and makeup ‘properly’ for the day. Namely, similarly to how you’ll be wearing it on your wedding day. 

It may feel extra to get out your curling wand, and do a full face of makeup, but it helps to really piece together your look.

If you turn up to your appointment feeling ‘meh’, you’ll never feel as good as you could in your dress. And (worst case scenario) you may pass up on an incredible dress, just because you’re not feeling yourself.

Bring Shoes and Jewellery to Your Appointments

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Do you have a favourite heel height? A special pair of earrings you want to wear on your wedding day? A veil you know you’ll be incorporating? Bring anything and everything to your appointment which you want to include in your bridal look.

If you don’t have ‘the’ shoes, bring a pair with a heel height you’d like to wear on the day.

Once you have found the accessories you want to wear, bring them to your appointment to try on with your dress.

I thought that a pair of crystal blue earrings I had at home would work perfectly as my ‘something blue’, but when I tried them on with my dress they were too conflicting. 

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Similarly when I finally found the pair of shoes which I wore on my wedding day (see above), from Dune London (amazing selection!) it all ‘clicked’. 

Dune London Wedding Shoes I Love

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As for a veil, most bridal boutiques will have veils you can try on. Whether or not you think you’d like to wear one on your wedding day I’d encourage you to give it a go!

You never know if it feels like ‘you’ until you slip one on, and (as with trying on multiple dresses) it’s part of the FUN!

Enjoy!

Wedding Dress Timelines

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How long can you expect to wait for your wedding dress? 

As I mentioned before, if you would like a bespoke dress (i.e. it’s being made for you) you can expect to wait 6 – 7 months.

If you are in a rush however, my advice is to liaise with your chosen designer directly and see what they can do. As per my call with the Sassi Holford team, they’re currently trying to help brides on a shorter time frame by creating bespoke dresses in 1 – 2 months.

Where there is a will there’s a way, and it is ALWAYS worth asking.

Buying a sample is also an option. Or you may be able to choose a style which already has sizes made up. Bare in mind that you will still need to allow time for alterations.

What’s Your Take?

Are you looking to find your dream wedding dress? If so, have you started wedding dress shopping already or do you have it to look forward to?! I’m excited for you!

If you have any questions about wedding dress shopping, drop me a line below. I’d LOVE to hear all about your plans.

(No, seriously, I would!) 

Love, Monica x

Photography by Charlotte Bryer-Ash

 ~ A huge thank you to Sassi and the whole Sassi Holford team, for welcoming Charlotte and I to shoot in your beautiful store! And of course, for making the whole process of choosing my dress such a dream. Sassi generously offered a discount on my wedding dress; as always all opinions are truly reflective of my experience and taste. ~

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