Guide to Bridal Boutique Shopping

I’m guessing you have at least by now started to think about your wedding dress; what it will be like and where you will get it from.

For most, this is a new experience, even if you have been with your sister or bestie before looking for their dress. This will be different, it’s YOU and YOUR dress, so can often feel like a daunting task; while you’re excited, you still need to face the endless visits to bridal shops and the pressure of finding ‘the one’. Having been on this journey myself, I wanted to take a little time to tell you what the options are available at bridal boutiques: the difference between “Made to Order” and “Made to Measure” as this can be quite confusing and I would hate for you to not be happy with your dress.

The majority of bridal boutiques that offer a selection of different Designer Dresses will be selling them as either ‘made to order’ or ‘made to measure’. It is important to understand the difference.

Made to Order

The boutique will measure you and compare your measurements with the size chart for the particular designer whose dress you have chosen and then order a standard size which best matches your measurements.

The dress will then be made to order in that standard size and it will be delivered to the shop. You will then have to get the dress altered to fit if needs must. This is a service that some of the boutiques offer but many will outsource this to a recommended alterations expert.

Made to Order will not be ideal for many of you as we all know, very few of us have a perfect size body. The majority of us have one measurement that is disproportionally bigger or smaller than the rest of us, like the classic Pear shape where your hips are bigger than your bust and waist; or those of us that have a much larger bust than they have waist and hips.

Made to Measure

This is a tricky one as the true meaning of Made to Measure would be that the dress is made for you to your unique measurements.

However, many bridal boutiques that sell you a dress will sell it as a “Made to Measure” dress and it will, in fact, be made to the standard size, with possibly a few adjustments to the length or maybe a slightly smaller waist.

Occasionally, some designers offer the ability to combine two different sizes so you may order a 12 top with a 14 skirt. It is important to know at this stage that the dress will still be a combination of standard sizes only and not made to fit your exact measurements. It does, however, offer a better fit solution if you are in need of it.

Some boutiques and designers offer small design variations, such as lowering the neckline or changing the sleeve or train length. Do ask and make sure you understand what you are getting and that you are happy with that decision.

There is a limit to how much a dress can be altered and still look good and also sit properly; so, make sure you understand what is required in order for the dress to fit you properly before you place your order.

Lead times for the majority of wedding dresses are normally between 6-10 months but don’t let that put you off, some designers will work with less time. It does also depend on the time of year as off peak is less busy.

Finally, if you don’t have much time and just want a pretty dress you could look at buying something “Off the Rail” from one of the many larger stores offering a Bridal Collection.

Off the rail

Off the rail means just that – you buy what you see, from the rail and take it home there and then – job done. Amazingly, you can now do just that at places like Phase 8, Monsoon, Debenhams, and most recently Topshop.

The advantage of buying a dress off the rail is that there is no wait time – you see it you buy it. It also comes with a low-price tag. You may still find that it needs alterations though but at least you can take it your own seamstress without being tied to the boutique’s alteration service.

Also keep an eye out for sample sales at bridal boutiques, in many ways, this is the same as buying off the rail as you can take it way there and then. It can also be a great way to snag a designer bargain.

Like everything else, we are all individuals with different tastes, ideals, budgets, locations and circumstances and your choice of dress and the journey you take will be determined by these.

Your dress journey should be a special time for you, one that you enjoy, treasure and remember.

Now, go and enjoy your wedding dress shopping, and remember to keep an open mind and try lots of styles, to begin with.

Bridal Style advice – Looking for advice and guidance on your bridal style? My full or partial wedding planning services ensure that you have the right advice on every aspect of your wedding. For more information on my supportive, individual planning service, get in touch today to chat.

Photography by Anneli Marinovich, Cecelina Photography, Siobhan H Photography

Guide to bridal boutiques Always Andri

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