Wedding attire inspiration right here.
It’s one of the things people ask most, whether they know you or not – what are you going to wear?! Or, if you’re speaking to someone straight from the Upper East Side in the 00s – who are you going to wear? People should always feel comfortable to wear what they want and luckily we live in an amazing time where couples finally have a range of outfits available for them on their wedding day – not just the limited options of yesteryear.
We’re talking jumpsuits, trouser suits, separates, kimonos, sequin dresses, coloured dresses… the list goes on.
You may be feeling a certain pressure on finding the ULTIMATE wedding outfit, and might as well be breaking out in stress-hives at the thought of the shopping experience. Alternatively, you may be feeling super excited at the prospect, but as it’s such new territory you might have not the foggiest where to start. As always, the number one official Parrot & Pineapple advice is to stay true to yourself (I might get that tattooed on my forehead). But also, as always, I’ve got some incredible bridal designers and boutiques to help you with expert, friendly advice that will demystify and de-stress rather than distress the whole bridal shopping experience.
What should clients be looking for when choosing a bridal outfit?
It may seem obvious that you should be looking for something that makes you feel bloody incredible, but let’s break that down: what particular elements make the winning bridal ensemble?
Joanna from Joanna Roberts Bridal stresses the importance of finding “something that suits your personality, as well as your body shape. The most important thing for brides is to look for something that suits them, and isn’t just an idea of what they ‘think’ they should look like. You have to feel comfortable to feel confident, so finding a dress should be a good representation of you and not feeling like you’re putting on a costume.”
Actual physical comfort on the day is totally key in wedding dresses too. Helen from Rock The Frock Cheshire also advises to think about the day itself: “You’re going to be wearing your dress for between 9-12 hours, and at least 2 of those hours are likely to be sat down. You don’t want your lasting memory of your wedding day to be that your dress was uncomfortable!”
“Your venue will also influence your choice,” Felicity from Jean Jackson Couture in Manchester says, “as well as any particular things you may need to do or encounter. Things like ceilidh dancing, getting on and off a horse, are there cobbles…I realise this is not applicable to everyone, but if your signature dance move is a lunge, it’s going to be a little tricky in a very fitted dress!”
What’s the wedding dress shopping experience like?
Despite any horror stories you may have heard, boutique owners – or the good ones, at the very least – are as invested in your appointment as you are. They’re committed to making your experience super enjoyable, and helping you make this special time the BEST time. This means that generally, boutiques will ask for you to tell them a bit about what you’re looking for in advance. “We do advise our clients to do their research on our website in advance, and tell us a bit more about their personality, favourite designers, styles, fabrics and shapes, so we can tailor each appointment accordingly.” Cecilia from Heart Aflutter Bridal explains.
For this research, Felicity recommends: “Look at dresses that you have been pinning or saving on Instagram – find out who the designer is and then find your nearest store. This may mean travelling a little, but from experience it can become very disheartening if you are visiting stores without looking at what they stock, and consequently not finding any dresses that you like.”
Once you’re actually in the appointment, Claire Amelia from The Bridal Emporium Leeds says they like their clients to feel “relaxed and comfortable like you’re just chatting to your friend – we’re just girls too!” Most boutiques will offer you refreshments to get started – this isn’t always alcohol – and then chat you through the details of your wedding and the dresses they offer.
Then, the fun begins! Whilst the dresses you try on will be led by which ones you like best, boutique owners will also offer up some options you may not have thought of before – after all, it’s their job. “Especially if it’s your first time, I recommend trying on all the different shapes in a gown. This is when I start getting funny looks, as brides usually come in with a solid idea of what they want and I’m here saying “Hey let’s try totally different shapes!” But once we have tried them on, 95% of brides are surprised and enjoy the process, as they end up with something they didn’t expect. It doesn’t necessarily bring out a different shape, but it helps to look at details – may it be plain, lace, bling or colour.”
Speaking of – how far in advance do you need to buy the dress?
With so many differing opinions out there, wedding planning can be confusing – but luckily, all of our incredible designers and boutiques gave the same timeframe of between 8 to 10 months. This is 8 to 10 months from the date of purchase and payment, to your wedding. They also suggested starting the search between 9 to 12 months before the big day. As Felicity points out, shopping in the same season means you get a good indication of what your wedding will be like with weathers, seasonal flowers and the such, plus it gives you some time to think about your dress before having to order it.
8 to 10 months may seem like a long time, but designers get super busy in peak wedding season. Plus, you need time to to allow it to be shipped, to try it on, and to then arrange alterations – and believe us when we say the last couple of months leading up to a wedding just absolutely vanish, despite how the first few months feel like a slog! According to Helen, your first dress alterations appointment is usually 8-10 weeks ahead of your wedding day, and then your final fitting about 2 weeks beforehand.
If, on the other hand, you’re thinking 8-10 months seems like far too short a time, beware of buying your dress too early. As Joanna points out, fashion, your taste, and your body shape could change, so being too keen could be detrimental. It’s also inadvisable to start the dress shopping process only when you’re ready to commit to a dress: “We totally understand that dress shopping is exciting – we’d be lying if we said we didn’t try them on – but I would recommend not booking appointments until you’re ready to fall in love with the dress. If you start your dress search too early for inspiration, you run the risk of styles being discontinued, and price increases that you’ll feel cheated by.” Felicity explains.
But if you’re past this timeframe and are currently outfit-less, all hope isn’t lost! “We are usually able to accommodate orders with a ‘wear date’ of less than 6-8 months,” Cecilia explains, “but sometimes this may incur an additional fee, and we’d really like to avoid that as much as possible – so plan in advance and save your pennies, that’s what I like to say!”
Claire-Amelia also points out sample sale dresses, which you can buy straight from the rail – keep an eye out for sample sales from your favourite designers.
How many people should you bring to appointments with you?
Helen usually suggests bringing no more than 4 people to the appointments. “Although bringing your friends and family means you have their moral support and the memory of an amazing occasion together, too many opinions can be a bit overwhelming!” Of course, if you don’t want to bring anyone, that’s also fine – you do you, boo.
What happens if you don’t like your body?
I’ve asked this question because I am a curvy, squidgy female that has mental obstacles to deal with when buying and wearing clothes. As a raging feminist I am passionate about body acceptance (read my other rant about the perfect bridal body here), but it’s a daily struggle to keep on top of the constant narrative from society. You don’t need that shit when you’re also planning a wedding.
Trying on dresses can be a very alien experience to many – it’s not everyday that you stare at yourself nearly naked in a mirror, planning to buy a dress that could be worn to the biggest party in your life. One of our criteria for the amazing boutiques and designers we asked to contribute to this piece – as well as having beautiful designs, obviously – was that they were non-negotiably safe spaces for females to enjoy their bridal experience without any judgement or body-shaming. What’s the point of beautiful exclusive designs if you’ve got an exclusionary ethos?
“Us ladies are far too hard on ourselves,” Claire Amelia notes, “and so we’re committed to working our magic to help brides feel at ease and not conscious of the way they ‘should’ look.”
“As completely unjustified as it may be, there’s always going to be something about your body that you don’t like,” Joanna points out. “To make sure you’re feeling your best on the day, we can either shop to minimise the visibility of the part you don’t like – for example, we can create a bolero if you hate your arms, or choose a non-strapless dress if you’re worried about ‘back fat’ – or accept that it is you and therefore not a negative thing at all. If your partner is marrying you, they love you as you are – so wear what the heck you like!”
Whatever it is that you don’t like, it’s the job of your boutique or designer to put you at ease and help you work through the experience. “I know the dresses in my boutique will make you forget about your body worries and make you feel like a bride,” Helen says.
What if you’re not ‘slim’?
Helen says the slim = pretty narrative is something that desperately needs to change, and we could not agree more if we legally changed our name to it, climbed up Big Ben and shouted it through a megaphone until we lost our voice forever…
“You definitely won’t hear the dreaded weight loss question from us at the boutique,” Cecilia promises, “because guess what? You don’t have to ‘squeeze into the dress’ – the dress needs to fit YOU, and it’s our job to make sure it does! Your body makes you unique, and we constantly celebrate the female body shape in whichever size it is. But we don’t just talk about it and preach inclusivity – we actually put our money where our mouth is. Our samples go up to a size 22, with most styles going up to a size 34 with no extra charge.”
What if your style is more ‘alternative’?
If you’re worried about the reception of looking for something slightly out there, Felicity suggests letting your party know your vision ahead of time. “If you’re looking for something a little different, make sure the people you’re bringing along are all on board with what you’re looking for. This way, they’re all in the mindset of shopping for you and for a dress that’s your style.” Plus, they’ll have got rid of the notions of you wearing a white fishtail dress! As we said before, it’s all about feeling like your best version of your most comfortable self, rather than like you’re playing dress-up in someone else’s closet. “There is something for everyone, whether it’s a dress, separates or a jumpsuit.” Felicity continues. “We’ve even had brides wear a beaded topper with culottes for their ceremony! Typically our brides don’t wear “wedding shoes’ either. We’ve had brides that wear trainers, cowboy boots, wellies, and even no shoes with just foot jewellery. The most important thing is to do it your way.”
Joanna Roberts is a dressmaker and alterations expert based in South East London and covering Kent too. With over 10 years of experience, she offers a personal yet premium service to make your dream dress come true – it’s cliche as hell, but the only limit is your imagination. http://www.joannarobertsbridal.com
Rock the Frock Bridal Boutique is a modern, design-led boutique with locations nationwide. They stock ethically-made dresses and co-ordinates. All of their outfits have a conscience, varying from romantic to bohemian to some dip-dye creations too. Their designers are also exclusive to Rock The Frock – so they’re as special as you! https://www.rockthefrockbridalboutique.co.uk
Jean Jackson Couture is a Manchester-based boutique that offers dreamy bohemian designers, specialising in international designers. Their stores have a very relaxed atmosphere with a similar decor to the style of wedding that their brides enjoy – think greenery, macrame and pampas grass. Dream or what? https://www.jeanjacksoncouture.com
Based in vibrant East London, Heart Aflutter is an award-winning boutique dedicated to bringing un-traditional bridal looks by independent designers. Most of their collection is priced between £1,500 and £2,000, and every single design is made to order, ensuring every one is totally unique. https://www.heartaflutterbridal.co.uk/
The Bridal Emporium is a bridal shop in Leeds for the lovers of fashion, bohemian, vintage and modern brides-to-be. It’s a super quirky space with intriguing decor, run by a trained dressmaker, meaning that they not only help you find the perfect dress, but know how to fit it to you too! All sorts of personalisation can be done in-house, giving every bride the personal touch. Plus, they have an in-house cat called Popeye. https://www.the-bridal-emporium.com/
Found this super useful? Why not pin it to your own wedding planning boards? Brill! Go right ahead. You can also follow me on Pinterest too for more inspiration.
Like this blog post? Sign up to my mailing list to get notified when I post other helpful articles like this.
Where drinks are paid for, but wedding planning advice is FREE!
Club Tropicana is my exclusive club full of mega useful freebies to help you plan your wedding.
First mega freebie is THE ultimate guide to choosing your wedding photographer.