Your partner has popped the questions! Now the fun begins, wedding date is locked in, bride tribe selected and guest list is being drawn up. Next stop, wedding dress search.
With so many beautiful options out there, and online, and in magazines, and from your besties' suggestions...phew!! It can get a bit crowded. So, to make things a little easier, I've put together a guide to set you up for wedding dress success. Follow these tips and tricks for a smooth, blip-free shopping experience.
You will be prepared, totally organised - and really sit back and truly enjoy the moment (happy butterflies, not stressed, pit of your stomach, jitters).
1. Set. A. Budget.
Best place to start? Set a number you're willing to spend on your gown. Yes, it's the most boring part of the process, but arguably one of the most important. This can be a percentage of your total budget, or, if it's one of your priority spends, any number you choose. This will target your selection before you begin and cut out a lot of noise that can create stress during your wedding shopping process.
2. Start Shopping 9-12 Months Ahead (If You Can).
Believe it or not, wedding dress can take anywhere from 4-8 months to be made. Factor in shipping times (is your dress coming from Paris? at Carte Blanche Bride it does!) alterations and fittings – in the end, your gown could take up to 10-12 months to be ready.
Don’t have that kind of time? Don't worry, we strongly suggest on longer time frames to ensure a relaxed and easy journey. However, being a small business that works so closely with our designers. WE ARE FLEXIBLE. So if your wedding is sooner than 9 months away, we've got you. Looking at a wedding in 2 months?? Our designers offer rush services and DHL isn't called EXPRESS for nothing. Our shipping times can be as quick as 3-5 business days.
Real CB Bride Lan-Anh wearing Margaux Tardits
3. Do Your Research.
Overwhelmed by the endless options and don’t know where to start? Pinterest and Instagram are brilliant for discovering your exact style in a wedding gown. Follow your favorite blogs, designers and local bridal stores to discover new collections, see your favorite gowns on real brides, find out about upcoming Trunk Shows - Carte Blanche Bride holds these special events a couple of times a year. Save your top styles on your wedding dress boards, and Instagram archives to hone in on what you want.
Don't hesitate to clean these boards out too, as you find more options, your tastes may change or refine so keep culling the wedding dress looks you no longer gravitate towards.
4. Select a Few Wedding Dress Style Keywords.
It’s great to be able to concisely articulate to your bridal consultant, what wedding dress styles you want. This could be relaxed, effortless chic or soft and romantic. Your consultant will be able to use this information to guide you towards looks that may not have been in your research, but that match your style perfectly.
Another option is to choose a famous stylista that may best represent you. Like Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy or Jane Birkin.
Real CB Bride Sarah wearing Laure de Sagazan
5. Book your Bridal Appointments.
Try to schedule 2-3 appointments across a weekend. This way, each gown is fresh in your mind for comparison; you’re more likely to say “Yes!” if you’re not waiting on another appointment weeks later. Some wedding dress boutiques don't allow photos so this makes back to back appointments even more important. Mid-morning is the best time for your bridal appointment, you've had time to wake up, meet the crew for a coffee, pop on some makeup and away you go!
6. Chat Your Bridal Salon Ahead of Time.
At Carte Blanche Bride, in the lead up to your appointment we take the time to chat to you about your favourite designer and styles that you have been eyeing off. We keep detailed notes to ensure we know exactly what you are after. Any good wedding dress boutique should be doing the same. This includes finding out what kind of bride you are, and when and where the big day is taking place. All of this helps us pull gowns that fit within your criteria. Make sure you ask if your bookmarked style(s) is available, and if they can order a sample if it’s not already in the shop.
7. Choose Your Bride Tribe Wisely.
Take time and consideration when you select which guests will join you on this wedding dress hunt.
Ideally, check how many guests your salon will allow in their space. At Carte Blanche Bride, we like to keep things intimate; this means we only have space for 2 guests in addition to the bride. Choose guests who are above all, positive people. Certain close friends may not be suited for this day due to general cynicism or a very different style to you (no matter how fun they are as friends!)
Make sure your bride tribe is uplifting, understands who you are, what you like, and understand that this day is about you choosing your wedding dress.
Real CB Bride wearing Donatelle Godart
8. Have A List Of Questions Ready For Your Consultant.
Bring along a list of questions only your bridal store and consultant can answer.
- How long it takes to make the gown you love
- Whether or not dress alterations are completed in-house or suggest an expert seamstree or tailor.
- Do they ship the gown to you 0r if you pick up in shop.
- The best way to travel with your gown and;
- If steaming the dress day-of is the best strategy.
9. Give Yourself some TLC and Prep Time.
Consider this an optional luxury that will seriously give you a boost on your busy day out. If you can budget in the time and money, organise a blow wave and perhaps get your makeup professionally done. It’ll be easier to imagine yourself in the dress on your wedding day if you look and feel primed and groomed.
**The majority of wedding dress boutiques have a scarf or head bag to protect the dresses from your makeup. Please please please, however DO NOT wear fake tan to wedding dress appointments. No matter how careful you are the colour always rubs off on the sample gowns.
10. The Proper Undergarments.
I always strongly suggest to every bride attending our showroom that they wear nude colored underwear, and not to worry so much about the bra (unless you have an issue with support or want to be comfortable) - a nude strapless bra can come in handy.
11. Forget About Sizing.
Wedding dress sizes are vastly different than street sizes (what you wear on a day-to-day basis), especially when working with international brands like we do - Carte Blanche Bride works in French sizing. Don’t get worked up if your wedding dress size is different to your everyday clothing. All good wedding dress boutiques should take your measurements when ordering your dress to ensure they have the right size ordered for you. 99% of brides need alterations, so the gown you buy will eventually be adjusted slightly to fit you perfectly – totally different from the usual “pick a size number” shopping experience.
Real CB Bride Allannah wearing Laure de Sagazan
12. Listen To Your Bridal Consultant (& Your Gut!)
It’s true, your bride tribe knows you best. BUT no one knows the gowns at the shop like your bridal consultant. The person pulling gowns and jumping into the dressing room is paid to make this experience perfect for you. They should already have taken into account everything you love, and quite frankly is likely a more objective opinion than your family or friends.
They are thinking of what you like, not what they like.
In the end, block out all the noise and listen to your instincts. If you know deep down you don’t love something, it’s not your gown, no matter how “pretty” your bride tribe says you look. And if you, in your heart, know you prefer something different, listen! You’re the one who’s going to be wearing the gown.
13. Don’t Try On Dresses Out Of Budget & Factor Extra Costs
At Carte Blanche Bride we are happy to let you try on any dress in the showroom, but do heed this warning... never try on a gown you can’t afford. Two very stressful things could happen: 1) you may end up spending a lot more (that you didn't event budget in to begin with) , or 2) you may fall in love with the gown and no cheaper dress will be able to match the luxury you now have the taste for, leaving you unable to find “the perfect dress”.
And remember, if your budget is $2000, plan to buy a dress less than that to factor in extra costs like alterations and accessories.
14. Take Pictures.
If you are allowed, make sure you take some snaps of your top dress in each wedding dress store. You’ll have a quick catalog to compare which is best. Be sure to twirl, walk, get photos of the front and back – you’ll likely try on so many dresses some details can be quickly forgotten.
At Carte Blanche this is a priority for us, especially if you are attending the Trunk Show as a lot of the styles are only available during that event - meaning you cannot return for a retry.
Carte Blanche Bride Showroom, Melbourne
18. Don’t Be Afraid To Say Yes To The First Dress You Love!
Bridal consultants worth their weight have very refined skills, and if they can tell you have a serious favorite during your salon walkthrough, they’ll likely put it on you first.
Brides can often think they are being too quick to decide, but then they come back to buy the first gown they loved anyway. I often have clients who have been holding onto an image of a style from a specific designer. Of course you would try that first! It's the one you came for. Often it's THE ONE.
Become a Carte Blanche Bride...
Carte Blanche Bride specialises in the best French wedding dress designers. We take care and pride in caring for you, our bride and our clients, you will have our support throughout your decision-making process and long after. Select your own French wedding gown at our new Melbourne Showroom. Or book in for our annual Trunk Shows in both Melbourne and Sydney.
You could be our next Carte Blanche Bride!