Real Bride, September Edition 22, Wedding Advice
Wedding Dress Shopping 101 with Sheer Luxe
Last weekend we went to the National Wedding Show in London, where SheerLuxe was hosting a wedding panel. They kindly asked me (Georgie Le Roux, founder of G&O) to chat to them all about wedding dress shopping 101, how I found my wedding dress and all the helpful tips I learnt along the way. Q&A below:
You've just got engaged; now what?
- Set the budget, find a venue and choose the date; the latter may or may not dictate the type of dress/outfit you want.
- Then you can start to book your dress appointments.
- Pull together a Pinterest board or save any images of dresses/outfits you love and begin to get an idea of what sort of bride you'd like to be.
- Research any designers you love and see where they have stockists close to you.
What was your personal wedding dress shopping experience like?
I really enjoyed it! I went to a lot of different places:
- Browns Bride - prominent designers such as Monique Lhuillier, Vivienne Westwood, Dana Harel, Galia Lahav and Danielle Frankel.
- The Mews Bridal - a particularly great selection from French designers such as Rime Arodaky.
- Halfpenny - fabulous for the modern bride, great separates with items to build in / on an outfit. The flagship street in Bloomsbury is simply magical, as was the experience.
- Amare - based in the Midlands with a fantastic selection of curated International designers like J Andreatta, Alexandra Grecco and I hear Christie Nicole is launching there soon.
However, ultimately I couldn't find anything I loved, so I went to see Emma Beaumont, who made me my dream dress - I loved this entire process.
What are the biggest no-nos when it comes to shopping?
- Ideally, you want to go dress shopping when you feel fantastic, so I wouldn't go if you don't feel well / or are up for it.
- I personally wouldn't take a massive group of friends either - it can feel really overwhelming, so adding 7-8 opinions on your initials fittings can be a lot.
- Don't choose your dress unless YOU love it, even if it's your mum's favourite on the day, you need to wear it and love it.
What should you be considering when it comes to finding the perfect dress?
- Is this what I want to wear?
- Will I feel my best in this?
- Is it within my budget?
- Do I want to wear a veil? Does this dress suit a veil?
- Does my outfit suit my wedding date/venue/choice?
- Make sure you are looking ahead to Trunk Shows and sample sales of your favourite designers, they often only happen once a year.
Any trends to follow or ignore?
- I'm a huge fan of hair bows and beautiful hair accessories, of course! We make a lot of bows at Gigi & Olive, and they are a big trend for Brides. They are the perfect items to add to your look that can feel really personal to your style. Bridal bows are also a great way to slightly change your look in the evening; I wear Gigi Embroidered Bow after dinner to dance in.
- Trends to ignore are the ones that don't suit you / where you don't feel like yourself.
Who should you take with you?
- Someone whose opinion you trust, and I also found it so helpful taking the same person to each!
Anything you should know before you go? E.g. what to take with you, what you have to pay for etc.
- For some boutiques, you do have to pre-pay for appointments.
- Not everywhere you can take photos/videos.
- A pair of shoes with a similar heel height to what you're envisioning
- Take nude underwear.
- Go when you're feeling fantastic and make an afternoon of it. (I booked a haircut around the 1st appointment, so I went with a lovely blow-dry which made me feel great).
Advice for lead times? When is crunch time?
- It depends on how long your engagement is! I would say 9 months is a great time to shop; this allows you a couple of months to go to lots of places and try options.
- Many designers charge a rushed order fee for anything under 6 months.
- If you buy ready-to-wear or from smaller boutiques, they may require less time, but you may also run the risk of items selling out or not being available.
Just how much can you customise a dress?
- It really depends on the dress. If you buy something RTW, you can visit a tailor/wedding specialist and alter it.
- If you want to make alterations to a designer's dress, it's always worth asking, but often it can be costly to make what you might think is a small change.
- Factor in additional costs for any alterations you want to make, including taking it in or out.
What if you want to get one made...
- I went to Emma Beaumont, which was the most incredible experience; I loved it.
- I think it's best to have a pretty clear vision of what you'd like if you want something bespoke. You will also need to be invested in going to fittings and visuals - it's a more complicated and unique experience.
- Start by speaking to the designer and explaining your vision; the world is your oyster! Ask what the pricing is and the lead times are, too, so you're on the same page.
Did you have an outfit change?
- I did! I had a 2nd dress from Emma Beaumont, so I could dance more freely and paired it with a Gigi & Olive bow. I felt like a princess and am already thinking about when I can wear it again!
Any nice sentimental details you've seen that you really like?
- I love embroidery - again, it's something we do a lot of at Gigi & Olive. I find it so timeless and chic, and it can be very subtle too.
- Also, I love the idea of 'something borrowed' too!
Alternative ways to find your dress? E.g. renting, pre-loved etc.
- Stillwhite is an excellent 2nd hand wedding dress platform with many designer dressers - I looked for ages here, but as I am tall (6ft), a lot of what was selling had already been chopped, so it depends on your height.
- By Rotation and Hurr offer some great Bridal pieces you can rent.
- Many RTW designers have now launched their best-selling items in white/ivory or created whole bridal ranges. I particularly love Reformation and Rixo for dresses under £500. Net-a-Porter also offers exclusive bridal pieces worth keeping an eye on, especially from designers like Galvan and Rasario.
It's a fantastic time to be a bride; any bride you want to have all these options! Enjoy every moment; it goes so quickly!
*All photographs by the wonderful Benjamin Wheeler