I am not the type of girl who’s dreamed of her wedding dress since childhood. The idea of slipping on a fluffy white confection felt so alien to me and although I think other people look beautiful in their dresses, I just couldn’t fathom wearing one myself. I mean I feel like I’m playing dress up when I wear a suit, and I did that for years, so a big white dress was a very intimidating prospect!
Before I even started dress shopping I had to work really hard to manage my prejudices about wedding dresses, in my mind the vast majority were ugly, lacy, foofy and just not me! On top of that I was a bit stressed out because dresses seemed so expensive (like £1.5k as a starter for 10!) and the idea of stepping in a wedding dress shop terrified me. My first thought was to look for a dress on the high street because it would be more affordable and a more comfortable shopping experience, but honestly nothing I saw felt special enough or particularly ‘me’, so it was time to suck it up, bump up my budget and do some ‘proper’ wedding dress shopping.
Talking to people who’ve been there I quickly learnt the trick to wedding dress shopping is to go in with an open mind, try lots of styles out and take things from there. With all this in mind I started pulling together styles I took a liking to on Pinterest (you can follow my board here) and then looking at different designer look books to see if there was anything that I thought would work for me. Initially I dismissed David’s Bridal because I thought it might be a bit cheap and nasty, but when I vented my frustrations about dress shopping loads of people suggested I check it out, if only because there would be lots of different styles to try out - and everyone knows that when it comes to wedding dresses you end up loving something you never thought you’d go for!
I won’t lie. I was terrified of the experience at David’s Bridal. I thought it would be really impersonal, driven by stereotypes and that bell! How wrong was I! Arriving at the store in Westfield Stratford it was actually really reassuring that there were lots of other brides there, it really took the pressure off and seeing how nervous other women looked made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my nerves. After we signed in we were given some time to brows the racks (and racks!) of dresses. There’s no pomp and ceremony, you can touch all the samples, hold them up, feel the fabric and properly explore all the options. Although there’s lots to choose from and lots of brides/friends/family around the spacious studio doesn’t feel crowded, and it was really easy to look at all the dresses on offer without any pressure. The dresses themselves were absolutely beautiful - not at all cheap and nasty - and, much to my delight, actually prices within my original budget. I had a good feeling about this!
Once we’d had a look around my lovely consultant Maria took us off to find out more about the wedding, the venue, my style and everything else that would help her help me find a dress I loved. Maria had my number pretty quickly (I think the trainers I presented as my wedding shoes might’ve given the game away!) and really helped put me at ease, telling me all about her barefoot beach wedding, how she’s not into frou frou dresses either and generally reassuring I had the woman I needed on my side.
We started out with a few of the dresses I’d pulled, each time assessing how it looked and felt on and thinking about which elements to keep and what to avoid. Fish tail was out, so were sleeves and much to my surprise so were all the boho styles I thought I’d love! Gradually we chipped away, trying on lots of dresses until Maria pulled out a bit of a wild card. A style that it hadn’t crossed my mind to try, and which turned out to be absolutely perfect. I felt all fizzy and special when Maria helped me in to it, something I honestly didn’t expect to experience. I thought the whole ‘the one’ thing was rubbish when it came to wedding dresses, well it’s not. And I found mine, much to my surprise, in David’s Bridal!
(although I did refuse to ring the bell…not really my scene!)