Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Dress Hunt

It has been over three months since Mr. Beau and I walked down the aisle, I can not believe how time flies! I was working at a wedding this weekend and couldn't stop thinking about our big day,  I wanted to press rewind and do it all again. I was thinking of putting on my wedding dress and sitting on the couch tonight, that would be normal, right? I loved my dress so much, thank goodness. The amount of time that I spent finding one, fittings, travel, etc. all for my wedding dress was well worth it. I felt like a princess on my wedding day and truly was so happy at the choice I made in my dress. I've written this post a few times but thought I would dust press POST and share a little of my wedding dress shopping story and some tips I think are helpful along the way. Here goes….
Girls often dream of their wedding dress and have the exact image of what it will be like from the minute they get engaged. I know of some girls who went out wedding dress shopping and purchased their dress the month they got engaged, oh my! I chose a bit of a different route for my dress and spent a bit of time making sure it was "the one". Mr. Beau and I got engaged almost two years before our big day. We were moving to London and the thought of where we would be getting married, our budget, time of year, etc. had not even crossed my mind. For fun, I went to one boutique with my mom just before flying across the pond just so she could see me try on dresses and I could get an idea on style, however, I didn't actuality purchase my dress until seven months before my big day. Take your time, make sure it is the one you love! 

{during my trip to Brown's Bridal with my Mom and Mother in Law. I fell in LOVE with a dress here but had to back away twice, as I would have spent almost three times as much as I really did, not worth it.}

Having had just moved from the States to London, I was not sure on where to start in my dress hunt. A million questions would come: is it worth it to spend the crazy dollar to pound conversion, who will I go dress shopping with since my entire bridal party lives in the State, can I even find the style I am looking without spending £5,000.00. SO here is where I started…….

1. Set a budget: They say to set 10% of your wedding budget to your wedding dress. If fashion is more important to you then flowers, then add a little more.  There were times where I tried on a gorgeous designer dress and thought, why not, charge it! Who cares! Let me tell you ladies, I AM SO GLAD I DID NOT! I found a dress within my budget and while I LOVED IT, if I had spent double, I would still be paying for it and think I would have been a bit stressed about it. There are so many dresses out there now in different budgets, so take time to look.

2. Give yourself time: It started to feel like I was looking for wedding dresses FOREVER. However, that being said, I'm glad I gave myself time. It often takes 6-12 months for designers to get the dresses to you once you select it and start your fittings. I tried on a few dresses in DC before my move and then started making a few appointments at bridal boutiques that I knew carried the designers and styles of dresses I was looking for. I kept going back to the same style and made me realize the one I truly wanted.

3. Research & Make multiple appointments - Between blogs and Pinterest and magazines galore, I did my research. Being new to London, I was not positive about the best wedding dress boutiques or if I was getting the best service, deal, etc. etc. I had an image of a dress with a big full tulle skirt in my mind, and it didn't leave my mind. I did a lot of research on London photographers blogs, London wedding blogs and in magazines and if I saw a brides dress I loved, I would see where it was from. Search the boutiques site and before making an appointment, send the boutique to a link of dresses you like and see if they have anything of that style. There is one wonderful wedding dress boutique here in London that is amazing, however, their look is more lacy, fitted dresses, so it would have been a big waste of time for me to take the day to try on dresses there. I made appointments at four different boutiques and went back a couple of times to the try on the dresses that I liked.

I had photos of dresses saved on my phone of dresses I wanted to try on or something in that style so that when the salesperson asked me what I liked, I had a clear image in my mind. Pictures of ladies on Instagram, images of runway shows, take pictures of them so you can share with them what you are looking for. Be open to trying on other dresses that may not be the same style, because you may be surprised you like some dresses you would have never picked out yourself. 

{I saw this image Lara Casey in a Hayley Page dress and saved it for my appointments. I thought it could be a beautiful option. I ended up with the designer but not the same dress.}

4. Bring a good friend and limit the group size - I brought a couple of good friends to appointments for some good advice but remember it is your dress. Everybody has different style, you will know when you find THE ONE and see yourself in the mirror, you should naturally get a HUGE smile and fall in love with it. Also, do not make your group TOO big.

Below is a picture of me at Miss Bush Bridal in Surrey. I have to say, this was my favorite UK dress shopping experience, I would highly recommend it to any UK bride to be! I took the day off to take the train outside the city with one of my good London girlfriends, the shop is located in a sweet little village outside London. Miss Bush carries a huge selection of dresses and I knew before going that they were one of the only shops that carried Hayley Paige dresses in the UK. Having an appointment during the week was perfect, as she didn't have as many appointments and we didn't feel rushed at all. Miss Bush swept my hair up, added some accessories and after truly feeling like a bride to be, I couldn't stop thinking about this dress. 
The one hesitation in this dress was when the idea of getting the 20% VAT back if I purchased it and brought it back to the States after, 20% is a lot to save! The dress is a US designer, so buying it here in the UK is a bit more expensive, also for me having just moved here, the dollar to the pound was such a big difference that I really had to think of if it made sense for me to buy it here or in the States. I left my appointment at Miss Bush excited and in love with a dress and I knew if  I didn't get it in the States, that was the one.

In the meantime I went to a couple of other shops in London, one being a sample sale at the Mandarin Oriental. I will be honest, the sample sale was fun and there were some AMAZING dresses, however, if you are not ready to buy a dress THAT DAY or in any way feel that you are settling on a dress just because it is a bargain, I wouldn't do it.
The dress above and the peplum dress below {bad phone image I know!} were so fun and cute but nothing I had envisioned from the beginning. I am so glad I didn't buy them out of excitement because…they were a deal, but not the one. I would suggest going to a sample sale if you have the chance, it gives you a way to try on multiple dresses at once without making an appointment. 
After searching for my dress for months I decided when I was in NYC during Christmas I wanted to go shopping with my best friends from home. The one shop that has ALL the dresses is the only and only Kleinfeld Bridal. I knew I would be able to go to Kleinfeld's and find a huge variety of dresses AND they had the Hayley Page Blush dress I had been looking for.
With a small group of girlfriends and a timeline to keep, I tried on THE dress and decided….yep, lets do it! Kleinfelds was great in giving me guidance on how I would be able to bring the dress to the UK once it was done. Think about this ladies, if you are buying your dress abroad it is going to need to make its way over to the UK. Mine ended up being in its own suitcase, shipped under the plane with me. Yes, I was nervous it might get lost, but people do it every day and it was FINE!
{outside the SAY YES TO THE DRESS SHOP & my suitcase with my precious cargo, the dress. I won't say this was easy, it made me nervous, however, it was FINE, it worked and I had a dress for almost 40% less then what I would have paid here.} 

After searching for over a year, I ended up with a dreamy princess like Tulle dress, Blush by Hayley Page, style 1354.  I had fallen in love with so many dresses twice this price and am BEYOND thankful I stuck to it so I could try this dress on and I loved it. Once I brought it back from the States, I found a wonderful seamstress here that does wedding dress fittings and had her take it in. Do you research, ask around, not every boutique would do a fitting to you if you haven't been there to purchase your dress. 
Me and Mr. Beau on our big day. I had a big full skirt, the belt came with the dress, the rest, I kept it simple. 

Enjoy the process of dress shopping. At times it can be stressful, but listen to your heart, don't take peoples opinion TOO much. At the end of the day, this is your wedding dress, you want to feel like a million dollars in it when you see photos in years to come.  I know my big white fluffy dress is certainly my favorite dress I've ever worn! 

Happy shopping! 

xoxo- Becca

*My Pinterest board with so many different dress styles! But a lot of them ended up being similar; full skirts, bows, sparkles. 

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