Tips for the Bride - The Dress
Choosing a bridal gown is normally the most important decision of all for a bride.
You want to look good, feel good, and you possibly want to fulfil dreams you have had since childhood. As a result, this often becomes the most difficult decision.
N.B. It is important to remember that 'off the peg' dresses take 12 - 16 weeks to arrive unless you are purchasing a shop sample dress. Adding dress fittings to this, you should allow at least 4 MONTHS, but 6 if you can.
Made to measure styles are ideally booked at least 6 months in advance.
If you have the luxury of time, please don't waste it -
Do your homework and book your dress as soon as possible.
Thinking of buying on the internet??? Please read this first:
The internet has made global purchase of almost anything easier. With favourable exchange rates, this can often mean bargains can be found. However, even though there are numerous reasons to stimulate your local economy, the three most important things to realise are:
1. You have no way of knowing your dress is the right style or size until it arrives. Even if it is, it may not be what you expected as you may have bought from a picture. By the time it is delivered, this if often too late to do anything about it.
2. The internet is flooded with offers from e.g. China offering crazy bargains. Even though these dresses are poor copies (if you receive a dress at all!), the ads usually include a pictures of the genuine articles made by reputable manufacturers. Don't be fooled!! If the manufacturers can't stop these people using their images, what chance have you got of getting your money back when you're worst nightmare arrives?
3. If you make a 'fully legal purchase' from outside the U.K. to true cost of your dress is:
- cost of dress + cost of shipping X 12.5% import duty X 20% VAT
You may save £30-£100 for your dream wedding dress (if anything), but will it shatter your dream?
E.G. One lady who purchased a Bride's Maid dress from a U.K. retailer then decided to have a second Bride's Maid and bought another identical dress direct from America. She saved £60. Several weeks later, a bill arrived from Customs and Excise for over £80!!
Horror Story Example - One of many scams
A Bride saw an advert on a well know web site for her dream dress. She made a buy it now purchase - "Only £400 including shipping" - and waited with anticipation for the dress to arrive. When the dress did arrive, she was not happy with the colour or quality as portrayed in the picture and description. She duly returned the dress for a refund, which she received very quickly.........FOR £5!!! When she looked into the small print, the dress was sold for £400 including shipping, but the shipping element was £395.
Also, check out this site for more real life experiences and horror stories
Keep an open mind. Do NOT set your heart on a particular design - it may not suit you when you put it on. Similarly, do not dismiss styles you think you don't like as you may look GREAT when you put them on. (It is important to remember that display dresses will always look better than dresses on the rails because you get the full effect - always scour the rails too.) Do you want an Empire line dress, bodice and skirt, separates, Straight skirt, A line skirt, gathered skirt, fish tail, pool train, long train, sweetheart neck line, plunging neck line, halter neck, sleeves, strapless, thin straps, thick straps, piping, embroidery, hand painted design, diamantes, pearls etc. etc.
Start to collect pictures and info. of styles you like. This will be invaluable for the final choice as you will visit several shops, wedding fairs, internet sites etc. and it can all become a bit of a blur!
Ivory, Gold, Red etc. The choice is yours. Again, be open minded. Whilst most dresses are ivory
(NB most dresses you think are white are actually a shade of ivory), and this may be your idea of a 'wedding dress', you hair and skin colour can play a part - you may look better in Champagne!
Do you want to be different and incorporate red or purple? Ever though of silver? Lots to choose from.
Again, lots of choice - e.g. Brocade, Chiffon, Dupion Silk, Thai Princess Silk, 2 Ply Thai Silk, Tulle, Velvet, Zibelene, Silk Duchess Satin, Poly Duchess Satin, Morocain, Peachskin, Organza, Shimla, Lace - see 'Tips - Fabric' for more info. Different fabrics are better for certain styles of dress.
You need to consider the look you want, what feels good, the time of year you are getting married,
is the wedding overseas etc.
Bespoke or 'Off the Peg'?
Your budget may play a large part in this. Bespoke dresses are normally more expensive due to the fitting process, time involved and quality of fabric used.
If you have a dress made, it is made for YOU and will fit perfectly. If you have 'an ideal standard figure' (whatever that is!) you may be lucky enough to get the same effect with an 'off the peg dress'. Remember - if you are not 'standard' and have eg. a large or no bust, big hips, a short or long waist you should go for bespoke as 'off the peg' will never achieve as good a fit. ('Off the peg' involves ordering a size bigger than you and altering it down). If you want silk (the ultimate fabric) or quality satin etc. you may find it difficult to find what you want 'off the peg'.
Again, your budget will dictate how much you want to spend on your dress for a variety of reasons. It is important to try and have a figure in mind so that you don't set your heart on a dress your budget can't afford. The national average spent on 'the dress' is £849. Obviously, you get what you pay for (or should!). Our average at beverley wedgwood is more like £1200, but this is because we predominantly create bespoke dresses in silk. We can offer new dresses from £295 - £3000+!
IMPORTANT: Our bespoke prices are totally inclusive. 'Off the peg' dresses will have additional alteration charges which could be £200+. You should bear this in mind when you think you have found a comparative bargain - ask what the TOTAL price will be including alterations!
The order process - Bespoke
1. Consultation - This is a chance to discuss ideas about shape, structure, fabric, and colour. Bring any pictures or sketches with you. It is important we know when and where you are getting married, whether you have a theme, and what impression you want to create eg. romantic, traditional, unusual etc. This will help us advise you.
2. Measurements - We will take your measurements. The measurements taken will depend on the shape of dress chosen.
3. Toile fitting - From your measurements we make a mock up of the dress in calico; this is called a Toile and has two functions - firstly to ensure the correct fit and adjustments will be made at this stage. Secondly, to confirm your choice of shape. This is a practise run and it is only after this fitting and you have made definite choices about fabric and colour that your dress is cut and made.
4. The first fitting - always a nervous time for the bride. The bodice (if that's your style) will fit you perfectly. At this stage we alter hem length and fullness of skirt and finalise any detailing you require - diamantes, train borders etc.
5. The second fitting - usually the final fitting, all the minor alterations have been done, and this is a chance to see the finished result and try veils and tiaras.
(NB a 50% deposit is required to commission your dress with the balance payable at your final fitting)
The order process - 'Off the peg'
1. Measurements - Once you have chosen your dress, we take your measurements and order the appropriate size.
2. First fitting - Once the dress arrives, you have a first fitting so we can make any alterations.
3. Final fitting - your alterations have now been done and the dress is ready for the big day.
(NB A 50% deposit is required to place your order. The balance is due when the dress arrives).
We are happy to store your dress until your wedding at NO extra charge.
Style and practicality tips
If you have a slender shape (typically size 6, 8 or 10) you can probably wear any style you wish.
Ladies with a large bust should consider a bodice style of dress. This will help flatter your shape and in the case of beverley wedgwood dresses, all the corsetry is built in giving you total support -
Yes you can have a strapless dress and there's no need to wear a bra either!
If you have large hips, we suggest you avoid Tulle skirts or skirts with gathers as these styles can tend to make your hips look bigger
If you are getting married overseas, you should try to restrict your choices to less bulky dresses (unless you are used to travelling with Joan Collins' luggage!), and that you think about fabrics which are not too hot and don't crease too easily - peachskin is ideal as it is not too heavy and creases fall out if you hang the dress up on arrival. Silk is probably the coolest fabric, and even though it does crease, the creases 'snap out' easily.
Think about the time of year - satin will probably be too hot for a summer wedding, but you may not be warm enough in silk in the middle of December. If your wedding is in a winter month, consider having an additional wrap, shrug, coat or cape which will be there if you need it - even if it is just whilst you are waiting for the photos to be completed, these could be the longest two hours of your life if you are freezing cold!
When you decide to try some dresses on, allow plenty of time for a visit. It often helps to bring someone with you for their input - your Mother or a friend. However, remember this is YOUR day - accept opinions, but do not be persuaded to chose what they want or like if you are not totally happy with it. Also, if a friend you bring is also going to be a Bride's Maid, do not get side tracked into spending all your time choosing her dress - the process is a lot shorter and there is plenty of time for that later.
Buy some Bridal magazines and look at different styles to give you a starting point of ideas. Cut out any you like and start to collect these and any other info. which will help you cut down the leg work.
Do NOT bring your prospective husband to be with you - He's not really interested, and he should not have the slightest clue about your dress until you both meet at the ceremony.
As already stated, you can't do anything too early. Many brides place their dress orders up to 18 months in advance. Where possible you should try to order your dress at least 12 months in advance. If you want a bespoke dress, it can take up to 70 hours to complete - placing your order as early a possible ensures the time is booked to make it.
'Off the peg' dresses are ordered in and as most are then made in places like China, you need to allow 4 months for the dress to arrive, even though some may be available more quickly.
Some dresses may not be 'repeated' from year to year, so the style you want may have been discontinued if you leave it too late to place your order.
NB You may be charged a 'short order' fee in some shops if you don't allow at least 6 months for your order - this is commonly £100+ and can be as much as £300+. We don't do this, but always ask first.
Ask around - The levels of quality and service vary wildly from place to place just like any other business. Ask married friends where they bought their dress and if they had a good or a bad experience. Ask your hair dresser - they always know the best places. If you are met with indifference or lack of attention when you visit shops, walk away - this is probably an indication that you are not going to be looked after, and as this is a 'long term' (possibly expensive) purchase with several visits involved you need to be sure you are going to be treated well and are going to enjoy the experience. Judge who will go that 'extra mile' for you and stick with them.
Dress Cleaning? - Click
Do NOT buy your shoes before you have decided on your dress. It is important the match everything together, and the style and colour of the dress will dictate your choice of shoe. Most shoes are ivory (not white), but you can have any colour you like. If you decide on a red dress, you may want red shoes. The most suitable shoes are silk or satin, and you can have them dyed to a specific colour to match your dress if necessary. The most important thing to remember is once you have your shoes, do NOT leave them in the box until the 'Big Day' - Wear them around the house to 'break them in' and ensure they are comfy. You could be wearing them for over 14 hours, so comfort is a priority. Remember, no one will be looking at your feet on the day, so don't get too 'hung up' on trying to find the perfect look you want if you are having difficulty.
Veils & Tiaras
Again, get the dress first! Choosing a veil or tiara should be done at your final fitting - your dress is finished and now is the time to try different styles of tiara, and different styles and lengths of veil. You want to see the 'complete package' to ensure you have the look you want. You may have decided you don't want to wear a tiara or veil or both - don't dismiss them out of hand; try different combinations to see if you like them after all. Decide how you want to wear your hair on the day, and bear this in mind when trying on veils and tiaras.
Veils come in different styles and lengths. Normal lengths are 54", 72", 90", 108", and 132". All can have a different amount of tiers - 1, 2, 3, or even 4. You can chose different detailing - plain, edging, diamantes, crystals, pearls, embroidery, colours of veil and detailing etc.
Tiaras and head pieces come in all shapes, sizes and colours - They can be plain and simple or have extensive detailing; your choice.