Things I Learnt Whilst Wedding Dress Shopping (and some photos)

So - first off, I feel as though I must apologise for the quality of the photos in this post - all have been taken on iffy phone cameras in dodgy lighting and you will get more than one glimpse of the most boring and tatty bra I own, but a bunch of you said on Twitter that you'd like to get a bit of a peek at some of the wedding dresses I tried on and my experience with it all, so here you are!

Also disclaimer, Sean has already seen all of these photos. Well, I say seen, I kind of waved them in front of his face whilst he was busy doing other stuff so I doubt he was paying much attention, but none of THESE dresses are similar to what I've actually ended up going with so I feel safe sharing them with the world. I did have a couple of other dresses I tried on, but they're much more like THE dress, so I've left them languishing in my saved files for now.

So - dress shopping. The experience that most bride-to-bes will probably be at least a teensy bit excited for slash have been dreaming of the day they can legitimately try one on for at least four years now, hypothetically. One thing you realise very quickly though is that wedding dress shopping is a whole different ballgame from shopping for anything else.

Things you might not expect from wedding dress shopping:

  • You can't just prance into any old shop or give them a casual ring expecting to go in that weekend - most of the shops I contacted were booked up for appointments weeks in advance - especially if you want to go on a weekend.

  • Don't bring your entire family plus your childhood friends plus your uni pals. Most shops will actually limit the number of people you go with, and also you will get hella confused when everyone has conflicting opinions on what dress looks best on you and yet SOMEHOW nobody else has picked the one that you think might be your favourite(?!?!)

  • On that note - YES it is lovely to do a few separate trips with your closest ladies - I did one trip with my mum, sister and 2 of my bridesmaids, one trip with my mother in law and sister in law,  and one trip with my closest pals in Edinburgh. It was great fun to prance around and have them pick ones for me to try on and sip tea (and sometimes prosecco). HOWEVER - remember that this is your day and your dress, so take on board everyone's opinions but if you really do love that one dress that your aunt wasn't sure about, well - you're the one who's gonna be wearing it and looking back at photos for years to come.

  • Be prepared to get very close very quickly with the wedding dress assistant/attendant who's helping you - she will be sticking her head up your skirt to try and sort out the lining and tugging dresses over your head and adjusting your bra and all that jazz. This is not one of those situations where you head into a changing room on your own and just stick your head out if you need something, ladies. 

  • Do remember that wedding dress samples are not one size fits all, and whilst some of the ones you try on will feel like they fit perfectly, others will not even fit over your arse. To be honest, when that happened to me I just kind of assumed that me and that dress weren't meant to be. 

  • You might not necessarily have THE MOMENT that everyone seems to talk about in hushed voices. I tried on a whole bunch of different dresses, and there were at least three of them that I thought might be my dress, until I tried on the dress I went for in the end. I'm sure that if I kept going to dress shops, I'd probably find another three that I loved as well. Sometimes you have to consider the less romantic but equally important factors like 1) How much is this dress 2) Is it appropriate for my venue 3) Will I even be able to sit in this thing OMG I can't breathe etc etc. 

  • If you like a dress - say yes to trying it with a veil. There's something weirdly magical and transforming about shoving a length of tulle on your head, for some reason. Although just bear in mind that the veil they shove on your head is probably almost as expensive as your dress for some reason so don't get too attached - shop around online for a similar (cheaper) one instead.

So - I guess it's time to show you some of the dresses I tried on huh? I had absolutely no idea what kind of style I wanted before I started trying some on, so there's quite a variety of styles here - you can tell by my face that I was happier with some of them than others...!

The Strapless Ball Gown Wedding Dresses

Before I started trying dresses on I was pretty certain that I was going to hate all things strapless. In fact, I was sure that I'd go for a dress with long sleeves a la Kate Middleton, but I tried one of those on and felt like I was being suffocated, hence why you won't see any of that type on this post. If I could be wrong about that, I figured I could be wrong about the strapless thing, so I gave a couple a try.

And actually, I quite liked them! None of them felt particularly 'me', but they were much more flattering than I thought they would be - if I'd been looking for something a bit more classic, I'd have definitely considered one of these. Plus, there's always the option to add little sleeves of some kind, so don't rule out a dress you think you might really like just because you're not sure on the strapless thing!

The Mermaid/Trumpet Wedding Dresses

It may not surprise you to hear that it was a style of dress much like the above that was the aforementioned 'wouldn't fit over my arse' dress. My mum loved this style of dress on me, and yet I was never a huge fan. Part of my apathy may have stemmed from the fact that I love a good ceilidh and didn't want to limit myself from dancing at my own, part of it may have been the worry that I'd never be able to go for a wee on my own in such a tight dress - who knows. 

I did try a couple of these on, some more casual and some much more glitzy and glamorous - but in the end, as I had to do a weird shuffle step off of the pedestal thing they make you stand on, I decided this style wasn't for me.

The Princess Wedding Dresses

I tried on a lot of truly massive dresses when I was wedding dress shopping but the tulle one on the right was one of the MOST massive. This didn't even have a hoop skirt or anything underneath, just so, so many layers. Like ogres, or onions. 

I didn't particularly like the top half of either of these dresses and I felt that they were a bit too plain for me, but the massive princess skirt was not the problem. I LOVED the skirts. 

The A-Line Wedding Dresses (AKA the ones that I would not wear under any circumstances)

Look you guys, I'm sure there are people in the world that these dresses would look amazing on. That person is not me. I felt super uncomfortable in both of these and couldn't wait to get them off, to be honest! You will more than likely have the same experience where there is just one style that you do not feel works on you - don't worry about it, just cast aside and move on to a new style!

The 'Fashion'/Quirky Wedding Dresses

You have to try on at least a couple of dresses that you know realistically are not going to be your dress but you kind of want to see what they look like on anyway. Of course, this backfired on me when I tried on a beautiful Charlotte Balbier floral style that I loved with all my soul but knew wouldn't work for my wedding, but hey - at least I got to wear it around the shop!

The one on the right was the kind of sleek, simple dress that would look amazing on some people but made me look like an angry napkin tbh. The big fluffy one on the left was all kinds of amazing and also kind of bonkers (and expensive) but super fun to try on!

The Traditional/Classic Wedding Dresses

I knew that I probably wasn't going to go for a super classic or traditional style in the end, and in fact the most common phrase uttered whilst I was trying on all sorts of dresses was 'it's lovely Lauren...but it's not very you'. Still, I have to say, I kind of loved the heavy satin style on the top left. But oh boy, was it heavy! If you want a big gown but still want to be able to move easily, tulle is the way to go lovelies. Also I totally couldn't breathe in this one, but I was almost swayed by how amazing it made my boobs look, but then I realised that wasn't typically something that you should necessarily pick your wedding dress based on.

The one on the right was my mother in law's favourite dress I tried on, and whilst I liked it a lot, I didn't get a feeling of excitement when I had it on. Even though I said before that you might not get THE feeling for one particular dress, you should still be feeling excited and overwhelmed and like the prettiest goddamn princess in the land, so don't be swayed by other people if it's just not tugging on your heart strings the way it should.

So! That's my dress extravaganza over. In total I went to three bridal boutiques, with 9 different people on different trips, and I reckon I tried on at least 30 dresses in the end. I reckon that's probably about average, but I know some people take a lot less time (and some people a lot more). What's your wedding dress story? I'd love to hear it!


  1. Literally noted down all your comments about trying dresses on as I'm going to have to tackle this later on this year. Terrifying but exciting. Beautiful photos of you in the dresses too - must be so hard to choose THE dress! x

  2. The idea of wedding dress shopping brings me out in nervous sweats. Now we have tentatively started making decisions on having a wedding- the hows and wheres etc, I'm completely dreading finding something that is wedding suitable but is 'me'. Current theory- design my own, take another holiday in Vietnam, have it made.


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