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BY LAUREN BURVILL

If you’ve seen the cult-reality-tv classic Say Yes To The Dress, you may think you know everything there is to know about buying your wedding dress from a bridal boutique. But while the flamboyant stylist and demanding bride or bridal party is fun to watch on TV, this kind of scale and drama is far from the reality of buying a dress from a boutique.

To take a peak beyond the bridal store window, we spoke to Emma Meek-Marshall about what it’s really like to shop for your wedding dress at a boutique.

 

It’s relaxing

If the thought of tackling the high street crowds in search of the perfect dress fills you with dread, and you’re tired just thinking about endlessly scrolling the internet for wedding dresses, then shopping at a boutique is sure to come as welcome relief. With your wedding dress appointment booked, you’ll be welcomed into a peaceful space by your own dedicated stylist and offered a glass of bubbles. If only all shopping could be like this!

 

You get to shop with a stylist

“Wedding boutique stylists know you might be nervous and need inspiration and hand holding in equal measure,” says Emma. “One of the absolute unsung but most important benefits of boutique shopping means you have a dresser, ladies maid, stylist, confidante and personal shopper in one.”

According to Emma, most wedding stylists with have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the wedding industry, and be able to offer styling tips, recommendations and answer any ‘what if’s’ that you may have.

These are not walking billboards, or paid for preferred supplier lists; they are a lifetime of invaluable contacts and opinions at your service.

 

There will be plenty to choose from

Not quite sure how that small bridal boutique on the corner will have enough dresses for you to look at? You’d be surprised.

“In the same way a chef will wax lyrical about sourcing the best ingredients, a boutique owner will scour the globe to bring the best apparel to their emporiums,” says

“Whether a boutique stocks locally sourced dresses made in tiny quantities by hot new British designers, or giant global brands, traditional or avant-garde, British, European, or New World, the choices will have been researched and sourced with the utmost care.”

 

They’ll guide you through the process

If you’re concerned about being overwhelmed with too much choice, or not even sure about the type of wedding dress style you want, a boutique stylist will ease your worries. With years of experience, most stylists will take the time to get to know you, your wedding plans and budget before suggesting styles that will flatter your body shape or suit your wedding theme.

“Reputable boutique owners know their clients intimately,” says Emma. “In the buying process for their shop, they will have channelled, funnelled, edited and curated the bewildering choice available to what they know their brides love.”

  • 45 Classic Wedding Dresses That Are Timeless
  • You’ll get exactly what you want

While buying your wedding dress online can come with a series of risks, shopping at a boutique means not only being able to try the dress on that you want, but also being able to customise it.

To use the restaurant comparison again – a great boutique means not having to settle for a takeaway when you really want the best table.

“Think of a bridal boutique less of a shop of products, and more like an interior designer’s studio, full of swatches & match pots. Yes, there are dresses to try on, but these are examples of what might be, not what has to be,” says Emma.

Your dress will fit perfectly

We’ve all heard the horror stories of brides-to-be buying their wedding dresses online from China only for it to arrive five sizes too small.

Unlike high street and online stores, when it comes to buying your wedding dress from a boutique, there’s no such thing as one size fits all (or for that matter, five sizes too small). Not only will the dress you want be made to your size, but most reputable bridal boutiques will also offer a full expert fitting programme, so your dress sits perfectly on the day.

According to Emma, boutiques can often tailor these plans around your lifestyle too. “Do you live abroad? Are you actively changing shape? Can you only be fitted on a certain day at a certain time? Let your boutique into your plans, and the best advice is on hand,” says Emma.

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BY LUCINDA TURNER

It was the dream wedding dress. It fit perfectly in the shop, you felt a million dollars and your mum shed a tear. But what do you do if, in the cold light of your own home, that dream dress doesn’t feel quite right? What is the wedding dress you thought you wanted isn’t the one?

First things first don’t panic!! Unless it’s the morning of the big day, there’s still time. Welcome to the Brides guide to ‘What to do if you fall out of love with your wedding dress.’

 

Can it be altered?

Really think about what you don’t love about the dress. If it’s a sleeve that’s falling on an unflattering part of the arm, a hemline that’s an inch or two short of stylish or a waistline that is less than defined, then fear not. Alternations can be done in a heartbeat to take your dress from drab to fab. If the shop you bought it from doesn’t offered alternations then talk to a local dress maker, they might just turn out to be your fairy godmother!

 

Can you add something to it?

A whole look can be changed with a fantastic accessory. A dull dress can be made incredible with a brilliant belt, a bridal shrug or a stand out piece of jewellery. Failing that, think about the shoes! Even if they can’t be seen underneath a full-length gown, a pair of to-die-for shoes can change everything; the way you stand, the way you walk and definitely the way you feel.

 

Can you change your hair and make up?

As important as your wedding dress is, your big day beauty has a big impact on the whole look. Maybe trying the dress on with a clean face and your hair in a scrunchie isn’t giving off quite the right vibe. Book a hair and make up trial with your wedding dress and ask the team you’re working with for some advice. Maybe your dress is just crying out for a smoky eye to toughen it up or long flowing braids for the free spirit vibe you need?

 

Can you get another dress?

Don’t ditch the first model completely, but how about adding a second wedding dress to the mix? Not only will it give you another sartorial choice to look forward to (and make you feel like a total celeb) but it could even make you love your first dress more. If you’ve splashed out on the first dress, then head to the high street for some more budget conscious options for the second. Plus a second dress means a party dress, opt for a short wedding dress or something with feathers, sequins and sass to counteract a more traditional first gown.

 

Can you take it back and start afresh?

If all else fails and it really is that bad, a new dress might be your only choice. It is your special day and being in anything that makes you feel less than fabulous is not an option. High street and online shops should offer full refunds. If you purchased your dress from a bridal boutique, take it back and explain the situation, chances are they can exchange another dress in stock that is far more up your street. You may have to compromise and have an off-the-peg dress altered to save time, but if the end result make you happy, it will all be worth it.

Can you sell your dress and start again?

If the boutique won’t offer a refund or exchange, head online to bridal gown resale websites for another way to get your money back. Many sites will resell luxury dresses for you a take a small cut to save you the hassle or head to the likes of eBay for a DIY option. You may not get all of your money back, but whatever you do can go towards the dress of your dreams.

 

Can you live with it?

Whilst wedding dresses are a key ingredient of the big day, there are other things that are just as important. Ask yourself, if I look back at photos and see my friends, family and new spouse having the best day of their lives, can I live with a dress that’s not 100% right? After all, your thoughts on the dress may just be sartorial cold feet, and you can certainly live with that kind.

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