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How to choose your wedding dress

How to Choose Your Wedding Dress

How to Choose Your Wedding Dress

Congratulations! You’re getting married! What is one of the first things you thought about? The dress I bet!!

Your wedding dress is very likely to be the most important dress that you will ever wear, so you want to get right! In this blog I will give you all the guidance and help I can on how to choose your wedding dress.

Research

Many of you may have dreamt about your wedding dress and know exactly what you want, but for some it can be a real challenge. Whatever your thoughts on it I would recommend doing research. The wedding dress is one of the most critical aspects of your big day (apart from your Spouse of course!) and you want to look your best, so research is very important.

The first thing I would do is go on Pinterest….it will be your best friend that is full of ideas! Start looking at styles, shapes, colours and fabrics and create a board. As you go through this process you may discover there are things you never would have considered.

Bridal websites and magazines are also a great way to research wedding dresses. Another inspirational tool is to look through my portfolio and other blogs on weddings while you are here on my website.

How to choose your wedding dress

A good way to figure out what styles and colours you like is to look for models that represent your body type and skin tone. This will really help you when you come to try dresses on, because you will already have an idea of what is likely to suit you.

Research bridal boutiques and try and narrow it down to 3-4 boutiques that you’d like to visit. Look at the boutiques websites and their social media before booking appointments, this will give you an idea of what the experience will be like and should hopefully make you feel more prepared, knowledgeable and confident.

Venue

When you choose your wedding dress you have to consider the venue, and the kind of wedding you’re planning, before rushing off and paying a deposit or even purchasing something that might not work. The dress should be able to stand out and make a statement and remain cohesive with your style of ceremony and reception venues. Your dress and wedding theme should complement each other.

How to choose your wedding dress

The location will help with your vision when choosing your dress, for example, if you are getting married on the beach you might want to choose a long gown that is more flowing ( great in the pictures blowing in the breeze) or if you are having a church wedding followed by a big country house reception, a ball gown style might be more in keeping. If you like to kick your shoes off and dance….why not ditch tradition for a short wedding dress!

How to Choose Your Wedding Dress

Ask yourself questions like: will it be held indoors or outdoors? Is it going to be an intimate or grand reception? Are we feeling glitz and glam or festival vibes? The answers to these will play a great part in short listing the kind of dress you should wear. It’s your wedding day and you have the right to wear anything you want, but I’m sure you will agree that a dramatic, heavy ball gown won’t fit at a hot destination beach wedding.

How to choose your wedding dress

Weather

The weather will have a big impact on the style of dress you choose. Think about the time of year that you are getting married or maybe you are getting married in a hot climate. You don’t want to be wearing a strapless, backless dress in the snow!……and if you are you will need to think about things like a fur coat or a shawl. Additional removable layers are a perfect accessory for flexibility with changing weather conditions. They can also make great props for your newly wed portraits, changing your look throughout the day.

how to choose your wedding dress

It’s important to consider the design, the fabric and when and where you will be wearing your wedding dress. The temperature and humidity will vary depending on the time of the year. Thinking about this will help you decide, for example: a strapless dress in the Summer or a long sleeve dress in the Winter. Also consider your skin and its sensitivity to the sun. For those that easily burn, long sleeves in a light, floaty fabric may be your ideal choice to protect you from the harsh summer sun.

How to choose your wedding dress

Style

No one knows better than you what style of dress you like and feel comfortable in and your style is one of the first things to consider when choosing a wedding dress. You may feel more comfortable in a traditional dress or prefer something more modern and different. Whichever you choose, your personality will reflect in your choice of dress.

Consider some of the following when you choose your wedding dress: Do you like to wear bright colours? If so maybe you fancy doing something not so traditional and wearing your favourite colour? How would you feel in a fitted dress or would you be more comfortable in a loose fitting gown? Is there a part of your body that you like to show off….like your sexy legs?! Then maybe consider a short dress or a split? Do you have a favourite fabric or texture? The feel of your dress is a key part of the style.

How to choose your wedding dress

A mermaid-style dress might look perfect on your favourite celebrity, but it might not fit your figure or make you feel comfortable. You can check out body shape guidelines online to get you started, I will also share some useful links at the bottom of the blog.

If you are considering working out or going on a bit of a health kick in the lead up to your big day, I have written another blog on heath and fitness for your wedding, go check it out here for some tips and tricks : How to prepare to look and feel your best

However gorgeous the gown is, make sure that you ask yourself whether you feel like you in it. It’s got to suit your figure, your personality and personal style.

How to Choose Your Wedding Dress

Start Trying on Early

Starting to look early enough will mean you can take your time. It’s surprisingly time-consuming to put a wedding gown on and off, let alone three or four, you definitely don’t want to feel rushed to make a decision. Keep an open mind while wedding dress shopping. You may find your dream dress in something you didn’t expect.

Many gowns can take time to be made, and once they arrive, you still have to factor in more time for alterations and accessorising.

I would suggest going to try dresses on with just one or two trusted friends or family members. This really helps, especially because you can only try on so many dresses in an hour long appointment, too many people will mean too many different opinions and this can often lead to confusion and pressured decisions.

How to choose your wedding dress

All that being said, if you’re having a long engagement then don’t start too early! If you immediately start shopping for gowns, the one you end up buying might be out of style by the time your wedding comes around, or you might find one you like even better closer to the date.

Budget

Your budget is one of the most crucial considerations when choosing a wedding dress. It will determine how much you can spend on different aspects of your wedding, and is very likely to be one of the things that you will want to spend a fair bit of your budget on. Financial constraints can play a major role. I would not recommend anyone to get into debt for their wedding, however some vendors may offer payment plans to help spread the cost.

Decide how much money is realistic for you to spend on your dress. Browse through similar dresses in stores and online and use that as a guideline for what to expect when it comes to price. Something to also consider when setting your dress budget is alteration fees.

An extravagant wedding gown with hand-embroidered beads and lace will not come with a cheap price tag. However, if you are on a budget then there are other options that mean you can still wear the wedding dress of your dreams. You could wear a pre-loved dress, rent or even do it yourself if you are handy with a sewing machine! Is there a family heirloom that has been worn through generations of weddings?

High street stores offer some stunning dresses at great prices. You might find your ideal dress in John Lewis, Phase Eight or Coast and many more.

You may even find timing your search with the sales can net you a super bargain! My perfect dress was found in a half price sale rail at a bridal boutique. I’d expressed my ideal style to the sales assistant (omitting my ideal scarlet colour choice). Armed with a handful of dresses that I’d been encouraged to also try, I walked past the sale rail and saw a flash of scarlet. There it was… the EXACT dress I’d described, but in the colour I hadn’t dared to mention!!!

How to choose your wedding dress

Comfort

You will be wearing your wedding dress all day and all brides want to be comfortable. When you are trying on dresses, sit down in them to see how they feel around your torso…….and don’t forget you want to be able to dance the night away without your dress tripping you up or weighing you down!  Many dresses have options or adjustments for layers to be lifted and secured for the evening, or even a longer layer removed to reveal a shorter dress! You definitely don’t want a dress that makes you feel uncomfortable as the day goes on.

Wedding gowns are often made with stiff materials and may include boned bodices or corsets which can be distracting if they don’t fit your body well. Avoid going for a dress that doesn’t feel right even if it looks good on you. Being relaxed, comfortable and still looking a million dollars is possible with the right dress.

How to choose your wedding dress

I hope this blog has helped you with your exciting adventure to find your dream dress. I have added some useful links below to give you that extra bit of help!

If you are still looking for a wedding photographer than take a look at my portfolio here on my website, I would love to hear from you.

Xx Fiona Xx

 

Useful links:

Wedding dress quiz

What style and shape wedding dress will suit me

Minster Bridal Chichester

Love Long Bridal

Whyte Weddings

Bridal Reloved

Evelie Bridal Shop London

26 of the best bridal shops in London

Lythe Hill Hotel

Mr & Mrs Greenaway | Lythe Hill Hotel & Spa

I met Steve and Diane last year through a friend of mine who put them in touch with me as a potential wedding photographer for their upcoming nuptials. They were planning to get married at a lovely location called Lythe Hill Hotel & Spa in Haslemere, Surrey. Now, for those that know me, I’m always on the lookout for nice spa hotels….with 2 toddlers and a business & household to run I am partial to being treated by my loving husband now and then!!

Steve, Diane and I met up again at Lythe Hill Hotel to discuss and arrange the plan of their day, but also to scope out the land for suitable photographic spots whilst stalking them with my cameras to help get them prepared for being photographed on their wedding day. The hotel had many stunning spots: outdoor gazebo’s; ponds; bridges; acres of green landscaped lawns….but we became a little adventurous and wandered through the thickets and brambles to find a hidden bluebell crop. This is one of the shots from that day that Steve & Diane chose to have printed and mounted so their wedding guests could sign the mount before framing it, as a momento from the day.

Diane & Steve engagement
Hunting the bluebells on their engagement shoot

On the morning of the wedding day, I dropped Lee (my trusted No 2!) at Lythe Hill to capture Steve as he prepared for the ceremony with his son Dom. I made my way up the road to meet Diane at her sisters….I hadn’t counted on my sat-nav become a little confused in the small country roads and signal-free Surry hills. Thankfully a quick phone call later, we were all where we should be ready to go!

Steve & Dom
Steve & Dom suited & booted ready to go.

Diane, her sisters and her nieces & nephew were all at the house getting ready, as well as parents, husbands and dogs! It all seemed incredibly under control and calm however. Everyones hair and makeup was done, all that was left to do was get Diane in her dress. After clearing the room from all except one sister and niece (also a bridesmaid), Diane was helped into the most stunning ivory gown. It was simply elegant. The fabric curved and clung in all the right places, the neckline sat just off Diane’s shoulders with a classic brooch on one side and the train showed off it’s length without being flouncy or in the way. It really was elegant.

wedding dress detail

Diane's wedding shoes

Diane & the dress

Diane and her wedding dress

As their wedding day approached, we had all been eagerly watching the weather report as a rainy day had been forecast. This is not normally a problem, but Steve & Diane had originally planned on their ceremony being held outdoors on the lawns in the gazebo overlooking the pond. Despite more clement weather arriving for their wedding day, the grounds were quite wet from the previous nights rains, so they moved their ceremony to the stunning Garden Room with wooden beams and a great glass roof. They decorated it with handmade pompoms and bunting which complemented the pink and purple colour theme. It was here that Steve was waiting patiently, doing his best to show how nervous he wasn’t!

Steve waiting in the Garden Room

Steve waiting

As Diane travelled with her father to Lythe Hill, she was met by the rest of her bridesmaids who were waiting for her at the venue. This was also a momentous occasion for Nicky, Diane’s chief bridesmaid and niece as she would not only be leading the way down the aisle for her aunt….she was also the Hotel’s Wedding and Event’s Co-ordinator. nothing like a bit of pressure for the staff working that day!!

Diane arriving

Diane arriving

Here comes the part of the day that sets the butterflies in my stomach going, even now! The part where the Groom finally gets to watch his bride walk down the aisle towards him. The sun had come out and sunlight was streaming in through the glass roof of the Garden Room, really illuminating the colours that had been put together so thoughtfully. I must admit though, Steve still didn’t succumb to “normal Groom behaviour” as there were still no sign of any nervousness from him!

Diane & Steve

Diane & Steve

As friends and family looked on to witness Steve and Diane get married, very few could hold their amusement as the happy couple giggled their way through their vow taking….prompting a question from the registrar as to whether they were actually serious! I felt this just encapsulated the laughter and love they share together as a couple. I had certainly felt this on the previous occasions we had met together. They even managed to squeeze in some time to take a selfie whilst signing the register!

Diane & Steve Ceremony

Diane & Steve Ceremony

Diane & Steve Ceremony

After the ceremony, we spent some time taking some of the formal group shots, before whisking Diane & Steve away for a spell to capture some portraits of just the two of them. The weather held up beautifully. Considering it was due to be a rainy, stormy day, we were all very thankful to see the sun! Steve & Diane had become naturals at having their photo taken, especially after the Engagement Shoot session we had previously had. It was such a great way to get to know a couple better before their big day (and to get them used to being papped all day!!)

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

As well as the acres of greenery with the old tudor style buildings in the distance, the hotel also had some more modern options for photographic backdrops, including the wall of the Spa we were all desperate to have some time in!!

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

Lythe Hill Hotel

As Lee and I prepared our last shots for the day and Steve & Diane prepared to enter the Garden Room ready for the wedding breakfast, we lamented that we would not be able to stay for the party….especially as my husband was in the band, The 88’s!! Next time!!

Many congratulations Steve and Diane….May you continue your marriage with as much (if not more) laughter & love as which you entered it! It was a pleasure to serve you both.

Diane & Steve

Fiona Mills

Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

After many conversations over the years I have put together a guide on how to choose your wedding photographer. I hope it helps you.

Step 1: Ask A Friend.

It is so easy to tap into Google “your location”+ “Wedding Photographer” and have a zillion hits in under a nano-second, but where do you go from there? Clicking on a few will certainly give you a great starting point, often though, you may find that just doing a shout out amongst your friends will give you a list of personally recommended local photographers that won’t have made it on Google until at least page 5!! As these photographers may have shot their weddings/christenings/family portraits etc, your friends will be able to tell you if they had good, bad or amazing experiences…you may even have walked past and complemented some of these images as you’ve sat in their lounge having a cuppa!

Asking your friends on Facebook will net you a good response.
Asking your friends on Facebook will net you a good response.

Step 2: Stalk Your List (Research)

You’re armed with a handful of potential photographers, your computer and a large coffee (or glass of red!!)…start stalking them. Check out their websites, online portfolios and prices. Is there a style you are seeing that you really like or don’t like? Have you a budget in mind for your wedding photography/videography? Set up a board on Pinterest and start to catalogue the type of things you have liked the look of. Are there a few photographers you’ve come across that you would like to find out more about? create a shortlist of ones to meet.

Check out the online profiles of potential photographers.
Check out the online profiles of potential photographers.

Step 3: Define Your Details

Style: As you have been researching, you may have found a particular photography style that stands out to you, be it formal; black & white; digital vs film; light and airy; quirky etc. Many photographers will display an array of styles in their portfolios as they will be adaptable to the clients needs, but checking out their bio may give you some insight into what their main shooting style is. Again, a portable list of examples like a scrap book, or Pinterest is a great tool to use when you meet potential photographers, but be aware every picture is unique to a set of circumstances: location; people; lighting; time of day; equipment used etc etc so it is very unlikely that a photographer will be recreating those images on your wedding day, rather, they will be using your inspiration to inspire them creatively.

Price: A wedding is made up of so many factors that all come with a price. Some items are administrative (registering your intent to marry) and others are product or labour based (the catering, for example). Some are short term (the flowers & the canapés) and some are long term (the wedding rings and the photographs). It is really important to look at your overall budget and decide how you want to divide it. It wouldn’t necessarily be the wisest choice to blow 50% of your budget on a harpist while you sign the register while leaving 5% for your wedding photographer.

Portioning up Your Wedding Budget
Portioning up Your Wedding Budget

You may find the price of a wedding photographer frighteningly high or shockingly low…myself and a number of photographers I know generally agree that there are 3 main brackets for wedding photography prices: Low; Medium & High.

Low: A photographer who is in the low bracket will usually charge under £500 to shoot your wedding. In my experience, they are usually someone who is just starting out or working to get more experience in their chosen field. They may also be lower in price as they don’t offer the same post production service & finished products than those in a medium-high bracket will.The risk with choosing a photographer from a low price bracket is the potential lack of experience and the use of equipment that isn’t of a professional grade.They may not have the experience of what to do in situations when things go wrong, and may also not have sufficient back up gear. On the other hand, they may be incredibly talented photographers who just need a break and the experience to put their skills to the test. Due to their lack of experience, they may try harder and go above and beyond their duty to really make an impact….and they may be great in a crisis!

Medium: A medium priced photographer should be around the £1000-£2500 price range. This may sound like a lot, but what you are paying for is more than someone for a day. Generally photographers in this bracket are experienced in their field and will have a host of digital and actual portfolios to share with you. The gear they use will be of a high professional grade and they will also be carrying spares! An assistant will usually be on board and this will be part of the cost, and the photographer will spend a considerable amount of time on post production (editing). For me a wedding from planning to finished product usually uses between 50-80 hours of work. You should expect a photographer in this bracket to be fully insured, offer planning and preparation as part of your package and offer a number of options as to how you would like your finished product. E.g:  usb stick/online gallery; wedding albums; wall art; canvasses; prints etc. You may also find these photographers are very aware of the current economic climate , so will be able to guide you in how to cut corners and shave your budget and offer you options that suit your budget. They may also offer budget-tipping extras like: videography; pop-up-studio; engagement/trash the dress shoot; hand made albums etc. Many will also have started their journey to be aligned with a professional photographic association (BIPP/MPA/SWPP etc). If you’re lucky, they’ll be winning awards too and recognised in their field!

High: Those in the high bracket start their fees in excess of £3-5000. A photographer in this field will usually be exceptionally experienced with a standard of finished images and products that lend itself to the high price range. Their equipment will be of an ultra-high level pro grade and assistants on the shoot will come as standard. These photographers will often have developed a style that is unique to them and highly sought after by clients, rather than the med-low brackets who may be more flexible to the clients style needs. They may also have a celebrity following, think Hello / OK magazine wedding photography here!

When: Have you set a date yet for your wedding? It may seem silly, but getting your heart set on a photographer before setting your date could be dangerous! Also, have you through about how long you would like your day captured professionally for? From getting ready? Just the ceremony? First Dance? Finest party moves? You may find the length of coverage is a negotiation between your budget and dream photographer!

Step 4: Meet Your Shortlisted Photographers

This is not just an ideal opportunity for you to meet with a potential photographer, but for them to meet you too. It can be an incredibly emotional time on your wedding day, so it is important to feel comfortable with the person who is likely to be there, taking those intimate photos and walking that emotional journey in close contact with you. Aside from all the practical stuff, you are likely to feel a vibe, or have a gut feeling about the photographer. If your gut says an emphatic “NO” chances are that connection isn’t there. Strike them off your list.
Practically it is important to meet face-to-face, or if that isn’t possible at first, schedule a telephone conversation. Ideally meet with the photographer as a couple, if not, bring someone you trust with you, a family member, friend etc. Check out their portfolios, find out who they are and how they are likely to conduct themselves on your wedding day. Discuss your needs, show examples of what you like and don’t like and see if this is something the photographer gets.

See if your photographer gets your ideas for the day.
See if your photographer gets your ideas for the day.

Are they feeling your day….do they have ideas that could capture the vibe of who you are as a couple? Tell the photographer your dreams. Us photographers love to be creative, you may find we have something up our sleeves that isn’t advertised. Don’t be afraid to talk budgets! It is a real part of the deal that shouldn’t be embarrassing or awkward to bring up. If you’ve done your research you’ll know whether you’ve scheduled a meet with a photographer whose prices start at £1750, when your allotted budget is £750. Do be honest as to what you can and cannot afford, but don’t forget, you wouldn’t pop to TopShop and expect to pay half the ticket price just because it’s not in your budget.
Get a quote. You may get this in person at the meeting, but also get it in writing with details so you can compare and refer back to it when making your decisions. This will likely be emailed or posted to you after the meet. Ask questions. Do they need a deposit? When is completed payment due? How long do the images take? How long does an album take? What is the deal with copyright? What if my Mum wants an image? Who else will be there on the day? Hidden costs? Insured? etc etc. Take notes!! Remember, you should feel at ease with your chosen photographer, if you don’t, it may reflect in the images.

Step 5: Choosing Your Photographer

You’ve done the research, made your budget, set the date, booked your venue and met a bunch of photographers…..so, how do you choose? My first instinct would be to go with your gut, but that isn’t always practical or financially viable.
Break your shortlist down. Get rid of any you didn’t feel any sort of personal connection with, then look at your budget. Are there any on your shortlist that are wildly out of your budget? Unless you can shuffle your finances, maybe they also need to come off your shortlist. You may be left with one or two strong contenders at this point.

There is no hard or fast rule with how to make this final decision. For some, the image “wow factor” may be the deciding vote. For some, the personality of the photographer. For others, it may even be down to the £50 difference on the quote. If it is a small difference in the quotes it may be worth a quick call to your favourite choice to see if £50-£100 can be shaved off somewhere. If you still can’t make your mind up, other than meeting up a second time, you may just need to chat with your fiancé, sleep on it and just go with your gut!!

Good luck!