Don’t put it off
– Depending on the designer, it can take as much as 6 months for your gown to be completed,
so the more time you allow, the more options you will have.
Dress the part
- when visiting a dress-fitter, definitely do wear your best fitting bra – even if it’s black!
Good support is an important part of getting a good fit, and can totally change the way a gown looks on you.
You’ll be stripping down to your underwear, so you might also choose to wear boy-shorts or granny-panties,
so you don’t feel too under-dressed.
If you can, leave off any makeup, especially lipstick, along with rich moisturisers and fake tan lotion,
as these can mark the gowns.
Bring your notes, drawings, magazine cut outs
, and chat with your fitter about your plans.
Include details of your venue and budget, too - there’s not much logic in having an extravagant
white lace train on a damp sandy beach, or gauzy chiffon layers in the midst of a rose garden full of thorns.
The more your fitter knows about your plans, the better they can advise you.
If you already have something you’re set on wearing, such as shoes or jewellery,
or you have a specific colour to match to, bring that with you as a point of reference.
Let your fitter know anything that may impact on your gown choice
- for example, if you’re pregnant,
or have a tattoo that you want to show off or hide. Maybe you’re self-conscious about stretch marks,
or you want to show off your cleavage.
If you’re on a limited budget be honest about your limitations, and keep your eyes on the gowns in your price range.
It’s no fun to fall in love with a gown that you cannot possibly afford.
- make sure you can move around in your dress.
Don't just stand in front of the mirror and see the gown from one angle.
Throw your arms up as if to cuddle Nana, and make sure your boobs stay put!
Sit down, as if signing the register, and check your cleavage.
Imagine getting the skirt in and out of your car. Will that work for you?
Sit as if you're at reception - can you still breathe, and will you be able to continue to do so for another two hours?
Swish and dance like you will on the dance floor and make sure everything is where you want it to be.
If you have limited funds to spend on a gown
- you’re better off buying a less-expensive gown
from a local store than ordering ‘a bargain’ knock-off gown online.
If it arrives and it’s not what you were hoping for, you have no legal right to a refund from an overseas supplier,
and you may not have time [or further funds] to shop around for a second option.
I have yet to hear an online wedding dress success story, but I have met dozens of brides in tears
because their online gown hasn’t arrived in time, or if it has, the photographs were deceptive,
the fabric is cheap and nasty, and the construction is shoddy.
Bring a friend
– someone whose opinion you trust, and you know will be honest with you.
You won’t always get a ‘magical aha moment’ during your initial fitting.
Seeing gowns on models in magazines and in our imagination, is quite different to seeing yourself
in a wedding dress, and it can take a while for your brain to get used to the idea.
It’s easy to add straps to a strapless gown, so ask your fitter to show you some options
– adding a wee cap sleeve or a halter neck strap can really make a difference to the look of the gown,
as well as to your confidence in wearing it.
Plan to go back a second time
– don’t expect to make a definitive decision the first time
you’ve tried something on. It’s far better to think about your options for a few days than to
buy the wrong gown and regret the purchase.
Aim to narrow your options down to a final few dresses during your first visit,
and come back another day to make your final decision.
This is a good time to bring in a second opinion, but remember,
too many opinions can cause confusion and make your decision more difficult.
Off The Rack, Made To Order, or Made To Measure
- Depending on where you find your gown,
you may have the option of buying off the rack, or having a gown made for you.
Generally, for the same style of gown, Off The Rack will be slightly cheaper than Made To Order;
Made To Measure is usually significantly more expensive.
Off The Rack and Made To Order gowns will be in a standard dress size,
which usually means you’ll need a little extra tailoring to get a perfect fit.
Buying Off The Rack means you know exactly what you’re getting, but be aware
that your gown may have been tried on a number of times, and may be in less than perfect condition.
A gown that is Made To Order will be a brand new duplicate of the gown you tried on.
Either way, you’ll usually need to have the hem taken up,
and you may perhaps add or change the straps, or sash, or adjust the length of the train.
If you have a strapless gown, it’s essential to have it tailored to fit perfectly,
so that you don’t spend the day tugging your dress back into position.
All of these alterations will be an additional cost, separate to the purchase price of the gown.
A Made To Measure gown will be made to your specific requirements,
including body measurements and hem length.
You have a lot more flexibility with styling details, and shouldn’t need any ‘after-market’ tailoring
– your dress should arrive ready to wear.
Expect great service
- and don’t settle for anything less!
According to Hollywood, a fitter in a bridal salon will be either horribly snooty or completely clueless,
leaving a bride in tears of humiliation or frustration.
Let’s just get it on the record that the only tears should be happy ones!
Choosing your gown can be hard work, but it should also be a lot of fun.
You should walk away from your gown fitting feeling beautiful, and excited about your plans.
Trust your fitter,
and be willing to try on different styles.
Often it’s the dress that looks nothing much on the hanger that will look stunning on you.
Different styles can make you look taller or shorter, curvier or thinner.
If a dress makes you feel silly, self-conscious, or overshadowed, put it back on the rack.
Your perfect gown will make you feel beautiful.
Your good bits will look great, and it will hide your bad bits. The right dress will do all that, and more!
Different bridal stores will have a different process for fittings
, ordering and delivery.
Some salons charge for fittings by the hour, some charge for each different gown you try on.
If you’re unsure, phone ahead and ask.
At The Wedding Whisperer, we allow for a little over an hour for the first fitting.
You will have exclusive use of the studio during your fitting.
There is a one-time fee of $40, but no limit to the number of gowns you may try on,
and no charge for subsequent visits.
When you purchase a gown from The Wedding Whisperer, a 50% deposit is required to secure your purchase,
with the balance due when you pick up your gown.
We encourage you to choose carefully, as there is no refund for change of mind, for any reason
[though of course we will cheerfully meet our obligations under the Consumer Guarantees act].
This Tips & Tricks page was kindly put together by the one-and-only Wedding Whisperer!
Contact her at
The Wedding Whisperer
Private bridal studio located at 122 Queen Street, Richmond.
Appointments are essential, but weekends, evenings and short notice can often be accommodated.
phone 03 544 0915 or 021 027 04 638