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A match made in Disney: What I learnt from wedding dress shopping

30 Jan 2019

Bride-to-be Catherine Hiley shares her wedding dress shopping experience and the things she learnt along the way

Image: Tom Pumford via Unsplash

Image gallery

Image gallery

My mum and bridesmaids really wanted to come along 

Perhaps this shouldn’t have surprised me, but I was a bit taken aback by just how excited they were about coming with me. And I was very glad to have them with me to reassure me that I looked lovely in everything I tried on.

My friends insisted on making me try on the most poofy thing they could find

Having said that, my friends were determined to get me into the most over-the-top meringue of a dress in the shop. There was no point in arguing. I just smiled, did as they insisted and secretly vowed to do the same to them when they get married.


Image: It looked worryingly like Queen Victoria’s wedding dress, which isn’t exactly the look I want to go for

There were a lot of words I hadn’t heard before

I like to think I’m a reasonably articulate adult, but it turns out there’s a whole dictionary of bridal terms I’d never heard before. Teardrop bouquets, Queen Anne necklines and illusion backs were just a few of the things I had to Google when I got home.

You’ll stop feeling self-conscious pretty quickly

I’m fairly shy by nature and the thought of everyone staring at me in a dress I absolutely can’t hide in is almost enough to make me want to elope. But once I’d tried on the first couple, I felt much more comfortable getting in and out of different dresses with the help of the shop assistant and bridesmaids, all of whom had definitely seem me in my underwear by this point.

It’s good to try on lots of different styles

I went into the shop with a very clear idea of what I wanted: a practical dress that would allow me to wear a normal bra and pee without help from my bridesmaids. But after trying on lots of different dresses, I realised that backless ball gowns are much more my thing.


Image: I’d never have tried on one like this but I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would

I was glad someone thought to take photos for me to refer back to

My mum had the bright idea of taking snaps of each dress from every angle so we could look over them later and it was really helpful. After all, I’d tried on so many dresses by the end of the shopping trip, I couldn’t remember them all.

I found it surprisingly difficult not to ask my fiance’s opinion

It goes without saying that I’m an independent woman who’s perfectly capable of making a decision without the help of a man. But having said that, I do value my fiance’s opinion and it’s really annoying that I can’t show him the photos because it’s bad luck. Not least because I’m fairly convinced that it was a man who made up this superstition to get out of the painstaking task of wedding dress shopping. 

Most wedding dresses look beautiful

After trying on God knows how many wedding dresses and pouring over the photos for hours, I realised that actually all of them (with the possible exception of the Queen Victoria monstrosity) looked lovely. So, while it’s important to get a dress I’m happy with, it’s certainly not worth stressing over.


Find out if I found the one in a future blog post and stay tuned to hear more about my wedding planning journey. 

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