Tags: Blogs Cheshire

A decade in the making: Saying YES to the dress

06 Mar 2019

Alicia Dunning has said 'yes' to the dress and here, she shares her journey to finding the one

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Image gallery

I think there are two types of brides when it comes to wedding dress shopping: those who are super excited and think it’s the best part of wedding planning and those who feel the complete opposite and dread it. I was the latter.

If you’ve read my blog last month you’ll know that I’ve been shredding for the wedding, so I had been putting off dress shopping until I had lost enough weight to be confident that I knew my shape and what would suit me. With seven months to go to the wedding, I decided it was time to take the plunge.

I picked a day to go and arranged it with my mum and three of the bridesmaids and made appointments at two bridal shops in Warrington. The first was a high-end exclusive shop which stocked a limited number of designers including Pronovias, Jesus Perio and Studio St Patrick and the second was a much larger stockist with lots of different designers including Sophia Tolli, White Rose and Ronald Joyce. I’d heard of some of the designers from friends who have married in the last couple of years but I wasn’t too bothered about who designed my dress...the fit and style were key for me.

When we arrived at the first shop my nerves were written all over my face. I knew that a lot of these designers are Spanish and Italian and the sample dress sizes are very small so I was worried that nothing would fit, but I needn’t have worried at all.

In both shops the women who served us were absolutely amazing in being able to fit you into any dress. If it didn’t close at the back it didn’t matter, they would use clamps and ribbons to pull it together so that from the front it looked exactly as it should. I tried on the first dress and liked it straight away; this was an ivory Pronovias gown with lots of detail but no ‘bling’ which is exactly what I’d asked for. I loved the neckline and bust but felt it wasn’t quite right as I wasn’t sold on the arms, but the fact that I had liked the first dress I tried on really filled me with confidence that I might actually find my dream dress.

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I tried on a few more dresses in the first shop but none matched up to the first dress. I tried a dress which has a princess skirt and hadn’t even made it out of the changing room before all of the bridesmaids simultaneously said “NO”. It’s definitely important to take an entourage who will be honest with you. I didn’t find the one in the first shop but I was a lot more optimistic about my chances now.

The second shop we went to was Wife To Be which has a few shops across the region but the Warrington branch is the largest. The collection was amazing, if not a little overwhelming at first. We were given free rein to look through all of the dresses and told to turn any to the front that we liked and felt I should try on.

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Babs, who was helping us to find the dress, was great at encouraging me to try lots of different styles. I’d said that a strapless dress was definitely off the cards but she encouraged me to try it on anyway because it’s better to try it and know it’s not the one than to assume and question yourself later. I tried strapless, it was a definite no but at least I know that in my mind for certain now.

I must have tried on more than 10 dresses in Wife To Be and there were so many we all loved. Every time Babs pulled back the curtain the girls would all smile and say “Awwwh”, which definitely didn’t help in narrowing down the choices. I was torn between two dresses, one with sleeves and one without. The shapes of the dresses were very similar because we’d narrowed down exactly the shape and fit I wanted by this point, still it was hard to choose.

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Then Babs went and grabbed another dress, none of us had seen it or turned it around to try but she said she had a feeling I’d like it. The second it was on I knew it was the one, it was perfect. I’m not an overly emotional person but even I cried when I looked in the mirror. The fit, style, detail, everything on the dress was perfect and I loved how I looked and felt in it – of course, it was nothing like I had thought I wanted. I went out that morning describing the Pronovias gown as the dream dress and came away with something completely different. But - as they say - when you know, you know.

I won’t give any details away now, as I want to keep it a surprise for the day but it’s only seven months away so not long to wait.

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Here are my top tops for dress shopping:

  • It’s unlikely you’ll know exactly the dress you want when you first start looking but it’s good to have a list ready of things you definitely don’t like so that you don’t waste your time trying on the wrong dresses
  • In saying that, it’s also important to try on lots of styles and shapes. Like me with the strapless dress, I was fairly certain I wouldn’t want one but I tried it anyway and now there’s no doubt in my mind
  • Take an honest entourage, even though you can see the dress in the mirror they will see it from angles you can’t and you need them to be honest with you so you have no doubts
  • Don’t be nervous – easy for me to say now that I’ve found mine, and I was a nervous wreck in the first shop but the staff will help you into any dress you like so you don’t need to be worried about the sizes of the sample dresses
  • Try not to get too overwhelmed. Wife To Be were great for helping with this; I tried loads on initially and narrowed them down as we went along so that I only had a couple to re-try at the end. It made picking the right one seem so obvious and made me much more confident in my choice too.

Next month I talk about the importance of the details when it comes to your wedding set-up. Stay tuned...

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