Wedding - Dress Shopping

September 10, 2014

With the venue and date set, I couldn't wait to start wedding dress shopping! Back in the summer of 2012, a whole 2 years before our wedding I started visiting boutiques with my Mum and bridesmaids. Everywhere I went told me the same thing, that it would be a risk to buy something now in case I changed my mind in a year's time. But I know that when I find and like something, I stick with it. I wanted to be super organised as I knew I'd be busy with my law degree the following year and wanted everything to be stress free. Also I wanted an insurance of extra time in case I couldn't find anything I liked that season I still had a chance to look again next summer.

I didn't really have a clue about what style of dress I wanted and didn't really know much about any designers, I'd heard of girls going crazy for Vera Wang and Jenny Packham but all I cared about was the dress itself rather than buying a dress for the sake of a designer name. I started off in Brides of Berkhamsted and instantly fell in love with Julie and Lucy, the mother and daughter team that run it, they couldn't have been more lovely and pulled out a range of gorgeous dresses for me to try on. The shop was like you picture a bridal boutique to be like, it even had a stage and chairs for the spectators! I tried on such a mix of styles, some I instantly hated, others I liked parts of but from the very beginning I realised that I really loved Lyn Ashworth's dresses which were all couture and handmade in England. She had a few that had a mixture of a bit of lace, a bit of vintage sparkle, an organza skirt, buttons down the back and a big bow. I shortlisted a couple of those. My Mum and Carolyn, one of my bridesmaids, both cried when I walked out in Helena, which is the one I ended up buying! We had lots of fun looking at shoes and veils, I felt like I was in a movie it was so magical trying on such beautiful dresses unlike anything I've ever worn before in such a gorgeous shop. I think it suddenly felt real that I was engaged and a real life Bride!

We went away and decided that I'd need to go and visit a few more boutiques and try lots more dresses on before I made any decisions. So we went to three boutiques in St Albans, Satin Bow Bridal, The Bride and Perfection Bridal. I again tried on a real range of dresses from full lace fishtail fitted gowns to A-line and everything in between. I kept an open mind but ended up comparing each dress back to Lyn Ashworth's Helena. One thing I did pick up is that I loved a sweetheart neckline which Helena didn't have, this is something that I had altered when I eventually did order my dress.

After a couple of weeks of thinking and a couple more trips back to Brides of Berkhamsted to try Lyn Ashworth's range again, I decided on Helena. I loved everything about her and as cliche as it sounds, I knew she was the one.  The dress is from Lyn Ashworth's classic collection by Sarah Barrett, it's described as a collection inspired when walking in endless beautiful English countryside.
Yard upon yard of silk dupion, organza, satin and the finest lace creates something of natural beauty, so romantic they take your breath away. All gowns are designed and made on the Duchy of Lancaster Estate surrounded by beautiful countryside. All of Sarah's gowns are manufactured on a made to order basis with love and precision using the most beautifully crafted fabrics from around the world and where possible, locally sourced. The signature Lyn Ashworth by Sarah Barrett dress is Romance with a capital 'R".

I loved the whole experience at Brides of Berkhamsted including going for all of my fittings which meant I got to try the whole thing on again. Picking up the dress before the wedding was bittersweet, Lucy told us to bring a duvet cover which would keep it protected for transporting her and away from prying eyes which was good fun getting in the back of my Dad's car. I was so excited to wear the dress and get married but equally I was sad for it all to nearly be over.. is that weird? Lucy and Julie couldn't have been more lovely and I'm sad not to be one of their bride to be's anymore!

Tips for wedding dress shopping:
- Visit at least three bridal shops with an open mind and try as many dresses on as you can. Dresses can look very different when tried on compared to on the hanger.
- If you have a budget, tell the shop as soon as you go in so that you won't fall in love with something out of your price range. 
- Wear good underwear, a nude strapless bra and good knickers - you'll be getting undressed in front of people a lot. 
- Don't rush in to shoes, a veil or accessories. You'll have lots of fittings later on to decide on these bits.
- If you find a dress you love and you know you won't change your mind later on, order it, Brides of Berkhamsted stopped stocking Lyn Ashworth a few months after I ordered mine and Lyn's style has changed completely now into a more modern fusion line by Sarah Bennet. 
- Take a friend or your Mum with you, second opinions count for a lot.
- Make sure you're completely head over heels in love with your dress and how it makes you feel when you wear it. It's one of the most important purchases you'll ever make. 

Helena, my wedding dress, had a fitted lace bodice, scalloped at the edges with a slight sweetheart dip in the neckline. The bodice flowed down past my waist to an organza skirt with buttons at the back. My favourite part though was the belt which tied around the waist making a beautiful big satin bow at the back and a sparkly vintage crystals at the front. I loved her so so much! 

I've chosen a few of my favourite photos from our photographer, Binky Nixon, that best show the dress, if you'd like to see:

A swishy skirt, lace, a big bow, sparkle and buttons. What more could a girl want?

R <3 xx

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  1. My husband and I had a particular vision for our wedding, and we were struggling to find the right venue, until we came across Chicago Wedding Venues. I liked this venue, the manager and his team are second to none.


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