It’s an ailment that all but the most style-confident of brides falls victim to: thinking you’ve chosen the wrong gown. Symptoms range from sleepless nights imagining yourself looking like Miss Havisham to frenzied last minute online searches, and before you know it you’ve got a full-blown case of the wedding dress wobbles. It’s no wonder that it’s such a common problem – you’re putting pressure on yourself to choose the perfect dress, often months before you’re even planning to wear it. Thankfully, we know how to cure the main causes of gown meltdowns, so read on and be prepared to fall back in love with your dress.
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The wobble: I’ve fallen for another frock.
The wisdom: You’re typing “wedding” into Pinterest and the first search suggestion that comes up is “wedding dresses”. You’ve already ordered yours, but what’s the harm in having a quick peek? Two hours later, you’ve decided that your dress can’t be The One after all, because here is The One, sitting on your screen, looking back at you, mocking you, taunting you with all its loveliness, and the phrase “non-refundable deposit” is going round and round in your head. And breathe.
In this scenario, prevention really is better than cure. Once you’ve put down that deposit, you need to stop looking at dresses. We know it’s tempting, but with so much choice out there, it’s highly likely something will eventually catch your eye and make you question your decision. You don’t need the extra stress. If it’s already too late and you’ve fallen head over heels? Remember, you haven’t tried this new gown on. You chose your original dress based on how it looked on you, and how it made you feel.
The wobble: I’ve just had a fitting, and when I saw myself in the mirror, I felt… meh.
The wisdom: A fitting is a bit like a dress rehearsal – there’s none of the on-the-day excitement and no large audience to show their appreciation, so feeling a little flat afterwards is a natural response. To make sure an uninspiring fitting doesn’t derail your dress dreams, consider having your hair and make-up trial on the same day, and bring key accessories like your shoes, veil and jewellery to get more of an idea of how it’ll all work together. If you’ve simply walked off the street into the shop in minimal make-up and your hair in its day-to-day style, you won’t feel like a bride. Don’t take pictures of yourself if that’s the case, as you may end up obsessing over them and convince yourself you need a different frock. Instead, take close-ups of the gorgeous lace or button-details down the back to remind yourself what made it so special. It’s also worth remembering that at your first fitting the dress may not fit in all the right places yet. Be sure to channel your inner diva and ask for as many alterations as it takes for you to feel aisle-ready.
The wobble: I didn’t think about the practicalities when I ordered my very fitted fishtail gown – now I’m worried I won’t be able to sit down, let alone dance. And I don’t even want to think about how I’ll manage any bathroom breaks…
The wisdom: Some styles do come with their own particular challenges. However, you’re certainly not the first bride to have encountered these, and there are always solutions. For starters, explain your concerns to your boutique, as they may be able to recommend alterations that will make movement easier. Practice makes perfect: spend some time moving around in your dress, including walking up and down stairs, and sitting down, until you feel comfortable. If your gorgeous gown is fitted far down your leg, you may need to unlace the whole thing when you’re answering the call of nature. Not a problem: simply nominate one of your maids (or your mum) “lady of the chamber”, to help you get in and out of it with ease. If you’re something of a dancing queen, consider buying an alternative evening dress – plenty of brides do it.
The wobble: My friend Googled my dress, and I can tell she secretly thinks it’s awful.
The wisdom: It’s always exciting when you make your dress decision, and the temptation to share that with others and reveal your choice can be very hard to resist. But please don’t. Your friends and family will have different tastes from you, and if their reaction is less than you hoped for, it can seriously affect how you feel about your frock. You don’t actually need any further opinions now. Most importantly, if your nearest and dearest have only seen shots of models, they won’t understand how the dress looks on you. Keep your gown strictly under wraps – and if anyone pesters for a preview, simply say it’s important to you to keep it a secret until the big day.
What if it’s more than a wobble?
Still experiencing serious dress disappointment? If you weren’t entirely happy with your choice in the first place – if you felt under pressure from your mum or bridesmaids to say yes to a good-but-not-you dress, or you rushed into a decision – a change of frock might be the best solution.
Here’s what you need to consider:
- Take a look at your contract with the boutique where you bought it, to find out what your options and obligations are. A full refund is highly unlikely, but you may be offered partial store credit.
- Contact the shop to discuss the situation – it won’t be the first time they’ve dealt with this. It’s worth asking whether there are any radical alterations they can make to bring the dress closer to what you want.
- Remember, you’d need to order a replacement six to eight months before the big day. If you’re short on time, look to the high street – there are some great collections out there: brands to explore include Monsoon, Coast, Phase Eight, Self-Portrait, Asos, Ted Baker, Needle & Thread and H&M Conscious. And if it’s a real last-minute wobble, there’s always Net-a-Porter and The Outnet who deliver the very same day!
- If the dress has already arrived, you may be able to make some of the price tag back by selling it on a site such as Preloved.