Our guide to finding your perfect wedding dress [Timeline]

From Pinterest boards to final alterations, here’s Scottish Wedding Directory’s guide to finding your perfect wedding dress.

Guide wedding dress


~ J U S T  E N G A G E D ~

Your first job is to find dresses you like. Whether you’ve got a stack of dog-eared wedding magazines or several Pinterest boards full of inspiration, chances are you’ve seen a wedding dress (or a dozen) that tickle your fancy.

The time of year you’re tying the knot and the theme of your wedding might dictate what kind of dress you’re in the market for, while personal taste will help you navigate between sparkles, embellishments and simpler styles.

While dress shopping isn’t an exact science, most boutiques agree that there is such a thing as too much wistful browsing.

~ O N E  Y E A R  B E F O R E ~ 

guide wedding dress


We recommend starting the hunt for your dress between nine months and a year before the wedding. If you hit the shops too early, your tastes might change or you may be forced into being fitted for your dress too soon. If you’ve got less than six months, some boutiques will take rush orders “ however, be warned, you might be encouraged to choose something off the rack and have it altered instead.

When it’s time to start seriously shopping, look at boutiques that are closest to you. Most will offer a list of the designers they carry online, letting you decide whether they’re a good fit for your style and price range. While most boutiques can pin and clip sample dresses in place when you try them on, if sizing is a concern, call ahead to see if they carry samples in your size.

Shops encourage you to make appointments in advance “ in fact, some are appointment-only, especially at peak times like weekends. For high-end boutiques, it’s not uncommon to pay an appointment fee (usually around £25), which is either refundable on attendance or redeemable against purchase.

When it comes to trying on dresses, you should dress the part. That means appropriate underwear (always nude and usually strapless!) but you could also style your hair or do your make-up to complete the look.

Whether you decide on the spot or take some time to mull it over, the success of your dress-shopping mission is largely dependent on who you bring with you. You may have plenty of loved ones who want to come along, but keep your initial party small. You don’t want a Britain’s Got Talent judging panel when you’re shopping for your wedding dress!


If you find yourself thinking “I like this, but¦” every time you try on a dress, you should consider going down the made-to-measure route. It might sound like a pricey route to take but it’s possible to have a gown made without exceeding the price of the average wedding dress.

You can go to a dress designer with an idea of what you’d like in mind, but if you’re not too sure, they’ll be able to sketch a few different options for you based on your likes and dislikes. Then you’ll have a dress that’ll not only flatter your figure better than anything you’ve owned, but you can be certain that no other bride is wearing one similar.



IMAGE | Jenni Browne Photography

Once you’ve chosen the dress, you’ll be expected to pay a deposit – depending on the boutique, this is usually 25-50% of the total cost of the gown. You’ll either have your measurements taken there and then or arrange to come back and have them done at a later date. Before you sign on the dotted line, ask about the cost of altering your dress.

Once your dress arrives in store, normally between four and six months after you’ve placed your order, you’ll have a better idea of any additional altering that needs done. Whenever you’re having measurements taken, remember to take along the shoes and underwear you’ll be wearing on the day.

Be careful of attending fittings too early “ around two months is standard for your first fitting “ and your final fitting will usually take place between two weeks and a month before your big day.


~ A F T E R  T H E  D A Y ~

After the wedding, when it comes to the fate of the dress, most brides are at a loss. Wedding dresses tend to be a one-trick fashion pony so, unless you’ve chosen an unusual or understated gown, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to restyle it. But, before you resign your dress to its fate of taking up too much space in the back of your wardrobe, consider your options.

You could donate your dress to charity. Selected branches of Oxfam have their own dedicated bridal units. Their donations come from a combination of bridal designers’ samples and former brides’ dresses.

If you’re big on sentimental value, you could opt to have part of your wedding dress made into something else “ for instance, UK-based LoveKeepCreate can make part of your dress into a blanket or soft toy.

“Many brides can’t bear to sell their wedding dress but won’t wear it again, so it just ends up in the back of a wardrobe unseen,” explains company co-founder Merry. “This means they can see their dress daily.” The fabric from the groom’s waistcoat could even be used to create a ˜his and hers’ set!

Plenty of brides hang on to their dress and that’s fine “ however you’ll need to store it properly to ensure it stays clean. Johnson Cleaners offer specialist bridal services where they’ll whisk your dress away after the big day, give it a dry clean and return it to your door in a presentation box that’s perfect for stowing away.

Alternatively, once you’ve completed your mission, you could make like a real secret agent and ˜destroy’ the evidence with a ˜trash the dress’ or ˜rock the frock’ shoot. This involves taking your dress on a post-wedding adventure to be photographed in it one last time. A common approach for brides is to wade into the water while wearing their dress but, really, the world is your oyster!


Need more wedding dress inspiration? We’ve got loads of articles to help you out!