What to think about before you start shopping for gowns:

Your wedding personality. 

What is it that visualize when you think about your wedding.  Is it flowers and pink hues, elegant evening affair, a beach day with bare feet or a classic church wedding.  Read our article on determining your wedding personality.

Think about your budget. 

Do some research on what you get for your money and make sure that your limit will allow you to have the freedom to choose what you want.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to have champagne taste on a shoestring budget.  So be realistic about what your budget can get and find the best stores that cater to that budget.

Weather. 

Think about the weather at the time of day or location for your wedding.  While sleeves are not seen a modern weddings you can accessorise for a winter wedding with fur or feather wraps and stockings.  If you are getting married in the middle of summer in Rarotonga then a full satin gown with a cathedral train will probably see you fainting!  

Body type.

Probably the most important thing to be aware of.  Being open to listen and test out different shapes on your figure.  Our expertise lies in helping you determine that right shape for you.  Once you have that shape you can think about the styling and embellishment for your gown.  See our handing body type guide, but remember it is no substitute for trying gowns on. Read our Body shape article...

Time frame. 

Often a surprise to brides is how long it can take to have a gown made.  Depending on the designer the time can be anywhere from three to six months.  Maggie Sottero take the longest because of the intricate nature of the beading and designs.

Eliminate what you don’t like.  Often the first times of trying on gowns are more about what you don’t like rather than what you do.  But taking some styles out of the running helps when you are looking at magazines, as you can now flick past something you know won’t suit.

Saturdays – Saturday’s are extremely busy in bridal stores, so if you do have the opportunity and means then it is a much more personal experience to come during the week.  If not then be prepared to share the space with others and their entourage.

Who to bring.

Think carefully about who you bring with you.  Never more than three at a time, any more opinions and no decision will be made.  Have a meeting with them before and share with them your wedding vision.  Make sure they are people who are positive about you, and are going to help you find what you are looking for.  We often hear comments like, “well I wouldn’t wear it – what they would wear is irrelevant – it is about you and your wedding”.  If you have a particularly tricky person that you know can be critical but you feel you have to involve them, let your consultant know.  They should be able to help handle this situation. Read our article on who to bring.

Do your homework

Find out information about the stores you are visiting. 
Look for reviews and customer testimonials.  Research their size ranges and price points.  There is no point trying on gowns that you can’t afford.  If you are a plus size bride (over size 18) ask if they have samples available for you to try on.

Be Prepared to Listen and Talk

It can be quite difficult to think of your consultant as more than just someone that wants to sell you a dress.  They do want to do that, but motivated by wanting you to get you to look your best and achieve the style of gown you desire.  So make sure you talk to them openly about what you like and don’t like about gowns – don’t spare their feelings!  Also listen to the advice they have to offer.  If you chose a long established salon to partner with then you know they are going to have a great level of expertise in what they are doing.

Be Prepared toEnjoy the experience

Often the first visit to a salon can be nerve wracking for some brides.  But remember this is a real fun part of the wedding where you can unashamedly make it all about you.  Flounce around in some gowns and relax in to the whole experience.

Think about your backdrop

Most brides have booked their venue before they start looking for the gown.  So take some time to get a visual image (or bring a picture with you) of what your location is like and put yourself in the picture. Check out our location article.

Peruse the mags

Grab some magazines and have a look at all the gowns.  Create a scrapbook of pictures that you like.  Think about why you like the picture – is it the shape, the fabric, the overall personality projected by the picture.  Don’t get too fixated on one gown until you have tried some on though.  It may not suit your body shape at all.

Think about service

A gown is not just a garment, it is an experience and crucial part of your wedding.  Make sure you completely trust you salon – ask them for references from other brides.  They may have your dream gown, but if they get the order wrong or don’t use trusted designers, it can quickly turn to your nightmare gown.

Don’t buy off the internet

Unless you are truly on a tight budget.  Not a single reputable designer supports the sale of their gowns on the internet.  They are either fakes (which typically are poorly constructed using inferior materials) or they are parallel imported.  Whilst parallel imports are legal in New Zealand the supply breaches the designer’s agreement with its stores.  If found to be trans-shipping (where one store orders and supplies someone overseas who then sells to you) behind the designers back the originating store is cut off from supply – do you want to risk being the order that falls on the wrong side of the cutoff.  People that produce fake gowns are stealing, they steal the ideas, the construction techniques and then the photographs to advertise the gowns.  Would you buy a stolen car – so don’t support the theft of intellectual property.  Maggie Sottero have told us that to design and body test a gown takes at least six months and multiple remakes to get it right before it goes anywhere near photography and production.  Buy your gown from an authorized stockist listed on the designers web site.  There is lots of literature about internet purchase horror stories, here are a couple of links.  But we don’t need to read them as we have enough of our own when we are asked to fix gowns which have arrived in very poor condition.  Trademe works very closely with Astra Briadl to monitor gowns listed on trademe.  They trust us to advise them on the legitimacy of claims made and keep the trademe community safe.  They would like to eliminate the sale of all fake items from trademe as by supporting the sale of authentic items they know they can protect their bidders no matter what the item is.