Michelle Heffernan reports
Shopping for your wedding dress can be both a dream and a nightmare all in one. With styles, shapes ,theme and budget to consider many brides can find the process difficult to navigate. The Munster Express spoke to the expert Bridal Consultant Liz O’Mahony of Sabella Bridal, Waterford on everything to consider before saying yes to a dress
How do I begin to look for a dress?
When shopping for a dress, Liz says there are “three main things to consider- the fit of the dress you want, the budget, then how you feel in the dress. “All are equally important. In order to get a feel for what you like before visiting boutiques, Liz recommends going online, particularly to image search engines like Pinterest or wedding forums and groups. The “Help on Getting Married” page on Facebook is used by many brides” says Liz. The page is solely for persons getting married, not shops or business owners and so offers fantastic, honest advice on all things wedding related.

How do I know what styles will suit me?

“You can wear whatever style you want as long as you’re happy with it” says Liz. I don’t agree with the old rules of “if you’re busty wear this style, if you’re thin and tall wear this” When you try on different styles you’ll be able to see what works well for you.” While Liz acknowledges that “different shapes work well for different body types”, she reminds brides that an experienced seamstress can work on a dress to deliver what the bride wants. “Your seamstress is as important as the dress”, Liz underlines; indeed Sabella Bridal has an in house seamstress with over 25 years of experience in dress alterations.
In terms of sticking to style guidelines, Liz also advises brides to try dresses outside of their comfort zone. In the first appointment I’ll ask the bride to have a look and get a feel for what she wants” says Liz, but nine times out of 10 what they don’t want is what they go for”.
If they say “I don’t want a strapless sweetheart satin ball-gown, then I’ll tell them to try it” says Liz. “What you’re attracted to on models, in the media etc isn’t necessarily what’s going to be good on you” she adds. Trying on dresses is the best way to understand what you like, what fits you well and narrow down what you’re looking for.



How much do I spend and how do I get value for money?
According to Liz, the typical spend on dress in recent years has been €1500; however each bride will have different price points. Liz advises brides to “aim to stick within your budget” for dress and alterations, and keep cost of bridesmaids dresses, belt/sash, veil and accessories in mind. “Look out for “trunk shows” too advises Liz. A trunk show occurs when a boutique showcases all the dresses in a single designer’s collection over one weekend, with discounts offered on whole collection. Usually boutiques order only about 10 dresses from a single designer’s line. In a trunk sale the designer will send the boutique her entire collection, so the bride will see 50 dresses rather than ten. Not all bridal stores do trunk shows and anyone interested will have to book an appointment in advance to attend. “You’ll get a much greater choice of dresses” Liz explains. Sabella Bridal will hold a trunk show for designer Willow by Watters from May 18th to the 20th.

When do I book an appointment and what do I bring?

While this will vary for each bride Liz reckons that shopping a year ahead of your date is best, as if you look too far ahead of time “you run the risk of a dress being discontinued”. A designer may opt to discontinue a dress from one collection to the next and will usually give about six months warning of this. This means if you see a dress now and don’t order it, it may not be there again in January of next year. Keep an eye on your favourite dress and pay the deposit for it to be ordered in good time. When booking appointments “call a few weeks in advance” says Liz to optimise your chance of getting the date and time you want, especially if you’re looking for a Saturday as these are hardest to book. Bring along “any accessories you definitely want to wear” Liz advises, but nothing else is really needed. While Liz would: “never turn anyone away from a bridal appointment” she advises against bringing a large entourage dress shopping; “I find girls that bring a large entourage almost always come back alone or with fewer people to retry dresses…It’s great to have a good opinion, but it can be hard to know if you liked the dress or you liked their reaction to it”. Lastly she warns against wearing false tan or bronzing makeup that can leave marks on dresses and cautions mothers to rethink bringing kids to a bridal store. With many pins, needles and valuables on site, “it’s not a place for children” says Liz.
Will I just know which dress is the one?
“No- definitely not.” says Liz. “I actually feel bad for some girls when they come in- they’ve gotten engaged, very excited. Other girls say “you’ll try it on and you’ll know” It’s a lot of pressure” .Indeed with so much choice available and so many sizes varying, it’s often very difficult for a bride to feel 100% certain about a dress. “Some girls do step into a dress and know it’s a contender, but not that many have that moment. There’s so much choice, you’ll often come down to two to three dresses. Go back around on one day to all dresses and then whittle it down.” Lastly, Liz notes that sometimes, putting on a veil can make a bride change her mind about a dress “There is nothing like putting a veil on to bring on tears.” Liz adds. “A veil on can make you see the dress differently” (www.sabellabridal.com)