I was told the worst thing you could do when buying your once in a lifetime dress is to wonder into a backstreet factory outlet shop on your own, try on a dress ‘off the rack’ have the teenage assistants tell you it’s great, so buy it there and then knowing its non refundable, bundle it into the passenger seat of your car and leave.
So that’s exactly what I did, let’s get that out the way first to save any embarrassment later. A lot of people ask where I got my dress from and expected tales of modelling lots for my mum and bridesmaids and having them clap with delight and burst into tears at ‘the one’. This special selection process then followed by numerous fittings with a seamstress making sure it fit to every inch of my body and carefully tying up the back to suck it any last wobbly bits that hadn’t shifted through the last 3 months of hardcore diets.
This all sounds perfect and to be honest it’s what I’d always imagined too. The reality is, I’m a sucker for a bargain and I have no patience!
So the real story goes more along the lines of, I heard about a factory outlet store only 15 minutes from me selling designer dresses for a tiny percentage of they’re worth. It sounded great so that Saturday I told my fiance I was just going to check it out, I went on my own as if I’m honest, I expected it to sell ugly or visibly used dresses so I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.
Well, I walked in and my gosh it was the feeling for a child walking into Disneyland, it was incredible. My eyes couldn’t get enough of it. Rails on rails of beautiful designer gowns. There was one other woman browsing and I just completely froze at the door in utter excitement at being able to look through, touch and try on these dresses. A very helpful assistant came over and asked my dress size, she then directed me to an entire wall of dresses made to fit me and told me to attach a little clip to the hanger of any dress I liked and they would help me try it on. I very slowly approached the rails, I wanted to just dive in and feel the silk, lace and gems all over me but figured that might attract some funny looks. I carefully started examining each dress whilst putting on a show of being calm and collected. They were all beautiful. I knew what I wanted, it had to be princess style, or at least have a big skirt. I have never been too fond of lace or fitted silhouette style dresses, I think they look so elegant but for me elegant was for my fiance’s end of year ball. My wedding required 100% princess and nothing held back.
I attached my clips to 5 dresses. All had big skirts with some detailing to the bodice.
I tried on the first one and then stood on a little podium to get a 360 view. I couldn’t believe it was me. I felt like a celebrity on the red carpet. It curved around my bust with a little jewelled neck line, sucked in tiny at the waist with the top layer of silk wrapping around my waist before loosening into a full skirt of shimmering flawless satin. I had never felt this way before, I kept tilting and turning my hips to look at different angles. It was perfect. I was then told it was a very popular Mori Lee dress and wouldn’t be around long. It had a retail price of over £1000 and the shop had it for sale at £500. I tried to be logical, I tried to tell myself not to be impulsive, honestly I tried.
I phoned my mum (still standing on the podium staring at my reflection) but she was half an hour away and knee-deep in mud from gardening. I didn’t want to mix that with my current world of clean shiny satin and tiny glass pearls.
I now had 4 teenage assistants around me. 1 told me she has never seen a dress fit a woman so well without adjustments. They felt like my best friends back in high school, all talking to me like they cared about me, all saying I had to wear this dress for my wedding, they were the experts, who was I to argue with what they do for a living?
Trying to check in with that tiny glimpse of logic still in there somewhere I reminded myself that it was their job to sell me a dress, but it all felt so genuine. I don’t regret buying the dress, it was beautiful and fitted me perfectly.
But I do have one regret and that’s my reason for writing this post, I want to prevent you from feeling this way after your wedding.
You’ll (more than likely) only ever buy one wedding dress, so if you were the little girl that I was that ran around with a pillowcase on your head as a veil and your mum’s prettiest heeled shoes, then don’t rush this once in a lifetime shopping trip. Don’t let everything be a checklist, another tick in a box that will never need ticking again. Visit as many different bridal shops as you can, enjoy the special treatment, try on as many dresses as you can and then when you’ve enjoyed the whole dress buying experience, you won’t regret buying ‘the one’. Whether it was a bargain find on eBay, or a specially made gown just for you!
Happy Wedding Planning!
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