Charlie Byrne | Fashion Editor | Tuesday, 21 April 2015

\\\\\\\'Wedding Dress Shopping Is Shit\\\\\\\' Calling Bullshit On The Magic Of Bridal Appointments

'Wedding Dress Shopping Is Shit' Calling Bullshit On The Magic Of Bridal Appointments

The Debrief: Forget what you thought it would be like, it's a lot less exciting, with a lot less champagne

We’re all guilty of watching the odd bit of Don’t Tell The Bride every now and again. Before you know it, you’re three back-to-back episodes in, and you’re screaming ‘What is she doing?!’ at the TV because a bride has picked a dodgy dress and is now jumping up and down on a podium like she’s just won a Nobel Peace Prize. She’s living the dream, right there, in her duvet sized dress. 

TV consistently paints wedding dress shopping to be a dreamlike sequence, like the blurry bit in a rom-com, where you’re buttoned into ‘THE ONE’ and all of a sudden your entire body is better than Rosie HW’s and you can’t stop smiling because you’re just that damn beautiful now. TV brides drink about three bottles of champagne, have harems of helpful friends who gaze adoringly at them, spoon feeding compliments in between gulps of bubbles, and the dress comes in under budget, fits perfectly and they all go home happily ever after. 

This, my friends, is bollocks. I am yet to find an IRL person who has an experience that comes close to this. If you have one, please share it, because I’d like to rekindle a little of the faith I had in the magic of wedding dress shopping before I actually had to do it. 

Don't Expect Alcohol

My first gripe? Not a single glass of champagne. Seriously, I hardly drink, but even I was mystified that I kept going to appointment after appointment, and not a single drop of cava, prosecco, or even some bloody fizzy orange ever actually appeared. The champagne is a myth, guys. Sorry. And I went to some pretty classy joints. Or at least I thought they were. But one place made me take off my shoes as soon as I arrived, to protect their white carpet, and some of the other’s charged £30 just to come in and have a look around. This is actually pretty standard, if you go to the swishy boutiques. 

READ MORE: Why We're Unashamedly Watching Bad Bridesmaid 

Pictures Are NOT Allowed

Also, that idea that you will be able to take snaps so that you can cherish every moment of your dress hunt with your mum and mates, and keep a record of which ones look good? Yeah, forget that. Most dress shops treat an iPhone like Satan’s spawn. They’re so freaked out that you’re going to photograph their dress then go somewhere else to have a cheap seamstress knock one up, and they will practically yank any phone out of your hand and burn it. My memories are recorded in the form of hazy white blurs, where my mum tried to take pics behind the shop assistant’s back and epically failed. ‘I had to appoint one bridesmaid whose job it was to sneak pics of me wearing each dress,’ says my friend Steph, ‘because otherwise I would have had no record of what I had tried on, and it was so confusing.’

You Might Not Cry!

I think part of the problem is the build-up behind shopping for your wedding dress. Many of us have thought about it casually for years, instinctively sketched a rough outline in our heads of what we might like, or at least how it might make us feel. When I stepped out of the changing room wearing the first ever wedding dress I’d ever tried on, I was met with a grimace from two of my bridesmaids and my mum. That moment has now been immortalised with the sentence: ‘Eurgh, you look like Miss Havisham.’ There were no tears. There was no moving moment where my loved ones were overcome with my beauty. They thought I looked like a withering spinster. Brilliant. 

And Yet You Might Feel Shitty

And I’m not the only one who struggled. ‘Standing in your pants and whipping off your bra with a total stranger is always going to be a bit weird,’ says Lauren, 28. ‘But pretty much every bridal shop I visited resulted in a horrific situation.’ Lauren was told by one shop assistant that she must have lied about her measurements because she didn’t fit into a size 8 dress, before repeatedly being grilled her about her diet plan for her wedding. ‘I felt like a huge fat pig. So I went and ate a McDonalds afterwards as a big fat FU to that shop,’ she says. 

Bridesmaids Are Not A Thing

Then there was the time that Lauren went to a local bridal shop, and was told she could only bring two bridesmaids in, and would have to send the other two home, before she was informed that her budget meant she could only look at the samples, because she couldn’t possibly afford the new dresses. ‘Bridal shops need a reality check, big time,’ she says. ‘I was lucky that I happened to win a competition for my dress, so I didn’t have to go through any more of that shit.’ 

READ MORE: WTF To Wear To A Wedding (When You Don't Want To Look Like A Douche)

You Will Be Told To Lose Weight 

I’ve actually lost count of friends who have been told by dress fitters that they need to lose weight. ‘One woman actually pointed to a bit of me, and said "oh you will lose that bit of weight here before the day, right?" when I wasn’t even planning to diet at all,’ says Claudia, 27. Even if you’re pretty comfortable with your body, like I am, then I guarantee you standing on a podium, wearing a dress that doesn’t fit, will do a great job at destroying your confidence. In one store, I was plonked onto one of five podiums, with all five brides stood in a row like prize cows, glaring around insecurely trying to work out who was ‘winning’ at being the most beautiful version of themselves. Hideous. Often, the dresses were too big for me, so I would have a giant form board shoved down the back of the dress, giving me a hunchback, but pulling it tight at the front. Hardly how I pictured it. 

Prepare For Bridal Del Boy 

There’s also the hard sell issue. ‘I went to a bridal fair, and ended up stood on a podium surrounded by a huge crowd while the consultant pressured me to buy the dress before it was too late,’ says Lauren. ‘She went total Del Boy on me, trying to barter and cut some kind of dodgy wedding deal so I'd buy it there and then… but I had a YEAR until my wedding!’ It’s easy to feel like you just want to claw your way out of all the white fluff and let the whole process be over. ‘When I was trying on wedding dresses, I was four months pregnant,’ says Emily. ‘I accidentally started leaking breast milk while I was trying one on, which was mortifying at the time but actually it was a blessing in disguise because the decision was made for me and I didn’t have to try any more on,’ she laughs. 

Of Course You Could Make Your Own...

In the end, I simply gave up. I worked out pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to walk into a store and find a dress that was exactly what I wanted, or that made me feel even half-way as good as I needed it to, so I chose to have my dress made by a designer I trusted not to treat me like cattle. But I’m sure there are plenty of girls who have gone out there and battled their way through all the bullshit to get the dress they dreamed of - just don’t bank on a glass of champers, swooning, or sweeping orchestral music when you find ‘the one’. That myth is about as truthful as your white dress. 

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

'Even I Don't Want To Go To My Own Hen Party. And I'm The Bride' 

Why Do All Women Get An Instant Personality Transplant The Second They Go On A Hen Night? 

What To Do When Your Friend Gets Engaged (Hint: Act Happy, Yeah?)

Follow Charlie on Twitter @Charliebyrne406 

Picture: Eugenia Loli 

Tags: Wedding Hell