Even the thought of selecting a wedding dress can be enough to send someone into a spin. There’s no doubt that a million thoughts will be running through your mind when you first turn your attention to your wedding dress. This is understandable given that there is a lot of pressure surrounding the decision and ensuring you get the perfect dress for your big day.
We’re here to help reduce some of the anxiety surrounding wedding dress shopping. Our guide outlines everything you need to consider when hunting for a bridal gown, including the different factors you need to think about, general tips for wedding dress shopping and the top 12 bridal boutiques in Brisbane so you know exactly where to go to find the gown of your dreams.
WHAT FACTORS DO I NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN SHOPPING FOR A WEDDING DRESS?
The silhouette is a very important consideration when searching for your bridal gown. You will need to think about the shapes that you like and the ones that flatter your body. Begin searching online to get an idea of different silhouettes. Instagram and Pinterest are a great way to collect inspiration and you can take these ideas with you to bridal boutiques. Try to be realistic with the shapes that you choose. The fit needs to be something that will flatter your figure, so keep this in mind when you are browsing online.
Common silhouettes for wedding dresses include:
A-line – An A-line dress is perfect for the chic bride. The fitted top accentuates your shape and then drops to the floor in a looser, flattering skirt. Ballgown – Looking for the classic princess look? A ballgown might be for you. The bodice is typically fitted to the waist in this style before flaring into a voluminous skirt. Ballgowns are typically floor length and provide that elegant, timeless look. Mermaid – As the name suggests, the fit of this dress very much follows the shape of a mermaid. This gown fits closely to the body from the chest down to the knees, where it then flares out like a mermaid’s tail. A great way to add excitement to a traditional look. Sheath – The sheath is extremely stylish and certainly makes a statement as a wedding dress. This type of gown is typically fitted from head-to-toe, making it a great way to show off your curves. They also usually have a leg split. Trumpet – Similar to the mermaid silhouette, this dress has a fitted top although only from the chest to just over the hips. It then flares out from above the knees, commonly creating a lovely train. The trumpet dress is a good option for brides wanting a fitted dress with a ‘wow’ factor.
The options are endless when it comes to fabric choices for wedding dresses. You can choose to have a dress made from a single fabric, or you might want to combine different textures to create a unique aesthetic. Consider the overall look you are trying to achieve as this will guide the type of fabric that is right for you. The silhouette you choose will also have a big impact on the material as some are better for fitted designs, while others are more suited for voluminous ballgown skirts.
That being said, it is still important that you spend some time thinking about the fabrics that you like and don’t like. Some brides have a preference for lace, while others prefer more structured materials. It really comes down to personal taste.
If you are finding the world of fabrics confusing, here’s a quick run-down of fabrics commonly used to create wedding dresses:
Lace – A popular choice when it comes to wedding dresses, lace can transform even the plainest of gowns. Whether you opt for a complete lace dress or only some lace detail, the fabric will add something special to your dress. It comes in a huge number of variations meaning your wedding dress will maintain a certain uniqueness. Satin – Satin is also a popular choice, although it is not actually a fabric. It is the shiny finish that is put on silk, polyester or a combination of these two materials. It’s a great option for structured gowns and is extremely durable, although beware that is can wrinkle easily. Organza – A delicate fabric, organza is used for the floaty, dreamy type of wedding dresses. It is a lightweight fabric that is typically sheer and great for layers on a skirt. Chiffon – Similar to organza, chiffon is also a light, sheer fabric that is good for layering. It’s even lighter than organza so is perfect for a flowing look. Charmeuse – This fabric is often used in sheath dresses and has a real shine to it. It can be made from silk or synthetic materials and creates figure-hugging dresses that show every curve. Tulle – Tulle is a woven fabric that is traditionally used to make tutus. It is a popular choice for ballgown silhouettes as it adds body and structure.
The date of your wedding is going to factor into the design of your chosen wedding dress. Obviously long sleeves are a no go if your wedding is in the middle of summer – no bride wants to be a sweaty mess on her big day! On the other hand, long sleeves and thick fabrics are going to be an absolute necessity if you’re opting for a winter wedding. Give some thought to the likely weather of your wedding and pick a dress that is practical for the occasion. Being uncomfortable on your wedding is the last thing you want.
If you want your wedding aesthetic to come together seamlessly, it is best to consider your theme before choosing a dress. The dress should make a visual statement while also enhancing the theme of your wedding. That way, you won’t look out of place against your décor. If you’ve decided on a sleek, modern vibe for your wedding, then a relaxed, bohemian wedding dress is going to look out of place. Similarly, a full, princess ballgown may not be the best match for a casual wedding on the beach. It’s best to view your dress as an extension of your wedding theme, unless you want it to contrast then go ahead with whatever you please!
This is always the least favourite consideration for brides, but an important one nonetheless. Before you even begin looking at wedding dresses, you should determine a budget so that you know your price range. Sit down with your fiancée and have a conversation about funds for the entire wedding, including how much you can afford to allocate to your gown.
TIPS FOR WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING
CHOOSE YOUR SUPPORT TEAM WISELY
Wedding dress shopping should be fun, but it can be difficult to enjoy the process under the pressure of finding the perfect dress. Take the burden away from the hunting exercise by turning it into a social affair. Many boutiques offer sessions with complimentary snacks and champagne which will go a long way in helping you to relax and enjoy this time trying on beautiful dresses. Bring along your bridesmaids, your mum, your sisters or whoever you would like to be involved in the dress shopping process.
That being said, it is important to think carefully about the people you would like to take to the bridal stores. Too many opinions will simply make the process more stressful and that’s the exact opposite of what you want. You also don’t want to feel obligated to make small talk and keep your guests entertained. This is your time to shine and you shouldn’t have to worry about these things. For this reason, it’s often best to bring a few people who get along and can entertain themselves while you are in the dressing room. Make sure every person you invite is somebody who you trust and respect to give you honest guidance while also understanding that this decision is about your vision for your big day.
Before you attend a bridal dress appointment, do your research. It will be a much more productive session if you at least have an idea of the kind of things you like. That doesn’t mean you have made a final decision about the silhouette or have an exact measurement for the length of your train but having some inspiration regarding the styles and fabrics you like will help to inform your appointment. You can spend the time trying on designs you actually like, rather than starting from a blank slate where you will be looking at anything and everything.
HAVE AN OPEN MIND
While some preparation and research can help make your boutique appointments more effective, don’t let it prevent you from going with an open mind. The idea of preliminary research is so that you can begin forming some ideas in your own mind and then communicate these to your stylist, who will be able to show you gowns that meet these requirements. It doesn’t mean you should have an exact image in your head that you cannot sway from.
To get the most out of your bridal store visits, tell the boutique attendant the types of elements that you like (silhouettes, fabrics, specific detail), and let them use this information alongside their expertise to pull out dresses for you. Remember to be open to different styles as some dresses look significantly different on than they do on the rack. If a dress meets your criteria, it’s worth trying on – you just never know which dress will be the one!
Above all else, try to have fun as you search for your wedding dress. Remember that this could be the only time in your life that you will be experiencing shopping for a gown of this nature, so don’t waste it by getting caught up in negative emotions. Take a deep breath, surround yourself with good people and trust that you will find the wedding dress of your dreams, even if it takes a little longer than expected.
TOP 12 BRIDAL SHOPS IN BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND
For you ladies living in Brisbane (or the surrounding area), you’re in luck! Queensland’s capital city is home to a number of high-quality bridal boutiques that offer a range of wedding dresses. We’ve picked out our top 12 to save you time, allowing you to find the dress of your dreams and return to your endless wedding planning to-do list. These bridal stores offer a diverse range of gowns for all types of brides, so you’re guaranteed to find something you like regardless of your taste and style.
A popular shopping destination for brides of all ages, White Lily Couture has an extensive range of gowns to choose from. The boutique is known for its exceptional customer service and offers private bridal lounges to make the shopping experience something truly memorable. All appointments at White Lily Couture begin with a one-on-one consultation where you can discuss all the details of your wedding with your stylist. The more detail you can provide regarding theme, colour palette and venue, the better placed they will be to help find you the perfect dress. The bride and guests are then escorted to the private lounge, where they can relax as they search the collection.
Founded by Brisbane local, Ella Stephenson, Ella Moda offers stunning designs in a contemporary boutique space. Stephenson is a designer and dressmaker who has followed in the footsteps of her great grandmother, the owner of a bridal atelier in Russia during the 19th Century. While her dressmaking blood may stretch back many generations, her designs are anything but outdated. The bridal gowns at Ella Moda offer unique styles that are timeless but usually with a modern twist. There is a real trend for classic silhouettes styled with contemporary fabrics or spectacular detail that make them seem new and fresh. Every dress can be altered to ensure it matches the specific style of the individual bride.
From the moment you arrive at the Karen Willis Holmes boutique, you will feel at home. This boutique has set up shop in a colonial cottage in Paddington, surrounded by tree-lined streets, art galleries and a number of cosy cafes. Karen Willis Holmes has been operating since 2000 and has made a commitment to providing “sophisticated, flattering and comfortable” bridal gowns. If you’re looking for something unique, give this boutique a go. They handcraft their pieces and have a real diversity of dresses to ensure there is something for everyone.
Wendy Makin offers both ready to wear and couture bridal gowns. An established brand in the wedding industry, Wendy Makin operates in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, although their flagship store and design studio is located in Brisbane. The designer is well known for only using the highest quality of materials and has a fondness for lace, with many of the wedding dresses featuring the fabric in some way.
Darb Bridal Couture designs luxurious made-to-measure gowns for brides by using a very specific philosophy. The founder and designer, Brad Webb, is a strong admirer of classic fashion and incorporates elements from the past in every single one of his designs. This timeless fashion inspiration is always paired with modern characteristics, making the dresses appealing to even the most fashion-forward brides. Every Darb dress is designed by Webb himself, who has won the Australian Fashion Design Awards – Supreme Award three times.
MXM Couture was founded in 1998 by two identical twins, designers Margaret and Michelle Williams. They differentiate themselves from other boutiques by doing both the designing and the fitting of gowns for their clients. Providing stunning gowns that feature stylish detail in the form of lace, beading or sheer panels, Margaret and Michelle are very hands-on and ensure they are involved in the creation process for every single dress.
Babushka Ballerina focuses on the provision of modern, trendy bridal gowns. Founded in 2011, the brand is aware that the modern bride is both style and socially conscious. The boutique targets the fun-loving bride, defining their clientele as “down-to-earth”. Babushka Ballerina offers an extensive collection of off-the-rack dresses while also having a ‘design your wedding dress’ option.
When Freddie Met Lilly boutique stocks a diverse range of bridal gowns under their very own ‘When Freddie Met Lilly’ brand. Operating across the globe, When Freddie Met Lilly updates their bridal collections twice a year to ensure they keep up to date with the latest bridal trends. The boutique also stocks bridesmaid dresses, formal dresses and suits in all types of colours and styles.
Operating in Australia and the USA, Luv Bridal was founded in 2009 and has since played a significant role in the bridal industry. The boutique works with leading designers from across the world to create stunning collections that are both affordable and unique. The staff at the Brisbane store are all highly experienced and will work you to find the perfect gown. There are a number of designs available off the rack, otherwise the boutique has on-site dressmakers if you would like to create your own gown.
Brides of Brisbane caters to “everyday women” by offering a huge diversity of gowns, from traditional silhouettes to contemporary bohemian designs. Their gowns are made with high-quality materials, resulting in luxurious wedding dresses without the exuberant price tags. Brides of Brisbane offers 10 international brands so you can be sure to find your perfect wedding gown.
Stocking 8 international labels, Sugar and Spice has over 30 years of experience helping brides to find their wedding dresses so you know you will be in good hands. The labels they work with have been recognised for their high-quality fabrics, creative designs and overall workmanship. Sugar and Spice pride themselves on their ability to continually evolve and incorporate modern trends, while retaining a focus on finding the best gown for an individual’s particular shape and style.
Paddington Wedding offers both ‘ready to wear’ and couture bridal gowns. Led by Anne Bertossi, an award winning designer, the boutique has its very own label – Bertossi Brides. The boutique caters to local and interstate brides, offering dress creation services from a single visit as opposed to some wedding designers who require multiple sessions and fittings. The boutique and Anne herself have been recognised by a range of awards over the years, an indication of their high-quality wedding dresses. The Paddington team has significant experience and will be able to assist you in finding the dress of your dreams.