The Dress. It’s one of the key features of your wedding day and so you want to get it right. Here’s our guide to making the right decisions when you’re wedding dress shopping.

Brides and bridesmaids having fun at the bridal suite at swinton park

Don’t take a load of friends wedding dress shopping

Don’t take a crowd of friends

If you’re tempted to take along a hen party’s worth of girlfriends with you when wedding dress shopping then our advice is DON’T. Instead take your mum, sister or best friend, at most three friends. You just want one or two trusted opinions. You also want people who will keep your wedding dress choice secret until the big day.

Make appointments at three bridal shops

We’d say go to a wedding boutique, a high street wedding dress shop and a department store. Each will have a variety of collections for you to try on so you can get to see how different dresses suit your body shape.

Wedding ceremony outside with gold candelabras on white pedastals with candles down the aisle

One of our stylists created this wedding at Swinton Park

Keep an open mind

Although you may have always dreamed of marrying in a strapless, fishtail gown with a cathedral veil, in reality another style of dress may suit you and your wedding day much better. Let the shop assistant look at your figure and then try on the dresses that are suggested to you – you may surprise yourself! The people who work in wedding dress shops know their collection of dresses and know what suits different shapes – they are experts so make the most of their skill.

What shape are you?

Most brides fall into one of the following categories.

Apple shape

If you’re an ‘apple’ shape then you’ll be curvy, with the majority of your weight around your middle. In this case go for a pleated bodice which will help to define your waist and opt for an A-line skirt which will balance out your figure below.

You could also investigate dresses which have a bodice which ties at the back, so it fits your figure snugly.

Pear shape

This shape means that you will have a small bust and larger hips, bottom and thighs. Celebrate your shape and show if off! You should look for a full skirt and a sweetheart neckline which draws the eye upwards. Pear-shapes often have good shoulders so show them off. Adding a belt detail is also a good idea to highlight a neat waist.


This is when you have a full bust, hips and a tiny waist. It’s often considered to be the perfect figure and a well-fitted wedding dress on this type of bride can look extremely glamorous. Opt for a sweetheart neckline to accentuate the bust and if you want, then go for a fishtail shape, as it will look very good on you.

Reverse pear shape

This is when you are heavier on the bust and have small hips and legs. Look out for a fitted bodice here for good support and a full skirt to balance out your legs. You could also look at knee length skirts – particularly suitable if you’re having a vintage style wedding day. Shoulder straps are also a consideration if you have a larger bust you may feel more confident with extra support than in a strapless dress, you could also look at cap sleeves.


If you’re sporty and have a lean, athletic build then you may want to create some curves. You will look great in a form fitting dress that’s slinky and possibly belted. A cowl neck will disguise a small chest and spaghetti shoulder straps will look great on toned shoulders. A clinging column skirt will show off long, slim legs.

Photo's at Swinton Park bridesmaids brides best men groom

A bridal group at an Ambience styled wedding

Other things to consider

If you’re wearing a strapless dress and are having a traditional church ceremony, you may want a little lace shrug to cover your shoulders. You can then take this off for the reception and dancing later (which effectively gives you two dress looks in one).

If you’re going to wear a wedding veil, the best time to try one on is in the shop when you try on your wedding dress. Different veil lengths go with different styles of dress – again keep an open mind. A short finger-tip veil may be much more your style than a Kate-Middleton cathedral length trailing veil.

Think about your hair too. Take a photograph of the neckline of your wedding dress and discuss it with your hairstylist who will suggest some different hairdos for your big day. You might want a full up do, a messy up do or you may want to leave your hair long and flowing.

Choosing your wedding dress is one of the most exciting parts of planning for your big day – so don’t overstress about it. Take the advice given to you in the shop, keep an open mind and be yourself – that’s the key to success!