How to WIN at wedding dress shopping.


Its fair to say I've taken hundreds of bridal appointments over the years, so believe me when I say I've seen it all - the good, the bad, the tears and the tantrums! I've witnessed every kind of family dynamic you can imagine, so here's my best advice on how to shop for your wedding dress and retain your sanity. 

Daughters of Simone gowns

Daughters of Simone gowns

I'll start with the easy ones to slide us in gently.


It seems obvious, but it needs saying - wear decent underwear!! Not only is there a chance someone will see you in it (yes the assistant will have to help you in and out of the dresses) but we all know what difference a good pair of spanx can do. Keep your colours neutral and go for knickers that you would would normally wear with a dress - whether thats a seam free thong or granny pants, as long as it keeps you VPL free and you feel confident in them. I've lost count how many times I've heard, "I wish I had worn my strapless bra/big pants/different pants" catch my drift?


Now it might seem like this is me trying to guilt you all into not being late when you book in at Archive 12, but it's as much for your benefit I swear! As with most bridal shops you get a limited time slot (1 hour with us) and appointments are booked back to back. So if you are late it will only eat into your own time.  I've seen so many girls arrive totally rushed and flustered while looking at dresses because they were late. It's not conducive to wedding dress shopping or the chilled out vibe I like there to be, so plan ahead, double check your route and don't be late!

Give yourself time for a proper browse

Give yourself time for a proper browse


Simple as that.

DO NOT bring your mum if you know she will be tricky.  DO NOT bring your jealous cousin. Come on your own if you have to.

Who you bring wedding dress shopping should be as carefully selected as your guest list! ONLY bring those who will fully support your choices and will say ONLY NICE THINGS. That last bit is really important, you wouldn't believe some of the awful and frankly mean things I’ve heard from close family members towards the bride to be. It's not worth the tears or the drama to bring these people along, no matter what they say or whatever their relationship to you!!  Its your day, it's your dress, and you are the only one who knows how the dress makes you FEEL, and that's what really matters.

gorgeous Jude couldn’t be happier in her Minna dress. Pic @  Holly and Lime photography.

gorgeous Jude couldn’t be happier in her Minna dress. Pic @ Holly and Lime photography.


This can be a really tricky subject I know, but again I'm addressing it to help preserve your own sanity and to help make wedding dress shopping the joyful experience it should be. Do your research and check about sample sizes before you book in. Sample dresses are not always going to fit. (we carry a range of UK 10 - 14)  You wouldn't normally shop in a store where nothing fits and you won't be able to get an "idea" of the style if proportionally it's not right. It's not worth the heartache  - you should feel like a goddess when wedding dress shopping, so just double check before you go that the store has sizes that will be right for your size/height.


Maybe it's easy for me to say this as Pinterest wasn't around when I was getting married. What I mean is don't get too bogged down with specifics before you have started shopping.  Unless you plan on having a dress designed for you it's bonkers to have too many restrictions before you start. ("I'm looking for ballerina length, 3/4 sleeves, lace but not too lacey, open back with a v neck and a detachable train" someone once said this to me, FACT) -  Yes of course you might prefer a sleeve to sleeveless, you might be desperate for that chance to wear a train - thats all cool, but try to have an open mind when you go shopping. Use your time wisely and try on as many varying shapes as you can. I always say its good to try the things that are "wrong" as it helps you be more certain when something is "right".

pinterest - the old school way.

pinterest - the old school way.


This may even be the most important piece of advice I can give you. Not everyone has the "this is the one!" moment! Don't get me wrong, it does happen, but not very often! I'd say most clients have to sleep on it or at least take some time to mull it over. It's often the case that 2 or 3 dresses will be stunning - then it's down to you to decide which one feels like the MOST YOU.  It's fucking difficult!  You are basically questioning your entire personality and manifesting it in a dress. so I say this, forget what you look like, and go on what you FEEL like. Personally for me, it's all in the body language. You can tell when a girl puts on a gown that makes her feel amazing, there is usually a lot of prancing around, swishing, and not wanting to take it off. (This is the point where you should zone out everyone else in the room and use your gut instinct to help you decide.)

Choose a dress that makes you feel beautiful, thats comfortable and most importantly that will have you waking up on your wedding day, dying to put it on.

Check out our gallery of real brides here.

If you have any questions or want any more advice on buying a wedding dress please get in touch. I'm happy to help a gal in need.

May the force be with you, Claire xx

irish bridal blog, vintage wedding dresses, choosing a wedding dress, bridal advice, MAKE AN APPOINTMENTclaire leesearchive 12wedding dress shopping belfast, wedding dress shopping ireland, how to choose a wedding dress, bridal boutiques ireland, bridal accessories, belfast bride, bohemian bride, boho wedding dresses ireland, casual bride, laidback bride, cool vintage wedding dresses, cool designer wedding dresses, off the shoulder wedding dress, off the rack wedding dresses ireland, daughters of simone belfast, daughters of simone ireland, daughters of simone stockist ireland, wild bride, vintage wedding dress belfast, vintage wedding dresses, vintage bridal boutique, sourcing vintage wedding dresses, bridal shop ireland, bridal blogger, bridal blog, best irish bridal boutiques, boho bride, badass bride, bridesmaid dresses ireland, cool vintage wedding dress, cool bridal shop ireland, cool wedding dresses ireland, cool irish bridal shops, cool bride, irish bride to be, irish bridal boutiques, irish bridal shops, irish bridal inspo, irish bridal shop, irish bride, irish stockist DOS, irish fashion stylist, vintage wedding dress ireland, wedding dress boutique ireland, bohemian wedding dresses ireland, alternative bridal ireland, minna bridal ireland, boho vintage wedding dress, boho wedding, bridal boutique, best bridal advice, how to win at wedding dress shopping, bohemian bridal belfast, bohemian bridal, unusual wedding dresses, alternative wedding dress ideas, archive 12 brides, alternative bridal shop, archive 12, archive 12 inspoComment