We’re back for another ‘Wedding Week‘ post where all week I’m giving you an insight to our wedding day. In yesterday’s post I shared the personal details of our wedding ceremony and in today’s post, I’m revealing all about what we wore, how I found wedding dress shopping and how we managed to stick to our wedding outfits budget.
There’s so much focus on the wedding dress, colour schemes (and matching your bridesmaids to said colour scheme), what is and isn’t acceptable to wear for a wedding, losing weight for the wedding, going dress shopping… it’s exhausting. This post is in no way telling you what you should or shouldn’t do when it comes to choosing outfits for your wedding party. In fact, I hope it inspires you to shut out other people’s expectations and do your own thing!
Photos by Captured By Katrina
My Wedding Dress
The only reference I had to wedding dress shopping was of brides-to-be having meltdowns in the changing room at the dresses their future husbands had chosen on ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’, or brides-to-be surrounded by their friends and family, sipping champagne, all oohing and ahhing at gorgeous (but expensive) dresses on ‘Say Yes To The Dress’. I hoped for the latter scenario, but a part of me worried I’d have a meltdown when trying on dresses. You see, I’ve gained weight in recent years and whenever I had thought of me in a wedding dress before, that image in my head didn’t include said weight gain. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel in a white dress clinging to my lumps and bumps when I usually wear black.
The fact that the prices of wedding dresses aren’t readily available also worried me. I didn’t want my bridesmaids, my Mum and I to all fall in love with a dress, only to be told it was way out of our budget. I personally couldn’t justify spending over a grand on a dress I’d wear once. On top of that, I thought I had a pretty clear idea of the style of dress I wanted, but so many brides-to-be said they ended up buying a dress that was completely different to what they thought they wanted. This just worried me even more, what if I hated the style of dress I wanted? It was all quite intimidating, so I did what any sensible woman would do and just kept putting off dress shopping haha.
Then I discovered Wed2b and David’s Bridal which are both chain wedding boutiques that display all their prices clearly on their website (although David’s Bridal is in dollars). At Wed2b when you buy a dress you take it home that day as it’s not made to your measurements, keeping the cost down. At David’s Bridal, I think it works a little differently, but I didn’t end up going there so can’t say for sure. In fact, I only went to one place when dress shopping and that was Wed2b. The majority of wedding dresses at Wed2b cost no more than £699 apart from a select few. I fell in love with the dresses in their Signature Collection online, one in particular. I read a rumour online that they would be increasing their prices in the new year, and they’d already increased the price of the dress I had my eye on, so I grabbed my Mum and we headed to the London Wed2b store in Bromley.
We went on a Friday in December which probably wasn’t the best idea given my worries around my weight as I was definitely carrying extra Christmas weight after one-too-many mince pies. However, it was nice and quiet with only 2 other brides-to-be in the store. You can’t book appointments at Wed2b so I’d definitely recommend going on a weekday if you can. The dresses are all organised by size and there’s no guarantee they’ll have the dress you like in your size, so it’s worth emailing the store ahead of your visit to find out. I told the lady the name of the dress I’d had my eye on and she helped me find it as well as pick four other dresses to try on, including one that was way off the style I had in mind, just to appease my Mum.
Tip: Size up in wedding dresses as sample sizes come up small no matter where you go. I’m a 12-14 but tried on size 16 dresses and a couple of them were a squeeze. Also, the assistant helps you in and out of the dresses in the changing room so choose your underwear wisely.
The first dress I tried on was one I’d liked online but on me it was tight in all the wrong places. I’d worn Spanx to help with the mince-pie belly but you could see the Spanx through the dress! The second dress was lovely and fitted a lot better which was a relief, highlighting my waist, but I knew it wasn’t the one. The third dress was the rogue one which was the opposite of what I wanted. It was a big, princess style dress, however the size was far too big on me and there was so much material. I have a new found respect for anyone who wears these big wedding dresses – I don’t know how you move! The fourth dress was one the assistant had picked out for me and not one I would’ve chosen myself. I felt so ladylike in it and it surprised me, definitely a good wildcard choice. However, it had extra material at the hips and I did not need any help in making my hips look bigger.
Finally, we tried on the one I’d been admiring for months online. The assistant told me it was one of her faves too and she thought I’d look lovely in it so she purposely kept it ’til last. That dress was Sawyer from their Signature Collection and as soon I put it on, I felt like a bride and didn’t want to take it off, mince pie belly and all. I knew this was the dress I wanted Michael to see me in – I couldn’t stop smiling! I loved how it was quite simple and understated from the front and the skirt was quite plain, but there was so much detail in the back. The assistants fetched me a veil and that was it, my Mum was welling up, this was the dress for me. We ended up buying it that day and my Mum took it home with her.
In the months that followed I hit the gym and lost weight, which was always my intention, but I’m happy I bought a dress that fit me as I was, so I didn’t feel the pressure to have to drop a dress size. Having to get the dress taken in was just a happy bonus as I liked how I looked in it before I’d lost the weight. I’m so happy with my dress and would definitely recommend Wed2b if you’re searching for a wedding dress.
For accessories, I’m not one for designer brands, so I bought rose gold heels from ASOS in a mid-heel so I could wear them all day and night. Honestly, no one sees your shoes so don’t feel pressure to buy designer unless it’s what you really want to do. My necklace is a diamond necklace that my Nan bought me and I’ve worn every day since she passed. My earrings and bracelet were just cubic zirconias but they looked really good on the day and my hair comb was one I’d picked up in a sample sale for £2 – bargain! I really didn’t want to go overboard on accessories and I’m glad I didn’t.
Michael was a lot easier to sort out than me. I knew quite early on that I didn’t want Michael to wear the same as his groomsmen. I’d seen too many weddings online where I genuinely couldn’t tell who the groom was when he stood next to his groomsmen, unless there was an odd number then you could guess he’d be the one in the middle. So much attention is put on the bride and making sure she stands out in this grand white dress, I didn’t think it fair for Michael to blend into the background – it’s his day too. I ran this idea past Michael and he happily agreed so together we decided on a light grey for his suit to contrast nicely with the black groomsmen suits.
We didn’t think it necessary to get him a custom-made suit due to our budget, so we looked online. Luckily it was around the time of Black Friday, so there were discounts everywhere. I’d signed up to the Moss Bros emails and they sent me a code for an extra 20% off their sale – winning! So we browsed the site together and ordered several grey suits for Michael to try at home. There was one we liked the look of more than the rest and when he tried it on, we knew it was the one. I think he looked so dapper!
Michael picked up his shirt in TK Maxx when he wasn’t even looking for a shirt. For his tie, we decided on paisley as that’s Michael’s style and I later realised it matched the embroidery on my dress which was a happy coincidence! I’d ordered a tie online, but we both preferred the tie Michael already had. I ordered him a white pocket square from ASOS then all we had left to get were his shoes. We browsed ASOS to see which style he liked and he chose the loafer style, which I really liked as it’s more Michael than the typical smart shoes. We both preferred a River Island pair that we got from ASOS.
For the morning of the wedding, I’d prepared a gift box for Michael to open which had a silver watch and copper cufflinks engraved with our initials and wedding date. However, Michael didn’t open the box until he was about to leave and he’d been searching for his regular cufflinks all morning, not realising I’d bought him some especially – so he ended up changing his shirt for one that doesn’t need cufflinks and when he opened mine it was too late to change! Also, I didn’t realise the watch was made large, so he wasn’t able to wear it as he needed links taking out. What a palaver!
The Bridesmaid Dresses
I’d decided early on I wanted black bridesmaid dresses which I soon realised was quite a controversial choice for weddings. So many people are of the belief that you can’t wear black to weddings as it is what you wear to funerals. However, as our venue was so white I just loved the contrast with the black. Besides, I personally am not really into wearing colourful clothes. My whole wardrobe consists of black, white, grey, beige and denim, so I couldn’t imagine my girls in anything other than quite a neutral colour. I searched far and wide for bridesmaid dresses, but because I’d decided on black, the majority of dresses advertised as specifically bridesmaid dresses did not come in black. This suited me because 1) my budget wouldn’t allow for these dresses and 2) I didn’t want ‘typical’ bridesmaid dresses.
I decided to wait for the Black Friday sales and I ordered a bunch of dresses online in all sizes. I made sure to size up and down just in case they didn’t come true to size. There was one dress I preferred, but I didn’t tell my bridesmaids as I wanted them to like the dress and not just say they liked whatever I wanted. I got all my girls round mine to try on the dresses, although one of my Maid of Honours (I had two) was pregnant at the time so she watched and shared her opinion. I saved my favourite ’til last and luckily they all really liked it! I think it’s a flattering dress as it is fitted around the bust but skims down from the waist and is easy to move in.
I’d spoken to my bridesmaids before and asked if they would mind paying for their own dresses, which they all assured me they were fine with. This is quite risky and can offend some people, but my girls understood the restraints with our budget and were very kind. I also didn’t order any dresses that were expensive as I didn’t want to choose a dress that was £150 and then ask them to fork out for it. In fact, the dress we all liked was an absolute bargain! I’m not really sure why I ordered it because I’d expected it to be awful quality due to the price and where it’s from, but I thought it was worth a try and it was amazing. The dress was the Chiffon Strappy Open Shoulder Maxi Dress from Boohoo, which only cost £25!! In fact, as it was Black Friday I got a 20% off code so in the end it was only £20! That just goes to show you don’t have to spend a fortune, just because it’s a wedding.
Tip: Search around online, sign up to newsletters to get discount codes and time your shopping around sales if you can.
For their accessories, they all wore their own shoes and jewellery. I didn’t mind what shoes their wore as you wouldn’t really see them, but they all chose similar style shoes which worked nicely. They also wore the copper bangle which I’d given them as part of their Bridesmaid Boxes that I’d made, which tied in nicely to the copper accents in the venue decorations.
The Groomsmen Suits
No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t find a way to buy four suits within our budget. So Michael spoke to his groomsmen and asked them to buy or hire their own suits, or wear one they already had and luckily they all agreed! As we’d chosen black suits we didn’t mind them all being different suits and actually, you couldn’t tell at all! Michael just specified that he would like it to be plain black, a 3-piece suit and no shiny lapels. Their shirts and shoes were all their own too. I think you’ll agree, the groomsmen all chose so well!
We bought matching ties and pocket squares for them all in a paisley print to match Michael’s tie. It was difficult to find ties and pocket squares that weren’t too expensive, but luckily I found a seller on Etsy who was very reasonably priced. His shop has since disappeared, but I’d definitely recommend looking on Etsy for gifts and accessories. We also bought personalised hip flasks as groomsmen gifts from a seller on Facebook, however I wouldn’t recommend these as the vinyl letters started coming off straight away. They did look good in the photos though!
So that’s it, that’s everything we wore on our wedding day. I’m so happy we managed to find ways to not blow our budget and that our bridesmaids and groomsmen were so kind. What do you think of our outfit choices? Let me know in the comments below.
Photos by Captured By Katrina