So you're newly engaged? A huge congratulations, how exciting!
You are now about to embark on a unique journey of arguments, stress, worry and spending obscene amounts of money on things you never knew existed, even making you question why you said yes in the first place 🤣...but don't fret, the culmination of all that should be one of the best days of your life, so far, and one that you will remember for the rest of your life in memories, photos and videos.
At Unbridaled we cater for a niche of bride that doesn't really want the full on traditional wedding though. In fact, quite often, the notion of a wedding or dress shopping might actually make them feel quite uneasy!
For us, a wedding is anything that involves 2 people getting married and a wedding dress is whatever you choose to wear on that said day. Unbridaled brides having a big wedding, probably value the food and entertainment over favours and the venue itself. They are often big on foliage alters, going with the flow and personal touches and less so on centrepieces, traditional formats and generic mass market crap. Unbridaled brides having a small wedding will often look to elopements in the highlands or some far flung destination for just the 2 of them and to hell with all the wedding politics altogether or they might have an intimate affair at a parents home or just a trendy restaurant instead. With the less traditional day booked, it often removes the pressure to wear the big princess dress and we are here to help brides who want to avoid that cookie cutter look. From effortless and casual feeling gowns and jumpsuits to avoiding white or being a bit more avant-garde with some of our more quirky and fashion forward styles. We have spent 10 years perfecting a collection of dresses that the modern, original bride actually wants to wear instead of feeling like they are playing dress up for the day. All while retaining the element of a special outfit worthy of such an important event.
If that sounds like a bit of you and you can't wait to get started, then follow our rough guide and handy tips on the next steps. Remember, every vendor and bridal shop is different, so although the rough outline will likely be similar, exact timings and policies will vary.
1) There is no time limit to plan your big day, take everything at a pace that suits you and your partner. Don't feel the pressure that you should jump straight into planning the whole day from start to finish in the first few months. Life is complicated and knowing what you and everyone else will be doing in 1/2/3 years time is not easy, while simultaneously balancing career and family goals with time that only ever seems to be going by faster...So cut yourself some slack and accept that somethings can only be put in the 'cross that bridge if it comes' category.
2) Once you and your partner are both on the same page with planning we would suggest having something to organise everything in the one place. This will make the odds and ends of viewings, appts, ideas and balance due dates easier to find in and in order. If you set up a wedding email account, please don't use this for your bridal appointment as invoices/receipts will be sent to it and many bridal software packages include a photo of what you have ordered in it, so you don't want to spoil the surprise. Top Tip: Sign up for a credit card that gives you cash back or points, you may as well get something back for the wads of cash you're about to part with! A cheeky seat upgrade on that honeymoon flight courtesy of amex airmails is a nice sweetener.
3) Figure out what you and your partners dream wedding looks like. Do you both want to jump on a plane and set off to a sunny location? Do you both want a more traditional church wedding? Perhaps a more rustic or industrial feel with a blank canvas barn like Dalduff or something like The Engine Works? Top Tip: Plan a wedding that you and your partner would want love to attend as a guest, 'cause guess what - you're both definitely going to be there! Try not fall into the trap of worrying about meeting other peoples expectation of what a wedding is.
4) Pinterest and Instagram will become your best friend so if you aren't on them already, just submit now and make your life easier. Pinterest and Instagram are great for ideas and inspiration on where to start with everything. This is your chance to 'window shop'. You can follow and interact with your suppliers or suppliers who like the work of. The vast majority of wedding suppliers are one man bands (apart from the bands, ironically) and so instagram stories is a great way to get a feel for their personalities and ethos which is super important when it comes to photographers and officiants who will be an important part of the day, so gelling with them will make your wedding infinitely better.
5) Create a mood board of everything you love (This is perfect to do on Pinterest). It can be anything from the style of dress/suits/jumpsuits to hairstyles, invitation designs, table decorations and more. Some people have a minds eye and some people don't, (called aphantasia,) so it helps when communicating ideas to suppliers and partners to make sure everyone is interpreting ideas the same.
6) Wedding Fairs are a great way to meet suppliers and get some inspiration on what your big day could look like (We are actually attending a wedding Fair on the 12th of February called The Wedding Edit in Glasgow, at The Haberdashery. We can't wait to see you there. It's full of high quality, artisan type suppliers and you can book your Tickets to attend here.) Top tip; If you are truly an unbridaled bride then save your time and money by avoiding the huge exhibitions as they tend to be blingtastic, generic and uninspiring.
7) Now its time to start booking! Find your venue, it will set the tone for absolutely everything else. Some suppliers have radius limits, so without knowing your venue is confirmed it will be difficult to know who to reach out to for there things like florals and cakes.
8) Pick your date - are you having a summer wedding with the sun (hopefully) shining? An autumn wedding with golden leaves around you or a white winter wedding? Remember winter weddings have limited light for photography, so ceremony will need to be earlier, vice versa, summer it can be daylight in scotland until after 10pm so if you wanted that golden hour sunset, be prepared to leave the party for it. Weekends are in hot demand and sometimes cost more, midweek will give you better choice and value, but your guests might hate you. Again, securing your date is a must before moving on to the next steps of getting quotes from other suppliers and dress shopping.
9) Once you have the venue confirmed congrats! You are actually having a wedding!! Before, you just had the ring. Photographer is next on the list. Then catering, hair and make up, cake, entertainment, cars, invites etc. Whatever you value most, book first because the best vendors get booked up first and shockingly far in advance, especially for Saturdays.
10) Ok, now its on to the good part (only contested by cake tasting) Shopping for the one!
One year before your wedding date is the perfect time to buy your wedding dress. However anywhere between 8 and 18 months prior works for us. You really need to have a good reason for shopping earlier than this, we do have a few 24 months in advance brides, but they have specific logic, like moving abroad or having a baby in between and are aware they need to avoid the onslaught and temptation of new styles always coming out and be at peace with their decision. Shopping earlier than necessary opens you up to the risk of changing your mind or changing your body, both of which can be costly, so only do it if you need to.
8 months is our cut off time for a new made to order outfit. If you have less than 8 months we can still help, but your choice will be limited to off the peg samples. These dresses are nearly always in excellent condition and come with a lovely discount as they have been tried on by other brides, they are ready to go so suit all time frames and help with lower budgets. But it is a bit of luck in terms of style and sizing. We currently don't currently have our ex sample dresses on the shop floor to try on due to space constraints, but we host sample sales a few times a year and list them online for purchase. 8 months is our cut off for ordering a new dress so if you do not like making decisions on the day or know you are quite fussy and might take a few shops to find the one, then you need to start shopping BEFORE 8 months. Brides ordering at 8 months also need to pay in full, so if instalments to help you budget are important, then again, shop earlier than this.
Most importantly, only shop when you are in a position to say yes and buy it because prices and availability change all the time. There is nothing worse than going through all this rigmarole only to phone back a few weeks/months later and find that the designer pulled that style/fabric or just upped the price £150 (you would not believe how often this happens and it is heartbreaking!) If you can't say yes without your mum, then only book when she can be there. If you don't have room on your credit card then just wait. If you're not quite feeling/looking yourself, having a rough patch, time of month, post Christmas bloat etc, then hang fire. Especially for us as most brides travel a fair distance to visit, so having to trek back down for measurements or to show just 1 person, is a waste of precious time and money.
11) When the feeling is right, live in the moment and say YES! You found your perfect wedding dress, don't overthink it and just enjoy celebrating this planning milestone. (We offer a cooling off period so relax, you're fully protected against any genuine buyers remorse) You will now be able to find the perfect Maid of Honour and Bridesmaid dresses to match and everything else suddenly makes sense like shoes, florals, hair up/down once you tick that important box off the list. Top Tip: if you want to purchase bridesmaids and mother of the bride outfits online or on the highstreet from regular retailers rather then a speciality bridesmaid/mob collection, then remember that bright colours will be on sale in spring and summer and darker colours will be on sale in autumn and winter.
12) Time will fly by between saying yes and starting alterations so don't take your foot off the gas for too long, make sure you sort out shoes and underwear with plenty of time. If using tape then practice practice practice!
13) For us, we aim to have your dress in store ready to pick up 3 months before the big day. At this time you can add on any last minute veils or accessories you didn't order with the dress. Then it's over to the seamstress to have it fitting like a glove. You must have the shoes you will be wearing by then as hemming is major part of this. Typically, alterations involve 2-4 fittings and you will usually be aisle ready 1-2 weeks before the big day.
14) Prepare that oh shit kit! Needle & thread, make up wipes, stain remover pen, fabric glue, safety pins, blister patches, plasters, paracetamol. Accidents can and will happen, so better to be prepared. Buy a hand steamer if you can if you dress is silk or crepe, they usually cost about £30, unless you've confirmed with the venue they have one. Your dress and veil should be hung up high as early as possible with the train out flat on the floor to avoid creases. If hanging on backs of doors, make sure its not the main entry door to room and make sure the door hinge isn't greasy with WD40! Top Tip: do not wear a bra in the morning to avoid lines across your back. And wear sunscreen religiously in run up to avoid tan lines and pink chests.
15) It's almost time. Take a deep breath and you can now start counting down the days to you and your partners big day. In these last few weeks, don't sweat the small stuff, literally no one will notice anything isn't as you planned it, an elephant could fall from the sky during your ceremony and all your guests would think you meant that to happen!
Now all that's left to do is have fun and say I DO! Try soak it all in, but don't worry too much as your photographer and videographer will be capturing all the bits you missed.
Avoid post wedding blues by booking your honeymoon for 6-12 months after the big day so you can put all your newly discovered organisational and planning skills towards something else exciting to fill the void.
I'll be writing a blog with more detail and info on how to book and what to expect while bridal shopping. It deserves at least a page all unto itself! In the meantime, most things are covered in our FAQ.