Choosing a wedding dress - 3 brides share their very different dress journeys

Finding your dream wedding dress might just be the best choose-your-own-adventure game you've ever played! Feeling empowered to choose the style, the budget, and the process that suits you, is the absolute key to nailing this aspect of your wedding day.

We chat to three different brides about their very different dress journeys, from couture to boho - read on to see that there's no 'right' way to go about finding 'the dress'.

TWSCO: How did you know you’d found ‘the dress’?
Jess: All I wanted to do was show my husband Ryan <3 I tried on quite a few but when I tried this one on, I was just busting to show him. 

TWSCO: What is your best piece of advice to others looking for their dream wedding dress?
Jess: There are no rules. You can go big, stay on trend, be untraditional, understated, spend next to nothing or put it on top of the budget. Just make sure you’re comfortable in it and will smile at your photos in ‘that’ dress for decades to come.

TWSCO: Did you have an idea in mind of what kind of dress you wanted?
Heather: When it came to finding ‘THE dress’ I was lucky enough to have a really unique experience. At the time of planning my own wedding, I was the editor of an online wedding magazine and its social media platforms, Wedded Wonderland. The upside of this was I got to access many of the world’s biggest wedding designers and couturiers to help me create my dream gown. The downside? I knew that every single detail and choice I made would be scrutinised, particularly as Wedded Wonderland was publishing the online exclusive of my big day, while Cosmo Bride had already locked in a print exclusive.
So, the first step was to find a designer who I felt emulated my own personal style – but also one who I ‘clicked’ with, because the last thing you want as a bride-to-be is having to explain your creative direction to someone with a huge ego, or someone who won’t take on your feedback. I had a number of consultations with designers, which in itself was so fun – I visited showrooms, tried on gowns and discussed textiles. I ended up choosing a (then) up-and-coming couturier, Lillian Khallouf who was known for her immaculate fits (essential for any gal with curves), structure and high-fashion designs.
During our first appointment, I showed Lil a few images of the look and feel I was going for. My brief? Balmain runway 2016 meets Krikor Jabotian – tassels, high-impact structure and a focus on luxurious fabrics (with only a little bit of bling). I also brought Lil a problem that I wanted her help in solving; I wanted a classic bridal look for the ceremony (I’m talking a train and the whole shebang), but something I could burn up the dancefloor in at the reception. Lil’s solution? An overskirt that could be removed to reveal a sassy mini dress once the music started pumping.
During this initial consultation, Lil drew up a few sketches so we could visualise how the look would come together. It’s so funny to look back on the sketches now, because although I love them – they turned out completely different to my final look!

TWSCO: How did you decide on a budget for your dress?
Heather: Phew – this is a tricky one. When you’re working with a couturier to design your dress, it’s hard to nail down an exact budget before you meet with them. If you’d prefer not to opt for an off-the-rack gown, I’d recommend discussing with your partner how much you’re comfortable spending and then calling around a few designers to find out what price range they work with. Generally, they can give you a minimum spend, which is helpful – however, it all comes down to what fabrics, cuts, corsetry and embellishments you’re after. My ‘boo-jay’ was a little higher for my gown, but it was totally worth every penny. It’s a piece I’ll treasure forever – and I even wear out the shorter version of the dress every now and then.

TWSCO: How did you know you found ‘THE dress’?
Heather: So, Lil and I had about three consultations before the wedding to collaborate and expand on our ideas, but I really didn’t have much of an idea on exactly what my gown was going to look like until the night before my wedding. One week before the ‘big day’, I had my final fitting and you’ll be able to see from the photos, the dress was still very much a work in progress (but, seriously, check out that fit – it’s like a second skin!)

My mother-in-law picked up the gown for me the day before my wedding (a Friday) and we all met for a rehearsal dinner at the venue – a retreat about three hours from Sydney. I remember unzipping the garment bag on the Friday evening for my first look and I loved it. The cut of the skirt was exactly what I was after and the gown was the perfect juxtaposition of minimalist (with the understated overlay skirt) and OTT embellishments (um, tassels!) – it was more than I had let myself imagine a wedding dress could be. I think that’s the key; when you find a dress that exceeds your expectations and dreams, that’s when you know it’s the one.

For Jess it was all about the flower crown

Jess was after simple,understated elegance

Heather in her classic bridal look for the ceremony

TWSCO: Did you have any idea of what kind of dress you wanted?
Laura: Yeah, always wanted a boho sort of style dress! I'd saved a bunch of photos I'd seen on Instagram, and just scoured the internet for the same vibe. I also knew I'd be a pregnant bride, so was looking for something I could fit in to as my body changed in the lead up to our wedding. 

TWSCO: How did you decide on a budget for your dress?
Laura: Having a small wedding I didn’t want to spend much. I think I had a budget of $500. I spent $300 on one dress that I didn’t even end up wearing and just $90 on the one I did. 

Laura - The boho bride on a budget.

Heather - The couture, embellished, one-of-a-kind designer piece. 

The simple, understated, less-is-best type dress.

TWSCO: Did you have any idea of what kind of dress you wanted?
Jess: All I knew is I wanted it to be simple. What I did have a clear picture of was my flower crown. For me, the dress followed the crown. 

TWSCO: How did you decide on a budget for your dress?
Jess: Our plan was to elope. So when plans changed, we wanted to try and keep things small so we could still run away to that island together. We listed everything we needed and in order of priority for us. As we moved down we allocated what was needed and what was left was for the dress, shoes, etc.

TWSCO: How did you know you’d found ‘the dress’?
Laura: I bought one dress online which was nothing like the picture or description and hated it. The next one I bought fitted much better and I loved the style. That’s how I knew it was the one!

TWSCO: What is your best piece of advice to others looking for their dream wedding dress?
Laura: Keep yourself open to all different styles, you never know what you might like once you try it on. Also - trying it on is super important, for me - taking the gamble buying one online meant I'm now stuck with something I don't like - and need to find it a new owner. 

Heather's night time couture piece - complete with tassels

Laura's boho bargain cost her just $90! A dress she felt beautiful in.

Laura's dress left just enough room for her growing baby bump

The key here is that I completely trusted my designer – which is tricky when you’re essentially leaving your wedding gown in the hands of someone you don’t know all that well. However, I reckon that when you let the experts use their own creativity and workmanship without micromanaging every detail, that’s when the magic happens. 

TWSCO: What’s the best piece of advice for others looking for their gown?
Heather: Guys, there’s a lot of advice I can give on things like budget, fabric options, accessories, etc. BUT, if I have to pass on one wise word, it would be – you. 
Make the dress about what you want and don’t let trends, Instagram accounts or the opinions of loved ones tell you otherwise. You want a traditional fairy princess dress? Get it! You want to wear pants? Do it! You want bulk tassels so when you shake your booty, people need to make room on the dance floor? Own it!

Don’t stress about whether your dress will still look good in 50 years’ time. Use this opportunity to create something that is truly yours – it’s a piece you can look back on to remind you who you were at that one magical time in your (and your partner’s) history.