The Do's and Don'ts of Bridal Shopping

Our guide to successful bridal dress shopping


Congratulations on your engagement, lovely! 

As you begin planning your wedding, one of the most exciting tasks as a bride is finding the perfect dress. However, bridal dress shopping, for even the most organised of brides can be overwhelming, with so many options and opinions! It’s like opening a door to a whole new world. 

To help alleviate some of the stress, our team at Hannah Elizabeth Bridal have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for bridal dress shopping. From gathering inspiration before your appointment to scheduling your appointment in advance, we’ll cover it all to help you on your journey to finding ‘the one’.


Do determine your budget

With over 10 years of bridal boutique experience, we’ve seen so many beautiful brides feel so disheartened when they find out the wedding dress they’ve fallen in love with is out of their budget. It can be easy to get swept up in the excitement of trying on beautiful gowns without considering the cost. That’s why it’s crucial to set a budget before you start shopping for your wedding dress. 

To determine your budget, consider how much you can realistically afford to spend and how much you’re willing to allocate towards your dress. Keep in mind, you will need to keep aside a budget for shoes, accessories and alterations. Once you have a set budget, you’ll be able to focus on finding a bridal gown that fits your vision, while still being within your means.

Try and visit a Hampshire bridal boutique that has designer wedding dresses that cater to your budget. At Hannah Elizabeth Bridal, we stock bridal gowns ranging from £1,500 to £4,000, as well as sample sale wedding dresses at a reduced cost.

Do make a list of must-haves

​​One of the best ways to prepare for your bridal boutique visit is to create a list of must-haves before you begin. This will help you to stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed by all of the options available to you.

Your list of must-haves should include any specific details that are important to you when it comes to your wedding dress. For example, if you know that you don’t like spaghetti straps or a low-cut neckline, make sure to communicate that with your bridal boutique. This will help to ensure that you only try on dresses that meet your requirements.

In addition, it’s also a good idea to have a general idea of the style of bridal gown you’re looking for or the kind of look you want to embody on your day. Consider factors such as the formality of your wedding, the season, style or venue and of course, your personal style! This will help you to narrow down your options and make the shopping experience more streamlined and enjoyable. Remember, the goal is to find the wedding dress of your dreams, that has you feeling a million dollars as you walk down the aisle.

Do bring an open mind

When it comes to bridal dress shopping, it’s important to keep an open mind. While it’s amazing if you’ve gathered your list of must-haves and you’ve poured over our designer lookbook online, it’s important to remember that dresses can look very different on the model. What you may have thought would be the ultimate dress for you might look and feel very different on, and that’s totally okay! This is a process and ultimately this allows us to help guide you by trying on and experimenting with different dresses and styles, to find the one that looks and feels amazing on you! 

While you may have your heart set on a particular dress you’ve spotted on our website or socials, it’s important to keep in mind that you may not walk out with the exact dress you thought you would – you may instead fall in love with an incredible dress that you hadn’t even considered when looking online! So do be open to this and embrace it!

Bridal dress shopping should be an exciting and memorable experience, do trust your bridal stylist to help you experiment with new styles and designs that you may not have originally selected before.

Do schedule your appointment in advance

This is a biggie! We always recommend brides prepare for their bridal shopping journey by scheduling their appointment in advance and allowing enough time in the lead up to their wedding.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend you have your first bridal appointment at least 10-12 months prior to your wedding date. Head to our blog on the ultimate bridal shopping timeline to find out more.

Booking your bridal appointment 10-12 months in advance will give you enough time to find your dream wedding dress, make any necessary alterations, and have it delivered in time for your big day. If you’re working with a shorter timeline than the designers require, which is between 6-8 months for the production of your dress, you may still be able to order your chosen bridal gown however you will have to pay a rush fee.

Don’t forget to do your research

Before heading out to our Hampshire bridal boutique, take some time to explore our designer lookbook and gather some inspiration. This will give you an idea of the types of dresses and styles they offer. Every boutique will have their own selection of dress designers so do ensure that your chosen boutique fits with what you have in mind! 

You can also create a mood board of your favourite wedding dresses and styles to bring with you to the appointment. When making your appointment with us we will send you a pre-appointment questionnaire, which will allow you to let us know which of our dresses or designers have caught your eye from our website and wish to try on at your appointment! 

It’s important to have a few key pieces in mind when you go dress shopping. Consider the venue of your wedding, the time of year, and the overall theme or style you want to achieve. For example, if you’re having a destination wedding or beach wedding, you may want to look for a suitable summer wedding dress! Conversely, if you’re having a formal, black-tie affair, you may want to go for a more clean cut, elegant gown. This will help you find the perfect dress that makes you feel beautiful and confident on your special day.

Don’t bring the ‘wrong’ guests

Choosing the perfect bridal gown is one of the most important decisions a bride will make for her wedding day and your experience in the bridal boutique will be impacted by your choice of guests – if you decide to bring any at all! 

At HEB, the bride is the most important person in the room, and you should ensure to only bring selected guests if you are confident they won’t be too heavy in their opinions. While it’s natural to want to please everyone, it’s crucial to remember that your wedding dress should be a reflection of your personal style and taste. Don’t let other people’s opinions sway your decision! 

You know yourself better than anyone else, and you’ll know when you find the perfect dress. At Hannah Elizabeth Bridal, we’ve seen it so many times where a bride feels she has found ‘The One’, only to be put off by a distant friend or aunt. If you feel incredible in a dress and you’re ready to make it ‘The One’, go with your gut! It’s your one day to feel the most amazing version of yourself, so trust yourself! We’ve got you! 

If you’re unsure on who to bring with you, check out our blog on the pros and cons of bringing guests. It will help you determine who to bring and who to leave behind, so you can make the best decision for yourself, without any outside influence.

Don’t shop around too much

It’s important to keep in mind that there can be such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and start shopping around at every Hampshire bridal boutique in town, but this can quickly become overwhelming and confusing. Not only will you start to feel exhausted from all the running around, but you’ll also find yourself with too many choices to make a clear decision. Wedding dress exhaustion is a thing! Don’t let it take away the beauty of what should be a sweet and simple process! 

Plus, trying on too many wedding dresses can result in you feeling a little bit ‘flat’ in every one, not feeling the same level of excitement even when you try on a dress that is perfect for you. At Hannah Elizabeth Bridal, we often compare this process to testing perfumes. When you first spray a perfume, you can smell it 100%, however when you spray too many, they lose their potency and all start to smell the same. It’s a similar process!

Instead of attempting to try on every wedding dress in the county, focus on finding a bridal boutique that specialises in the style you’re looking for. This will help you narrow down your choices and make the process much more manageable. Remember, the goal isn’t to try on every dress in town, it’s to find the perfect one for you!

At Hannah Elizabeth Bridal, we specialise in luxury designer wedding dresses for the modern bride, with global designers including Jane Hill, Alena Leena, Love Story Bride, Luna Novias, Vera Wang and Catherine Deane.

Don’t shop until you are ready to commit to ‘The One’

You guessed it! While we completely feel that you shouldn’t leave bridal shopping too late, there is also a time to shop too early. The moment the ring lands on your finger most of you will be dying to start wedding dress shopping! We 100 % appreciate this! But do ensure that you have your date and venue booked first as without these you really won’t know where to start! 

Most importantly, when you book your bridal dress appointment, you need to feel emotionally and financially ready to commit to ordering your gown when you find The One! You will want to ensure that the gown that has stolen your heart is secured for you with your order, rather than deciding on a dress and purchasing it months later. We advise to all of our #HEBlovelies, to prevent any disappointment for you should the designer discontinue the dress you love or the sample dress is sold at a sample sale. 

It is worth knowing that dress designers are continually designing new collections and gowns can be discontinued yearly, and boutiques need to manage stock levels, which means we do sell our beautiful samples on to make room for new gowns. So don’t hesitate if you find The One, be confident and say ‘Yes to your dress’! The relief when you have done so will be immense and leads you on to being able to make some exciting and beautiful styling choices!

Bridal shopping at Hannah Elizabeth Bridal

Combined with the tips in this blog and our expert guidance in our boutique, we are sure to find the perfect wedding dress for your big day! 

We have a carefully curated selection of luxury bridal gowns ready for you to try on in our boutique in Botley, Southampton. Make an appointment to start your bridal journey with us at Hannah Elizabeth Bridal.

From Jane Hill to Love Story Bride, we have the very best global designers selected for our modern and romantic brides. If you have any questions at all ahead of your appointment then please do get in touch, or check out our FAQs.

Otherwise we look forward to seeing you soon lovely!




Photography by Nicola Streader

The Do's and Don't of Bridal Shopping




Your bridal appointment

Our award winning bridal boutique is located in the Hampshire village of Botley, home to our carefully curated collection of modern luxe wedding gowns. From the streets of Paris, to the beaches of Australia, and the hustle and bustle of NYC – we’ve selected the finest bridal designers from across the globe, all specialising in exquisite designs, classic couture and exclusive styles. Your bespoke experience starts the moment you make contact with us. From our first phone consultation to your exciting and luxurious bridal boutique appointment. We lead you with our expertise and guide you through our extraordinary array of designers, their exquisite fabrics and mesmerising designs. We passionately provide an unparalleled, inspirational and high-end bridal shopping experience.


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5 High Street, Botley,
Southampton, Hampshire,
SO30 2EA