When you get engaged, you immediately pop onto Pinterest and start planning your dream wedding. Costs don’t come to mind, you suddenly become a young Martha Steward and have all these ideas about all this DIY décor you’re going to make. Everything is fresh, fun, flirty and exciting. The first few trends that pop up on your ‘for you’ page, when you search weddings are décor and dresses. I’d envisioned my ideal dress, I had two styles in mind and I was sooooo ready to get to trying them on.
I always wanted a figure-hugging mermaid dress. I was all about the elegance, the drama, the sophistication, the instagrammable moment. After I saw how magnificent my sister looked in her long sleeve, lace dress, I opened myself up to the idea of having something similar. A lace dress, with lace sleeves. I was so excited to go through and try on wedding dresses – eeeek!
DESTINATION DREAM DRESS
Wedding dress shopping is a destination affair. You don’t walk into Sandton City, see a bridal shop and think ‘oh, I’ll pop in there’. You ask for recommendations and google where to go and then drive through to find the shop. One of the very first boutiques I popped into was Bridal & Tuxedo, at the Pearls of Fourways. A friend of mine had told me about them and they weren’t too far from where I lived. They offered me a complimentary fitting, whereas every other bridal store was charging a minimal fee of R350 a consultation. Upon entering the store, I immediately felt a connection to the owner Neli. She was quiet and reserved, but you could see that she had years of experience and was passionate about the industry she had chosen to work in. The two ladies who work with her are just as clued up and efficient – Mattie and Taffy.
Neli makes a real effort with her store, when a bride comes in for a fitting she puts out fresh cut roses, chilled water and nibbles. We were immediately taken into a private room, and the aircon was put on. I quickly realised that trying on heavy, bead-encrusted gowns is a full-on work out and you can definitely work up a sweat doing it. An opulent selection of gowns were put aside and we begun trying them all on. My sister sat on a couch, I was taken behind a private curtain and Neli and Mattie helped me in and out of the gowns.
Neli first allowed me to try on the dresses and styles I had in mind – the mermaid and the lace sleeves. The dresses were magnificent and I was so excited, I tried them on, and then I was a little disappointed if I am honest. While the dresses were magnificent, I simply didn’t have the body to pull them off. Wedding dress shopping is an emotional affair because it is so deeply personal and represents a new life with a person you’ve chosen. I think a mermaid dress would look stunning on someone who is taller and skinnier. On me, who has a natural hourglass figure, it accentuated my hips and made me look bigger. I thought no problem, on to the next one and then I tried on a vintage lace dress, with beautiful lace sleeves. I was excited about this one, but alas, it was not the dress.
The lace aged me and instead of looking elegant and timeless. I looked grannified and frumpy. This wasn’t a great feeling as these were the only true styles I really loved. I was now feeling a little lost and like I didn’t know what to do next.
This is why it is so important to work with experienced professionals who know what they are doing. Neli then brought out the dresses that she recommended for me, based on what I liked and my body type. I was so much happier. Even though I didn’t love the first dress picked out for me, I could already see that the style suited me much better and I had a new found optimism that I would find my dream wedding dress.
After trying on 3-4 dresses and gowns that Neli had picked out for me, I found ‘the one’ and I said yes to the dress. I was so happily surprised. It was a feeling of elation, excitement, and I just wanted to get married immediately. The dress I selected was not at all what I had expected. This is why it is so important to work with professionals who recommend dresses based on their experience from working with brides, different body types and different skin tones.
Neli and her team were professional and helped get me in and out of the gowns effortlessly. The lighting was unreal, and I LOVED the way the dress looked. I also liked that there was a range of options, at different price points, so you are assured to find a dress that you can afford.
While it’s great to have an idea of what you’re looking for. I’d like to recommend that you be open minded to trying on dresses you never would’ve imagined trying on. You may find something that suits you better. Try on different colours too. I had always imagined myself getting married in a snow white dress. However off-white looked better with my skin tone and complexion. I am honestly so grateful to Neli and her team for the wonderful experience I had at her studio. I cannot recommend them enough.
Once piece of advice that I can give you, is to be mindful of who you bring with you for your fittings. We’ve all watched ‘say yes to the dress’ where brides to be, show up with their entire bridal party. I don’t recommend this. Too many opinions will confuse you. And may even put you off a dress you really like and that’s authentic to you. I took one of my sisters with to my fittings. She always asked me what I thought and then added in her 2c. She took photo’s of me to refer to afterwards.
When I tried on my dress, we both just knew it was the one. I started smiling, she started smiling and we both just said wow, this is it. She was so happy and excited for me. Be mindful of who you bring with you and how opinionated they are. You want to be true to yourself and you don’t want to have any regrets about your dress.
I’ll go into more detail about my dress just after the wedding. All I can say is that I am so grateful for having this team behind me to support me throughout this journey.
CONTACT DETAILS – you won’t regret viewing these gowns
Address: Shop 11, The Pearls of Fourways, Forest Road, Lonehill Ext 91, Fourways, Johannesburg
Number: +27 11 465 3848
Fitting Fee: R250, but if you book a dress the same day, they don’t charge a fitting fee.