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  • When should I shop for my Wedding Dress?
    When is the best time to shop for your wedding dress? So, in a world where we are all super used to next-day (or even same-day) delivery from some of the biggest companies in the world, whether it’s a multi-pack of Sellotape or Bunk Beds for the kid’s bedroom. We are used to getting the things we want - quickly! It can, therefore be astonishing for brides to learn about timescales for wedding dress shopping. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you – Read on whilst we take a deep dive into the different timescales to find your wedding dress and the reasons why we advise the timings that we do to find your dream dress… 12-18 months before the big day... If you are shopping this far in advance, you have all the choices you could possibly wish for! Where-ever you are shopping there is ample time to find your dream dress and no matter the designer’s lead-time – the dress you fall in love with can be ordered in time for your big day. In addition to this, there is time for any custom changes you would like to incorporate into your dress to be made at a designer level. Maybe you want to add sleeves to a gown you have fallen in love with, or perhaps you want to add a layer of secret sparkle to the gown for that extra special glimmer – no problem, there is time to do this, and this means you will have a one-of-a-kind gown that is unique to you. Many brides love shopping in advance, which means they are clear on how much their gown costs, which can be included in their overall wedding budget in the earlier days. Also knowing what the dress is like can be useful for other aspects of your big day planning – such as bridesmaids' dresses, flowers, and venue décor. Remember, designer dependant it can take between 3-8 months for your dress to be made if you are ordering from a made-to-order collection, we need time here at the boutique to prep your gown when it arrives, and you need to allow time for alterations for that perfect fit for your big day. If you are keen to have a leisurely run-up to the big day, then shopping for and therefore making sure your dress is here in plenty of time takes the rush out of gown pick up from us, and your alterations process. Standard alterations, usually include coming in at the side of the bodice to get the perfect fit across the bust, straps, and dress length for you in your wedding shoes. Brides usually have 2-4 fittings, so having the time and space to allow for this process to happen at a leisurely and natural pace, helps you as the bride have a relaxed few weeks before the big day, rather than feeling frazzled with fittings appointments seeming like they are almost on top of each other as they are being done on a shorter timescale. If you are dress shopping 12 – 18 months before the big day, you are ensuring that finding your dress is as relaxed and stress-free as possible. If you aren’t naturally a super decisive person, this is a good time for you to be shopping, as currently, you have the time to shop around over a few weeks, and there is no pressure on you at this stage to decide quickly. 8-12 months before the big day... If you are shopping in this timescale, you still have oodles of choice and are in time to order dresses with MOST designers, allowing time for dress prep and alterations. It’s worth remembering, however, that some alterationists like to leave 3-4 months for the alterations process before the big day – so you can see how time starts to slip away. Bespoke changes to a dress at a designer level may not be possible at this point, designer dependant. So, you may have slightly less choice than if you were shopping sooner. If you are the kind of person who can make a firm decision quickly, this is still a great time for you to shop. The type of bride who is happy to book their appointment at 1 or 2 selected pre-researched boutiques over a weekend or a few days and is in the right headspace to find their dress, will have a lovely wedding dress journey in this timescale. But, if in your heart you know you may take a bit more time to decide or want to visit the boutiques over a few weeks or a couple of months, we would recommend you start shopping earlier. Likewise, it's worth thinking through how it’s going to work on the other end of your journey when your dress arrives. You will have to move quickly as soon as your boutique lets you know the dress has arrived, and work with their availability to collect your dress immediately so you can take your gown straight to alterations. Again, as you are working on a shorter timescale your alterationist may not be able to be as flexible with the timings of your fittings as if you had a bit more time. For those of you who thrive on being busy and efficient – you will take this in your stride, but for the lovelies who feel a bit of anxiety rising in themselves just THINKING about it all being a bit of a rush come the end – we would strongly recommend you come in earlier and save the stress! 6-8 months before the big day... So, this is where choices can start to become more limited, we can still order with MOST designers, however, at this point, there may be rush charges to get the gown made on a quick timescale ready for your big day. Off-the-Rail or Ready to Wed collections start to come into their own at this point, this is where you buy the dress sample that is in the Boutique, meaning the dress is here ready and waiting for you to take away when you find her. If you pick a dress from these collections, you are back to a more leisurely alterations process, as described above as you have the dress immediately and can get booked in with your alterationist and work with their timeline. We have crafted an extensive collection of Off-the-Rail dresses to make sure we have the flexibility to work with our bride's timescales. Less than 6 months before the big day... For made-to-order gowns – with the designers, we are still able to order with – rush charges normally will be charged in this timescale to have the dress made in time for your big day. (We work to avoid rush charges wherever we can – but we must get your gown here to allow for alterations for your big day, and if we are charged to make that happen, we have to pass that on ☹) So, if you are shopping in this timescale and are set on a made-to-order gown you need to be prepared that your dream dress may cost more than if you had been shopping earlier for your gown. The Off-the-Rail/ Ready to Wed collections are key for brides shopping at this time, and most brides shopping at this time will actively be looking for an Off-the-Rail dress. We are proud of the sheer scale and general deliciousness of dresses that are available to takeaway straight away – with dresses in every size from 8 -36 available at our boutique. We just want you to have all the choices you can possibly have, not everyone knows they are getting married a year or more in advance, but if you do, shopping early means we can give you the full run of the boutique, with no caveats on what we can order for you, or extra costs we have to pass on to you for getting the dress made in a rush. We want to be able to say Yes to everything you want and are looking for, and the earlier you come out shopping, the more we can do this for you! x x Now all of that said above, we know that not everyone knows they are getting married super far in advance, we have had brides come in who were getting married in 2 - 6 weeks because of a range of personal circumstances, and we found all of them their dream dress. We will use our expertise, advice and work with you to find your dress in whatever timescale you come in with - but we want this to be the chilled and wonderful experience you deserve, so if you know sooner, we would love you to shop as soon as you can. x x
  • Why do you operate by Appointment only?
    We operate by appointment only, so you have exclusive access to the boutique and we can spend the time you deserve to help you find your dream dress, from our carefully curated dress collection. We pop some music on, lock the door and focus on you and your wedding. :) Operating by appointment only means it's just you and your party in the boutique, no other bridal party to distract you or another bride disappearing into the changing room with the gown you wanted to try. We can make sure we are ready for you - we have drinks and snacks prepared for you and we know we have the time to sit down and go through your plans and what you like the idea of, before we start trying dresses and start narrowing the selection of what you love down until you find the one. As we offer 2-hour timeslots, we have the time to devote to you and finding your dream dress. From a practical point of view, we also need to operate by appointment so that we can give all our brides and their dresses the time and attention they deserve. We need timeslots through the week between appointments where we can steam and prep gowns ready for collection by their lovely brides, plus the same with new dress deliveries in, plus we need to allow time between appointments for us to reset everything so it's all fresh and lovely for when our brides walk in the door for their appointment x
  • Why do you charge for your Wedding Dress Appointments?
    We charge for our bridal appointments as we are unique in that we have a gorgeously spacious bridal shop, with over 200 dresses to choose from and offer two-hour-long appointments with a completely locked door policy – you are the only bridal party in the shop, and we devote our time, expertise, and total attention to you as our sole focus throughout the appointment. When you arrive, we have the time to sit down and have a proper chat about your wedding, and the ideas you have for your gown, we carefully listen to what is important to you to make sure the whole experience is all about you, your wedding and finding your dream dress. If you aren’t sure what you like the idea of then our expertise will help you navigate the journey to find which styles and shapes you love the most. There is space for you and your party to be hosted comfortably – with seating for everyone - we provide you and your party with drinks and snacks, and you won’t be disturbed by having other brides in the shop (or see the dress you want to try on disappearing in the changing room with someone else! 😊). Because we offer such a special service, we do charge for our appointments. We will of course refund the price of the appointment off the price for your wedding dress, but I’m sorry to say we don’t refund appointment charges if you don’t find your dress – as the time we devote to you is important and valuable and as such we do need to charge for it.
  • Do you do Curvy Size Wedding Dresses?
    At Pretty Smithy Bridal, we celebrate every-body, every love story, and every unique journey to the aisle! 💖 From mermaid silhouettes to ballgowns that twirl, we've got it all to cater to your dream wedding look and Our top job is to make your bridal journey magical from the moment you walk through our doors. We operate by appointment only, so you have exclusive access to the boutique and we can spend the time you deserve to help you find your dream dress, from our carefully curated curvy dress collection. We always have a substantial collection of Curvy Dresses in store waiting for to to try on - in sizes 18 - 36 - with loads of sizes 22-36 dresses waiting for you to try on. One of the top questions we get asked at wedding fairs is - "Do you really have dresses in my size?" and the answer is ABSOLUTELY YES!! We 100% have samples in every size from 18 to 36 here to try on! Whilst the number of curvy samples we have does obviously go up and down during the course of the year - we currently have 65+ Curvy size dresses here to try and vary from 40 - 80+ dresses here at any one time. We have both off-the-rail and made-to-order options. off-the-rail curvy bridalwear starts at £699 and goes up to around £1300, our made-to-order curvy collection starts at around £1200 and goes up to £2300, so there are options for all budgets.
  • What if I'm trying to lose/gain weight?
    Whether you are thinking of trimming or toning up, losing a dress size or so, going for a dramatic change, or are trying to either put on a dress size or maintain a physic - weight journeys can be a big factor in when brides choose to shop. We are going to take a deep dive into what all this means in the world of bridal and how that links into good times to shop for your dress - if you are on or hoping to be on a weight change journey on the run-up to your big day. What if I’m on a weight loss journey? So being on or thinking about a weight loss journey on the run-up to your big day can be one of the main things that stands in the way of brides shopping earlier for their wedding dress. This can be a bit of a chicken and egg situation – if you don’t have the dress on order – it's not here in time for alterations for that perfect fit, or you have to shop from the ready-to-wed collection, closer to your day. But if you aren’t feeling comfortable in your skin and feel strongly that you want to lose some weight or trim up – you may feel disinclined to shop for your dress until you have at least started to see the results of your weight loss journey. The first thing we would say is we are a strongly body-positive business, all our brides are beautiful, and wedding dresses are completely different from what we are used to wearing on a day-to-day basis. These dresses are designed to fit properly, giving you support, or freedom as required for your comfort and your body shape. Our experienced designers have made these dresses to highlight and showcase you and your figure. Whether it’s elongating your silhouette or supporting and highlighting your curves, these guys know what they are doing! The next thing we would say is regarding what you are trying to achieve with your weight change journey. There is a big difference in bridal on whether you are trimming up, losing a dress size or two, OR going for a very dramatic change. Dropping a dress size or two or toning up… Generally speaking, if you are looking at A-line or Ballgown style dresses, these can be altered before the wedding 1-2 dress sizes down easily, and normally this is through the same seams the alterationist would be working on for your standard alterations, so there aren’t usually huge extra cost implications here. For very fitted dresses, such as Mermaid, Trumpet, or Column/ Sheath dresses – this is more like one dress size down and is usually again based on opening the same seams you would need work on anyway for standard alterations. So, if you are on a journey where you are trying to achieve a loss of a size or two or trim up – you don’t need to worry so much about coming in earlier when you have more choices. We will always order for you as you are now – so if life gets in the way and your weight change journey doesn’t happen as you quite envisaged – your dress is still the right size for you as when you fell in love with her! We will always be honest with you at your appointment and advise of what can be done with different dresses depending on your figure – how the dress is coming up on you as you are now, what is possible and what isn’t from an alterations point of view, if you are trying to lose weight. If you did lose a little more weight than you were expecting then with A-line/ Ballgown dresses – it is usually possible to take them in more than two dress sizes – but at this point, your alterations may start to cost more, as other seams may need to be opened and worked on to proportionally take the dress in. More Dramatic Weight Change If you are thinking of a more dramatic change, like 4+ dress sizes, then yes, it may well be worth shopping closer to the big day, as your body shape could become quite different from as it is now, which may feed into the gown style or shape you end up picking. However, it's important you leave enough time so dresses can still be ordered for you rather than relying on the off-the-rail collection, as you will just have more choices to pick from. We would advise you to come in at least 8-12 months before the big day (where your timings allow - not everyone knows they are getting married that far in advance!). This timescale means we can still order in for you from the made-to-order collection and you have full pick of the off-the-rail collection. Depending on which dresses you love and the designers they have come from, sometimes we can take your dress order, but wait until further down the line timescale-wise and get you back in for a measurements appointment if you feel you are going to continue to lose weight as close to the big day as possible and finalise the size we are ordering with the designer then. Remember we have a full range of curve-specific wedding dresses in sizes 18-36 at our boutique together with the expertise to let you know what weight changes can happen with different styled gowns. We will always be honest with you and if a certain gown won't work for you if you were to lose a few dress sizes between putting the gown on order and it arriving ready for alterations - we will let you know. It's also worth knowing that the feel and fit of wedding dresses are dramatically different from the clothes we are used to ordering online or buying from the high street. The clothes we purchase for day-to-day wear are usually designed to fit by being stretchy, but not giving support or are meant to look baggy and unfitted. Bridal is completely different, these dresses are designed to give you comfortable support, enhancing your natural figure to show you off at your absolute best. If you do struggle with the way you feel in yourself, sometimes this translates into a disinclination to come out wedding dress shopping, which is completely understandable. That said, almost every bride who feels this way feels dramatically different once they come out and experience trying these dresses on - so our best advice is to give us a chance to wow you with the selection and types of beautiful dresses we have to flatter and suit a wide range of body types. Maintaining or Gaining Weight Now weight change journeys are not just about losing weight, for some of our lovelies it's about maintaining a size or gaining a dress size or two to get back to where they feel the most healthy and confident. Life can be busy and full of stress, we all have different things going on in our lives, whether your job is all-encompassing or you are running around after your little ones all day (or both!). Perhaps you care for a relative, or run your own business - there are a million reasons why the stress can build up and everyone reacts differently to these pressures, for some, weight gain becomes something they feel uncomfortable with, for others keeping the weight on versus feeling underweight can be a feature of how they feel. If you are trying to maintain a dress size, because you naturally have a tendency to lose weight when you are busy, or, in yourself, you feel too thin against how you feel your best - we understand this can be just as challenging mentally as wishing to lose weight before you pick your wedding dress, but that this isn't always a publicly discussed topic in bridal. Firstly we want to reassure you that we have dress samples in store from sizes 6-8 upwards for you to try on and we can order from a size 2 from the majority of our designers. If you are in a situation where you are trying to gain weight or are worried about maintaining a size we would advise you to come in as soon as you can so we can see what sizes you are coming up in dresses at the moment, and discuss what you are trying to achieve with weight change or maintenance versus the styles of dresses you like. Depending on the changes you want to make and the styles and shapes of the dresses you fall for, we can advise you best on how to proceed. It may be we can order in the normal timescales but have the dress made at a designer level with a corset back to give you a little more flexibility in sizing when your dress comes in. Or, it may be that we take your dress order now, but the designer's lead time allows us to do a measurements appointment closer to the wedding when we finalise the size we are putting on order for you. Alternatively, it may be that the changes you are looking at, whilst will make you feel dramatically different, won't push you up a dress size in bridal (designer dependant, there can be up to 3-4 inches difference between bridal sizes, so if your measurements are say very slightly over a 4, we would be ordering a size 6 for you in any case, and the dress would be fitted to you in alterations, in this case, this may also leaves leeway for pushing your weight up the equivalent of a high street size, if this is what you are trying to achieve) Of course, you can come in closer to the big day, when you have perhaps started to see the results of the changes you are planning, if you want to do this the off-the-rail collection really comes into its own at this point. If you want to be assured we can still order in for you no matter which designer you pick - we would advise you to come in between 8-12 before the big day, as a starting point and we can go from there! As normal if you have any questions - please drop us a message or give us a call. We can also organise a 15-minute Zoom 1-to-1 so if you have questions and would like a forum to discuss your weight change journey we can chat through your options before you even come in for a visit! Just drop us an email and we will get this arranged with you xx
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