‘You can decide your lingerie after, but for the wedding day, the dress is in charge’
Giving the groom a sample of the dress material will help him choose his suit as well
There are plenty of opportunities to trim your budget and still get the dress of your dreams
For brides, choosing the dress is an event in itself. “Typically they will come in with their mother, grandmother and friends, and make a day of it and go for lunch,” says Tanya O’Brien of O’Brien’s Bridal Couture in Rathnew, Co Wicklow.
Be aware of the perils of wedding dress fatigue, however. “It’s best to visit just two bridal boutiques in a day,” says O’Brien. Appointments at her studio typically take an hour and a half, with the first part spent searching through stock for suitable dresses and the second part trying them on.
Though it’s all part of the fun, it can be exhausting. “You can tell as soon as someone comes in the door if they have been to too many bridal boutiques that day because they are confused with all they have seen,” says O’Brien, a fashion designer and dressmaker who does all alterations on site herself.
Finding the dress of your dreams very much depends on your personality. “Sometimes people have seen something on our Facebook page and know exactly what they want. Most will come in and try three to seven dresses, but we regularly have people who want to try 12 to 15,” she says.
It can leave the bride-to-be a little snow blind and the best decisions are unlikely to come when fatigued. “Sometimes people will go away only and find that there is one particular dress they keep thinking about overnight,” says O’Brien. That typically becomes “the one”.
“We can advise clients on what kind of dress style will best suit their shape and figure. Sometimes they will fall for something that they love, and their family and friends tell them looks great. I will always give my opinion but every bride is different.”
Gowns here range in price from €550 to € 3,500. Most of her customers spend around € 1,500 but there are plenty of opportunities to trim your budget and still get the dress of your dreams, she points out. “We get new collections in all the time and, where a dress is from a collection that is being discontinued, it moves to the sale rail, which has sample dresses too,” she says.
The ideal gown should flatter your figure – and the best way to ensure it does is often down to what you wear underneath it.
“Very often the woman will try on a whole load of dresses and then fall in love with something completely different to what she expected, without giving a thought to her lingerie,” says Susan Moylett, owner of Susan Hunter Lingerie, in the Westbury Mall, in Dublin.
Clients looking for wedding lingerie will arrive with a photo of the dress, or, better still, bring the dress with them. The latter is the route she recommends.
“The dress can fit you completely differently with different underwear. Your boobs might be in a different place, it could give it a completely different shape. Just as you bring your shoes to try on the dress, you should bring your dress when you’re getting lingerie.”
One of the biggest trends of late is down to the Markle Sparkle. “It’s the Meghan Markle effect. She wore a boat-necked, off-the-shoulder dress, which is effectively strapless, while Pippa Middleton wore a low-backed dress with lace, which again is effectively strapless. Anyone with a decent set will know it can take a feat of underwear engineering to achieve but we can help them.”
When it comes to wedding lingerie, it’s very much function over form. “It’s not about looking for something that is pretty or sexy, it’s what works with the dress and which ensure a smooth fit,” she says. “Good underwear is something that no one should be aware of.”
VPL (visible panty line) is always a no-no. On your wedding day it’s a sin. “It’s called a foundation garment for a reason,” she says. “It should be you, but better.”
Many brides will wear stockings and suspenders, or opt for pure silk tights with no seam at the tummy, another element of underwear which, if you choose incorrectly, risks ruining the line of your dress.
Almost all will still a garter with a touch of blue in it to keep that tradition alive. Be careful about fake tan, which runs the risk of staining your dress, or simply blotching. “They say no one can see their legs but in actual fact, they can, it’s why you wear nice shoes,” she says.
Once the wedding undergarments have been sorted, it’s time to turn to the fun stuff – the silk pyjamas and the sexy underwear. “After the wedding day the sky’s the limit in terms of what kind of lingerie you want. But for wedding day, the dress is in charge.”
Grooms need to look good too. “At the moment a lot of grooms are opting for made-to-measure wedding suits. It means they can choose the fabrics, the lining and the style to suit themselves. Right now blues and navies are popular,” says Louis Copeland jnr. “A bride’s dress is a once off but the great thing about the man’s suit is that he can wear it again.”
It helps that very formal wedding suits are on the wane. “When I got married 13 years ago it was all tails. You don’t see that so much any more. There has been a definite move away from it,” he says.
Prices for a made-to-measure suit at his stores start at €795 for a two piece, and around €1,000 for a three piece. However he regularly runs promotional events where, if you buy a two piece suit, he’ll include the waistcoat for free.
Typically groomsmen are wearing blue, navy or grey, but these suits tend to be ready to wear rather than made to measure.
“Similar to brides and bridesmaids, most Saturdays, and during the week too, we’d get parties in that are typically made up of the groom, the best man and three or four groomsmen. Sometimes the groom pays for all the suits or they might pay for it themselves. They’ll typically try and match in some way with the bridesmaid’s dresses so if they bring us a colour sample we can make ties up to match.”
The other big trend is longer weddings, where guests stay on for organised activities the day after the wedding. By comparison with the smartness of the day before, schlepping around in a tracksuit won’t pass muster.
“Sometimes the groom can seem a little scruffy the day after, so it’s nice to get maybe a sports jacket and a nice shirt,” he says.