Nine real brides tell us everything about their recent shopping experiences

Everyone’s quest for the dress is different. Read on for inspirational tales from recent brides of quick turnarounds, last-minute alterations and game-changing assistance…

Interviews by Nicole Conner

Bride poses in ballgown with autumnal bouquet and tiara in her dark hair
The bride’s dark lipstick matched her bouquet, while a crystal crown complemented her Luna gown by Demetrios. Nicole was so impressed by the quality of the dresses at Kathleen Richmond Couture. Photography by

Nicole Russell wore Demetrios from Kathleen Richmond Couture

“When I saw that a boutique in my hometown stocked the dress I’d fallen in love with online during the pandemic, I knew it was fate,” smiles Nicole, who found her Luna gown by Demetrios at Kilmarnock’s Kathleen Richmond Couture.

Being a curvier bride, she says she was nervous about trying on wedding dresses, but was quickly put at ease by shop owner Kitty, for whom nothing was a bother.

Nicole picked her dress to go with her wedding’s enchanted forest theme, describing it as “truly magical”, adding that she couldn’t believe how confident she felt in it. “Going shopping can be daunting, but if you pick the right place, it makes the world of difference,” she says.

Her top tip is to envision your bridal hairstyle, so you can pick appropriate accessories (such as your veil) during the fitting.

A bride wear Sassi Holford dress with colourful floral detailing
Amanda wanted a non-traditional dress, and she got it in Sassi Holford’s Iris design with its delicate floral detailing, from Rachel Scott Couture. Photography by

Amanda Robertson wore Sassi Holford from Rachel Scott Couture

Amanda’s wedding to Mark was postponed an incredible four times, and when it finally looked like fifth time lucky, the bride-to-be started hunting for a romantic dress with a flowing skirt that would contrast with the dramatic scenery of the Isle of Skye.

Keen to pick something that broke with tradition to suit their rearranged wedding day, she fell in love with Sassi Holford’s Iris gown, which was available at Rachel Scott Couture in Edinburgh – it was the only dress she tried on.

“The colourful floral hand-embroidery caught my eye,” she says. “It makes the dress special, yet is delicate enough to retain a bridal feel.”

With special appreciation for the in-house seamstress, Amanda praises the boutique’s ability to order the dress and do final fittings in record time. “Rachel goes above and beyond to provide the best shopping experience.”

Her top tip is to look online to narrow down your search, but then unfollow any accounts once you’ve found your dress. “You don’t want to confuse yourself!”

A bride wears dress she got from Kudos Dunfermline as she links arms with her husband
Louise was particularly taken by the lace neckline and cut-out detailing at the waist of her Essense of Australia gown (style D2548), and was made to feel like “the only bride in the world” while trying it on at Kudos Bridal Boutiques (Dunfermline). Photography by

Louise Douglas-Mirza wore Essense of Australia from Kudos Bridal Boutiques (Dunfermline)

Louise couldn’t stop thinking about the Essense of Australia gown (style D2548) she’d tried on in London before she even had her date or booked her venue. “Despite its long train, it was so comfortable, and I knew I’d be able to dance the night away in it,” she recalls.

Further down the line, she heard that Kudos Bridal Boutique in Dunfermline had the gown in stock, so she popped in with her parents to let them see it. To her delight, she was allowed a wee try-on to show them how it would look.

“I knew that even if I didn’t get that dress, I wanted to buy from that store because of how accommodating they were,” she smiles.

“Don’t overshop” is her best piece of advice: “If you find a dress you feel amazing in, don’t be scared to go for it.”

That said, it can be fun to try a variety of different dresses, even ones you think aren’t you. “They could surprise you,” she points out. “And it’s good just to rule them out.”

A bride smiles with her husband wearing dress she got from Kavelle Couture
Alison completed her look with a jewelled headband and Vera Wang gloves from Kavelle Couture, who were able to help her get her dream dress. Photography by

Alison Lidbetter wore Vera Wang Bride from Kavelle Couture

Having always dreamed of a winter wedding, the festive period proved to be the ideal time for ICU doctor Alison to tie the knot – even though it left her just five weeks to pull the wedding together from the day she got engaged!

“It’s impossible to get a dress in that timescale,” she recalls, “but I’d always wanted a Vera Wang Bride gown and Kavelle really threw me a lifeline when they said they’d get one in.”

She had to travel up to Edinburgh from Bath, but it was worth it, and she praises the boutique for keeping things simple by only showing her frocks she could purchase in such a short time.

The Eliette wasn’t her first choice but it showed off her figure perfectly: “It just fitted so well,” she smiles. “I paired it with some Vera Wang gloves and a sparkly hairband. My best advice to other brides is don’t be stuck in your ways when it comes to the dress.”

Make the most of your fitting by taking a strapless bra with you, along with some heels and a hair clip, she says. “It’s useful if you don’t yet know how you’ll be wearing your hair on the day, so you can see how the dress looks with the hair up or down.”

Bride and groom smile as bride shows off tulle gown
Stephanie loved the different layers to the dress, with sparkles underneath and lace on top and accessorised with a customised denim jacket from the boutique later in the evening. Photography by

Stephanie Allan wore Sottero & Midgeley from Amy King Bridal and Beauty

The first dress Stephanie bought was a high-neck, fitted number which she admits she liked but didn’t love. As the big day drew nearer, she decided she had to act: “I called Amy nine weeks before my wedding and told her I was unhappy,” she recalls.

Half-expecting a swift “no chance” in response, she was astounded when the Kirkcaldy boutique said they could check certain designers’ live stock to see if the one Stephanie liked was available – luckily, it was.

Sottero & Midgley’s Laramie gown made this bride feel like herself, and she got kitted out with accessories from the store for the big day: “I had a wonderful personalised denim jacket created by Dillon • King, the store’s in-house veil and accessory label, and I loved my hair vine – it was made by Kate Dillon Designs who works at the boutique.”

Her favourite part of the shopping experience was how comfortable she was made to feel by Amy, Kate and Georgia who work there.

Bride poses on a beach in wedding dress with long train
Nicola loved the train on her Shirley dress by Morilee, but before she started shopping, she had a totally different idea of what style of dress she was looking for. She credits the staff at Dream Brides for their patience with her until she found ‘the one’. Photography by

Nicola Thomson wore Morilee from Dream Brides

For Nicola, the train was the deciding factor that persuaded her to choose Morilee’s Shirley gown, but it was a far cry from the style she’d had in her head when she began the quest for the dress: “It was a winter wedding, so I wanted a plain satin long-sleeved gown, but I soon realised that style wasn’t for me.”

Nicola’s experience at Irvine’s Dream Brides also played a big part in helping her make a decision. She loved that the staff wanted to know all the details of her big day, and they picked out

differ-ent styles to let her see what suited her and what didn’t. “They offered me gown after gown to try, and were on hand with veils to complete the look.”

She advises other brides to pick a boutique where you can browse all options at your leisure: “Find somewhere that allows you plenty of time for your appointment so you don’t feel rushed,” she says. And keep your entourage small: “Too many opinions can overpower you and make the whole experience stressful.”

A bride holds hands with her husband wearing dress she got from Kudos Edinburgh
Sarah Louise was a fan of the straps on her low-backed Essense of Australia gown (style D3100) and after a long search, she shed a few tears when she finally found her dream dress at Kudos Bridal Boutiques (Edinburgh). Photography by

Sarah Louise Dickerson wore Essense of Australia from Kudos Bridal Boutiques (Edinburgh)

Some women fall for the first gown they try on. For others, it’s a little more difficult. And then there’s Sarah Louise, who visited ten different boutiques in her quest, trying on 70 dresses in total. “The very last one, at Kudos Bridal Boutique in Edinburgh, was the one I bought,” she smiles.

She loved the shape of that Essense of Australia dress, and the way it fitted her, but it wasn’t the style she’d originally had in mind. “I’d always loved big princess dresses, but I thought they wouldn’t be flattering on me as I’m petite,” she says. “I felt I should go for a more fitted look, but I hated it. I could see every lump and bump and I just didn’t feel like a bride.”

After seeing how well bigger dresses suited her, she knew that was the style she wanted: “When I put on my dress for the first time, I just loved it instantly. I turned to my mum and my sister, and I could see they adored it too.”

She recommends taking photos to look back on – deciding on a dress in the store can be overwhelming. But don’t get too caught up in how it looks there: “They never fit perfectly in the shop, but your own dress will.”

A bride who got her bespoke dress from Joyce Young poses with husband and on stairs
Kim wanted her dress to be elegant and timeless, and the custom service offered at Joyce Young Design Studios really appealed to her. Photography by

Kim Willox wore couture from Joyce Young Design Studios

Having admired Joyce Young’s dresses online, Kim made a trip to the designer’s Glasgow studio to browse the collection. She had a figure-hugging lace gown in mind, but soon discovered the material didn’t suit her.

“I tried on some frocks in the boutique, and although they were lovely, they weren’t right for me,” she recalls. There was no time to be disappointed: “Joyce went away for a few minutes and came back with the most stunning sketch of what ended up being my wedding dress!”

Kim was so impressed by the way the designer ‘got’ her vision and really listened to what she had in mind. She was equally smitten by her gown: it included elements of her mother and late grandmother’s dresses, such as long sleeves, to make it really special.

Kim wanted to change into a second dress for the evening, and she got this from Joyce Young too. “I’m a professional singer, so I’m used to wearing glam dresses for performing, and I thought the second gown would be a bit of fun,” she smiles. Joyce also designed Kim’s mum’s look, as the two wanted similar details to their ensembles.

A bride who got her dress from Innate Bridals posing in a field with her husband
During her appointment at Innate Bridals, Hannah kept going back to this Romantica dress – so she knew it was the one! Photography by

Hannah Johnson wore Romantica from Innate Bridals

Hannah admits she had no clear idea of what she wanted when she embarked on her search for a dress: “I was looking for something to make me feel good regardless of style,” she says. “All I knew was that I didn’t want a ballgown because we were getting married in the summer.”

What she found at Dundee’s Innate Bridals delighted her, and she is full of praise for the “range of styles and sizes” in stock. She knew she’d find something just right to tie the knot in, which she says is often a worry for plus-size brides.

Having the chance to try on plenty of different styles made it easy for her to find the right shape for her, and she says she would encourage other brides to try something they wouldn’t normally go for.

Covid restrictions meant Hannah couldn’t have everyone she wanted with her on the dress hunt, but praises the boutique for allowing her to video-chat her little sister: “The whole experience in the shop was so good!”

Hannah’s shopping mission began and ended at Innate Bridals – once she found the one for her, she says, she didn’t need to keep looking. “I was won over by the subtlety of the detailing on my Romantica gown – it was definitely there but it didn’t overwhelm me,” she explains. “It was a combination of all the little things that made me fall head over heels for it.”