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How to Choose a Wedding Dress

Congratulations! The date is set. Engagement ring on hand, now your hunt for a wedding dress can begin. All eyes will be on you when the big day comes, whatever your bridal style. So, where to begin? We’ve asked an expert.

  • Kate Halfpenny

    Kate Halfpenny

    Bridal designer Kate Halfpenny of Halfpenny London specialises in customisable wedding dresses. Separates including bow belts and detachable sleeves can be styled with timeless shapes to create looks that suit every aesthetic.

I’m looking for a wedding dress. Where do I begin?
No two brides are the same, so the main thing is to find a dress that you feel amazing in. Forget about everything else. Try your favourite outfits on at home and make a mental note about why you love them. Is it their necklines? A particular shape? The fabric? From here, look for designers who do dresses that share this aspect. Social media is a brilliant tool. You can easily research the brands you like, and most designers will have a gallery of their past brides so you can see the dresses on lots of different women. To get the most out of your bridal appointment, it’s best to have an idea of the silhouettes you like. However, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new – you may surprise yourself!

When should I buy a wedding dress?
How to plan a wedding is the oldest question in the bridal book – and it applies to dresses too. Most take around six months to be made, so we usually recommend that you allow at least a year before your wedding to find the right one. This means that you can try things on without rushing and give yourself time to decide. Ideally, you’d choose your outfit between nine and twelve months before your wedding, with fittings scheduled around three to four weeks before the day itself.

What must I bring to go wedding dress shopping?
The shoes that you plan on wearing are a must. We can’t do your fitting without them. You should also bring the underwear and any special solutions that you’re planning to wear – if your dress is backless, for example. Remember to bring all of these to every fitting you have.

Should I change my wedding dress for the reception?
It’s your wedding day, so have fun with it and make as many changes as you want! I’ve always been passionate about individual styling and the Halfpenny London ethos is all about choice. I love the concept of layering detachable elements to transform the outfit throughout the day and this has been a key part of the brand since we launched in 2005. The great thing about choosing a detachable overskirt, for example, is that you can wear it over a beautiful fit-and-flare silhouette and transform your look between the ceremony and reception. If you want a really dramatic change, you could wear the Love dress for the ceremony and the layered Wheatley dress for the wedding breakfast – before whipping off the bottom tier to dance the night away.

To veil, or not to veil?
In the same way that detachable sleeves and overskirts provide an opportunity for layering, a veil or cape can add a magical element to a simple dress. Personally, I couldn’t imagine not wearing a veil on my wedding day. Even though it was sheer, it gave me the opportunity to hide a little when I stepped into the church with all eyes on me – it was like my armour. Veils can really elevate any look and make the simplest of gowns become bridal. Certain styles like a 3D-appliquéd veil, for example, can also make outfits that are quite lacy and pretty feel edgy and fashion-forward. Some brides love the idea of a veil but aren’t totally convinced when they wear one. In this instance, capes are the perfect alternative.

Is there a bridal trend for 2023?
Many brides are opting for an outfit change (or maybe two!) to surprise their guests throughout the day. For example, you could wear the elegant, square-neck Foxglove dress for the ceremony, before switching into the slinky halterneck Cheryl dress for the evening to keep your guests guessing. For even more of a contrast from day to night, opt for a more classic bridal shape and wear the Moon dress to the ceremony, then choose another beautiful look from the Halfpenny London Harrods collection for the night.


"No two brides are the same, so the main thing is to find a dress that you feel amazing in. Forget about everything else"

Can I rewear my wedding dress?
We really encourage our brides not to view their wedding outfit as single wear, and to think about the possibilities of incorporating it into their wardrobe. Even the biggest ballgown skirt can be shortened and worn with a gorgeous top and heels for a night out, and many of our separates need no alterations at all and can be styled in so many ways as they are. These items will last a lifetime and are supposed to have a story. They are made to be enjoyed. Each time you wear them, you’ll be reminded of your wonderful day.

How do I wash and store my wedding dress?
Most pieces will have to be dry-cleaned, so follow the cleaning instructions carefully. The best way to store your gown is to get it professionally cleaned and packed in a suitable box, wrapped in acid-free tissue paper. This will preserve it for a lifetime.

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Two women in ivory wedding dresses walking away from the camera
5 Outfits for Every Stage of Being a Bride


Whether you’re planning an intimate ceremony or an all-out party, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun with bridal style both on your wedding day and in the lead-up. From engagement parties and hen-dos to the reception, here’s what to wear at every stage of being a bride.

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We’ve got your big day covered with everything from what to wear to florist and bespoke cake services, luxury bridal beauty, wedding gifts and more.

Discover the Wedding Boutique