Wedding Boutiques

Some things people don’t tell you about when trying on wedding dresses:

  • Quite often, bulldog clips are the essential accessory pinned on to the wedding dress as you try it on (read more on this blog)

  • Various things are stuffed down you so that the dress looks like it fits you. My favourite was a cushion.

  • There is so much pressure for someone to burst into tears when you find ‘the one’ that someone will feel guilty if they don’t cry.

Jokes aside, I actually did enjoy the whole thing. I tried on some really poofy dresses, just because it’s quite fun. I’d recommend it, but can confirm they look hideous.  Then I got to the good appointments and found these lovely boutiques below.

Also, did you know that some boutiques charge just for the appointment? YUCK! Some cost as much as £80. My suggestions below do not charge anything, and do not believe in doing so. Amen.

I’m not on commission or anything, but just want to share my experiences here so that, if you’re short of time, you can bypass the bulldog clips and head straight for the good shit. Button up, girls. Enjoy.

Here I am in THAT dress:

Is it socially acceptable to wear this to Sainsbury’s? (Dress by Charlie Brear – below)

1. Charlie Brear: Oh Charlie, we love you so…

I found my wedding dress at Charlie Brear, and I will forever be in love with everyone there. Hands down, ALL staff at Charlie Brear just epitomise the down-to-earth bride.

Charlie Brear: NO pigeons zone

At a glance:
Staff: 5/5
Dress: 5/5
Price: 4/5 (it could be cheaper, but you pay for the top top high quality you get)
Pushyness: 5/5 (as in zero pushyness)
Down-to-earth overall score: 5/5

Case 1: The wedding advert. I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed the thought of the bridal magazines but I hadn’t found much within them to excite me. The dress adverts were not particularly ‘me’…until I found MY dress. It jumped out at me from the magazine, so different from anything else I’d seen. The advert was so different – simple and classic. Brides Magazine, you did good.

Case 2: The staff. From the moment I first called Charlie Brear, they were just friendly and…normal. Then I went in and met the team and they just instantly made me feel at ease. They were friendly and welcoming, bothering to get to know me in a genuine way, which I had only experienced in one other boutique. They were honest yet thoughtful, and I could see how creative they were. They asked about my likes, my style preferences, and all about the spirit of our wedding.

Even though I did end up buying my wedding dress from Charlie Brear, they still weren’t pushy (unless they were and I was so totally taken over by their selling techniques that I didn’t realise). I went back twice, to take a couple more of my bridal crew each time, and they were so lovely each time. Everyone is different, but for us down-to-earthies, I think dealing with as many cool people as possible is ESSENTIAL. They obviously worked for me, I hope they work for you too.

Case 3: The fashion dahling. I like taking pride in being up to date with fashion stuffs, but I am not the most fashionable person in the world. However, for the one day I’m going to be a bride, I want to look gooooooooood. I’m sorry but I’m not alone there. My dress was not mega cheap, however it was not crazy expensive like some brands. What I mostly love about Charlie Brear is that everyone’s bridal outfit is different. They don’t just stick to dresses but have slips, skirts, shrugs, belts and jackets to make you feel like you are the only person ever to have that outfit. It’s pretty dang special…and I felt BLOODY INCREDIBLE wearing it on the day!

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Mandi, my Charlie Brear dress, the biggest smile ever and me: WINNING

>> Check out Charlie Brear at: 


2. The Wedding Trousseau: It’s all about YOU

If, like me, you like the personal touch when shopping for your wedding dress, this is definitely the place for you. You do have to travel out to zone 6 eastbound on the Central Line (ohmygad!) but it’s worth it. The collection is very classic and you leave feeling pretty darn special.

At a glance:
Staff: 5/5
Dress: 4/5
Price: 5/5 (great value for top brands)
Pushyness: 5/5 (again no pushyness)
Down-to-earth overall score: 4.5/5

Case 1: It’s all about you. When you arrive your appointment, Deborah (the owner) promptly shuts up shop and closes the blinds so that you have her full attention. You are the only one in the shop (with your crew) and you don’t have to try things on alongside tons of other people. I guess this could seem intense, but not here. it’s just extremely personal, and you feel important but in a very understated way.

Case 2: The dress. So I actually found what I thought was my perfect dress at The Wedding Trousseau, before I tried on that dress at Charlie Brear. I must say wouldn’t have chosen it myself, but Deborah picked it out as she thought it would suit me. Dang she’s good. She has a number of brands, and often it can work out cheaper than going to the branded boutiques themselves, plus you get her expertise and personal touch if you need any changes or alterations. 

Case 3: I love non-salesy peoples: Despite falling in love with my dress at the Wedding Trousseau, as I said I had already spotted that advert for Charlie Brear, so I didn’t want to make a decision there and then. Rather than pushing me into making a decision, Deborah actually urged me to wait and think about it, encouraging making a considered decision rather than rushing anything. When she said that she wanted me to find my perfect dress no matter where it was, I actually got quite emotional. PULL…YOURSELF…TOGETHER…JO! It was just so refreshing that she was thinking about me, rather than her sales figures. How refreshing, how grounded. How very very Down-to-earth Bride.

>> Have a wee look at The Wedding Trousseau at:


Recommendations from other down-to-earth brides:

3. The Oxfam wedding boutiques: second-hand dress, first-class experience

You don’t just have to be on a budget wedding to think about having a second-hand dress. Granted, you will obviously get a dress at a much cheaper price than other wedding boutiques, but the experience is also really enjoyable. If you’re a charitable person you also have the benefit of feeling pretty dang good that you’ll have also given money to Oxfam. Winning.

At a glance:
Staff: 5/5
Dress: 4/5
Price: 5/5 (I mean, come on)
Pushyness: 5/5 (ZERO pushyness)
Down-to-earth overall score: 4.5/5

Case 1: It’s not all about London (unlike my other posts, soz): The Oxfam wedding department has boutiques all over the country, so hopefully you’ll be able to find one in your local region. If not then they also have the Oxfam online wedding boutique shop. Score.

Case 2: The way you make-a me feel: My friend has ended up with a beautiful vintage dress, felt bloody beautiful and amazing when trying it on, has given to the awesome charity that is Oxfam, and now has some extra moola to maybe even buy a second dress to change into that night.

Case 3: Oxfam vs eBay: I know eBay can have some good options, but by the sounds of it Oxfam also offer a great experience, and you can’t beat that charity feeling. Worth looking into? Fo sho.

>> Have a little peruse at Oxfam’s wedding boutique offerings here: 

For ideas on how you can give charitably at your wedding, have a look at these helpful links:

  1.  Supporting ActionAid at your wedding (my personal fave)
  2. Supporting Alzheimer’s Society at your wedding
  3. Supporting Macmillan at your wedding
  4. Supporting Oxfam at your wedding