How to know when you’ve found the perfect wedding dress, by the experts

halfpenny london bride
How to know you've found the perfect wedding dressLEAH MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY

Pop culture would have us believe that you only know when you’ve found the perfect wedding dress if you burst into tears. Countless films and TV shows tell us that anything less than a big display of emotion indicates that you should carry on the search. This gives us unrealistic expectations of what we should be aiming to feel, but, as any skilled bridal designer or expert will confirm, it’s often the quieter signs brides make when they’ve found the dress they want to marry in that carry real weight. A mix of non-verbal acts and tells give us away; a subtle language between the bride and the designer. You might not know you’ve found the perfect wedding dress yet, but the expert standing next to you in the boutique probably already has a clear idea.

“It’s simply a result of years of experience working with women and interpreting what they say – and, more often, what they don’t say – and always being one step ahead,” says Kate Halfpenny of Halfpenny London, whose bridal clients have included Emilia Fox and Ophelia Lovibond. “We’re always listening and so much is said during those moments of silence to give us a clue what the bride wants. We’re like detectives.”

halfpenny london wedding dress

As someone who has only recently sought and found my perfect wedding dress, I can attest that it’s only when you start trying things on that you really know – or rather when you really feel. You can have as many preconceived ideas as you like, but it’s only when you feel the fabric against you, experience how it moves, and see the way something looks on you that you truly gain clarity. Often, we don’t know know what we want until someone opens our mind to new ideas and takes us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes it takes an expert – someone who sees and hears us – to make us feel like the best version of ourselves. Bridal designers and stylists often know a client has found the perfect dress before she does herself.

We spoke to three bridal experts to find out the tacit signs you’re making that show them that the wedding-dress search is over.

The shoulder drop

“More often than not, a bride's body language relaxes, their shoulders drop and they start moving around in the dress – we’ve seen some women practise a dance move,” says Amelia Tompkins of Love Story London. "She will place her hands in more relaxed positions if she likes the dress, rather than covering it. All of this is a display of confidence in what she’s wearing.”

Immediate accessorising

“When a bride really loves the dress, she wants to see the whole look to imagine the entire outfit,” says Pronovias product director Anna Ramirez. “She will try it with shoes, jewellery and maybe a veil to envisage the whole picture. Also, if she has come without her family members and is really invested in a particular gown, she usually calls a relation over FaceTime so that they can see her.”

A change in posture

“Signs can be subtle and may be hard for some to spot, but brides stand a little straighter, their shoulders roll back and they walk out of the dressing room with their head held high,” says Kate Halfpenny. “There’s also often a lot of swooshing that goes on. It’s wonderful to watch.”

The amount of time you want to spend in your dress

“When a bride is really in love with a dress, she tends to not want to get out of it and will stay in it the longest without realising,” says Tompkins. “She’s not thinking about what she has to try on next, or changing quickly into something else.”

love story london bride wearing a wedding dress
A look from the Love Story London Amare collectionHearst Owned


‘It seems obvious, but the moment she smiles, we know we are on the right track,” says Ramirez. “Her face lights up and her eyes become wider and brighter.” Tompkins agrees, “a beaming smile from ear to ear indicates the hunt is over.”

Joyful relief

“The search for a wedding dress can be exhausting,” says Jenny Packham. “The dazzling array of white can be overwhelming. Victorian swooning is not the style of a JP bride; the dress is just part of their day and, while it is important, it's just one of the many decisions they must make to create their perfect wedding. There is a moment though; a quiet smile in the mirror and perhaps a sigh. A moment of celebration as the future brightens and lightens.”

jenny packham bridal
Jenny Packham Bridal 2025Hearst Owned

And remember, don’t panic if there are no tears

“For some women, it’s so emotional that they do cry, while for others it’s a quiet realisation – a comfort that they are expressing themselves in the exact way they want to, the inside and outside completely aligned,” says Halfpenny. “Sometimes the bride doesn’t know instantly. Sometimes she needs a moment to take it in and process what she’s seeing in the mirror. Don’t worry if you don’t have that 'big moment' where you burst into tears as that’s often completely irrelevant. If you love how you feel in that dress, it’s 100 per cent 'The One.'”

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