Getting engaged to the person you love is an incredible, wonderful, life-exploding-with-happiness occasion that’s hard to put into words. It’s better than Netflix on a Friday night, better than your Deliveroo order arriving ahead of schedule, better than sex on a Saturday morning.
When my boyfriend of five years proposed to me in March I thought I was going to pass out from love, and for days afterwards, we just kept smiling at each other and acting like a gross couple in their loved-up peak in every bad rom-com ever made.
But then questions about the wedding began. What date? What venue? Which city (I'm from Canberra, he's from Melbourne)? What would I wear? Who was invited? Would I be walked down the aisle?
And it was then I realised, as one of the first people in my friendship group to get engaged, I was going to face the unfamiliar and terrifying terrain of Planet Bride alone and somehow figure out a way to, you know... wedding.
1. Go through your wardrobe.
A big mistake brides-to-be make is not looking through their wardrobe, Dixon told Mamamia. The first thing to do before booking any appointments, he says, is to work out what kind of style you want.
"Go through your wardrobe, look at your own personal style," Dixon says. "That's going to be a really good indicator of what kind of wedding gown you're going to want."
"If you're more of a formal person, you're going to want more of a traditional wedding gown, and if you're a little bit more relaxed or bohemian in your day-to-day life then make a note of that because that's going to be a really good starting point."
2. Have a setting in mind and buy some magazines.
"If you're having a big cathedral wedding, you've obviously got to have something to match that scale and fits the setting," Dixon says, adding, "I tell the girls who are coming to see me to rip pictures out of magazines that they like."
"That means when they come in to see me, I can see that and know what direction they're heading in and can cater to where they're going."
3. Be up front about your body.
In a dream world, it wouldn't be this way, but the reality for most women out there is that we have areas of our body that we hate, areas we love, and areas we're a bit meh about. And according to Dixon, being upfront about that from the start will save you and your dress consultant a lot of time.
"Just be honest about it and say what you don't like, but also have a counter of what I do like," Dixon says. "Once I know what you might want to cover or show off, I have a really great idea of what shape to put you in."
4. Pick your shopping party with care.
Honestly, the whole inviting five friends, a mother and an in-law to watch you try on clothes has never really been something I've understood, but some brides seem to be really into it.
Dixon says that if you do want people to come along to your fitting, it's important they're the kinds of people who will be honest with you but not upset you.
"Bring people that support you in your decisions and don't fight against everything," he says, adding, "I prefer a smaller entourage, two or three is a good number, particularly for your first try on."
Listen: Mamamia Out Loud discuss the out-of-this-world expenses of weddings.
5. Find the right underwear for your outerwear try-on.
For the love of God and consultants everywhere, go underwear shopping before your visit. Just do it.
"Everybody has their own opinion on what's best," Dixon says, explaining some consultants prefer brides-to-be to wear a strapless bra and a g-string, while others recommend Spanx. For his fittings, he prefers to see ladies in a strapless bra and a plain, full brief.
"That way, you can see actually what shows through on the fabric," Dixon says, "and then later on if you need support wear you can work that one out."
6. Come in with some perspective.
"The main thing is, it should be fun," Dixon says finally. "Don't get bogged down in it. you'll find a dress, you'll find one you love, you'll find one you look good in. Some people find it on the first hit, some people have to go to five different places, some people have to go to 10, but you will find it and you'll have a great day."
He adds, "This is a great thing! Someone wants to marry you. You want to be with somebody for the rest of your life. This is amazing!"
What was the most daunting thing about planning your wedding?