The debs season is upon us with some balls having come and gone already, (thats so early!) but traditionally the local debutant balls here in Wexford are in the month of August so in todays post I wanted to share some of my top tips with my younger readers. Whether your debs is next week or next year, these tips are universal and will hopefully help you to have the most memorable night! I went to 4 grads all together; one when I had finished Transition Year, (at the last minute), 2 were the following summer and the last one was my own debs in 6th year which I chaired the debutant committee for so it’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share of them!
1. Preparation is Key – Like with almost everything in life, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. The summer months absolutely fly away on you when you’re on holidays or working a part time job so take a little bit of time every two weeks or so to make sure that you’re checking everything off your debs ‘To Do List’. That could be booking your hair and make up appointments, dress shopping, picking up the finishing touches like accessories or arranging lifts with your friends to your reception or venue. Book hair and make up appointments well in advance as the debs dates will fill up really quickly with popular salons and artists, so you don’t want to be left disappointed.
Time will creep up on you and if everything is left to the last minute it can make for a very stressful experience. For my debs in 6th year I spent so much time organising the actual event with the committee that I left all my own prep to the last minute and bought my dress just FOUR days before it! I was so stressed and naturally ended up spending a bomb on the dress because I had no time to shop around and had to settle, so like I said, fail to prepare, prepare to fail!
2. Be Savvy with your Spending – Now this is a totally personal topic and by all means, if you want to go all out for your big night, do! But if this isn’t your own 6th year graduation or you have a couple in the one year, there are so many ways that you can be savvy and chic at the same time! You can really get ripped off with all the preparation that goes in to one night – remember that it’s just one night – it can all add up really quickly and your hard earned money from your summer job is gone before you know it! Look into up-and-coming freelance make up artists and hairdressers in your area who may not charge the same price as established salons. Look up their Facebook pages for an idea of the work they do and if you’re happy with what you see, book them in – you’ll save a few bob and help someone build their portfolio in doing so!
Dress hire is a great alternative to buying your dress as it costs a fraction of the price and you can return the dress a couple of days later. I don’t know many people who have gotten a second wear out of their debs dress and it ends up sitting in their wardrobe so dress hire takes away all of the hassle. The summer sales can be great too as some stunning maxi dresses that could pass as debs gowns on sale for half their original price. I got the navy dress below in the River Island sale for €12 and it’s one of my best bargains to date!
Highstreet stores are really great for picking up your shoes and accessories in – the likes of New Look, Oasis, Pamela Scott and TK Maxx can be absolute gems for clutch bags, dressy heels and jewellery so keep an eye out in those types of shops for new arrivals. If you do have a few debs, think about buying versatile accessories that will match each of your dresses easily – this will really cut down the cost of the overall outfit.
3. The piece de résistance, the Dress – It’s almost like your wedding dress and so much time goes into searching for the right dress for your debs. I remember travelling the length and breath of the country for some of my dresses; one was from Newbridge and another was from Kilkenny as it was important for me to have something stylish and unique. You want to stand out from the crowd and to look a million dollars so make sure that you buy or hire something that you’re comfortable in. If not, the awkwardness will come across in your photos and you can’t change that on the day. If you do buy from an independent boutique, any good sales assistant should be able to pick out the dresses that best suit your shape because a flattering dress for your shape and colouring will work wonders.
Whether you buy in store or online, try on your dress and identify if it needs any alterations ahead of time. The majority of dresses do need an alteration as they are cut to standard size, so it may be a little lift in the shoulders or a turn in the hem that will make your dress look like it was tailor made for you!
Finally, if you buy your gown in store, ask if they take the details of the debs that your dress will be worn at. Most boutiques will do this as rule of thumb but it doesn’t hurt to ask anyway because there’s nothing more heart wrenching than spending good money on your dress to find another girl wearing the same one on the day! Now a boutique can’t absolutely guarantee nobody else will be wearing the same dress but they can make sure that it hasn’t been bought from their shop anyway. Highstreet stores won’t make the same promise but this just comes down to where you buy your dress and be smart!
4. Picture Perfect – Maybe it’s just me but I love to have photos to look back on in the years to come, especially through the teenage years because they are the best years of your life and they fly by so quickly! Even if you have to train your mammy or granny in on how to use your mobile or handheld camera before the big day, it will be worth it to have some good, decent images of the night. You’ll be dolled up to the max so it’s the best photo op and you’ll get a new Facebook profiler out of it too 😉😜
The night flies by so take all the photos you can fit in and this ties in with Tip No. 1, being prepared even if that means arriving to your reception a little earlier to get pictures with your date, friends and family or bringing a portable charger so your phone battery doesn’t die in the middle of a great Snapchat!! The photos and memories you’ll make at your debs will last a lifetime, which brings me on to the next tip..!
5. Be Responsible – You want to remember the night of your debs for all the right reasons; how great you felt to be all dolled up, the laughs you had with your friends and how everyone danced their socks off until the early hours of the morning! For some debutants it may be their first ‘night out’ in a social setting where people are drinking alcohol and while it’s nice to have a champagne toast or a cocktail or two, know your limits and don’t feel pressured by your peers. If your school is travelling to a venue in a different county for the debs, people might try to sneak drink on to the bus and this can be the beginning of the end for some that get plastered on the journey! It’s definitely not cool to be the one that face plants their dinner or can’t stand up to dance with the group so take it handy, it’s a long night ahead of you and you want to make the most of it! 😄
6. Enjoy Every Minute – The night will pass by with the blink of an eye so enjoy every moment and make the most of it. It’s meant to be a celebration of a milestone – you’ve finished secondary school so soak it all up and have a ball with your friends, family and teachers. I know different schools have different arrangements for their grad balls, like for my 6th year debs, teachers and family were welcome to our reception but the students then travelled to Kilkenny for the main event whereas other schools have dinner and dancing for the students and their parents and teachers. Whatever your set up is, have the time of your life and hopefully it will be a night you’ll look back on in total fondness 💖
Love, Denise x