CHOOSING THE WEDDING DRESS THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
Your wedding dress will likely be the most expensive item you purchase for your wedding day, and you will only wear it once. Choosing the right wedding dress can be a very overwhelming task. There are hundreds of styles to choose from and your friends, sister, and your mom, all have opinions about which one is right for you.
Below are my tips and advice for choosing the best wedding dress for your wedding day. I take you through the process of creating a budget for your wedding dress, when to purchase your gown, fabric types, cuts and styles of dresses, and more!
Before you start shopping, you should determine your overall wedding budget. Once you have a good idea of what you’re able to spend on your wedding, you can decide on a number that you’re comfortable spending on a wedding dress. You should plan on both the bride and groom’s attire costing about 10% of your wedding budget.
If your wedding dress is the most important element of your wedding day, you may opt to spend a little more on your dress than other areas like flowers or other decor.
Before you start looking for your perfect dress, call the dress shops you’re interested in visiting and understand what price ranges they offer dresses in. The last thing you want to do is show up to your appointment and fall in love with a wedding dress that’s outside your budget.
If you find you’re having a hard time finding a dress you love within your budget, consider a sample sale. This is when a salon or studio is looking to get rid of overstock and styles that have been discontinued or were used as floor sample dresses other brides have tried on. These dresses are heavily discounted, so you may be able to obtain a designer gown at half the price! However, keep in mind, you most likely won’t be getting a brand-new wedding dress, but it will be in fairly good condition. Be sure to look for wedding dresses that have minimal wear-and-tear. Ask the salon if things like missing beading, broken zippers, or ripped hems can be fixed easily.
Now that you have your budget in mind, it is time to start looking for your dream wedding dress! Back when I first got married, the only way to get inspiration for wedding dresses was by purchasing Bride’s Magazine. Today, brides have a variety of options to find inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram to blogs and online shops. They are all great places to start looking for style inspiration.
With Pinterest, you can create a wedding dress inspiration board and save your ideas. One thing to watch out for is not everything you see will be current or available so, before you fall in love with a dress, be sure it is one you can get.
Instagram is a great way to follow designers and see the latest trends. Sometimes you’ll be able to see their process from concept to runway, which helps tell the story of each piece they design.
Blogs and online shops are another way to see which styles are available and which ones are popular.
There are so many great ways to get inspiration for choosing your own wedding dress.
FINDING YOUR STYLE
As you scroll through Pinterest and Instagram, think about the style that best fits you. You’re going to want to find a gown that fits your personality as well as your figure.
Here are some things to ask yourself:
- How would you describe your personal style? Are you classic and refined? Modern? Artsy and free spirited? Feminine or classic and timeless?
- Do you want your dress to be a soft, flowing ethereal dress? Maybe you want a classic tailored gown. Or, are you looking for a fun dress you can party in?
- Consider your venue. Your wedding dress style should fit the style of your venue. For example, a grand ball gown wouldn’t match the style of a rustic barn wedding, but a lace or chiffon dress would.
- Fashion vs. Comfort. My number one recommendation when choosing your wedding dress is find one you feel comfortable in. I have seen brides choose dresses that look amazing on them when they are standing in front of the mirror, but when they have to bend, sit, or dance, their dress constricts them or they have to keep tugging at it. Your wedding dress needs to fit you well and allow you to move. You’re going to be wearing it for 7-8 hours walking, sitting, hugging, and dancing!
Since we’re talking about finding your style, let’s break down the different types and styles of gowns you’ll come across in your search. You may have an idea of what type of clothing looks good on you, but gown silhouettes are a little different. It is important to be familiar with the different options. Just remember, the best wedding dress for you is the one that makes you feel your best! Dress silhouettes and body types aren’t what really matters. How you feel in it does!
Ball Gown – The ball gown is timeless and straight out of a fairy tale. This wedding dress has a slim-cut bodice and full bell-shaped skirt. Brides appear to float down the aisle in a ball gown. What to watch out for: this gown can be heavy because of the extra fabric and it requires a petticoat underneath to fluff it. Perfect for church weddings and elegant ballrooms or country clubs.
Mermaid – The mermaid gown accentuates your curves for a sultry result. The elongated bodice hugs your body, while the skirt flares out mid-thigh or at the knees, creating the hourglass effect. What to watch out for: The fitted bodice on some styles can be constricting and make it difficult to bend and sit down. Perfect for any venue.
Sheath – The sheath dress gracefully skims your body’s shape. The straight lines lengthen and accentuate your figure. There isn’t much to look out for with this gown. Perfect for a vineyard or rustic venue.
A-Line – The A-line dress flatters all body types. The fitted bodice highlights your narrowest point, and the gradually flared skirt is easy to wear. Like the sheath dress, there aren’t any downfalls. Perfect for a garden wedding.
Your venue shouldn’t determine what you wear, however, you should consider your venue when you’re shopping for your wedding dress as there may be some things you may not have thought of when it comes to your dress and venue. For example, imagine walking through the vines of a vineyard in a ballgown or mermaid dress. Also, consider religious restrictions when choosing your dress. Some religions require that your shoulders are covered during the ceremony. Be sure to talk with your clergyman about restrictions your church may have.
WEDDING DRESS NECKLINES
One of the most important details to consider when searching for a gown is the neckline. Not only does this important detail highlight your face, but it impacts your entire wedding day look.
To help you decide, keep in mind the venue, the season, any accessories, how you plan on wearing your hair, and what will flatter your body type. As a rule of thumb, petite brides tend to go with a deep neckline, tall brides gravitate toward styles with a higher neckline, and brides with fuller figures complement their curves with looks that fall just below the collarbone. However, the most important rule to keep in mind is what makes you feel your best!
Sweetheart Neckline – The sweetheart neckline resembles the top of a heart. It accentuates the décolletage and gives you a longer and leaner appearance. If you love the style but have a larger bust or are looking for a little more modesty, opt for the semi-sweetheart, which falls a bit higher up on the chest.
Straight Neckline – A Modern and clean, straight neckline is often seen on strapless dresses. Just like the sweetheart, it accentuates the décolletage and collarbones but provides a little more coverage and security.
V-Necline – A v-neck dress is ideal for those looking for the appearance of a longer torso, whether it’s a slight or dramatic dip. V-neck dresses usually have sleeves or straps which create some added support.
Plunging Neckline – For the more daring bride, a plunging neckline dips low to accentuate your décolletage, elongate your torso, and add a sexy flash of skin. While most plunges come with illusion paneling to ward off wardrobe malfunctions, plenty of brides rock the style without it. If you’re looking to wear long sleeves on your big day, a plunge is a great way to balance out the coverage!
Illusion Neckline – Soft sheer fabric (such as tulle or lace) extends from the top of the bodice to the base of the neck or over the shoulders to give the illusion of a strapless, deep plunge, or a delicately strapped gown. Usually paired with appliques sewn on top that appear to be floating over the skin, this exquisite neckline is a mixture of modern elegance and a timeless romance.
High Neckline – The high neckline hits at the base or above the neck and provides the most coverage of any bridal style. Don’t want to feel too buttoned-up? Illusion details are common in high necklines and can soften up the sophisticated look.
One Shoulder Neckline – This goddess-style neckline offers an asymmetrical look. The one-strap style draws attention upwards to your face.
Off the Shoulder – The off-the-shoulder neckline is a favorite for summer, beach, boho, and destination weddings. This style frames your face and highlights the shoulders and collarbones with its draped sleeves. If you don’t want to accentuate your arms or have broad shoulders, you might prefer to stay away from this style and opt for the portrait neckline instead.
Scoop Neck – This U-shaped neckline has a low, circular neckline that accentuates the collarbone and lengthens the neck to create an elongated and sleek silhouette. It’s a universally flattering neckline that looks great on everyone and offers some extra support in the straps.
Halter Top – Halters are a favorite for bridal gowns. This neckline shows off your shoulders and offers a modern look that can vary from covered to sexy.
Jewel Neckline – This cut, also known as a “T-Shirt” neckline, rests above the collarbone and at the base of the neck. It elongates the neck and accentuates the bust. Oftentimes, it’s beaded to create the illusion of wearing a necklace. The neckline makes the upper torso appear larger and wider, making it a nice fit for traditional brides with a smaller bust and narrow shoulders.
Portrait Shoulder – Similar to an off-the-shoulder style but made with slightly more fabric, the portrait neckline is characterized by a wide scoop from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other. This cut is ideal for a bride looking for a timeless look to cover their arms and accentuate their collarbones.
WHITE VS. IVORY
What is the difference between stark white, natural white, and ivory? Let’s take a look!
Pure White – This is the brightest white. This white is usually bleached to get its crisp tint. Pure white is often used on synthetic fabrics like satins, taffetas, and polyester blends. This hue can pick up the colors of its surroundings. Things to watch out for: The hue is known to pick up the colors of its surroundings and can appear too “electric” for some tastes. It can look bluish in photographs.
Natural White – This is the whitest shade found in natural fibers. It falls between pure whit and ivory. This white features a little less warmth than ivory. Some women fear that since it’s not the brightest white, it won’t look as bridal, but a good natural never fails. Natural white tends to photograph the same as pure white (minus any unwanted blue notes) but is much more flattering to a wide range of skin tones, especially ones with yellow undertones.
Ivory – This shade may also be called “eggshell”. This hue has quickly become the most popular shade of white for modern brides. The creamy color adds a level of luxury while still photographing as white. Some ivory dresses have yellow undertones as opposed to just a soft white look.
When picking the right shade for your skin tone, brighter whites work best on darker skin tones. These are complexions that have a yellow or olive undertone. If you’re fair or have pink undertones in your skin, yellow-ivories will compliment your complexion best. When in doubt, go ivory.
THE TRAIN EXPLAINED
There are a lot of factors that come into play when considering dress trains and styles. Everything from your dress’s silhouette to the venue setting can play a part in the decision. Here are train styles explained.
The Sweep – This train is around six inches longer than the rest of the skirt. It is a subtle way to add an accent the wedding gown’s skirt. This style is a great choice for brides having an outdoor wedding and looks fabulous on trumpet or mermaid-style gowns.
Chapel Length – A chapel train is between 12 and 18 inches long. It adds just enough length to an A-line gown without being too formal. A chapel train looks beautiful in a ballroom.
Cathedral Length – The cathedral train is 22 or more inches long. Cathedral trains are totally formal and perfect for black-tie weddings at a grand venue. They look beautiful on ball gowns and A-line dresses.
Royal Train – This is the longest of the trains and has all of the Princess Diana vibes. This train extends a yard or more on the floor.
When deciding on your train length, keep in mind what you’ll do with it after the ceremony. You will either have to carry your train or bustle it. The longer your train is the more bustling you’ll have, which can add more bulk and weight…but I HIGHLY recommend you bustle it! In theory it sounds simple to just carry it when you need to, but I have seen countless brides who opted not to have their train bustled regret it.
SHOPPING FOR YOUR DRESS
It’s time to get your mom and best friends together and shop for your wedding dress! Get excited!! When you head to the salon, take your inspiration images with you. This way you can give the store assistant an idea of what you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to try something on you may not have considered. Sometimes brides go shopping for a particular gown in mind and end up purchasing something totally different. Keep an open mind and have fun!!
LOCAL WEDDING DRESS BOUTIQUES
Get more pro-tips here.