Introduction: Your Wedding Dress
Your wedding dress has to be chic, elegant and utterly unforgettable...and it has to make you look beautiful on the happiest day of your life.
After the engagement THE wedding dress is always on the mind of a bride-to-be! Selecting your wedding dress is a journey, a very unique and personal experience, it is about the bride making a statement about who she is as a person and how she wants to be seen and remembered on her wedding day.
It is not just a dress; it is not simply a fashion moment. It is turning a dream into reality. (Can you tell we’re just a little excited for you?!) So to help you with one of the most important, and exciting, decisions in your wedding planning, we have put together everything you need to know about choosing the perfect dress for you.
1. Choose the time of year
The time of year will dictate the fabric you will choose for your wedding dress. And you should remember that different fabrics have different ‘looks’ and comfort levels, and will ultimately determine the style of your wedding dress.
Most wedding dress fabrics are very versatile, with the exception of a few heavy fabrics, such as velvet and brocade, that are more suited to winter weddings, and organza and georgette, that are very light and as such would be better suited to summer weddings.
2. Choose your style of occasion
Time and location of the wedding are crucial when selecting the design of your wedding dress. Is it a small or lavish wedding? Is it religious? Is it indoors or outdoors? Is it modern, traditional or themed? If it is a destination wedding, then make sure you have researched the weather!
Tip: Don’t forget to think about the shoes and veil too, as they must be suitable for the anticipated weather conditions and the chosen venue. Read our top Saving Tips: Accessories and our amazing partner, Jimmy Choo’s Guide to Wedding Shoes for some extra inspiration.
3. Make appointments
On average, it takes 6 months for your dress to be made, so bear this in mind when you start making appointments at different bridal shops. Book as many appointments as possible, so that you can be sure that you have done enough research when you finally decide on the perfect dress. Think wisely about whom you should bring to your first few dress appointments, as you do not want to be swayed by the opinions of others, or even worse, to be overwhelmed by them and confused as a result. We think bringing your Mum, Sister or Maid of Honour is enough and will give you the most honest feedback!
4. Body shapes
Before you make your first bridal appointment start collecting images of dresses that you like- Pinterest is perfect for this or any other Bridebook inspiration pages such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Try out evening dresses in different silhouettes at various department stores and see what shapes and necklines suit you best. To help you narrow down the choices, here are the most popular wedding dress styles and the shapes that they generally work well with:
Style: Also known as meringue, consists of a fitted bodice and a big and full skirt.
Best for: For a slender or petite frame, good for highlighting the waist.
Tip: This is the ultimate wedding dress shape and your wedding day is probably the only time that you can wear a dress like this!
Fishtail or trumpet
Style: Figure hugging, with a skirt that flares from the knee, good for highlighting curves.
Best for: Hourglass, curvy.
Tip: This is a quite a restricting dress shape so make sure it’s not going to hold you back from the dance floor.
Style: Follows your body’s natural silhouette
Best for: Sleek figures
Tip: A very easy shape to wear, good for summer weddings.
Style: Fitted bodice with the bottom half of the dress following the shape of the letter ‘A’
Best for: This shape suits most body types, which is why it is the most popular
Tip: Can work with any neckline and sleeve/no sleeve
5. Dress Train
Once you’ve chosen the dress shape of your dreams, the next thing to think about is the dress train, which should be comfortable for the bride and suitable for the wedding style. The length of the train should be influenced by the formality and surroundings of your wedding.
Almost all dress styles can have a train, whether it is a ‘fishtail’, ‘sheath’ or ‘ball gown’ shape. And a lot of the time these trains can be re-adjusted after the ceremony, sometimes they are simply bustled up or removed as part of an overskirt or Watteau.
Here are the different styles of train to help you choose:
This is the shortest and most modest train style. It lightly ‘brushes’ behind and gives a very subtle volume to the dress. This train length is suitable for all occasions, regardless of the ceremony format or the time of year of the wedding. This would be the best choice for outdoor weddings.
Approximate length: 6 inches
This train length is slightly longer then the Brush. This would be suitable for all ceremonies, but could be problematic for outdoor receptions since the train can collect greenery as the bride walks around on grass.
Approximate length: 3 feet
This is the intermediate train length, between the more modest ‘brush’ and ‘court’, and the very dramatic ‘cathedral’ and ‘royal’ lengths.
Approximate length: 5 feet
This train is suitable for formal and traditional weddings. Due to its length, you will need help from the bridal team to make sure that the train is in place before you walk down the aisle and throughout the ceremony. This train will often have a bustle option.
Approximate length: 7 feet
This is the grandest length of train; it makes a statement about the bride and the wedding itself. Similar to ‘cathedral’ train, this will require assistance to make sure that the train is in correct position and does not interfere at any point while the bride is walking down the aisle.
Approximate length: 10 feet
This train is a separate piece of fabric that is attached to the top part of the bodice on the wedding dress. This is a more contemporary version of the train.
The length of the train is varied, from the same length as the dress to the length of a ‘cathedral’ train to give a more dramatic look.
6. Choose the right shade of white
It is important to choose the right shade of white that goes well with your skin tone and will work well with the lighting of your wedding venue.
Generally, if you are fair skinned you should opt for warmer shades of white, such as Ivory. While darker skin tones should opt for cooler shades of white, with a slight blue undertone.
Once the dress has been chosen make sure you try walking in it and sitting down. If you are taking a car to the ceremony make sure the fabric does not crease (and that you and your dress can fit into the car!).
Generally speaking you need approximately 6 months for the dress to be made. Work backwards and have your fittings as close to the wedding date as possible. Make the most of each fitting and make sure you attend them with your trusted person, someone whose advice you value and whom you are at ease with.
Do not underestimate the power of undergarments. Make sure you consider the practical options when trying on the wedding dress. You will want to be as comfortable as possible on your wedding day and good underwear is sure to achieve that.
9. Be yourself!
The final piece of advice is for you to be yourself. Make sure that you are comfortable in whatever dress shape you choose and that you feel beautiful. Make sure your dress isn’t restricting as this will be very obvious when you make your way down the aisle. Choose your best feature and make sure that your perfect dress highlights that.
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