Plan your wedding all in one place
Plan your wedding all in one place

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.

bridebook.co.uk collage of four different wedding dress details

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.

bridebook.co.uk wedding dress in room hanging from a chandelier
By Ross Harvey

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.

Bridebook.co.uk- bride in a tea length dress with her wedding bouquet
By Fiona Kelly

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.

Bridebook.co.uk- brides and bridesmaids dressed in faux fur covers lauhing
By Richard Skins Photography

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!

Bridebook.co.uk- bride getting ready while smiling at herself in the mirror
By Richard Skins Photography

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:

Bridebook.co.uk- wedding dress hanging up above the bed in the bridal suite
By Allister Freeman

Ball gown

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.

Bridebook.co.uk- bride in fishtail gown and groom dancing
By Especially Amy

Sheath

Style: Follows your body’s natural silhouette

Best for: Sleek figures

Tip: A very easy shape to wear, good for summer weddings.

A line

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

Bridebook.co.uk- bride holding her bouquet and looking down
By Especially Amy

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:

Brush

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

bridebook.co.uk couple dancing black and white
By Allister Freeman

Court

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

Chapel

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

bridebook.co.uk bride with long train black and white next to car
By Especially Amy

Cathedral

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

bridebook.co.uk couple standing in a long old hall
By Stephen Casey Photography

Royal

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

Watteau

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.

Bridebook.co.uk- bride in ice blue dress walking down the stairs
By Jamie Bott Wedding Photography

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!).

Bridebook.co.uk- bride with veil trailing behind her
By Richard Skins Photography

7. Fittings

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.

Bridebook.co.uk- bride being laced into her dress
By Jamie Bott Wedding Photography

8. Underwear

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.

Bridebook.co.uk- bride getting ready and wearing a mrs white gown
By Fiona Kelly

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.

Bridebook.co.uk- bride and groom dancing at wedding reception
By John Lennie

Happy Planning!

Browse other similar articles: