Finding your wedding dress is part of the planning you can really look forward to. A good place to start is by browsing magazines and bridal shows and deciding what you like. The fabric will play an important role and you should consider colour, texture and detail as well as the style.
Ordering a wedding dress could take up to six months and you may need extra time for alterations. Allowing enough time will make the process as stress-free as possible.
Even if you are planning on losing weight or toning up, it is better to start trying on wedding gowns sooner rather than later. It is important to get a feel for the various dresses, so you can start an elimination process.
Keep an open mind when trying on dresses, especially when it comes to alterations. Dresses can be fitted and altered to your body shape accordingly. Certain alterations can also be done to make your dress more unique, such as adding beadwork, lace appliqués or straps.
Also be open to trying on different styles. You may have something specific in mind as your dream dress or think you know what flatters you, but you could be pleasantly surprised by a style or silhouette you never thought would suit you.
Knowing your body shape and size is a good starting point to finding something that will suit you as certain silhouettes are better suited to certain figures. Experienced dress designers or studio assistants will be able to help with suggestions if you are unsure.
Here are some tips on what might best suit you, depending on your shape and size:
Go for something simple and elegant. A narrow shape, or sheath, that follows the natural curves of the body will ensure you are not overwhelmed by fabric. Avoid oversize details and big bows.
Select a gown with lining, a corseted waist and asymmetrical draping to help redefine your shape.
A ball gown with a narrow waist line and full flowing skirt – the ultimate fairy tale dress will suit you.
Gowns with details on the bodice will draw the eye up and balance proportions. An A-line skirt, gently flaring out will disguise fuller hips.
Show off your curves with a body-hugging mermaid gown.
A dress with an illusion neckline and a defined waist will work well; avoid a high waist line just below the bust.
Look for gowns with tiers and ruffles that create volume and highlight hourglass curves.
There are three basic options for acquiring your wedding gown: You can have your dress designed and handmade by a dressmaker or couturier; you can purchase a gown new or ‘pre-loved’ or you can hire one. Whichever option you decide to go for, it usually takes time to source, design or get altered, and should be arranged for about six months in advance. Final fittings could be done a week or two before your big day, allowing for the adage that you will lose weight in the countdown to your wedding.
Having your dress designed and made
To design and make your ‘one-of-a-kind’ wedding gown, you will need to seek the services of a dress designer, dressmaker or a Couturier. Each has specialised skills and will be able to offer a specific product. Designing and making your wedding gown is such an exciting part of the wedding planning that you want to look forward to each appointment. It is important that you feel comfortable and that you strike up a relationship. Discuss your budget up front and communicate openly and honestly through the whole process. With your budget in mind, they will be able to offer a fabric selection, styles, detail, beading, embroidery and lacework.
Purchasing a new or pre-loved dress
With most bridal wear stores, it’s best to make an appointment as you will then receive the personal attention you deserve. You may be charged a fee and might be limited to the number of dresses you can try on. When shopping for your gown, you need to be level-headed and open-minded. Take someone with you whose opinion you respect as you might have something in mind but might not like it when trying it on and a second opinion is reassuring. Listen to the recommendations of the consultants as they usually have extensive experience and will be able to offer valuable advice. Your wedding gown should come alive when you put it on and make you feel glamorous and confident. Make sure it’s comfortable and allows you to move freely.
Hiring your gown
If you have no idea where to start or what design will suit you, then stores that hire dresses are an excellent place to begin. They may charge a fitting fee which will be deducted if you hire from them. This is an excellent opportunity to determine which styles are suitable and which to stay away from. Hiring companies regularly bring in new gowns so their range will vary. If you are a bargain hunter with time on your hands, ask the consultant to place you on their sale list. The gowns are only hired out a certain number of times to ensure that they maintain quality and the ranges have a limited rack life. Once a gown has been hired out its quota of times, it goes on sale. You can pick up fabulous bargains and your dream dress might just be on the sale rack!
So whether you find the perfect fit off-the-peg or carefully crafted from a sketch, your dream dress is out there waiting for you to try it on.
When shopping for your dress, take along a select few people to the appointments as too many people may cloud your ideas of what you like. It is also the bride’s day – you must be happy with what you will be wearing. It’s not your families’, fiancés’ or friends’ choice, it is yours!
Wear the appropriate underwear as this will make you feel more comfortable in the fitting room with the consultant and give you a better look and feel for the dresses you are trying on.
‘WOW’ moments are rare; it often takes time to decide on your wedding dress. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have the ‘WOW’ moment on your first fitting appointment.
Set a realistic budget; always ask prices before trying on dresses as you don’t want to fall in love with a dress that’s out of your price range.
Once you have found your dress stop looking as this can lead to more confusion and uncertainty.
With most bridal wear stores, it’s best to make an appointment as you will then receive the personal attention you deserve. No matter how independent you are, listen to the recommendations of the consultants as they usually have extensive experience and will be able to offer valuable advice.
Finally, your wedding gown should come alive when you put it on and make you feel glamorous and confident. Enjoy the shopping experience and love wearing your dress on the day!
Where to start looking? Recommended dress designers and boutiques can be found easily… click here!