Here Comes The Dress: Finding your Dream Wedding Dress
Dress shopping is one of the most exciting parts of your wedding planning. There is such an array of styles and designers to choose from, it can easily become an overwhelming and daunting task to select that one perfect dress to make you the most beautiful bride! This is not something to rush into and be sure to keep an open mind, as what may look stunning on a model in a magazine may not suit your body type or skin tone quite as well.
Some brides will spend weeks, months, even years looking for that perfect dress. One bride we worked with kept it simple and asked each of her 5 bridesmaids to select 1 dress each, different styles and without seeing a single one, the bride tried them on and committed to buying one on that day… very brave! It worked out great for her, after 1 hour and 5 dresses later, her perfect dress was purchased!
Wedding dress shopping like most stages in your planning should be a fun and memorable process. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure an enjoyable and smooth wedding/bridesmaids dress shopping experience.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Before you go shopping, look at the latest collections in bridal magazines and websites, then search for your local stockist.
Buying your dress online comes with huge risks and sometime horrible consequences, we have heard our fair share of unnecessary dramas. To guarantee you get exactly what you paid for,
shop at an actual bridal boutique where they can size you properly and try on a variety of dress styles.
The Lingo: Be sure to come with a basic description or images of dress ideas are you looking for, below is some useful dress jargon unveiled. (pun intended)
Think of your personality are you going for something more Simple and sophisticated or fitting and sexy, perhaps contemporary/structured fit is more your style, Princess / fairytale fit or a flare fishtail, catwalk trendy, layered frills, floral, victorian, vintage, Gatsby geometric pattern, bohemian (‘boho’) or glam and glitzy using sparkly fabric or working in more subtle hint of delicate sparkle using accessories only. Whether your final dress style is, here is some industry terminology you might hear or use during dress shopping.
Gown Lengths & Trains
- Short: above-the-knee length.
- Knee-length: hem just covers the knees.
- High-low: hem falls from slightly below the knee to ankle in the front; ankle to train-length in back.
- Mid-calf/ballet-length: hem reaches to centre of the calf to ankle length.
- Floor-length: hem fully skims the floor.
- Sweep train: shortest train; extends back 8 to 12 inches after touching floor.
- Chapel train: trails 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet from waist.
- Semi cathedral train: extends 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet from waist.
- Cathedral: flows 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 feet from waist.
- Extended cathedral/Monarch train: cascades 12 feet from waist.
- A Line: classic style that has a fitted bodice, and a gently flared skirt
- Ballgown: Closely-fitted bodice that comes in at the waist and then immediately flares out into a very full, voluminous skirt.
- Mermaid: sexiest dress shape, tight from the bodice, through the waist and hips down to your knees and the skirt flares out dramatically.
- Column: fitted down to the waist and hips, and then straight skirt that flows to the floor. Also known as a Grecian-goddess style gown.
- Empire: the skirt falls from directly below the bust, like a modern-day maxi dress.
- Strapless, straps or with sleeves: self explanatory really.
- Sweet heart: most popular and flattering- part of a heart, with a V shape in the middle.
- v neck: also known as plunge neckline this is triangular neckline forms a V-shape.
- Bateau: high-neck design with a gentle dip at the neck and the back.
- Halter: straps tie behind the neck.
- Off the shoulder: shows off the decolletage, collarbone and shoulders, strap rests rests on the upper arm.
- One shoulder/ Asymetrical: think toga, the neckline is draped diagonally, one shoulder is bare and one with a strap.
- Scoop: semi-circle which dips low over the chest.
- Square: less circular with more squared off finish.
- Barely there’ flesh- exposing bodices.
- Linen: a cloth made of flax, known for its strength, coolness, and luster.
- Brocade: woven fabric, raised floral or ribbon design, heavy usually used for winter weddings.
- Charmeuse: lightweight fabric that has a glossy, satin finish.
- Chiffon: lightweight, sheer.
- Crepe: thin fabric with a crinkled texture.
- Dupioni: thick, shiny silken fabric, very popular with bridesmaids dresses.
- Organza: stiffer and heavier than chiffon
- Organdy: sheer, transparent crisp silk or rayon fabric; sometimes printed or embroidered.
- Moire: silk taffeta; wave-patterned to glisten like water when illuminated.
- Satin: smooth, shiny fabric
- Silk: smooth, shiny and soft, very popular fabric for wedding dresses.
- Taffeta: thick, woven fabric that rustles when you move in it
- Tulle: often used in bridal veils, it is semi-sheer netting.
- Metallic: produces shimmering effect when illuminated.
- Lace: traditional choice, delicate fabric, traditional lightweight openwork fabric, patterned, by machine or by hand.
Allow for at least 6 months for delivery of your chosen designer as there is usually need for alterations from a bridal shop.
THE VENUE AND THEME
An important consideration is where you are getting married and the theme of your wedding day. Once you have selected your venue and your theme, then begin wedding dress shopping so everything seamlessly (pun indented) flows well. Some venues have a list of recommended suppliers which include bridal dress shops, this can be a strong starting point to work with a reputable boutique. If your friends have recently gotten married, check in with them as they will be able to recommend some boutiques. You will know when it’s THE ONE. You may not get tears, you may not get giddy but you will feel right and have the gut feeling it’s the right one for your day and your personality.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
What may look good in a magazine or website may not suit you, enjoy the process by trying on a few styles and fabric shades. A professional expert will provide you with a good starting point by understanding what styles will suit best your size, height and skin tone.
Our expert often say not to limit yourself to the only styles you thought as you might be disregarding lovely bridal dresses or bridesmaids gowns. Often the one you didn’t like on the hanger, ends up being the one you chose!
Resist the temptation to try on everything in the shop, this may cause you to feel overwhelmed and resent the experience. We have seen brides have full anxiety attacks and meltdowns, this is not necessary. Sometimes it is best to take a break, go for lunch and come back or simply stop for the day and resume a few days or weeks later to review your options with a calmer demeanour.
Don’t let dress shopping become an unrealistic process, it is not a ‘must have at any expense’ purchase. Let the shop owner understand your budget ahead of time so they can show you dresses that fit your reality. Trying dresses outside of your budget and falling in love with one that is outside of your budget it the last thing you want to do!
Remain realistic, have a maximum figure in mind and stick to it, unless you are in a position where you can have whatever your heart desires. Dress shopping can become a very emotionally driven experience and going over budget can easily happen. There are so many other categories in your planning that will require funds, spread it across nicely like i the food, and entertainment where your guests spend the most time with you.
When dress shopping, bring with you your different bra styles, ideally in nude colour, same with panties.
PEOPLE YOU TRUST
Bringing a large group of friends and relatives with you may be counterproductive, as everyone will have their own opinion and you may find yourself overwhelmed and your guests actually hindering the process. Bring people you trust and keep the group smaller… its not fun if everyone knows what your dress is – you want to surprise your guests on day!
Ultimately, it is your decision as to which dress you prefer and remember comfort is an element to this. The ideal dress will feel like it was made for you and bring our your best features.
You will mantically want to take photos of your favourites dresses to compare and contract them at home, most bridal boutiques will not permit this as it is purely due to prohibiting counterfeit ‘copycat’ dress making. Simply jot down in a note book your favourite dress names/styles and if you must, re visit the shop(s) to do a final selection a few days or weeks later. Sometimes walking away and thinking about it is the best decision.
Its important you bring with you the actual shoes you are planning to wear on the day when you go to your dress fitting session, as this will determine the length of your hemline.
It is important to factor the venues terrain in shoe selection, is it pebbled drives, hardstanding, paving, grass. Our experts have seen it over and over again where brides select a stunning stiletto only to find herself sinking into the grass during her walk down the aisle outdoors or hanging onto her groom during photos to prevent sinking, or the shoes hurt so much they resort to barefoot walking half way during the celebrations.
The ultimate bridal shoe combines fashion with comfort… remember most of the time the dress is long enough that the shoes cannot be seen. We have seen brides get married in some fabulous flats, shorter cuban heeled shoes, silk wedges, barefoot, wellies and converse shoes.
Once you have picked ‘the dress’ and purchased it, stop looking. You will experience the urge to look in magazines or online to reassure your decision but you may find yourself experiencing unnecessary doubts and buyer regret. This is normal, but don’t temp yourself tight the torture. You found a gorgeous dress, you will look amazing and remember, your partner is marrying you for who you are not who you are wearing 😉