Once you’re clear on the style of your wedding and the time of year it will take place, you’re ready for dress shopping!
You’ll be tempted to go dress shopping before this point in the wedding-planning process. Trust me, you will. And as fun and romantic as that is, please don’t rush to a dress decision before you know what type of day you’re planning and the style of dress you’ll need. You don’t want to end up with a Cathedral-length train at your backyard wedding (trust me, as fun as it might seem that is a LOT of grass stains waiting to happen).
As well, by waiting until this point to go dress shopping you’ll be armed with tons of useful info to share with your wedding dress consultant. Describing your vision, venue, and date allows for more personalized suggestion and less overwhelming fittings.
Here are a few of my favourite wedding dresses and some ideas for how you can pair your ideal wedding dress with your wedding style.
Consider your Wedding Location when choosing your wedding dress. Knowing the place and time of your wedding will help focus your search. Are you having a daytime ceremony on the beach? Rule out ball gowns with long trains and dramatic embellishments. Exchanging vows in a candlelit cathedral? Avoid short slip dresses or anything that looks like it could be worn to a party. Getting married on the beach? Hem it to stay off the sand!
I love how Kristen chose a wedding dress with a touch of vintage charm for her wedding at a historic location!
Take time to do your research. As you learn phrases like Watteau train, basque waist, the different shades of white, the different types of fabrics, the different bodice styles you’ll be empowered to talk knowledgeably as you describe your ideal dress to your fitting consultant. Walking into a wedding dress appointment looking for a “beautiful white dress” is amazingly possible but unbelievably vague and unhelpful. Walking in knowing that you want a sweetheart neckline, trumpet fit, in ivory with beading? Now that is a precise way to start the search!
Start early, if possible. Wedding gowns can take about four months for a manufacturer to make and another two months to complete alterations. Longer timelines apply to some designers, too, so keep that in mind.
A ballgown like Christina’s classy wedding dress is perfect for an elegant wedding party and ballroom reception. Plus, check out that beadwork!
Keep an open mind when trying on wedding dresses. Some dresses may not inspire you from the hanger but look great on you; some dresses look smashing on runway model but don’t work as well on a “normal” bride. Don’t purchase a gown you’re not in love with, but also take time to listen to your bridal consultant. They are the experts and might just be able to peg your ideal dress after just a few pointed questions!
No pressure but your wedding dress will be the most stared-at, photographed piece of clothing you ever purchase. Take time to enjoy the process of choosing your wedding dress; cherish the moments you spend searching for The Perfect Dress.
Jennifer’s gown from Lisa’s Bridal was divine; I love how she chose to wear sparkly Keds for comfort during her outdoor wedding and reception but also had the ballgown classiness for elegance alongside the comfort.
Focus on fit, not size. Bridalwear often runs smaller than ready-to-wear. Forget about the numbers and buy the gown that fits best. Don’t purchase a gown with the intent of losing weight before your wedding. Buy a dress that fits now, remembering that gowns are easy to take in but not easy to let out.
(And isn’t Laura’s side ruching just dreamy? I also love how she chose to have a train at her outdoor wedding. She knew what she wanted and she went for it!)
As a bride, you should aim to look like the best version of yourself on your wedding day. And aside from your beaming smile and bridal glow, your dress will be front and centre. We all have different body types, which is why it’s important to understand the different gown silhouettes and for which body types they work best.
Carla chose a dress she could move easily in (go check out her blog post to see the chin-up she did on her wedding day!) and made sure to have pockets. Ohmyword, the dream!
Wedding Dress Tips:
- Focus first on finding the best wedding dress silhouette for you (focus both on flattering your shape and reflecting your personal style)
- Focus on the top of your wedding dress since this is what people notice most and what will show up in your photos)
- Tie your look to your wedding location. If you’re having a traditional ceremony with a formal reception, opt for a classic, timeless gown style like A-line or ball gown with a square neckline. Getting married outdoors in an afternoon garden ceremony? Consider a strapless sheath made of a light material like silk gazar. If you’re marrying in the sand on an exotic island, a flirty tea-length gown with festive shoes (or barefoot) is great non-traditional wedding attire
- Choose the right white for your skin tone, no matter what style you choose to wear
- Let your personality show through your accessories/details
- Pick a wedding that makes you feel like the best version of yourself
- Keep an open mind when it comes to dress shape. Try on many different types of gowns – you never know how they’ll fit till they’re off the hanger
- Don’t choose a wedding dress just because it’s trendy
- Don’t dress more casual than your guests
- Don’t Let your jewelry/details overpower your ensemble
My favouritest of all wedding dresses, though, was my own custom-made-in-Vietnam gown. When I went to the dress maker in Ho Chih Minh City (while photographing a wedding in Vietnam!), I had four requests: lace bodice with cap sleeves, no train, hemmed short enough to wear flats, and pockets.
My inspiration for the pockets came from Carla’s wedding dress and I knew I wanted – nay, needed – pockets in my dress to keep our car keys safe from a prankster Uncle. 😛 In the inevitable challenge of a language-barrier, my dress was not hemmed short enough to wear flats for my backyard wedding but everything else about it was perfection and I loved it for its A-line ease and lace detail and, of course, the amazing swish of a tulle-lined skirt.
I mean, CHECK OUT THAT SWISH!
Which wedding dress speaks to you? Let me know in the comments!