I have been looking forward to this installment in the series because it is probably the best part of the entire wedding planning process: choosing your wedding gown. This is your time to truly express your sense of style and personality. Although the search for your dream wedding gown may seem overwhelming, following the guidelines below will certainly alleviate the pressure. Just remember come in to this process with an open mind. You’ll be surprised what treasure you may find!
First things first
I’m sure you’ve drooled over gowns in bridal magazines, online in blogs, and pinned your dream gowns on Pinterest, but knowing which one will look best on your body might be a bit trickier until you try a few on. Now before you go running out to the nearest bridal shop, here are a few tips to help make your shopping experience better:
- Always call to schedule an appointment. Most bridal salons require appointments to try on gowns because they want you to have a very personalized service experience.
- Try to limit the number of guests you bring with you to your appointment. Although you may be so excited to bring all six of your girlfriends, your mom, grandma and future mother-in-law, it’s probably not wise to do so. Searching for your wedding gown can be a very emotional process and when you have so many opinions being offered, it can be overwhelming. You would be better off bringing just two or three trusted family or friends who you know will have your interest in mind, not their own.
- Take some time to look through magazines and websites so you have a general idea of what you prefer in a wedding dress. This will help us get started in the selection process, and your stylist may have some recommendations that you will love, and incorporates your ideas.
What kind of gown is right for you
There are six classic gown silhouettes from which most all wedding gowns are created. Here is a brief description of each type:
Ball Gown: A form-fitting bodice that features a small waist (natural or dropped) and a voluminous skirt with petticoats.
A-line: A triangle or “A” shape; a form-fitting bodice that narrows at the waist and gradually widens towards the hem with an ungathered or flat-faced skirt.
Empire: A high waist (under the bust line) with a straight or slight a-line skirt.
Sheath: A body-hugging profile defined by with darts, tucks, and seams.
Fit & Flare: Also known as Mermaid or Trumpet; A body-hugging shape through the hips but jets out into a fuller skirt at the knee or mid-thigh.
Short: Short gowns with a hem that is above or just slightly below the knee. Also available in tea-length featuring a hem at mid-calf.
When to order your gown
Since each wedding gown is made to order, most designers can take anywhere from 6-9 months to produce your dress. When you factor in shipping and alterations, it could be an 8-10 month total process. That’s why most bridal salons suggest purchasing your gown 8–12 months prior to your wedding date; that way you have time allotted for alterations, fittings, and accessorizing. Keeping this time frame in mind will help relieve a lot of anxiety and allow you the freedom to search for your gown with confidence that it will arrive with plenty of time.
“Ack! What if my wedding is less than 6 months away?” Don’t panic! There are several options available to you if your wedding is less than 6 months away. Of course, many designers offer rush delivery on their gowns for an additional fee. In rare cases, the designer may have a brand-new gown in-stock at their warehouse and may be able to expedite your gown for a minimal additional charge. It never hurts to ask! Finally, you could always purchase an “off-the-rack” gown and go home with it that day. Many times, these in-store gowns are in great condition and may only need alterations for a “made-for-you” fit and a light cleaning before they are aisle-ready.
The finishing touches
Now that you have found your perfect wedding gown, here are a few tips for what to expect in the coming months. After your gown arrives at the bridal salon, you will be notified and encouraged to schedule your gown try-on. When you come to try on your actual wedding gown, it is the perfect time to purchase your accessories and veil or headpiece so you can see how your whole ensemble will look for your wedding. At this time you will also need to find a wedding gown tailor and schedule your alterations appointments. All bridal gowns will need a nip and a tuck to make it fit perfectly to your body. You should aim to start alterations roughly 6-8 weeks before your wedding, unless otherwise advised by your tailor, and you should plan to pick up your wedding dress the week of your wedding. This ensures that your gown will remain pressed and pristine in time for your wedding.
Now that you have an idea of what to expect during the wedding gown process, you can search with confidence and know that whatever dress you find, it’ll be the right one for you!