Following on from my last blog post on 5 Groom Suit Styles for Every Wedding, I thought it only natural to follow this up with a post about choosing your wedding dress. I think it goes without saying that preparing your wedding can be one of the most stressful events of your life. Currently still living through this with my fiance (thanks Covid-19!) we have found that the most challenging aspect is trying to stay calm and actually enjoy the process of creating our dream wedding. A lot of what I will be talking about below has come from me picking the brain of my fiance and what exactly she was considering when choosing her dress. Don’t worry, I haven’t seen the dress she chose for herself as she’s very superstitious like that! One thing I did notice without any guidance from the better half, was that buying a wedding dress is one of the most exciting and challenging tasks that arises for the bride. On the one hand it can be the most expensive gown you will ever own, on the other hand – you have never worn this type of attire before and can be easily overwhelmed by the multitude of choice. With a little help from my fiance, we have laid out below some of the most important criteria to use as a guide when choosing a wedding dress for your special day!

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Venue and Location.

Before you start looking for that perfect dress, you should be considering your wedding venue or location, and of course the weather conditions. For example, if you were to have a beautifully themed wedding, your dress has to correspond with the circumstances. A glitzy embellished gown will look inappropriate at a country rustic style wedding, plus to top it off you will feel uncomfortable. Be slightly practical and choose a wedding dress that will be suitable for the weather conditions. If you’re tying the knot in a hot climate, then put down that ball gown wedding dress with full skirt and layers upon layers of fabric. If hot and sweaty on your wedding day isn’t the look you are going for during a summer ceremony, then a silk material and a cut with open skin would be a good choice. For a winter wedding, an elegant and sophisticated gown with long sleeves will keep you warm for your special day.

Dress shape/body shape.

If we are honest with each other in this section I’ll think we will be fine (nervous laugh). Most brides will most certainly have a vision in mind of how they’d love to look on their wedding day, and the dress is often the centrepiece of that vision. Unfortunately this vision can quickly take a turn for the worse if you don’t choose wisely – for your body shape that is. It’s one thing to have your mind set on the colour, style and dress detailing, but don’t forget the most important factor here is too fall in love with the way it makes you look, and feel. Squeezing a perfect pear shape body into a straight cut sheath dress is always going to end in tears. The same goes for engulfing a smaller frame into layers upon layers of ruffles.

“So how does one know?” I hear you ask. If this is not something you’re familiar with, in terms of which dress cut will show off your best assets, or hide your imperfections. A dress designer or boutique sales assistant will be only too willing to help, and their experience and knowledge will be worth its weight in gold! My fiance experienced this first hand. She had a picture in her head of her dream dress, and it was hard to hear that her dream dress didn’t suit her body shape, and no amount of body shapewear will change that. A key take away from this is to try on as many dresses as possible. Have an open mind and try different styles, and you’ll soon come to realise that’s there’s a reason you should steer clear of certain dress shapes and embrace others. It really doesn’t matter whether your dress is high end or homemade, plain or patterned, the right fit is all important and this trumps all other aspects of searching for that perfect dress.

Square frame – If your look is more athletic, with wide shoulders, straight and narrow hips; you should seek out styles which create the illusion of a smaller waist such as a strapless dress or dresses with shoestring straps. Ladies who have a straight up and down frame can create a curvy impression by opting for dresses with an Empire or A-line cut. Or gowns with fullness in the skirt to create movement and shape, soften the silhouette and add volume to the lower body.

Inverted Triangle – For those ladies with an inverted triangle body shape, you’ll find you will have broad shoulders and a thin waist. Often women with this body shape will also have a larger bust. With this style you might want to balance out your shoulders, the popular mermaid style wedding dress, which is slender on the bodice and tapers out from the knee is a great choice. Another option is the ball gown dress, with a full dress and tighter bodice.

Hourglass figure – If you have an hourglass figure with a shapely bust, nipped in waist and curvy hips you’ll find strapless or halter neck gowns will show off your feminine curves in the best possible light. Lucky for hourglasses they can also rock a mermaid style dress which fits tightly around your curves and then flares out below the knee to really highlight those gorgeous curves.

Pear shaped – Pear shaped ladies will look devine in an A-line dress which flatters your bust and narrow waist but skims over hips and thighs. To be honest, A line dresses are all round figure fixers. They can hide wider hips, or add volume to smaller ones and the bust style can be altered to suit with more detail for smaller busts and boned bodices to contain larger ones. A-line dresses suit pear shaped women down to a tee, as do Empire line dresses which give the illusion of height, and flatter the bust and narrow the waist while skimming over hips and thighs.

Apple shaped – If you’re more of an apple shape, with a wider neck, full bust, thick waist but narrow hips, dresses with low cut necklines will elongate your top half and accentuate your bust. Whilst drop waist styles lengthen the torso and have a slimming effect.

What to Consider When Buying Your Wedding Dress 1
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Ultimately the choice of dress is yours, but to make sure you feel comfortable and captivating on your special day it’s worth doing your homework. Sure there is plenty of fixing shapewear, but nothing beats appraising your shape or asking a professional to do it for you. Remember, your dream dress isn’t the one you dream you could fit into, it’s the dress that looks the most dreamy on you.

Dress Silhouette.

As previously mentioned one of the most daunting and exciting things about being a newly engaged is the wedding dress search. It can be very overwhelming making a choice which you have probably thought about since you were 5 but don’t threat! A little preparation can go a long way. So below is some food for thought before you rush out and buy the first dress you see. When it comes to the silhouette of a wedding dress you’ll probably already have an idea of what sort of style you want from the vast selection out there. The below is really a beginners guide for wedding dress silhouettes, just to help you start thinking about what you like and what will work best for you.

Mermaid – This style of dress is usually best for brides who have an hourglass figure due to it’s curve hugging shape. But this doesn’t mean you can’t rock this style even if you don’t. Talk to your dress designer – diagonal drapes can actually nip in straight waists, and peplums are perfect for hiding your tummy or balancing narrow hips.

Ball Gown – For brides seeking a fairytale wedding the ball gown is the way to go! Lots of lightweight layers of tulle are a big favourite as it evokes an ethereal and romantic appeal. Be careful here if you’re on the petite side, you may want to steer clear of too many ruffles and embellishments, or a super long train so the gown doesn’t overwhelm you.

MA-line/Deep V Neckline – Another popular choice to flaunt down the isle is the deep V neckline gown or A-line. These are super stunning especially amongst the Hollywood A-listers; just don’t forget that Hollywood boob tape!

What to Consider When Buying Your Wedding Dress 2
Dress by Sottero and Midgley
What to Consider When Buying Your Wedding Dress 3
Dress by Maggie Sottero
wedding dress
Dress by Sottero and Midgley

Sheath – This dress is perfect for brides wanting to dress up a slim silhouette with dazzling embellishments or maybe keeping it minimalist chic. This cut of dress follows your body’s natural shape. With a sleek design this lends to effortless long, straight lines having a lengthening effect.

Short – If floor-length isn’t your cup of tea, this cut allows you to kick up your heels in a cropped hemline. With a choice of being knee-length, tea-length or even in between. A leg baring style is great for city hall weddings or even an evening wedding dress. Why not jazz it up even further with great accessories to complete the look – just think of the shoes!

What to Consider When Buying Your Wedding Dress 4
Dress by Rebecca Ingram
What to Consider When Buying Your Wedding Dress 5
Dress by Ellis Bridal

Dress Style.

Much like choosing you dress silhouette, choosing your dress style can also be a challenging task. Between the seemingly endless list of options and the confusing terminology, picking the perfect gown can seem almost impossible. Don’t worry, I’m here to save the day! Below, I have broken down your choices into simple sections, and clarified precisely what those tricky terms actually mean. So, after reading this section you’ll be half way closer to choosing the right gown for you, get ready to crack open the champagne! Ready to begin? Lets get into the styles!

Off the shoulder – A true romantic; sensual, and utterly feminine. With TV series like The Crown it’s no wonder we are seeing a surge in popularity of this classic princess style. For more of a chic sexy look, opt for the off-the-shoulder wedding dress with long sleeves in a simple fabric.

Vintage – Love the razzle dazzle of the 1920’s? Opt for a vintage dress adorned with Art Deco motifs, lush beading and geometric lines. For a more subtle and antique vibe, consider vintage wedding dresses with soft silhouette and bohemian details. For old Hollywood glamour you can’t go wrong with a vintage wedding dress in a minimalistic fabrication and a fit and flare style.

What to Consider When Buying Your Wedding Dress 6
Dress by Sottero and Midgley

Backless – A great way to show some skin, backless wedding dresses are a sure fire way to dazzle your wedding guests. Many popular backless wedding dresses feature what’s called in the industry, keyhole treatment – which is a stunning way to show off some skin without losing the support and coverage of your neckline. For a simple take on backless dresses, consider a scoop or a V-back in a bare or illusion design style.

wedding dress
Dress by Sincerity

Festival, Boho & Streamer Sleeves – For all your woodsy or nature inspired wedding ceremonies. This laid back bridal style calls for a boho wedding dress with super romantic details. Thanks to festivals such as Glastonbury, Coachella, and the like, the bohemian vibe is alive and kicking in wedding fashion, with loads of lace, streamer sleeves and sexy hair. If unique is what you seek, then bohemian dresses separate you from the ordinary. Dance with ease, raise your arms and keep moving, not a problem with Boho style dresses!

wedding dress
Dress by Sottero and Midgley
What to Consider When Buying Your Wedding Dress 7
Dress by Savannah Miller

Fabrics.

Often overlooked, fabric are very important. This is what dictates the flow and style of your wedding dress. Finding your perfect fabric and making it up in a pattern or design you adore can be disappointing, unless careful thought has gone into the decision of choosing the fabric for the style of gown. When choosing the fabric for your wedding dress, you can indulge in the luxuries of pure silk or go for the more reasonably priced synthetic versions. Luckily there are varying designs and qualities of both, just as there is different suitability for different styles.

As you can image there is a vast amount of fabrics out there to choose from, so for the best advice ask your dressmaker or wedding dress designer to help you narrow down your search and help select the most suitable fabrics for your wedding dress. For example if you want a more fluid or flowing style of dress, then softer or lighter weighted fabrics are generally more suitable. Fabrics such as chiffon, charmeuse, crepe or silk faille can give a delicate and famine effect. If, however, you want the more traditional look, it may be appropriate to go for a sturdier weave or heavy weight fabric, such as satin, silk duponi, organza or brocade.

Most popular fabrics 

Chiffon – A gorgeous, delicate, transparent fabric with a very soft, feminine finish. This fluid fabric moves with the wearer and drapes stunningly. Perfect for your veil or used in layers over other opaque fabrics. Silk chiffon is the luxury choice, for a more affordable option use polyester chiffon.

Crepe – A beautiful flowing, sheer fabric with a pebbled texture. Crepe black satin is a light to mid-weight fabric, with a smooth satin on one side and a crepe weave backing on the other. Ideal for wanting a dress with a satin shine. Another alternative would be Crepe de Chine which similar to the crepe black satin, but of a lighter weight and is softer to the touch. This fabric has a higher lustre than a crepe  back satin wedding dress.

Satin – A firm favourite amongst many brides, satin is a heavier, opaque fabric that is glossy on the front side and dull on the underside. With many variations such as silk satin, duchess satin and crepe black satin this fabric is very popular but in general satin is a delicate, luxurious textile which will help you achieve a classy, modern look on your wedding day.

Lace – One of the most popular and most recognisable wedding dress fabrics. You’ll probably already know what lace looks like, but not everyone knows there are dozens of types of lace. From Gutpure laces to Alencon, Chantilly, laser-cut, and even cotton. Each types of lace has its own characteristics that will bring a different look to your wedding dress. Whichever lace you choose this type of fabric provides a timeless look, and it’s an ideal choice for those classic or vintage styles.

Tulle – This wedding dress fabric is a stiff, transparent netting made of either silk, nylon, polyester or a blend of fibres. Layers of tulle create perfect fairytale voluminous dresses, perfect for those brides who want a show stopping silhouette such as a ball gown or mermaid. Another popular choice is a Tulle skirt paired with lace, beading, sequins or worn underneath the dress to add fullness.

Organza – Organza is a sheer fabric, similar to Tulle but not as stiff. Traditionally it’s made from woven silk to create a soft, lightweight wedding dress fabric that flows and moves with you. Think, twirling! This fabric is made for twirling. Slimmer skirts with only a few layers of Organza are effortless and breezy, while adding more layers of Organza will create drama and volume without too much weight.

Silk – Renowned for being the most regal and elegant wedding dress material, silk is often used for dramatic ball gowns or fit and flare styles. There are several types of silk that are most commonly used for wedding dresses, including gazar, faille, duipioni, charmeuse, and crepe de chine. Depending on how the silk is woven, its appliance ranges from highly structured and stiff to light as air and flowy.

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Click here for full wedding

Colour.

Choosing the right colour wedding dress will play a key part in your overall look. You want a dress that will make the best out of your complexion, especially for when the photos have been edited. It goes without saying the perfect dress will fit your body and style, but the perfect colour will make your skin glow and complete the look. A top tip would be to look for a dress in a colour that will not make your skin tone look dull or too yellow if you have lighter skin tones or orange if you have darker skin tones. Often you will find that some dresses make you look grey, or even a bit blue. This is often the result in wearing a “col” colour and you probably have cool skin tones. Thankfully white comes in many shades, and there is a shade to suit every bride. Please see below for the most common shades of wedding dress whites and which brides suit each shade.

Champagne or Oyster – A champagne or oyster colour wedding dress is an off-white with pink undertones and will flatter olive or darker skinned brides.

Blush – Blush wedding dresses are slightly darker than the champagne or oyster shades. This is a popular choice with brides and the tone is perfect for tanned or darker skinned brides.

Ivory or Eggshell – Wedding dresses in this shade of white have golden or yellow undertones. This shade of white suits those fairer brides.

Natural White or Diamond White – This is a soft wedding dress white, found only in the more expensive fabrics such as silk and cotton. This tone of white is suited to fairer brides.

Colour – For brides who really don’t want to wear white at all, wedding dress designers stock formal dresses in other colours such as ruby red, turquoise blue, pink or solid gold. Leading designers such as Vera Wang have designed colourful wedding dresses that will have you changing your mind in favour of colour.

Couturier, Dressmaker or Off-the-peg?

For most brides choosing your wedding dress is one of the most challenging but thrilling aspects of planning your big day. The questions is: who is going to make it? Couturier? Dressmakers? Off the peg? There’s more to choosing your wedding dress than meets the eye. But fear not, to allay any confusion, here’s a brief outline of the key differences between couturier, dressmaker, and off-the-peg creations.

Couture – As from researching this topic extensively I found out that Couture is the french word for sewing. Essentially with a couture gown the only limitation to the look is your imagination. Couture dresses often use finite fabrics and feature extensive embroidery, beading, and other handcrafted techniques. Couture creations are one of a kind, custom fitted, and typically involve hours and hours of detailed hand finishing. Often in the higher price bracket, couture dresses generally take several weeks to several months of full time work to produce.

Dressmaking – In a nutshell dressmaking is the craft of making dresses. It is a skilled trade which usually involves making a gown from a standard pattern which can be changed to a limited extend; but of course can be adjusted for size. Some people say nothing can reproduce the “fits like a glove” quality of Couture gowns, however, there are plenty of amazing popular dressmakers out there which would disagree, with a more than equal amount of happy brides to back them up.

Buying off the peg – This is pretty self explanatory. These are dresses you’ll find in boutiques which usually stock a wide range of designs in standard sizes. Buying a dress off the rack has many advantages – you can try a range of dresses with different styles. If you’re a standard size you’ll achieve a great fit and pay significantly less than a couture creation. Many “off-the-peg” dresses are beautifully embellished but unlike couture gowns, any adornments will have been mass produced rather than handmade. Sometimes you’ll find “made-to-measure” dresses which have been drafted in to a standard design and are then adjusted to size (with limitations), achieving a more custom fit for a fraction of the price of an original personalised design.

Elopement-Photographer

Pre-Loved Wedding Dresses.

Pre-loved wedding dresses or “worn once” as I like to say can be a great choice when it comes to getting value for money and keeping within a budget. However, make sure that buying the pre-loved wedding dress really will save you money. Before buying a pre-loved wedding dress, make sure the dress has been carefully stored and dry-cleaned. Dry-cleaning in itself for a wedding dress can cost hundreds of pounds! If you are committed to purchasing a pre-loved dress unseen in person, you will need to get yourself measured up. Depending on the style of the dress you may have to get measurements for inside and outside legs and arms, arm width, bust, length of torso, waist, and hips. And make sure you have all the necessary measurements from the seller, you don’t want to buy a second hand wedding dress only to find out that it will cost you twice as much to have it altered. If you are considering buying pre-owned, be prepared to make some alterations. If you have found the perfect pre-loved wedding dress and it seems that it will be a little too big, then consult a dressmaker and get an experts advise. Check with the person making the alterations that firstly it is indeed possible to make the required alterations, and secondly, get a quote before you give them the ok to do so. Some alterations can be expensive and if you’re having to make a number of different alterations the cost can add up!

 

Final Thoughts.

Regardless of whether your wedding is ballgown or boho, the fit of your wedding dress must be complementary to the situation, and most importantly make you feel a million dollars inside. My advice would be to get properly measured and make sure that the wedding dress is adjusted to fit. Aside from choosing the right fabric, colour, detailing, and stitching, you still need a wedding dress style that compliments your body shape!

How about you?

Getting married in 2020 or beyond? If you liked my thoughts on choosing the perfect wedding dress, please don’t hesitate to get in touch as I would love to talk about your special day! Getting married abroad? I would love to travel to capture more beautiful weddings with amazing backdrops. So if you’re an adventurous couple looking to get hitched abroad, please get in touch. I would love to see where in the world you feel is a precious place to get married. Get in touch here.

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