Here's a crash course in bridal wear.
Your wedding dresses provides a chance to dress completely different than you do on
any other day in your life, so feel free to pursue your bridal fantasies when you start
shopping. Experiment with different styles to see what suits your figure, and don't rule
anything out based on how it looks on a hanger — many wedding dresses look odd
without a figure filling them out.
How formal is your wedding? Generally, the more formal the wedding, the more formal
the bride's wedding dresses. Also, keep the season of your wedding in mind, since
some wedding dress fabrics might be too heavy or light for certain times of the year.
Consider your comfort, both physical and emotional. All eyes will be on you throughout
your big day, so this might not be the best occasion to wear your first strapless wedding
dresses. And a body-skimming sheath won't let you kick up your heels on the dance
floor as freely as you might like. In each wedding dress you try on (and later at the
actual fittings), try sitting, dancing, and hugging. Wave your arms around to make sure
the shoulders and sleeves aren't binding. Pay attention to weight — will wearing pounds
of beading leave you exhausted? Will a full skirt present a tripping hazard? Does the
wedding dresses shape cry out for a higher heel than you care to wear? In general, try
to visualize yourself wearing the wedding dress throughout your ceremony and
reception. When the picture is right, you'll know it.
Have the Wedding Dress Flatter Your Figure
Wearing the right cut for your body type can highlight your best features and downplay
those you’re concerned about.
The Triangle (small on top, heavier on the bottom)
The key here is to have the wedding dresses balance your proportions. Broaden and
emphasize your top half with full sleeve treatments, padded shoulders, or pouf sleeves
that extend your shoulder line, and a textured bodice accented with lace overlays,
appliqués, and beadwork. Elongated bodices and skirts with controlled fullness will
emphasize your waist and de-emphasize your hip area. Avoid set-in sleeves and narrow
shoulders, skirts with side panels or excess fullness, and body-hugging sheaths — they’
ll make you look disproportioned.
The Inverted Triangle (fuller on top, narrow hips)
In order to de-emphasize your shoulder area and give more width to your lower body,
look for wedding gown with minimal shoulder details, simple sleeves, moderate padding,
and natural shoulder lines. Simple bodices, with accents kept to a minimum, will draw
less attention to your top. For better overall proportion, wear a full skirt or a style with
skirt details such as peplums, bustles, sashes, and bows. Avoid wedding dresses with
full sleeves, slim, straight skirts, empire waistlines, and plunging necklines.
The Rectangle (nearly equal bust and hips, minimal waist definition)
To create the illusion of curves, look for full, voluminous skirts with jewel or bateau
necklines. Horizontal detailing will draw the eye across the body and combat vertical
body lines, and oversized shoulders and sleeves will add width to your top and shape to
your overall appearance. Avoid slim silhouettes or wedding dresses in soft, clingy
fabrics that will only make you appear too thin and narrow.
The Hourglass (small waist, full hips and bust)
To maximize your curves and maintain balance, look for wedding dresses with simple,
classic lines like sheaths and mermaid styles — too much detailing can make you look
heavier than you really are. Show off your shoulders with off-the-shoulder sleeves, v-
necklines, and strapless wedding dresses. Avoid wedding dresses with very full or
ruffled skirts, pouf sleeves, highly detailed bodices, and high necklines that cover the
shoulder area and minimize the bust.
Petite figures are lengthened in controlled-but-full skirts with minimal details. Basque
waistlines, simple sleeves, modestly detailed shoulders, vertical pleating, and a-line or
princess silhouettes elongate the torso and add height. For slim petites, the sheath or
mermaid style is ideal.
Full figures look best in fitted v-neck bodices and dropped v-waistlines. Full skirts
camouflage hips and thighs and shoulder pads make waists look smaller. Styling details
around the neckline draw the eye up. Long sleeves tapering toward the wrist slenderize
arms; avoid strapless or sleeveless wedding dresses which only emphasize fullness. Opt
for wedding dresses where the fabric drapes gracefully to the floor instead of ones that
are form-fitting, body-hugging.
Minimize a thick waist with an empire waistline. Princess-style wedding dresses elongate
a short waist and lengthen the torso. Long waists look shorter when the waistline is cut
above the torso, as in a basque-waist wedding gown. To slim heavy hips, try a full-but-
controlled skirt without bows, flounces, or ruffles.
A full bust is flattered in an off-the-shoulder portrait or v-neckline with minimal detailing.
Small busts look larger when accentuated with intricate details and on-the-shoulder
Once you've chosen a wedding gown, the salon will order it and then custom-fit it to your
body once it arrives. Typically, you'll require three fittings before your wedding gown is
ready. It's best to bring the lingerie and shoes you'll wear with your wedding dress to
your fittings so that you can see how the entire ensemble looks together. (If you're not
sure what kind of undergarments your wedding dress requires, ask your fitter for
advice.) It's also a good idea to bring your mother or maid of honor to your second or
final dress fitting so she can learn how to help you get into your wedding gown and how
to bustle your train, if necessary.
Even if your wedding dress is ready well in advance, resist the urge to pick it up until the
week of your wedding. Your bridal salon is better equipped to store your wedding dress
properly than you are, and you wouldn't want it to get wrinkled or crushed in your closet.
No Regrets: Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress
Don't make up your mind for or against any wedding dress without trying it on. Hangers
just don't do justice to some wedding dresses, and others may not flatter your figure as
It's nice to bring your mother or maid of honor along for a second opinion (and some
major bonding) while wedding gown shopping, but make sure you stay true to your own
style and aren't swayed by their comments, or by those of the salespeople. Do not allow
yourself to be talked into anything — if you're not positive about a wedding dress, keep
Don't worry if you feel a touch of buyer's remorse after you choose your wedding dress
— it's a big commitment and it's natural to wonder if you made the right choice. Focus
on how you felt when the wedding dress was on and you realized it was the one, and the
doubts will fade away.
- Bare arms. The look of the moment is sleeveless, with a tank bodice or narrow straps,
regardless of the season. Strapless wedding dresses are also popular, often paired with
a wrap made of a length of sheer fabric.
- A-line, sheath and bias-cut shapes. Cinderella is dead, done in by simpler, sleeker
columns and more natural silhouettes.
- High-quality fabrics. Simpler styles demand finer fabrics. High-quality silk satins, peau
de soie and crepe have the necessary substance to fall gracefully.
Sweeping veils, headpieces. A long trail of tulle makes the ideal counterpoint to today's
smoother wedding dresses. The same goes for headpieces, now available in an array of
lustrous, contemporary designs.
Wise brides have budgets
Often brides end up spending more for their wedding dress than they intended. The
industry is geared to make it happen. In a shop filled with wedding dresses between
$800 and $5,000, a $2,000 price tag can look like a bargain. Determine your budget
before you set foot in a bridal shop and stick to it. What to expect in your range:
$500 and under. Brides with small budgets have more options than you might imagine.
At With This Ring, LLC we have an entire area for those brides on a smaller budget.
Outlets and discount houses are obvious sources of low-budget bridal wear as well.
$500 to $1,500. The zone where what you get for your dollar varies most, depending on
where you buy. At mainstream bridal shops, brides will find many designer labels for
under $800, usually in good-quality synthetics. Above that threshold, most wedding
dresses are made of silk. Popular heavy silk satins commonly command $1,000.
$1,500 and up. Wedding dresses this costly should be made of excellent fabrics, drape
beautifully and exhibit carefully finished seams and handwork. Bridal shops offer
countless designer gowns in this range, but unless you crave labels, it makes more
sense to have a dress custom made for you. You'll get more for your money. Full
service bridal shops usually offer custom gown design.
Three low-budget tips:
1. Embellish an off-the-rack dress. Hire a seamstress to add trimmings or beading.
2. Wear something borrowed. Have your mother's, grandma's, sister's or aunt's dress
fitted to you.
3. Order a designer bridesmaid gown in ivory or white.