With so many wedding dress styles, fabrics, and options from which to choose, it’s important to establish your style to avoid confusion and chaos when trying on gowns. Since most full-service bridal salons have an experienced consultant who will bring you gowns to try on, rather than you thumbing through the racks yourself, it’s important that you clearly communicate your vision upfront.
Most experts recommend bringing a picture to help. If you already have an idea in mind of your perfect gown, try to find a photo that can represent it, or take a stab at sketching it yourself. If you’re unsure which styles to choose, try looking through sites like Pinterest or bridal magazines like Sacramento Bride and Groom.
Once you’ve found several gowns you like, look back at each and try to find a pattern. For example, is each dress sleek and sexy, or are you opting for fuller, more dramatic lines? Ask a bridal consultant to help you find the commonalities in the gowns you admire, and she can suggest dresses that fit your style, she advises.
Most bridal experts recommend considering the bigger picture when searching for your dress. First, decide the type of silhouette you’d like. The most common choices are ball gown, A-line, mermaid, trumpet, and slim fit.
From there, look at necklines to further narrow your choices. Do you want a strapless gown, spaghetti straps, or an off-the-shoulder style? If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to try a dress on in each variation. You can often quickly determine that a particular hem or neckline will not flatter or work with your body.
Don’t be afraid to try styles outside of the ordinary! Several bridal shops offer a line of Eastern European-designed gowns that are made up of two pieces. Dresses in colors such as gold, blush, or silver have been showing up in fashion-forward salons. Even shorter, cocktail-style gowns make a splash for brides who favor a modern or flirty style.
Most brides require alterations to their gown to achieve the perfect fit. Allow several weeks to complete your alterations, holding your last fitting about a week before the Big Day.
When considering alterations, examine the gown’s fit from all angles in a full-length mirror. Then, try sitting down, raising your arms, and leaning over. Are the straps falling off your shoulders? Is the bust-line gapping? Does the bustle hit at the correct length for your height?
Many bridal salons offer custom alterations and can ensure they’ll give the best care to your gown. A very accomplished seamstress familiar with bridal fabrics and detailing such as lace, beading, and sequins will save you time and money.
Once you’ve selected your gown, it’s time to finalize your accessories. None are more important than your undergarments. A bra that fits properly and is comfortable is of the utmost importance. To ensure the bra will work with your chosen style, wait to purchase it until you’ve selected your gown. Ask your bridal consultant for advice on what type of bra to buy.
The decision on what bra to get should be based on three things: the gown’s design, the bride’s body contours, and comfort.
Experts recommend a strapless long-line bra for most wedding gowns. A long-line bra is cut low in the back, cinches in your waist and ribcage, and fits snugly over your hips to give a smooth, elegant look. In addition, it flattens your abdomen for a slimming look in your gown.
The neckline of your bra is also important. For gowns with open, lowcut necklines, experts recommend a low-cut, half-cut, or push-up bra to enhance natural cleavage. Some brides prefer to have cups sewn into the bodice of their gowns to eliminate the need for a bra altogether.
If a bride needs a little additional fullness, roundness, or symmetry in her bust, experts suggest using one of a variety of cups to achieve the desired look. Talk with your alterations specialist about how to incorporate these into your gown.
Function and form are also important factors in the selection of a bra. For example, a bride with a larger bust needs good support. A gown in a heavy fabric requires a substantial bra to hold its shape. A dress in lightweight fabric calls for a bra with a smooth satin finish rather than a lacy or beaded number that will show through and ruin the look.
Don’t be disappointed if a consultant recommends a bra that isn’t the sexy number you’d envisioned wearing on your wedding night. Most brides wear functional undergarments for the wedding and slip into something fancier later.
All About Veils
It’s the crowning glory of your gown: the bridal veil. And like your dress, veils come in a large variety of styles, each indicating a different level of formality and elegance. Some crafty brides have even created their own wedding veil!
When choosing a headpiece, consider the style and silhouette of your wedding gown. Keep in mind the veil is an accessory, not the star of your bridal ensemble. For this reason, experts suggest shopping for your veil only after you’ve purchased your gown. If you can, try on veils in a variety of lengths and styles at your gown fitting. Ask the salon consultant to bring several that will complement your dress and desired look.
Wedding veils can be as short as 18 inches (shoulder length) up to over 108 inches (cathedral length). The longer the veil, the more formal and dramatic the look will be.
If your gown does not have a long train, consider an elbow or fingertip length (about 32 to 42 inches). This length flatters many shapes of skirts and provides a nice frame to the bride’s face.
The standard cut for a veil is an oval or semi-circle cut. However, veils can also be cut straight across the bottom or with a scallop or bubble hem. An elegant option is the waterfall veil, with a cut cascading down the veil’s side and back, offering a feminine silhouette. Remember, the cut will determine the volume of the veil and how it hangs, so consider a veil that will balance the shape of your gown – not overwhelm it.
Many veils are not hemmed – the edges of the veil appear to simply fade away. If you desire a more structured look, consider one of the edging options available.
Pencil hems offer a small, delicate, stitched border to the veil and look particularly lovely on bubble or waterfall cuts.
Ribbon edging is a classic and sweet look. Organza or satin ribbon in your choice of width provides definition to the veil’s hem. Lace hems are a formal and timeless look and can be made to coordinate with the detailing of your gown.
Perhaps the most dramatic of lace styling is the mantilla, a Spanish veil worn long and over the head with lace hemming all around. Keep in mind that an edged veil should match your gown and accessories–white, silver, or gold stitching can be selected to compliment your look.
A blusher is the short piece of the veil that traditionally covers the bride’s face as she walks down the aisle. A blusher is usually an option that can be added to any style of veil. Try the veil with the blusher both over and off your face to make sure you’re happy with the look.
If you want to wear a tiara with your veil, choose a style that will accommodate one. Tiaras can often help keep the headpiece in place; just be sure it’s a comfortable weight on your head and neck. Also, consider your tiara and veil to be a complete look. Don’t choose a veil with accents that compete or clash with your tiara. Likewise, don’t choose a flashy tiara that overwhelms your veil.
Shoes and Accessories
Comfort should be your first consideration in choosing shoes for your wedding day. Consider what you’ll be doing all day before falling in love with a pair of backless, three-inch spike heels. How much standing, walking, and dancing will you do at your wedding? Most brides opt for comfort above all else, but here are those fashion-first women who go all-in for “the look” without consideration for comfort.
Instead of the traditional white or ivory heels, we see a lot of brides opting for cowboy boots under their wedding gowns. Cowboy boots evoke a rural mood, perfect for the rustic-styled nuptials at the Rough & Ready Vineyards. Another popular trend is the flip-flop for changing into at the reception. Some brides even keep extra pairs for guests. They can be “blinged-up” for an extra splash.
Choose Your Posse Wisely
It can be tempting to bring an entourage with you to the salon, but it’s best to select just one to four key people to attend. Too many shoppers can be overwhelming. You might even feel pressured into choosing a style that pleases your family and friends instead of you.
Typically, a bride will shop with her mother, maid of honor, and perhaps another family member. Consider your relationship with the people you select. If you and your sister always disagree and argue, bringing her to the salon after you’ve made your final choice is best. You want your shopping to be peaceful and pleasant, not stressful.
Once at your appointment, you’ll review your vision and budget and then try on gowns that fit your ideas. Even if you have your heart set on a particular style, try on a few styles outside your ideal – you may be surprised to find that strapless ball gown you’d always hoped for pales compared to a sleek and sophisticated trumpet skirt.
Shopping for your wedding gown should be an exciting time in your engagement, so have fun! With a little planning and effort, it will be!
Mardie has been a successful businesswoman since 1981. The Rough & Ready Vineyards was created out of Mardie’s desire to contribute to the community. Mardie’s vision to serve the community is rooted in her love of Nevada County, and it provided her with the opportunity to revitalize an old Ranch property into a breathtaking wedding venue.
Her innovative mind and commitment to environmental accountability contribute in a positive way to our community and the surrounding area. With the Rough & Ready Vineyards, Mardie seeks to create the best wedding experience for our clients and their guests, creating memories that will last for generations.