Let’s face it. Your wedding dress is one of the centerpieces of your wedding day. It’s an expression of your personal style and wedding theme and something your guests can’t wait to see. Traditionally, we even keep it a secret from the groom so that when he sees you in it — gasp! — he melts with love for you all over again. So shopping for your wedding dress is not a chore to take lightly. It’s an experience and one you should enjoy. And even if you’re not the girly frou-frou type who’s dreamed of The Dress forever, there are ways you can get through checking off this wedding to-do without too many tears or breakdowns.
Choose your gown carefully. I know this sounds like a big, fat “duh” but don’t rush into making any decisions. This is a piece of clothing that will be in every wedding photo and perhaps will make it into the line of family heirlooms. With enough planning in advance and research time, you shouldn’t have to make any quick and dangerous decisions.
Consider the color of your dress. Try on different shades to match your skin tone and think about what kind of lighting your wedding day will have. Is the whole thing inside or outside? Are you marrying at night or during the afternoon? You may want to invest in color analysis to determine exactly what fabrics and colors will work with your complexion. Warm or cool undertones of your skin may actually look better with certain colors of dresses. You want to glow! You do not want to look washed out. Believe it or not, this makes a difference. And so many dress manufacturers have their own versions of the hundreds of shades of white. It’s something you probably never even considered. White is white, right? Wrong! There’s white, diamond white, cool white, antique white, ivory, and even a whole family of beiges and even pinks that still work as wedding dresses. Many dresses also come with complementing colors in accessories. It’s not uncommon to see silver or gold beading, sashes in turquoise, black, and pink, and even black and brown lace patterns or embroidery. Color yourself educated and do the research!
Many gowns today are blending rich fabrics with sheer simplicity. You will see just as many simple and understated dresses as you will big, pouffy, princess ballgowns. This also has to do with the fabrics that designers incorporate in their pieces. Organza, silk satin, crepe georgette, and silk peau de soie are weaving their way into wedding gowns. Prior to my own wedding dress shopping, I could probably name three kinds of clothing fabrics: broken-in denim, Spanx stuff, and sorority t-shirt. So when I entered the world of wedding threads, I had to educate myself on the different varieties of lace and know what raw silk meant. Texture determines the style and shape of a dress, so knowing the fabric that goes into a ballgown skirt versus the material used for a soft, flowing sheath dress will allow you to shop with the appropriate wedding dress goggles.
Know your body type! We’re all made differently and now is not the time to be experimenting with making a statement by not caring about how your hips look in your wedding dress. There are so many cuts and styles available that you absolutely will find a dress that fits your body. I don’t care if you insist your tushie looks like you ate a lifetime supply of fried potato latkes; it doesn’t matter if you’re self conscious about your arms that look like your bubbie’s, whose flap in the wind; there are no excuses if you’re freaking out about your belly that looks like it has enjoyed a diet of only muffin tops, even during Passover. It is OKAY. I’m telling you now that there is a dress for you! You just have to know what works on your body.
Try on a variety of styles and bring someone with you who will give you the brutal truth (isn’t that what Jewish mothers are for?). Now, I say “someone” — that does not mean your entire bridal party and your mother-in-law and six sisters-in-law. Too many opinions will drive you insane. Bring one or two. That’s it. And don’t force anything! No matter how beautiful the dress may be on the hanger, if it doesn’t work with your body style, cross it off and move on. You will find something similar in a cut that works with your frame. I was absolutely set on a dress that I’d gushed over in blogs and magazines. I swear, this dress spoke to me in my dreams, “Alison, come get meeeeee…” and it would absolutely be The Dress. I tracked down the dress, lost sleep due to my excitement to slip it on, and when I finally had my hands — and hips — in it, I was crushed. It looked okay until I realized that I’d have to chop half of it off due to my height and it would lose the detail. The model who wore the dress in the magazines — who could probably wear a potato sack and look totally hot — was about 5’10″ with extremely long legs and thin features. I am five feet tall. Exactly. Maybe 5’2″ with my wedding shoes. The dress had pick-ups in the skirt and almost all of them would be cut off in alterations except for a few near the top who needs exaggeration near the tuchus?. Epiphany: short people like me generally cannot pull off pick-ups. And so ended my dresscapade.
So I suggest to you: try on what you like, assess, and redress! Move on. Find something new. You’ll learn so much about your personal style.
Once you pick your dress, make sure you are comfortable with the alterations place and that the seamstress will get you the dress on time. Confirm dates and details for what you want (Adding buttons? Building in a bra? Including a zipper?) and make sure to bring the shoes you’ll be wearing to your fittings for a correct fit.
You will feel amazing in your wedding dress because, well, it’s your wedding dress!! Your girl squeal should be audible only to dogs and the smile on your face should never leave. And when it comes to your wedding night, you should never want to take it off! (Oh, but your groom’s so cute that you will!)