Whether you've been dreaming of your wedding dress since you were five and know the exact specifications you want for it down to the last sequin, or you've never thought about your dress until the groom's mother nagged, "You still haven't gotten your gown?" ?a we've got you covered.
One easy way to limit your options is to select a silhouette that will highlight your best-loved assets and conceal your less-favorable traits. To start, figure out which of our five featured body types best defines your figure: Petite, plus size, busty, hourglass or lean and straight. And remember, you may not fit squarely into one category ?a most people don???t! Take Kim Kardashian: She's petite, busty and has (insane) hourglass curves. And, her wedding dress (ahem, the Givenchy Haute Couture one she wore most recently to marry Kanye West) with its sheath silhouette, modest neckline and waist-baring cut-outs, was the perfect complement to her shape.
With all eyes on you, not to mention photos you'll keep forever, of course you want to look perfect on your big day. But what does perfect mean to you? For some brides, a dream dress is a regal ballgown fit for a princess. For others, a dream look is a sexy, va-va-voom mermaid gown that makes everyone appreciate her curves; to other brides, the best dress is one that allows her enough movement to be able to re-enact the choreography from "Thriller" on the dance floor.
Well, what are you waiting for? Book your appointment and start reading to find out the best gowns for your body type!
1. Start your search about nine months to a year prior to your wedding date, if possible. "Designer gowns should be ordered six to nine months in advance to ensure there is enough time for delivery and alterations," says Mara Urshel, the co-owner of Kleinfeld. If you want to customize your dress by adding beading or lace or by modifying the neckline or train, it can take even longer, so plan accordingly. On a time crunch? Ask your consultant if your dress of choice can be rush delivered for an additional fee or consider attending a sample sale, where brides can score off-the-rack styles with discounts of up to 80%.
2. Come up with a realistic budget. "Just because you have $1,500 set aside for your wedding dress doesn't necessarily mean that you can buy a $1,500 gown," says Courtney Lutkus from Simply Radiant Events. Factor in tax, shipping (if you're not buying off-the-rack) and alterations. Some salons cap alterations at a certain amount whereas others charge a flat fee. Most salons require a deposit that accounts for 50% of the ticket price of the gown ?a pay by credit card so that you have a record of the payment in case problems arise. "Brides are devastated when they find 'The One' but don't have the available funds to purchase, which risks their gown being discontinued or sold to another bride. By planning ahead monetarily, you'll be able to say 'yes' and celebrate the day you find your gown," says Sandra Gonzalez from SPARKLE Bridal Couture.
3. Familiarize yourself with wedding gown silhouettes prior to going shopping. "Before you get lost in the blizzard of gown glossary terms, consider the basic outline of the dress," says Bianca Sparbanie from RSVP by B Wedding & Event Planning. Bridal gown silhouettes fall into six broad categories: ball gown, empire, A-line, sheath, fit-and-flare, and mermaid. Try on one of each the first time you go shopping for your gown ?a it'll quickly become clear which works best for your shape. Selecting the silhouette you want to wear will help narrow down the huge range of gown options. From there, you can decide on secondary criteria, such as neckline, sleeves, embellishments, etc.
4. Narrow down your favorite wedding dresses in a private Pinterest board. Browse hundreds of the latest styles in BG's gown gallery and pin your favorites. Then take a step back and look for similarities amongst the dresses. "You should start to notice commonality amongst the styles that draws your attention; whether it be the designer, silhouette or fabric," says Melissa Heholt from Statice Events.
5. Consider scheduling your appointment on a weekday, when there are fewer crowds, and you may get more time to shop. If you have a personal day to spare, or even a half day, it might be worth taking off work to go gown shopping at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday or another off-peak time. That way, you can get the best service and attention possible from the sales staff. Schedule appointments at bridal salons that are within your budget and offer your preferred designer.
6. Limit your dress shopping entourage. Although it might be tempting to poll everyone on what will be the most important fashion purchase of your life, the more people you invite, the greater the chance that you'll end up overwhelmed or confused. Bridal consultants advise selecting two or three loved ones (five at the max), to accompany you to gown appointments. "You want to bring whoever will be instrumental in helping you make your decision. They should be honest and have your best interest in mind," says Cristina DeMarco, vice president of Bridal Reflections. Save the big crowd for your fittings, instead.
7. Envision how you want your dress to make you feel. "Do you want to look sexy, understated, modern, chic, traditional? Or perhaps you want your dress to have a more vintage feeling? Once you find your story, I promise you will find your dress," Randy Fenoli writes in his book, It's All About the Dress: Savvy Secrets, Priceless Advice, and Inspiring Stories to Help you Find "The One." Share your vision with your gown consultant, who can help you pull styles that match the feeling you wish to evoke on your wedding day.
8. Bridal consultants will tell you that they constantly see women come in with a set idea of what they want for a gown, then try it on and don't actually love it ?a and instead, fall for something completely different that they'd never considered. Keep an open mind to finding a dream dress that you didn't know would be your dream dress.
9. Give your gown consultant constructive feedback and your dress-shopping experience will remain exciting, rather than becoming exhausting or stressful after the first five or six dresses. Don't make the mistake of keeping your thoughts to yourself out of fear that you'll hurt their feelings. Your stylist needs to know if you dislike poufy ball gowns or if you love the skirt of one dress but not the bodice so they can choose options that are more on-target for your style.
10. Test how comfortable a prospective gown is by moving around in it ?a sit down, dance, and walk up and down the store aisles. Follow your gut: Choose a dress that is flattering to your body, rather than what is trending. If you have to keep pulling up the top because you're worried about a wardrobe malfunction, do yourself a favor and skip it. If a gown is so tight that breathing seems like a luxury, ditch that too. "It may not seem like a big deal now while you are caught up in the 'honeymoon stage' of buying the dress. However, you don't want to spend your most cherished day battling the gown instead of relaxing and enjoying yourself," says Aviva Samuels from Kiss the Planner. Melani Lust from Melani Lust Photography concurs: "I have photographed several brides who didn't 'try' out their dress, and it made for a very uncomfortable and exposed evening!"
11. Brace yourself for bridal sizing. Bridal sizing means your gown's number will often be one to two sizes higher than for your regular clothes. Even if going bigger sounds horrifying, remember that no one will know the number but you and your consultant.
12. In the end, choose the dress that feels right for you, no one else. "I have seen it happen too many times where a bride gets the dress that everyone else wants her to wear and is miserable. This is YOUR day and YOUR dress!" says Ramona Southard, the owner of Love and Lace Bridal Boutique. You should feel beautiful and confident in your wedding gown; only you can make the right choice, not your maid of honor, Mom, or whomever else. Unsure if it's truly "The One?" Try adding a veil to help get yourself in the wedding-day mindset and see if you could imagine yourself walking down the aisle in this dress. If the answer is "yes" and you don't want to take it off, that's a sure sign that your search is over!