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How to Choose the Right Wedding Dress for You


One of the most exciting as well as daunting parts of getting married is choosing your dress. For many brides, this is the moment that you've been dreaming of your entire life. However, the reality of the situation is sometimes a bit more difficult and time-consuming than fantasy. You have several factors to consider when it's time to pick your dress. There is a wide variety of styles, and the budget is always an important consideration. Here are some tips to break down the dress shopping process and zero in on your dream dress without unnecessary stress.



Set Your Budget

Since this is the least fun part of the process, you may as well get it out of the way first. Sit down and take an assessment of your wedding budget. Experts say you should budget your dress and accessories as 15% of your overall wedding cost. Keep in mind that every portion of your dress is a separate cost; for instance, your veil, undergarments, slip, shoes, jewelry, etc. Do some research as to what the basic costs of these items are to get a more accurate price point you can start from.

Pro tip: consider that you may need your dress altered, hemmed, or steamed before the big day. This could inflate your overall dress cost.


Be Prepared

Dress shopping isn't like regular clothes shopping. It's best to go prepared. This means looking online and in magazines to focus on what styles most appeal to you so you have some idea of what you are looking for when you head to stores. Start a folder or file with dress ideas you can show when you go shopping. This gives you a place to start. It also helps you familiarize yourself with the names of dress styles, colors, and accessories. Knowing which veil length you like and what type of neckline can help you communicate your desires to the shop once you begin looking.

It helps to know about fabrics and shades. Do you like lace or no? Want a sparkly dress? Enjoy lots of tulle? Want something elegant and fuss-free? Looking at pictures of dresses helps you figure out what your bridal style will be. Of course, you may not want to stay married (pun intended) to a certain style. Keep a somewhat open mind when shopping, and you may find a dress you love that you never expected to! It happens all the time in the bridal industry, especially since salespeople are experienced and have an eye for what looks great on women.



Choose a Style

Times may change, but wedding dresses are timeless. The designs may change, but the basic styles remain the same. Here are a few dress styles you're likely to see when you head to a bridal shop.

Ballgown - The classic bridal gown. A ball gown typically has a close-fitting top and a flowing skirt. Ball gowns are the traditional Cinderella-style gowns.

Mermaid - Mermaid gowns fit closely to your body throughout the waist, hips, and thighs, flaring out around the knee for a curvy, hourglass silhouette.

Fit-and-flare - This is one of the most popular options, and that's because fit and flare dress look great on many body types. A fit-and-flare dress is exactly how it sounds; it fits tighter up top then looser on the bottom. It may or may not have a fluffy skirt; the skirt could simply fall to the ground. There are many variations of this style that can work for you, and they are usually comfortable options that can come in a variety of lengths.

Sheath dresses - Sheaths work well if you are tall. These dresses have a narrow profile that skims the body without any flares or loose portions. They are typically structured and keep the same shape.


What's Your Theme?

The type of wedding you are having can play a part in the dress you choose. You may not want a lightweight, beachy dress for an elaborate church wedding. Alternately, you want to skip wearing a heavy, long-sleeved dress for a summer wedding outside. For a more casual affair, you may want to think less expensive and less dramatic. However, if you're pulling out all the stops for a traditional wedding, the sky's the limit. Matching your dress to the theme and feel of the wedding makes more sense and ensures you look and feel comfortable for the ceremony.


Think About Your Body Type

Are you curvy? Then you may want a structured dress with more support, like a taffeta gown. Tall, slender brides have the option of a lightweight dress with less structure, such as silk or chiffon. If you're petite, you may not want a giant ball gown that you'll get completely lost in - opt for another length. Tea-length isn't unheard of for a modern dress and can work better for smaller brides. Brides with long legs look amazing in a mermaid gown, but these long gowns may not look as great on a bride with a shorter torso. If you're not sure which gown is right for your body, try on a dress in each style to see which one you gravitate to.


Don't Be Swayed by Opinion

You may be planning to take your crew with you to shop. This may include friends, your mom, or other family members. Everyone has an opinion, and they're sure to give it to you as you try on dresses. This could be confusing and may cause you to question your own taste and opinion but don't let it! It's important to purchase the dress you fall in love with and avoid listening to others who don't share the same opinions as you do. You are the only one wearing the dress and this is your big day! Though it's always nice to hear the thoughts of others, you have to choose the dress you feel beautiful in.


Zero in on Shops and Call Ahead

Bridal shops are busy places. Some boutiques may require you to make an appointment in advance. It's always prudent to call ahead to the shops you're planning on visiting to see what their policy is. Make a list of shops you want to visit to look for your dress and contact each shop. Don't even walk into shops you can't afford - that's a recipe for heartbreak! Note where shops are located and try not to cram in more than one or two appointments in a day. Trying on dresses can be time-consuming, and you want to take your time! With that being said, it's best to shop for your dress six months in advance or more.



Bring What You Need to Try Dresses On

Prep for your appointment by making sure you have the right bra and panties on; this could mean bringing a strapless bra along with you and wearing nude underwear. Grab a pair of heels to bring with you so you can get an idea of how the dress will fit with formal footwear.


Take Photos of Yourself in Dresses

Sometimes the mirror can be deceiving. To get a more true feel of how you look in a dress from all angles, have a friend or bridal attendant snap some quick photos of you in dresses you like so you can get a better, closer look at every angle. You may not like the way the back looks or how the skirt falls once you see images of yourself in the dress. Take pictures from close-up and from far away. This can also help you assess a dress's colour if you're considering a dress that's not pure white. Ensure accessories match up by photographing yourself in an entire ensemble once you start narrowing down your choices. And don't be critical of yourself - now is not the time for that!


How Does it Feel?

So you have found a few dresses you really like. Now, put them to the test. Sit, stand, and walk in the dresses naturally. This way, you'll know if you can't breathe sitting down, won't be able to easily go to the bathroom, or feel completely uncomfortable in a dress. No, wedding dresses aren't meant to feel like sweatpants, but you should be able to walk, stand, and sit without problems. Dancing at the reception? Planning to kneel during prayer? Doing the limbo? Whatever you're planning for your ceremony and reception, your dress will need to accommodate. Keep this in mind as you shop and try on dresses.


Go With Your Gut

You may not have that dream moment when you slip on a dress and you just KNOW. Don't get upset if you don't. It may come down to just zeroing in on how you feel in a dress, then going with your gut instinct about it. Do you keep coming back to the same dress? Is there one, in particular, your thoughts go back to? Can you envision yourself wearing it to your wedding? How does it make you feel? Sit with your feelings and trust your instincts. Choose the dress that makes you feel like you. Not a more formal version of you or what you think you should feel like on your wedding day. Pick the dress that shows the true you, and stay true to yourself!


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