Choosing the Wedding Dress
Once the date and location of the wedding have been decided, the bride should start looking for her dress.
It’s best to start as soon as possible as it can take longer than expected. On average, dressmakers require six months; the bride is usually asked to attend several fittings.
If the bride is unsure where to start, she should go to a department store where a range of designers can be found under one roof. She can work out her preferences and desired style before going to a specific designer. Many department stores, however, only cater for brides who fit within regular sizes.
Bridal shops usually require appointments, and evenings and weekends can get taken quickly, so it is worthwhile booking well in advance. Some shops may require a payment to secure a weekend appointment. January to March tend to be the busiest months, as most brides prefer to get married in the spring or summertime.
The bride must be realistic about her budget, setting an upper and lower limit and sticking to it. Alteration and fitting costs should be borne in mind. Underwear, shoes, headpieces and jewellery may also have to come out of the same budget. The bridal shop will usually ask the bride what her budget is to ensure that she is trying on affordable dresses.
The style of wedding day and the venue should have been decided upon before the bride begins the process of choosing her dress. Different dresses fit different styles of day, be it country, city, vintage or contemporary.
The Style of the Dress
While a full-length dress is traditional, a bride may choose a mid-calf or knee-length dress; this will depend on the theme and style of the wedding as a whole.
Skin tone must be taken into account. Ivory is generally the most flattering; white can look harsh against the skin. Cream, pale gold and even cappuccino can work well with some skin tones. It is worth paying extra for high quality fabrics; they are more comfortable and sit well.
It is a very good idea to practise putting on the dress and accessories in advance. The dress shop should advise on the correct order for dressing and fastening everything.
Cotton gloves may be worn when handling it, and no one should wear shoes near the dress until the last minute. Never get the dress professionally steamed. Instead, hang it up in the bathroom.
There are three main styles of train: duster, the smallest that just sweeps the floor; puddle, which is prominent but manageable with a little help from the bridesmaids; and cathedral, which is very long and can be hard to manage.
The chief bridesmaid should practise lifting and arranging the train so that she can easily set it up before the bride walks up the aisle and for the photographs. It may be worth the bride wearing it to the wedding rehearsal, or adapting a sheet so that it drapes to the same length.
Trains can be gathered up and fixed to the dress with buttons, forming a kind of draped bustle later on in the day. This will allow the bride to walk and dance without having to worry about a dragging train. They can also be lifted up and out of the way using a set of ribbons. Either way, a flattering bustle-like gathering of fabric is created at the back of the dress.