They say first impressions make all the difference. Well, the very first sample wedding gown you try on will make all the difference. Even if that dress isn’t The One, we guarantee—you’ll be on a totally different planet! It’s a beautiful planet, and we want your stay there—feeling beautiful and not frustrated—during your entire wedding gown shopping adventure.
So here is our best collection of tips to help you plan ahead before you ever step foot in a bridal salon. We’ll help you know what to do once you get there, and how to make shopping for your wedding gown one of the best adventures of your life!
1. Dress Styles: Be Open to Suggestions
You should have a broad idea of what appeals to you, so do some research ahead of time.
Take your pins & pictures
Definitely, you should express your ideas, but also remember: Bridal store consultants are trained in several areas of fashion—body type, how wedding gowns drape, what dress evokes certain mood—and her experience may tell her that a particular dress might look fabulous on you.
Keep an open mind
If your bridal consultant makes an unexpected suggestion for a dress, unless there’s something about it that you absolutely cannot stand, give some serious consideration to at least trying it on. Keeping an open mind won’t slow you down, and being open to suggestions will most definitely give you more choices. You never know—you might end up with a dress that’s truly unique!
2. Reality Check: Wedding Dress Sizes
Just because you’re a size 2 in regular clothing—or a size 12, or a plus size 22—that doesn’t mean you’ll wear that size in a wedding dress.
Each style might require a different size
Not all wedding gowns have the same style and cut, so don’t worry about the numbers. Also, let your bridal consultant order the size that will best work with your actual body measurements, never mind what the size label or size chart says. Ordering the right size will reduce the chance of pricey alterations.
Wedding gowns don’t have size tags
Adopt the mindset that a number is just a number and doesn’t mean anything when it comes to you looking beautiful. Just like designer clothing—sometimes a size running large or small depending on the particular designer—wedding gowns are ultra-high fashion and break pretty much all the size rules in every book!
3. Wedding Dress Lingerie: Choose Wisely
Take your shapewear & special bra
When you go wedding dress shopping, always take any shapewear you already use on a regular basis or whatever shapewear you’ve decided that you want to wear under your gown. If you own a strapless bra or wear a pushup or minimizer bra, be sure to take it along as well. Many of today’s bridal styles have bras built into the bodice, but others do not. Shapewear also streamlines your figure, so you might find you can wear dresses that you’d otherwise think too form-fitting.
Wear light color panties
You don’t want dark underthings to distract from the look of the dresses you try on, so choose white, flesh tone, or a very light pastel.
Check out this link for how to choose the perfect undergarments to go with your style wedding gown: http://burnettsboards.com/2013/06/choose-bridal-lingerie/
4. A Guide to Gowns by Body Type
There are many ideas out there as to how to label women’s body types. There are also many differing ideas as to what clothing styles look best on each type. Conduct a little research ahead of time to get a general idea of your body type and what styles are recommended. But remember, too, no fits squarely into one body type or the other. Each woman is unique.
As a starter, though, here are a few general guidelines with descriptions of common body types and general suggestions for which gowns will work best. These notes are from our professional DaVinci Bridal Style Guide:
- Apple: With your broader shoulders, fuller bust and waist, and shapely thighs and legs, you may be envied for your slender arms and hips.
To make the most of your lovely apple silhouette, focus on the vertical. Choose an empire gown or a style that cinches at the smallest point on your waistline, then flares into a classic A-line skirt that’s either structured or flowing. You’ll love a fitted bodice with texture and detail. Add ruching, embellished lace, or a plunging neckline as deep as you dare, and you’ll find this classic silhouette both flattering and easy to wear.
- Hourglass: You’re round and curvy with a well-defined waist, full hips, and generous shapely thighs. Your characteristic figure is the subject of many sculptures and paintings.
Flaunt your curves with a glamorous, figure-hugging silhouette. Choose a sultry mermaid or fit-and-flare gown with a bodice that hugs your body and flares below the hips mid-thigh, with a contoured cut to further emphasize your figure. Just about any neckline you choose will flatter your shape and make you feel your most beautiful.
- Triangle: With your relatively slimmer upper torso, narrower shoulders and a proportional bust, your curvaceous hips, waist, and thighs are divinely feminine.
Emphasize your assets with an A-line gown. A bodice with ruching or embellishments will draw attention upward while the skirt may be either flowing or structured. Or choose a slim sheath, either minimalist chic, or rich with dazzling detailed embellishments. Both silhouettes are classic and timeless, and their long lines with lengthen and flatter your figure.
- Rectangle: Your narrower hips, subtle bust and less-defined waistline create a streamlined figure that is the envy of many.
Create curves just where you want them with either of two classic gowns. A sheath, cut on the bias with a diagonal or gently curved side seam will give you a sexy silhouette, and a bodice with shirring, ruching, embroidery or stunning beading will compliment your bust line. If you prefer an enchanting and regal silhouette, a fairy tale ball gown with its signature bell shape skirt will make you feel as if you’re floating down the aisle.
- Inverted Triangle: With your broader shoulders, ample bust, slim hips, and subtle waist, you may be envied for your shapely legs and athletic build.
You’ll shine in an elegant strapless gown, or a wedding dress with sheer illusion over a scoop or sweetheart neckline. You could also choose a captivating ball gown with a generous skirt made of tulle or opulent organza, which will give you a curvier look and a decidedly more regal silhouette.
For specific style ideas of wedding dresses designed to flatter each different body type, check this out: http://davincibridal.com/style_guide.php
5. Trendy vs. Traditional: Both Rock!
Don’t be confused by the wedding dresses you see on celebrities. Celebrate your own personal style and choose a dress that matches you taste and the mood you want to create on your wedding day.
If you’re a fashionista bride, then go with something trending for the year. You might opt for a plunging neckline, a dress in a floral print, or even a gown embellished with feathers.
If you want to stick with a more conservative or traditional wedding style, wear satin or organza or lace.
Tip: Lace is stunning, and it’s the one traditionally conservative fabric that’s also still very much modern. And if you choose to wear lace, wear lots of it!
6. Wedding Dress Fitting Tip: Don’t Stand Still
You won’t be sitting down all the time nor standing still on your wedding day, so don’t just stand there while being fitted for your wedding dress. Sit, walk, jump or hop, kneel if you’ll have a church wedding, even dance around a little bit. Also, bend over to the front and both sides and back a little bit. Twist your torso, raise your arms—any movement you can think of.
No gown should pull or tug
A properly fitted wedding dress will not pull or tug anywhere, but the only way to find and fix those problems is to move. You also must be comfortable in your dress. Maybe not as comfortably casual as you might be in jeans and a t-shirt, but most certainly you should have a full range of motion.
A too-tight wedding dress is not a good thing
There are also some health concerns when it comes to fitting because a too-tight dress can restrict your breathing and compress your digestive system. You don’t want to be lightheaded at any time, and the last thing you want is a stomachache after your lovely wedding dinner!
7. Venue, Venue, Venue
Just like in real estate when they say “location is everything,” your venue will determine pretty much everything when it comes to the mood of your wedding.
Which comes first—gown or locale?
Unless you happen to be a bride who chooses her dress first and then chooses the venue to match the dress, you’ll need to tailor your choice of wedding dress or gown to the time, place, and weather of your wedding day.
Same style, different materials
This does not mean you have to abandon the particulars of the look you have in mind, though. You can first choose whatever gown moves your heart, then look for those same details in a dress that’s more appropriate for your wedding ceremony and reception venue.
For a traditional indoor wedding held during the cooler months of the year, choose heavier satin, ruching, embellishments, and perhaps a longer train. The same overall look in design and detail can also be found in a lighter weight summery gown that’s perfect for a backyard or destination wedding.
8. A-Line Wedding Gowns: Pretty Much Perfect for Everybody
If you don’t want to have to think too hard about which gown looks best on your particular body shape, you can always go with a classic A-line wedding dress. You can find a gown dressed up or down based on the fabric used and the amount of lace, beading, and embellishment.
A-line your bridesmaids, too
It’s also easy to find personalized bridesmaid styles based on an A-line design. Then you can let each attendant choose among the slight variations in the neckline of the bodice.
9. Gold Wedding Accents: Jewelry, Beads & Lace
Silver accessories are timeless and have been in fashion for a couple of years now, so why not try a hint of gold for a change? Gold earrings or pendants are of course beautiful and elegant, but if you want to add a little flavor and character to your dress, choose a gown with golden embellishments.
Gold beads or lace can add just the right touch, and if you want to take the look into your accessories, choose gold shoes, a gold lace and bead garter, and if you’re really daring, add a gold satin or lace shoulder wrap or bolero jacket to wear over a strapless gown.
10. Make the Most of Your Lovely Décolleté
Necklines nowadays are leaning toward the more elaborate and of course, your beautiful jewelry embellishments are far too pretty to hide.
Put your hair up
Sweep your hair up and off your neck to show off the beautiful straps or sleeves on your gown or highlight those stunning chandelier earrings or perfect pearl studs.
Let your hair down
Wearing your hair down can also highlight your collarbones, especially if you wear a strapless dress. Just choose a style that either drapes to the back or sweeps a bit to the side
Be your natural best
With either style, you don’t need a stiff updo or overly controlled down hairstyle. Just work with the natural qualities of your hair and experiment with clips, combs or jeweled spin pins.
11. Choose the Right White
Since no wedding dress is “just plain white,” take some time to study and become familiar with the variations in both hue and name of wedding dress whites. You’ll learn there’s white, light ivory, stark white, champagne—and that’s just the beginning! A little research goes a long way, and when you talk to your fashion designer, it will all be a breeze.
Tip: It’s a good idea to research which shade of white goes best with your skin tone, too. http://www.paraezo.com/blog/wedding-gown-colour-shades-white/
12. Destination Wedding or Winter Wonderland: Dress for the Weather
If you opt to have a destination wedding in Hawaii or in the Caribbean, or just a lovely intimate celebration in the park or even your own backyard, choose lightweight fabrics such as tulle, chiffon, and lightweight lace. These fabrics are perfect for the hot weather and work wonderfully in breezy dress designs. If your wedding falls during the winter months, consider fabrics like satin, taffeta, heavier lace and maybe even fur.
Fur is hot!
Adding a fur wrap or short jacket, or even a full-length fur-trimmed cape, can take even the most conservative wedding dress design to the upper echelons of forward thinking bridal fashion!
Wedding Gown Returns: Read the Ultra Fine Print
There is no better advice we can give you but to read, reread, and read again. Don’t sign on any bottom line until you fully understand every detail of your bridal fashion retailer’s return policy.
Also make sure you review and understand what to expect regarding alterations, shipping time, and every other bullet point in the contract.
14. Corset Dresses: Love Them!
Whether you’re pressed for time because you’re shopping for your gown at the last minute and don’t have the luxury of extra fittings, or if you just want to save a bundle on alterations, choose a corset dress. This is also the perfect style if you’re inclined to eat differently under stress. With a corset dress, an inch or so more or less around your waistline won’t make any difference at all, because you can adjust the gown to your waistline on your wedding day.
Corsets are definitely in!
Corset gowns are elegant and can create a lovely vintage look. They’re also fabulous if you plan to preserve your dress and hand it down to someone or sell it. You’ll get more for a corset dress because the size isn’t as fixed, and the lucky someone who gets your dress will have fewer worries.
Keep in mind lacing time
The only thing to keep in mind with a corset wedding gown is that you’ll need about 10 to 15 minutes for your bridesmaids or assistant to lace up the gown for you. But that extra time on the morning of your wedding will be worth it!
15. Beautiful Bridesmaids: A Definite Must-Have
Where would you be without the help of your lovely ladies? These girls have been with you through thick and thin, and they deserve to look splendid, too. There are more styles than we can count these days in bridesmaids dresses that come with bodices or skirts that can be personalized for each attendant’s taste.
Don’t create cookie cutter bridesmaids
Even if you choose to have your girls all wear the exact same dress, make sure to have at least one or two things that set each one apart from the others. Perhaps personalized jewelry, or different color dresses, or slightly different bouquets, or variations of the hairstyles for your wedding day—any small detail you can incorporate to make each girl an individual will be more than appreciated!
16. Know your Necklines
Different necklines suit different brides, but there are so many to choose from! Which do you choose? For sure, ask your bridal consultant for suggestions, but also do your own research. Look for advice on which neckline to wear based on the shape of your face, the type of jewelry you plan to wear, and if you have a general idea of how you want to wear your hair, read up about which neckline works best with different hairstyles.
Unbreakable Rule: Comfort
The only hard and fast rule is that the neckline on your gown—same as the gown itself—should feel comfortable. Ultra comfortable! You can sacrifice a bit of beauty in exchange for a little pain when it comes to a more fitted skirt or those killer high heels, but make sure the neckline on your wedding gown lies gently against your skin and doesn’t scratch, tug, or pull.
For a more in-depth study of the current and classic wedding gown necklines, check out our blog: http://www.davincibridal.com/blog/14-classic-necklines-for-your-wedding-gown/
17. To Veil or Not to Veil
Usually, a veil isn’t included in a wedding gown package, though occasionally you’ll find one included. Just like necklines, there are so many variations when it comes to wedding veils, you could fill a phonebook!
It’s easy to find a multitude of veils that will go with your particular dress so again, just like necklines, there’s only one hard and fast rule: Your wedding veil must be comfortable to wear!
Here’s a little primer on different lengths of classic wedding veils:
18. Nail Art’s a No-No but Sheer Gloves Rock
Even if you love your long, long artistically painted nails, and you’re “only” getting married in your backyard, weddings are still somewhat formal affairs. You also have those photos to worry about. Just the same as you don’t want to look back with regret on those obviously outdated lime green bridesmaid dresses, you don’t want to cringe when you see the close-up photos of your nails on your wedding day.
Go easy on fingernail fashion
You’ll never regret neutral polish with a tiny touch of rhinestones (if you just can’t live without them!) or one nail only done with just a little flair. But especially if your wedding is ultra-formal, or you just want to add a most creative but very classic accessory, go for gloves.
Tip: The great thing about gloves is that if you tend to want to hide your hands for whatever reason, gloves will do the trick every time!
May you have a fantastic off-the-planet shopping experience!
Like we said, info on wedding veils alone could fill a phone book. That means there’s more than an encyclopedia of tips out there for making the most of your wedding dress shopping experience. A lot of the best tips come from the experience of others, so for sure, go have coffee with your recently married girlfriends and pick their brains for ideas!
The one last piece of advice we can give you is to remember that your wedding isn’t just about your dress or your look or your neckline or your veil. It’s all about the love you share with your soulmate.
Once again, congratulations!