You recently got engaged. You've bought every bridal magazine on the newsstands and now you are ready to embark on the daunting, yet exciting task of wedding dress shopping. The wedding dress is the centerpiece of the wedding. As an event designer, it is where I find my inspiration to design the perfect wedding for my clients. Think about it this way: When you take that first step down the aisle, it is just like a celebrity walking the red carpet. Everyone asks, "Who are you wearing?" Remember, you are the star of the show and all eyes are fixed on you! Here are a few tips to help you streamline what can be a very overwhelming process.
Make a Statement
A wedding dress should make a statement about who you are as a bride, but it should also make the right statement. Your dress should make you feel beautiful, it should make your face light up and it should put a sparkle in your eye. That's a lot of pressure on a dress -- so be bold with the statement you want to make, and make sure you are making a statement that translates your personality and who you are. That said, think of your wedding dress as the perfect frame for a beautiful painting -- when the frame is right, it enhances the painting to show its best qualities, defining it in a way that makes it memorable. Your dress is the frame for the portrait of the woman you are on your day. Frame yourself beautifully and you will shine.
Limit the Opinions
When choosing a dress, too many cooks can spoil the stew. I suggest limiting the number of people you invite to embark on the exploration process. Trying on wedding dresses is exhausting in itself so for the first day out in the wedding dress field, just bring one or two people that are close to you, but will not do the thinking for you. Everyone loves to give their input, which only makes the entire process that much more difficult. I know this may sound lonely, but I even suggest going alone on the first day and taking the opportunity to find out what type of bride you are. I know it may have that feeling like going to the movies alone and being judged, but I have gone dress shopping with a number of our brides and the more people, the more opinions and the more confusing it is to make a decision. Rule of thumb: MORE IS NOT MERRIER!
Variety is the Spice of Life
There are traditionally five wedding dress silhouettes: A-Line, Ball Gown, Mermaid, Sheath and Empire Waist. Variations on these silhouettes are the Trumpet and Basque Waistline. Like a thumbprint, every bride has a unique figure and different body type so it is important to choose the most flattering style that accentuates the right curves and may hide others. Be open to trying on different silhouettes because more often than you think, the one you have been dreaming of just may not be the perfect fit for you.
One Size Doesn't Fit All
Bridal salons do not keep every dress in every size in the salon, they typically have one version of the dress that is on the larger size and an assortment of industrial clamps from Home Depot that they use to gather all the excess fabric to cinch the dress to fit your frame. It is important to remember that the fit of the dress with the clamps is not how your dress will look when you wear it. You will have a number of fittings and alterations made before you say "I Do". A wedding dress at any price point is always crafted to fit your body, so remember that you may be falling out of the bust or squeezed in at the waist when you try the samples off the rack, but in the end you will have a tailored gown that will make you feel like a princess.
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
The look you want to portray on your wedding day starts at the crown of your head with the perfect veil and makes its way down to your toes with an exquisite shoe and everything in between! There is something special about trying on a wedding dress that makes a bride feel like a bride, but once you add the veil, it is that final "AH HA" moment. Remember you are buying the complete look, so make sure to add a veil to complete the story and think about how high of heels you want to wear from beginning to end. Every girl loves to accessorize and the shoes can be the most difficult accessory to find, so make sure to start looking early and have them on hand for the final fittings so that the hem of the dress is perfect. No bride wants to trip over her wedding dress on her big day!
Wedding dress shopping is tiring and overwhelming. I have gone with many of my brides and I am ready for a nap by the end of the day, so I can only imagine how the bride feels. Get lots of rest the night before you set out to find the perfect dress. Don't get discouraged if you don't find anything the very first day and be open to exploring dress designs and silhouettes you may have not considered before.
And last, trust your instincts. If you feel like a princess, if seeing yourself in the mirror makes you smile, and you can use the word LOVE to describe the dress you are wearing -- you've found the dress. Don't over-think your decision and DON'T keep looking for the next best thing. You will feel beautiful when you find the dress that is extraordinary on you!