1. Plan your dress budget. It is as essential as planning your wedding budget. It is important to give yourself a range and have flexibility, but keep it real. If your dream dress is over your allotted budget, you have to reduce other parts of the total wedding budget. This is about the money, not your style or taste.
How much will you allow yourself to spend on your wedding gown? Factor in the shoes, jewelry, veil, undergarments and alterations. Here’s an example:
$1200 Dress Budget – $800 Dress = $400 for everything else (Alterations, Shoes, Jewelry, Veil, Etc)
2. Comb the bridal fashion magazines or look online for inspiration. Bridal Guide Magazine would be my first choice. Mark the pages that have dresses or parts of dresses that you like. You don’t have to like the entire dress. If you like the sleeves, mark the page with a note to yourself that you like the sleeves. After a while you will see a pattern develop. You always like dresses with soft flowing fabric, or you always like elaborate beading, or you love lace. (try not to love everything! It makes your search harder.
3. Look for the silhouette (shape of the dress) first. Do you want a slim sheath, an A line, or perhaps a full skirted ball gown shape? There is fit and flair, trumpet, bias cut (body hugging), True waist, Drop-waisted, or Empire. Then think about whether you want knee length, waltz length, floor length, or hi-low. You should also decide if you want a train and how long you want it. When it comes to the train, you have several length options. There is the sweep train that leaves 3-6” dragging on the floor. Chapel length is usually about 18” on the ground behind you. Cathedral is anything longer than that!
4. Now you look at necklines! Off the shoulder, strapless, strap neckline, sweetheart or Queen Ann, jewel neck, batteau or halter, to name a few. You may also want sleeves on your wedding gown, or if you prefer a strapless dress, have the option of a bolero jacket to wear for the ceremony.
5. Now you can start thinking about details you love. Do you love bling and sparkle? You may want a simple gown with a blinged out belt. Do you love lace? Do you want nude tulle for the upper chest, arms and back that have “tattoo” lace appliques? Do you want the entire gown in lace?
Finding your perfect dress is as easy or as difficult as you make it. Try not to over think it. It shouldn’t be a chore, but fun and exciting. Always keep in mind that your dream dress may not exist yet. You may need me to design your custom gown for you. Just a thought.
Stay tuned for more brilliant wedding dress shopping tips from me.