How to choose your wedding dress: the definitive guide

It’s the definitive guide on how to choose your wedding dress. And not any dress, but the dress that makes you feel like the goddess you truly are!

In this guide, you’ll learn fool-proof tips on how to:

01. Initial tips to get started

02. How to choose the perfect dress style for your body type

03. Most common fabrics used to make wedding dresses

04. Money-saving tips

In short, if you are planning to go out shopping for your wedding dress and are looking for some advice to find the “one”, you’ll love this guide. Let’s get started!

#1. Initial tips to get started

There’re several questions you’ll need to answer from the start of your wedding dress shopping journey.
If you do, we guarantee your experience will be so much more comfortable and stress-free.

There’s only one style rule we’d like you to follow.
Everything you wear -be it long or short, pricey or a steal- should reflect your personality and make you feel like the goddess you’re!

Tip #1 Set a budget

You should expect to spend at least 10 % of your overall budget on bridal attire.
But this amount doesn’t only account for your dress! You should also factor in your veil or headpiece (which can range between € 250 to € 400 ), lingerie, jewellery, shoes and your groom entire look.

Remember that you’ll typically need alterations for any bridal gown which could range from € 75 to € 250.
If you’re looking to make significant changes such as: adding sleeves or a bustle or changing a neckline, this price could go up to € 500.
It could be though that you prefer to spend more on your dress than in other items such as music or flowers. Then go for it and scale back on those other areas.
After all, it’s your wedding day, and you’ll always remember what you wore on your wedding day!

Tip #2 Shop with plenty of time

Start early on.
If you’re planning to order a dress from a bridal boutique, it’ll take some time for the dress to be ready to wear.
The average time for a dress to be completed is between 6 months to a year after you’ve placed your order.
There’re several factors at play here: gowns are made to order.
Or they usually have many custom touches or details that need to be finished by hand.
We recommend the following Timeline:

Your Wedding Dress Timeline
12 Months ahead – Begin shopping -not only visiting bridal boutiques but also looking at websites & window shopping.
6-9 Months – Order your dress.

You should know that if you’re in a rush due to a short engagement, many shops offer the option to rush your dressmaking for a fee.
However, this option has its limits too. If your time window is tiny -say one month- most shops would be unable to fulfil your order.

Fear not, there’re other alternatives out there for the bride on the rush. You could find your dress in the samples from a bridal store, through a resale store or a website.

3 Months – First Fitting

1 Month- Second Fitting

1 Week- Final Fitting

Tip #3 Research, Research, Research

Look at many places and find inspiration for the kind of dress you want.
We are so lucky there’re so many resources where we can find inspiration nowadays.
Of course, Pinterest.
But also, all bridal designer websites and bridal fashion shows would do

If you skip this step, you run the risk to be overwhelmed when you visit a shop for the first time.
There’re many options available, and they’re bound to seem all “pretty”, at first.

Get at least an initial idea on the best style for your body type.

The most important consideration for this is to find a dress that highlights your best assets rather than hide them. (More on this further down in this blog)
An idea about the length you prefer would be handy as well.

Tip #4 Make your appointments

Most stores that sell wedding gowns work on an appointment basis.
We suggest at least two weeks in advance, and better still try to get a slot during the week when the service tends to be better due to slower business.

It’s the best part and when the fun begins!

If you’ve followed our tips so far, you’ll have a clear budget in mind and resist the temptation to try on dresses you can’t afford.

You’ll also have a pretty good idea of the best dresses for your body type that’ll work with your best assets.

Flexibility is key!

Don’t limit yourself and visit different types of bridal stores: bridal shops, department stores and if the budget goes that far, a couture house.

We ladies always need to have several options to compare before we make the final decision- and not only in the bridal dress department, by the way

Tip #5 Choose your crow wisely

Not everyone has your style or good taste for that matter. But everyone will have an opinion.

We advise against inviting many people to your dress shopping appointments.
That’ll make the experience less stressful and less confusing!

You can always invite your bridesmaids to your final fitting and pop a bottle of Champagne to celebrate your gorgeous dress!
Remember: it’s essential to have one of your friends or family to take notes on how to bustle your gown on the day.

Tip #6 Make a little effort

Every bridal salon is designed to make you feel beautiful.
The lighting and décor will create a welcoming environment. The salespeople attention will be top-notch.

However, we suggest you make a small effort as well. Help the consultant to better figure out your style by wearing clothing that makes you feel confident, and that shows your taste.

Don’t forget your shoes if you already have them or any piece of jewellery you’re planning to wear on the day.
You should schedule a hair and Make-up trial before you go to one of your final fittings. This way, your whole look will come together!
Et Voilà!

Tip #7 Have the best foundation for your dress.

Ask your salesperson’s advice on the best underwear for your dress and bring it with you to all your fittings.

Tip #8 Be adventurous

I also recommend trusting your salesperson- not the pushy one of course!
She is bound to have a trained eye and know what style of dress will work for you.
It’s your opportunity to consider several alternatives.
You could be amazed at how much a dress can improve when you see it on your body rather than the hanger.

Don’t finish there and look into the variety of fabrics and shades.

There’ll be shades that will flatter you the most according to your skin undertone.

Maybe ecru tones will make you look more radiant than bright white or vice versa.

If white is not for you, don’t fret! Go for pastels or metallics or even the ever classic black.

Choose your more radiant hue for your wedding dress!

Tip #9 Ignore the size

No two designer sizes are equal.
If you have to make, a choice err on the bigger size. It’s always easier to take in a gown than letting it out.

Tip #10 Read the small letters

We know you’ll be very excited about ordering your dream dress.

However, be a savvy bride and make sure you understand all the small letter.

A real pro consultant should explain to you all details related to your order including price, colour, style, number & name, delivery date, cancellation policy, deposit, alterations fee,

Don’t ever put more than 50% deposit.

Finally, don’t forget the sales tax, which could increase your final bill considerably. We always advise our brides to ask for the sales tax from the get going and adjust accordingly.

#2. How to choose the perfect dress style for your body type

There’s a lot of advice out there on how to go about choosing your wedding dress.

We think that the smartest way is to settle for the dress that works better with your body and highlights your best assets while at the same time concealing those areas, you’re unhappy about.

With the following guide, we intend to help you achieve this and get the best bang for your buck.

We have narrowed body types into five general categories, listed below.
Keep in mind that most people won’t fit squarely into any category.

Nevertheless, there’ll always be a category that describes our body type better than the others!

Link to how to find out which is your body type.

**** Grab our guide here on the different female body types****

1. Petite Body Types
2. Plus- Size Body Types
3. Busty Body Types
4. Lean & straight Body Types
5. Hourglass body types.

Type #1 Petite Body Types

Petite refers to stature, not weight.
Most people think petite means skinny when, in fact, petite has nothing to do with weight.
Petite is the term used in the fashion industry to describe a woman who is 5’3 tall or under.
Petite women come in all shapes and sizes.

I find that it’s always easier to recognize this if we see a pic of a famous person who is this shape.
Petite celebrities we’re very familiar are:

• Nicole Richie, 5’1″
• Zoë Kravitz, 5’2″
• Kourtney Kardashian, 5′
• Mary-Kate Olsen, 5’2″ and Ashley Olsen, 5’1″

The number 1 rule you need to follow is:

Never overwhelm your small frame! Which means you should choose an airy sheath or a trumpet style over big ball gowns.

Now friends if you happen to share this body type together with the beautiful ladies listed above, the following dress styles are for you!

1.Sheath Image
A sheath’s continuous line creates the illusion of height. Wedding dress by Nouvelle Amsale

2. V-Neck gown

The sturdy straps on a plunging V-neckline gown draw the eye upward elongating your frame.

3. An empire waistline
It’s a great style for petite figures. It creates the illusion of long legs.

4. Trumpet style dress

5. Simplicity is the key.

For petite brides, simple reigns supreme, and this chic silk crepe number is minimalism at its best. Wedding dress by Christos

Type #2 Plus-size body types

We know most brides out there don’t fit the idealized white and skinny model we keep seeing in most bridal websites and stores.
So, let’s keep it real!
You don’t need to hide your frame if you’re a curvier girl.
We’ll show you how to celebrate your curves!
And, some tips for creating the illusion of a smaller frame if you decide to.

Celebrities who show off a plus-size are:
1. Queen Latifah
2. Ashley Graham
3. Adele
4. Kelly Clarkson

As general rules to follow:
1. Avoid thin fabrics such as silk charmeuse or chiffon, which tend to magnify every little detail. Other than that, feel free to go for anything. Taffeta, organza, lace, and duchess satin are all very flattering fabric choices.
2. Look for dresses with asymmetrical details
3. It’s your wedding day. Do wear something you love in the fashion department. Be it ruffles, bows, flowers, or beading. Go for it!

If you are a plus-size bride, this dress styles will work for you!

Image of Different shapes.

1. Go for anything A-line, especially with an empire waistline if you want some coverage.
Empire style is high-waisted. If it immediately goes into an A-line will be ideal for brides who are after a more concealing look.

2. Ball Gown dress
This dress has a full skirt and a fitted waist. It’ll do wonders to hide problem areas in the hips and thighs.
If you’re a pear shape bride, it’s your first choice.
This gown will show off your smaller upper half with plentiful fabric on the bottom.
All in all, it’s one of those styles that can make anyone feel like a princess, independent of your body type.
3. Mermaid wedding dresses
With this silhouette, you’ll hug your torso and will flare out into a fuller skirt.
It’s essential to ensure the flair out begins just above the knees to give the illusion of longer legs.
4. Sheath Wedding Dress

You can create the illusion of height and length with a sheath wedding dress. Its continuous line is very becoming for plus size brides.

5. High-Low Hem
This type of hem tends to elongate the legs and stretch out the whole body.
As a plus, it’s a rather unusual style for the fashionista bride out there.
It allows you to show off your legs also!

6. Wedding dress with a halter neck
It’s a stylish choice for the feminine bride. Very flattering due to its long, lean lines created by the high neckline. It’s mostly found as a version of a sheath or mermaid.

Type #3 Busty Body Types

If you are the busty type, more likely than not your back will be broad, your shoulders soft and you’ll have a defined waistline. And, regardless of your weight, you will have full breasts.
As we see it, there’re two choices: reveal or conceal.
The secret to either one starts with finding the right neckline.
Some celebrities that share this body type are:
1. Sofia Vergara
2. Jennifer Love Hewitt
3. Salma Hayek
4. Scarlett Johansson

1. Square Neckline

A square neckline looks great on almost anyone, but it’s especially great for the busty bride since its very discreet. Wedding dress by Lela Rose.

2. Strapless Gowns

If you have opted for concealing your assets a strapless dress won’t let you down.

3. V-Neckline gown

If you go to plunging with this style, it could be too risqué. A more discreet dip, on the other hand, would look amazing on you! As a bonus, it’ll draw the eye to the smallest part of your torso.

4. Off the shoulder neckline

A structured off-the-shoulder neckline offers a subtle curve that minimizes a large bust. Wedding dress by Marchesa.

Type #4 Rectangle Body Type

The rectangle body shape has equal bust, waist and hip measurements. Rectangles tend to be tall and lean. They are not particularly curvy, the waist is not well-defined, and the bottom is rather flat.
In general, all dresses would look flattering on your body. After all, they are designed with your type in mind!
However, you may want to give the illusion of some curves and accentuate your assets, and that’s when we come in with a few tricks!
Some celebrities that share your body type:

1. Nicole Kidman
2.Cameron Diaz
3.Nathalie Portman
4.Kate Moss

1. Choose a voluminous skirt

A voluminous peplum skirt acts as a stand-in for curvy hips. Wedding dress by Viktor & Rolf.

2. Dress with a slit

Consider a wedding dress with a slit or with illusion panels to show off your magnificent legs.

3. Sheath Dress
A sheath will accentuate your body with its close-fitting shape

4. Crop Top Wedding dress
If you’re feeling daring enough go for the trendiest in bridal fashion: the crop top. You’re one of the few that can pull it off! Wedding dress by Limor Rosen.

Type #5 Hour- Glass Body Types

Your hourglass body shape is the envy of all women out there!
You have this shape if your hip and bust measurements are nearly equal in size. Your waist will be a lot narrower by comparison.
The shoulders will be round, and the legs are in proportion with the upper body.
Some celebrities that share this body type are:

1. Scarlett Johansson
2. Dita Von Teese
3. Salma Hayek
4. Sofia Vergara

Rule number one to follow if you’ve an hourglass figure:

Choose a dress that highlights your small waist.
There’re many ways to achieve this effect. We’ll show you how!

1. A flashy belt or a dress with a cinched waistline
Choose a gown with a flashy belt to show off your tiny mid-section.

2. Fit & flare dress
A fit-and-flare style accentuates the hourglass lady’s curvy constitution. It’s your go-to dress…!

#3. Most common fabrics used to make wedding dresses

It’ll be handy to know the fabrics when you go shopping for your wedding dress. Not all materials are created equal.
In general, fabrics made from natural fibres breathe better, but they can be costly and wrinkle more easily.
That’s why synthetics & blends are so popular!

Here’re 6 of the most widely used fabrics in wedding gowns:

1. Satin

The first thing to know is that Satin is not a fibre. It’s a finish.
As such, you can have Satin made of silk, polyester or a blend.
However, most bridal Satin tends to be 100 % silk.
Satin has a smooth finish with lots of body which makes it ideal for structure gowns.

It works well with all body types.

2. Charmeuse
Charmeuse is light, rich and has a lovely drape.
It’s incredibly luxurious but shows every flow.
We recommend it for the bride with a lean & straight body type.

3. Chiffon
It’s sheer and lightweight with a floaty look.
Chiffon is often used in layers or as an overlay for a more structure fabric.

4. Organza
Organza is another lightweight fabric which is traditionally made from silk.
It’s stiffer and more structured than chiffon, though. But all this without losing its ethereal feel.
It’s a perfect choice for a warmer weather wedding.

5. Tulle
Tulle is commonly used to make ballerina’s tutus.
If you choose tulle for your gown, it’ll have an airy feel.
This fabric would make amazing ball gowns style dresses.

6. Lace
Lace gets its name after the city where it was originally created.
As such we have Chantilly, Alençon and Venise lace.
It’s most commonly used as a detail or overlay.

#4. Money-saving tips

We all agree that a wedding dress is a significant investment.
We strongly feel that purchasing your dress shouldn’t put you into debt, though!
Here’re some tips to get a great deal without compromising on quality.

Tip #1 Keep it simple

In general, the more embellishments a dress has -embroidery, floating appliques, beading, corsetry-the more expensive it’s.
The extras can be pricey and more likely than not; there’s a lot of handwork involved.
To save your cash, go for dresses with details that come from the fabric, or buy a simple dress and have your seamstress to add the embellishments.
You can also amp the” wow “factor with your choice of jewellery.

Tip #2 Be Flexible

Don’t obsess over a designer you can’t afford. Do your research and find out if she/he has a secondary line that is more budget-friendly.
Consider a style from high-quality retailers that cater to a bigger market such as BHLDN.

Tip #3 Shop a Sample Sale

There’s the chance to save hundreds or thousands with this option.
This opportunity has some cons, though.
Some of the cons are a limited selection or the need to have the models cleaned or altered at your own cost.

Tip #4 Try a Trunk Show

Unlike sample sales, this’s a preview of a designer new collection.
Not the place for bargains, but there are usually discounts to be had.
Cons: you’ll have to be ready to buy on the spot, and it’s usually a final sale.

Tip #5 Buy Online

Look into consignment sites or flash sales.
Cons: be aware that cheap and poorly made designer copies are offered.
Make sure you’re purchasing from a legitimate site.
Read the conditions of sale to understand the shipping and return policies.

There’re many onsite sites nowadays where you could also rent your dream wedding dress.

Here’re some links!

We hope you find our guide useful!

Which tip are you going to try first?

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