Choosing your wedding gown

Choosing your wedding gown can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Now that you have selected the season, the time of day, the site, and the level of formality of your wedding, you are ready to pick that most special dress.

Look through bridal magazines to get an idea of the style of the dress you may want. Cut out the pictures of the dress your like and bring them with you to the bridal shops. This will be very helpful to the salespeople who can then show you dresses that are similar. The formality and the season both dictate the length of the skirt, the style of the dress, and the fabric and shade. But your budget should be your first consideration. Don’t be disappointed if that gown in the full-page ad in your bridal magazine turns out to have an enormous price tag. Often these ads are of the bridal salon’s most expensive creations.

You want to ask family and friends for recommendations of bridal shops. Visit only the best and most established shops, those who have been in business awhile. A newer store without a stable business history may not be there for you when it counts. The story comes to mind of a bride who found out at the last minute that her boutique went out of business. She received no phone call, no refund, and no dress. She was forced to rent a dress at the last minute.

Visit at least three shops and be critical. Browse through the dresses in your price range and evaluate the service help. Do they seem pushy? Are they “snooty”? Or are they patient and gracious? You should like the shop and the service people. You will be working closely with them.

Dresses often look very different on you than on a model or on a hanger. Be sure to try on each dress you are considering. If you fall in love with a dress from a magazine, the bridal shop may be able to special-order it. You won’t be able to see the dress on you until it arrives, and you will probably be obligated to purchase it even if you change your mind. Sample gowns in the shops are generally made in sizes 8, 10, and 12. If they aren’t your size, expect the salesperson to help you see the gowns on you the way they should look when ordered to fit.

Try on only dresses priced within your budget. Tell the salesperson the formality, season and time of day of your wedding. A good salesperson should be able to recommend the style of dress that will be most flattering on your body type. Don’t buy what your mother, your fiancé, your maid of honor, or anyone else thinks is wonderful. Select what makes you feel comfortable as well as beautiful. Approach the selection of a dress with an open mind. Try on a variety of cuts, styles, and colors. Comfort is very important. Remember, you will be wearing your dress the entire day, for photos, dining, dancing, and more.

Consider what dress style and cut is most flattering. An A-line cut tends to compliment a bride with a fuller figure. A petite bride often looks fabulous in a simple style.

At your wedding you will have a bouquet, jewelry, perhaps gloves, a veil and often other trappings. Don’t overdo it. Consider what the end result will look like. That could mean less rather than more in some cases.

You’ll know the gown of your dreams the moment you slip it on. This moment is one you’ll want to catch on film, so be sure your mother, sister, or maid of honor has a camera ready for a quick candid photo.

Remember that most manufacturers operate with a sixteen-week delivery time, so purchase your gown at least six months before your wedding. You must allow lead time for alterations as well. Count on having about three alterations over the span of more than a month. Know also that most stores do not include the cost of alterations in the price of the dress, and that alterations can be expensive.

When you’ve made your choice, pay careful attention to the store’s policies. Understand what you are paying for. Ask whether the gown will require additional articles of clothing such as full-hoop petticoats or a special brassiere. If alterations are not included, be sure you get a written quote of a flat fee or hourly charge for completing your gown.

Many brides try to lose weight before the wedding. If this is something you want to do make sure the salesperson or seamstress knows. Then be sure to lose that weight before your first fitting, and maintain your weight loss until the wedding.

When your gown’s alterations are complete, don’t be temped to take it right home. If you take it home earlier you chance something happening to it before your wedding. Patience is prudent here.