Planning your big day but not sure where to even start looking for your dress? Before you begin your hunt for the ultimate wedding gown, TheKnot.com shares helpful, practical advice:
BudgetAbout 10 percent of your wedding budget should be set aside for your look — the gown, accessories, shoes, etc. Know how much you have before you get your heart set on a gown; online gown galleries allow you to search for looks you love at the price you can afford.
Know what cut will look good on your body, and be open-minded when shopping (what looks good on you everyday might not when it comes to your wedding). One of the biggest misconceptions about bridal gowns is that they only come as is. The truth is, most gowns can be ordered in alternative forms. So if you like the bodice of one and the skirt of another, ask to have them put together to form your dream dress (provided, of course, that both gowns come from the same designer).
Keep in mind, though, that the more you stray from the original design, the more it will cost you in the end.
Keep an open mindWhen you're in the bridal salon, don't eliminate anything at first glance. Even though certain styles work best on certain body types, don't let the rules narrow your search too much. It helps to try on all different kinds of dresses, and then to decide which shape and style you look and feel best in. So if the salesperson brings you something she says you must try — try it, even if you detest the way it looks on the hanger. Many a bride has ended up going gaga for a gown the salesperson had to persuade her to try on.
Because the dress is the centerpiece of your wedding style, have the overall style of your wedding in mind when choosing a gown. An ultraformal ballroom wedding calls for a totally different dress than a wedding with 50 people in a garden setting. If you have a specific theme for your wedding, it is up to you how much you infuse the theme into your overall attire.
Pay attention to details
There are ways to incorporate your personal sense of style into any ceremony — no matter what the location. It's all in the details. Whether your motivation is more traditional or more modern, accessories are the easiest way to add a few unexpected touches of personal style to your setting. If you're a classic country bride, why not have your groom slip into a pair of cowboy boots and a lariat? If you're Scottish, don a kilt. Are you athletes? Change into running shoes for the ceremony. If you're the starving-artist types, make it Birkenstocks.
Even if you decide to go the straight-up, by-the-book traditional route, you’re still communicating your own personal sense of style. How? The ageless Grace Kelly gown, a string of pearls, a classic tux, the perfect pair of gold cufflinks ... all timelessly elegant. Just like you.
For a custom-made, couture gown, you must order by the six-month mark. Keep this rule in mind: The more complicated or customized your gown is, the more time you need, since a lot of gowns are made overseas. Of course, there are plenty of places where you can find a beautiful gown off the rack — just allow two months for alterations.
Take proper measurements
When you're ready to order your gown, the store will take your measurements: bust, waist, and hips. Each manufacturer has its own measurement chart, and this is what the store will use to determine your size. A knowledgeable store will know how a particular designer's gowns are supposed to fit. Ask to see the sizing chart so you can have a better understanding of the way it works. And make sure the correct size gets ordered, using your largest measurement as a guide.
One thing to remember: Bridal gowns run small, so don't be alarmed should your final size measurement jump up a number or two.
For more great wedding planning tips, visit TheKnot.com.