Steps for Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress

Now that you are engaged, are you dreaming of finding your wedding dress?

If you are eager to hit the bridal shop to try on different styles and find the picture-perfect fit, then this timeline can help you determine when it is best to gather your support team and start shopping.

When should you try on dresses?
It is essential to understand that finding and fitting the right wedding dress is a process. Your dress will need to be ordered, shipped, altered, and pressed before your wedding date. Some dresses are made to order, and it can take up to six months to piece together. But, even if you are purchasing off the rack, it is likely you will still need time to make adjustments.

With this in mind, we recommend you begin dress shopping as soon as you have secured the venue. Ideally, you will have eight to ten months for find your dress and have it returned and ready to wear on the big day.

What are the steps for finding the right dress?
Since selecting the right dress is more than simply hitting the store and buying what you like, we have created a simple timeline set you on the right shopping path.

  1. Choose a style. You may already have a style in mind but do some online research and purchase and peruse a few bridal magazines. Trends change year to year, and you may find yourself leaning towards a look that you want to try first. It makes your trip to the bridal shop more efficient when you already have an idea of what you like. Although, we do recommend you try on a few varying styles, you may be surprised with what you fall in love with!
  2. Choose your budget. Decide how much of your wedding budget you plan to spend on your dress. Remember to add in taxes, shipping costs, alterations, and the added cost of your veil and accessories.
  3. Set an appointment. Many bridal boutiques will require and appointment to try on gowns. It is likely that they will have an attendant available to walk you through the process, so they need to have you on the schedule to provide the best possible service.
  4. Make your purchase and allow time for your dress to be created and packaged for shipping.
  5. Once your dress has arrived, make an appointment to try it on and determine what needs to be altered.
  6. After the final alterations, have your dress steamed or professionally pressed and hung in a sealed bag until your wedding date.

How to Choose Bridesmaids Dresses for a Spring Wedding

If you are getting married, it’s likely that you have already thought about what kind of wedding party you want. You’ve probably selected the ceremony site, chosen your favorite vendors, and made plans for the rehearsal dinner.

Now is the time to start thinking about your wedding party and what they will wear. But picking an option within your color and style theme is only the beginning. While the process seems fun, it is not quite as easy as you may think. Before you start shopping, you should know a few basics to help you make an informed decision.

Consider the Weather.
If you live in an area where spring weather can range from freezing temperatures to sunny and warm, you may want to look for dresses that can be worn under a wrap or jacket. If you’re not sure what to expect in terms of the weather, look for dresses that can layer nicely so your girls are comfortable if it gets a little chilly.

How formal is your wedding?
If you are hosting a casual wedding, there are many ways in which to go about choosing your bridesmaid dresses. You can choose from a variety of short, flowing, and colorful dresses. Alternatively, you could give each girl a few choices within a range of options and let them choose what suits their style and personality best. Then, you can offer matching accessories to tie the look together nicely.

If you’re going the formal route, then consider length and fabric. Typically, a knee-length dress or longer is considered “formal.” Dresses made of bridal satin, brocade, or charmeuse look classy for a dressy event. This is the time to let your bridesmaids rock that long, gorgeous ballgown of their dreams!

Consider body types.
It is important to consider which styles look flattering on the unique body types of your bridesmaids. If you want your girls to wear matching dresses, consider picking a maxi style which is long a flowing and a little less formal, the sheath look, which is long and fitted for any style wedding, or an empire waist that clinches the narrowest point of the bust and flows nicely from there. If you are willing to let your girls mix and match, let them try on various styles and purchase the one they feel the most beautiful in.

Think about the cost.
It is likely that your bridesmaids will purchase their own dress, so you should be mindful of the cost. Perhaps one or two bridesmaids can afford to spend a bit more money on a dress than another, so be considerate of everyone’s budget before making your final decision.

An affordable bridesmaids’ dress ranges between $100 and $200 for a typical wedding. With that price, you can select something that will look great on everyone. Make sure you pick a dress that they will be excited to wear again!

Winter Wedding Ideas

There are so many things to love about winter – a cozy fireplace, hot cocoa, and a fresh snowfall are just the start.  If you are planning winter nuptials, here are some seasonally unique ideas that will make your guests feel like they are walking into a winter wonderland.

Let’s start with the dress. If you love the idea of a long-sleeve dress, this is your time to shine! Winter wedding dresses are usually considered classy and glamorous. This is the season to rock fur embellishments, wraps, and textured accents. You can even get away with velvet and dark colored material. The most important thing is to find a dress that is flattering, comfortable, and warm.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Add seasonal floral arrangements. You may be surprised to discover how many bloom options are available over the winter months. Consider decorating your venue with poinsettias, roses, camellias, and carnations. These options are easy to find and offer a rich variety of eye-catching hues.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Then, set the mood with candlelight. When the weather outside is frightful, make the inside warm and delightful. Setting a cozy mood with candlelight will make your space beautiful and inviting. Candles can be placed on your reception tables or added to the centerpiece, used along the floor to create a walkway, or hung from the ceiling for natural lighting.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Finally, add a little comfort food.  This is the time of year to warm your guests up. Consider drinks such as apple cider, hot cocoa, coffee, or tea. Give your guests the option to keep these drinks non-alcoholic or add a shot of their favorite liquor to spice things up. Pair these warm beverages with heavier than normal appetizers such as: soups, cheese dips, mini sliders, and handheld raviolis. Then offer a main course of beef, pasta, and slow roasted vegetables. Top things off with warm apple cobbler, crème brulee, raspberry tart, and a red velvet wedding cake!

Photo credit: Pinterest

How to Store Your Wedding Dress

Shopping for your wedding dress is one of the most exciting days out during wedding planning. This is the time to dress up and feel like a princess!  But, if you have already purchased your dress and it is now waiting at home for the big day (alterations and all), here are some storage tips to keep it looking its best.

Let it Breathe
While you may consider and airtight box after you say “I do”, storing a wedding dress for a future date is different. Your dress needs to breathe. Cloth garment bags will protect the material from outside elements while allowing proper ventilation. If you do not have a bag, simply place your dress between a flat bedsheet that fully covers the material. Cut a hole at the top of the sheet to allow your dress to hang with the sheet equally covering both sides. Feel free to use safety pins to carefully secure the sheet around the sides of your dress. Just make sure you do not pin the dress fabric, only the sheet surrounding your garment.

Let it hang
Hanging your dress tall will keep the fresh pressed look you received from the dress shop or alterations boutique. Once your dress is carefully placed inside the garment bag, hang it in a closet on a tall rack where the bottom is not bundled on the floor to prevent wrinkling. Try to select a location to hang it away from crowded spaces. If other clothes are shoved around your wedding dress, there is a chance more wrinkling will occur.

Find the best place
If you are debating which closet is best, choose the space that is opened rarely to protect your dress from overexposure to the sun. Also try to keep the dress in a cool, temperature-controlled room with low humidity. If you are storing your dress in a tropical environment, purchase a small humidifier from a local hardware store to keep your space cool and dry.

Leave it be
This may be the hardest part! Once you have safely stored your dress, try your best to leave it alone. Removing it frequently increases your change of spills, oils from your skin, new wrinkles, makeup, and other elements that can change the integrity of your new dress.

Once you are finally close to your wedding day, carefully remove your dress and have it professionally steamed.

How to Choose the Perfect Dress

You want to look and feel like a princess on your wedding day, and the endless available options can make any bride feel just a little overwhelmed.  Here are a few elements to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect dress. 

Your Style

Select a dress that fits appropriately with the style of your wedding.  If you are planning a beach wedding, chose an option that reflects a more casual tone.  A long evening gown with gloves to match may not flow very well in the sand and sunshine.  If you are hosting an evening ballroom reception and a church ceremony, this is where a stunning evening gown can wow the crowd. 

Body Type

Admiring a gown displayed on a mannequin does not reflect exactly how it will look on you. We are all shaped differently.  While some choices look stunning with your figure, others may not. Consider your body type and use this guide to help with the selection process.

  • Curvy: Brides with plenty of curves may want to choose a style that isn’t too snug. Accentuate a natural shape with a dress that is flowing and comfortable.
  •  Straight-Lined: These brides can look for a dress that creates curves. A tighter fit in some areas is the key to shaping a straight figure to look its best.
  •  Tall: A dress with a lower waist line that creates a curve looks exquisite on a taller bride. 
  •  Short: Higher waist-line or A-line dresses can lengthen a petite bride. In addition, a gown flowing to the ground with some accents up top can help create a taller look.
Comfort

Once you know the style and shape of the dress you need, it is crucial to keep comfort in mind.  You want to be at ease making vows at the alter and letting loose at your reception.  When you try on the perfect dress, walk around for a while.  Sit, stand, and even dance in the gown if you can get away with it.  An extra 30 minutes can make all the difference when determining if your selection will get you through an entire evening.  Most importantly, make sure you have room to add appetizers and dinner in the mix. 

Be sure to take a few trusted friends and family along and be willing to accept their honest feedback.   Together you can find the perfect gown while having lots of fun!

Your Wedding Dress – To Keep or Donate?

Congratulations on your wedding!  If you have finally tied the knot, you are probably on Cloud 9 and we share in your excitement.  But as you slowly reconnect with your daily life, you may notice your wedding gown displayed beautifully in your closet. We can help you decide what to do with it from here.

To Keep

If you find it hard to part with your dress, we understand.  It’s selection, fitting, and debut were a huge part of your wedding day.  But, leaving it alone to hang in the closet is not best for the fabric.  The first thing you need to do is find a trusting cleaner to remove any stains. Then, move on with its preservation.  Many cleaners can help with this task, but you can also accomplish this at home by carefully folding your gown and placing it in an air tight box and non-acid tissue paper.  Store the box containing your dress in a climate controlled environment. Perhaps, under a bed or a closet shelf is a safe space.

Now that your gown is properly stored, here are some reasons you may be glad to keep it close.

  1. A perfect keepsake. Your wedding dress can help bring back the best memories of the day you made your wedding vows.  You may even want to try it on again one day!
  2. Pass it down. Some mothers are delighted to see a daughter, granddaughter, or niece get married in their very own wedding gown.
  3. Recycle it. You can use your wedding dress in the future to make christening gowns for your children, pillows for special occasions, or even a baby bonnet.
  4. Sell it. Weddings can be costly. But, one way to replenish your costs is to consign your wedding gown. Many brides have found beautiful hand me down dresses and a great price.
To Donate

Donating your dress is another option if you do not have the space or desire to store it. There are some wonderful organizations that are happy to take it off your hands and share it with brides short of resources to purchase a new one.  Here are a few terrific options.

  1. Brides Across America (BAA) is a non-profit organization that gifts gowns to military families & first responders. Learn about BAA here.
  2. Angel Gowns sews wedding dresses into gowns for babies who are unable to come home from the hospital after birth. The gowns are a beautiful way to pay tribute to the infants and families at an incredibly challenging time. Learn about donating to the Angel Gown programs here.
  3. Wish Upon a Wedding helps support brides with life-threatening illnesses make their special wedding wishes come true. Through this charity, brides can have an intimate wedding in a beautiful gown without the stress and worry of extra costs or fittings. Here is how you can help donate to Wish Upon a Wedding.

Even if you can’t decide right away what the best option is for your wedding gown, in time you will be able to make the right decision.