When the day arrives to don the dress of your dreams, it’s time for confidence and comfort to combine with seamless alterations and ideal accessories. So that you are your most gorgeous self when that moment arrives — whether that means you feel like a pretty princess, a daring diva, or a boho beauty — a lot of planning must be done in advance. We’ve gathered expert advice to make it all go smoothly, with tips for the whole process, from the shopping to the fittings to the accessorizing, to finally slipping into your gown and making your grand entrance down the aisle.
Comfort is Key
When choosing the store from which to buy your dress, Mary Beth Ryfun of Koda Bridal recommends the following: “Don’t just base the decision on price. Go with the store that makes you the most comfortable. Do they value your business? Are you just a number? You know, do you feel that if you have a problem you can go to the store, and they will actually resolve it?” She warns against ordering a dress from the Internet, where piracy and knockoffs are rampant. Instead, work with a professional, with whom you can talk and deal with in person.
Keep in mind just how long you’ll be on your feet, wearing your wedding gown. Jeanie Lambert, owner of Sorelle Bridal Salon, notes that heavy satin gowns are beautiful and popular with many brides, however, “We’re seeing lots brides now opting for something a little more light weight, a little more comfortable and breathable — chiffons or gazas that are beautiful, but more lightweight and breathable. Silks are great and easy to wear all day.” Natalia Zavodchikov, owner of Babette’s Gowns, agrees. “The silk industry really has expanded, [including gowns made from] bleached white silk and raw silk,” she says of the material, which has become more affordable in recent years.
Keep It Simple
According to D.J. Marinelli, owner of The Exquisite Bride, not only did Kate Middleton’s gown make a major impact on the world of bridal fashion, so did Pippa Middleton’s dress. “She made a statement at her big sister’s wedding — that simple is elegant and beautiful,” he says. “The fit-and-flair silhouette came on strong about a year ago and shows no sign of slowing down. What has changed is the amount of beadwork and bling on the dress. Remember: You should wear the dress, the dress shouldn’t wear you!” Same goes for jewelry, says Marinelli. Accessorize with soft, romantic pearl jewelry in lieu of major sparkle. Or, go all out! It’s your day to shine. Lambert recommends dangly chandelier earrings as a gorgeous detail, and she’s noticed a number of brides piling on bracelets.
Top It All Off
Think beyond a veil — hairpieces and fascinators are coming on strong. “Headpieces are a must for every gown,” says Maja Pederson, owner of MB Bride. Not just that, but matching is made easy, as “designers are showing available fascinators and jewelry to match their gowns.”
When getting dressed on the big day, consider inviting your seamstress for any last minute, finishing touches (such as adding double-sided tape), or bring your mom or maid of honor to the last fitting, says Zavodchikov. That way, “They can learn how to do a bustle, or how to put the bride in the dress, how to zip it the right way, or put the buttons on the right way,” eliminating the stress of trying to figure out a tricky zipper the day of the wedding.
Trust your instincts. “Once you find ‘the one,’ stop looking. It will only stress you out and cause you to second guess your decision.” — D.J Marinelli, The Exquisite Bride
Choose a complimentary color. Ivory is the way to go. White is difficult for a lot of people to wear, but ivory brings out the warm tones in people’s skin. It’s very complementary, it photographs better, and if you spill a little champagne it’s harder to tell in an ivory gown than it is in a white one.” — Jeanie Lambert, Sorelle Bridal Salon
Streamline the browsing process. “Before coming to the store, really look, buy a few magazines, and actually pull out the pages of the things they like. A week later, go through those pictures again.” — Natalia Zavodchikov, Babette’s Gowns
Or, go over the top! “I have a red wedding dress in the store that people are just going crazy over.” — Mary Beth Ryfun, Koda Bridal
Look like royalty. Keep an eye out for that ‘Pippa’ gown — it is coming in bridal and bridesmaids!” — Maja Pederson, MB Bride
Bridal Dress Bliss
Diana Williams, vice president of sales and marketing for Maggie Sottero, is a former Pittsburgh resident who is now at the forefront of predicting and promoting trends in the wonderful world of bridal fashion. We had the honor of interviewing Williams, and she graciously offered her expert advice on how to find the dress you’ve always dreamed of.
Work With Your Skin Tone
Wedding dresses are no longer only available in white — they’re ivory, pearl, alabaster, pure white, and many more shades, which may or may not match your skin tone. “There are so many out there, and depending on if you have more yellow or pink in your skin tone, or if you have an ethnic background, different colors will work with you, as well as with your hair color. So be open minded there,” says Williams. Be wary of color identification, however, for different manufactures use different names for the colors. Williams offers another tip: “An off-white or ivory shade is a little softer in photography.”
Embrace Your Figure
As creator of the Love How YOU Fit campaign, which aims to “exemplify authenticity” for women, Maggie Sottero strives to create designs that are ideal for all body types. Williams advises trying on a variety of silhouettes, in order to find the dress best suited to your body. Williams warns against losing large amounts of weight before the wedding. “For a fitting, if you are insisting that the alterations be done to accommodate your anticipated weight loss, I believe you will be sorely disappointed. Change the gown to fit your body. You’ll be happy that way.” Every Maggie Sottero dress is outfitted with boning in the corset and a lace-up back, which Williams says is crucial to the supportive success of Sottero’s designs. “The corset-back closure will do something for you that a zipper never can.”
Ask For Opinions
Limiting the number of people that attend your dress fitting is the key to successful wedding gown discovery. “I think that brides take too many people,” says Williams. “We see the drama on Say Yes to the Dress.” Williams suggests that brides bring only three people along to a dress fitting, making for “fewer tears.” Be sure to take advantage of the expertise bridal consultants have to offer — that’s what they’re there for. “They are putting thousands of gowns on girls of all different sizes, styles, and colors, every year. They really can look at you and make suggestions for you,” says Williams. “They need the assistance of a consultant who can help them understand, ‘OK, this is what you think you want. Let’s put you in that, but let’s pull four other silhouettes.’”
Try On Trends
We’ve seen wedding dress trends shift from that of Princess Diana’s (poufy, ivory, and a Mississippi River-long train, designed by Elizabeth Emanuel) to that of the recently wed Duchess of Cambridge (a stunner from Alexander McQueen: white, with lace sleeves, and a princess-skirt). Diana’s dress caused a major boom in the desire for similar gowns. “It will be very interesting to see if there is a resurgence in the demand for white based on what Kate wore,” says Williams. Williams also sees illusion lace components, tank sleeves, floral appliqués, color accents, and belts as trends to watch for. “You will see belts everywhere: belts that you can buy and put on anything, whether it’s a contrast or it’s all beaded, Swarovski-crystal encrusted.”