Finding the perfect wedding dress is a momentous decision for any bride-to-be. With so many options and styles available, it’s essential to approach the search with careful consideration.
When you’re planning your big day, your life becomes a whirlwind of questions: what venue will you choose, how many guests will you invite, will there be a theme, who will ordain the wedding, how much is catering going to set you back. The list goes on (and on and on, depending on how meticulous of a planner you are)! However, perhaps the most personal question a bride can ask themselves is, “What wedding dress should I get?”
Whether you’ve been dreaming of your wedding night since you saw your first Disney movie or prefer to celebrate the expression of your love in a less orthodox fashion, there is no denying that during the wedding celebrations, the two lovebirds take center stage!
With all eyes on you and your partner, it’s crucial to look and feel your very best — confident, desirable, classy, chic, Bohemian — or any other look you want to serve up! There’s no denying that finding your dream wedding dress plays an integral role not only in how you look and feel for the evening but in how it is captured by your photographer as well.
In short, this is no decision to be taken lightly! In this article, we will guide you through dream dresses so you can make your final choice with that “true love” feeling — whether it’s a vintage score or Alexander McQueen.
What is My Dream Wedding Dress?
We might as well start by addressing the elephant in the room; just what is your dream wedding dress? Coming in styles ranging from nauseatingly traditional to unrecognizably avant-garde, the hard truth about finding the perfect wedding dress is that only the person who will be wearing it can find it. Consider this a personal quest in pursuit of how you want to feel when you say your vows and exchange the sealing kiss! The dress sets the tone, and finding it is a process.
So, what’s the best wedding dress for you? Some things to consider include:
- Wedding venue: Is it climate-controlled? Open-air? What time of year will you be wed? Will you be able to shed layers if you get too hot?
- How rowdy do you plan to get: Are you the type of bride who’s shooting to throw down on their wedding night and bust some serious moves? The dress you choose will affect your range of motion, so keep in mind how much partying is on the agenda. Comfort level is also important to consider.
- Authenticity: Sure, you could settle on any old dress — but this is your night to shine, baby! Regardless of whatever judgment might be coming from Great Aunt Tilda, selecting your wedding dress is a reflection of how you live your values and how you feel about traditions. Will you break them or play them out? The most important thing to remember is to pick the one from a lineup of wedding dresses that feels like the right fit, true to you.
What to Look for in a Wedding Dress
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for what to look for in your dream wedding dress — at least in terms of physical appearance. When selecting from a handful of bridal dresses, it’s crucial to take inventory of how the garment makes you feel. Sometimes, how a dress looks on the rack can be deceiving — so keep an open mind. The best wedding dress will inspire:
- Optimism and positivity
- Security and feeling like you are in your best light
- A statement on how you honor and embody your femininity
- Feelings of the wedding “getting real” as you unlock a major piece of the wedding planning puzzle
Best Wedding Dresses for Curvy Brides
Are you a bodacious babe with curves to die for? Now is the time to show ‘em off. The last thing you want is to show up in a glorified pillowcase — empire waistlines belong in the maternity section! The best dress for curvy brides is a form-fitting one that accentuates that body you got; it’s time to flaunt what your maker gave you and let your beauty shine, inside and out.
Check out these other informative posts for rocking the best bridal gown:
- How to Find the Perfect Wedding Dress for a Barn Wedding
- How to Choose the Best Backless Wedding Dress
- A-Line Wedding Dresses
Best Way to Wedding Dress Shop
If not properly planned and executed, shopping for bridal and formal wear can drag on week after weary week. Remember, planning a wedding is a marathon, not a sprint. Why wear yourself out in time for a celebration you are by then unable to enjoy? The best way to wedding dress shop is to come up with a strategy beforehand. Typically, this includes:
1. Set your budget and stick to it:
We get it — it can be hard to stick to a realistic budget, especially if you have expensive taste. However, coming up with your budget ahead of time is perhaps the most important step in the whole process, as it informs you where to start your search. Budget of $100 or less?
Try a couple of vintage stores — honestly, you don’t necessarily have to have the picture-perfect, cookie-cutter-and-white-picket-fence pearl-colored dress. Something that suits you and makes you feel drop-dead gorgeous will do the trick — and this is more money to spend on food, booze, music and atmosphere!
2. Check out discounted dresses first — both locally and online:
You never know where your dream wedding dress may be hiding. That includes the sales rack! Sometimes a missing button or a tiny, frayed area can make the difference between hundreds of dollars — and can often come with a simple fix from a local tailor or even a skilled in-law. And keep in mind that those extra unique dresses that sometimes get left behind in the purchasing frenzy can be trendsetting on the right bride.
3. Pace yourself:
Again, there is no need to exhaust yourself — this process should be fun! Bring water, stop for a healthy lunch, enjoy a coffee break and know that the right dress will come to you when it’s time.
4. Bring friends, family or chosen family:
Of course, it’s important how you feel and perceive yourself in your wedding dress — but the reactions from your loved ones can often cinch the deal. Besides, shopping is always more fun with company — your bestie, mama or grandma would likely be delighted to be included in the process.
5. Take inventory of your priorities:
This is the part to consider before you finally hand over that credit card. We understand it’s easier said than done to stick to a hard budget — that’s why a prudent wedding planner will often tuck in a few extra hundred dollars — even a thousand dollars — of “cushion.” However, if the dress you fall in love with far exceeds the allotted amount, you must be prepared to face the consequences.
An overpriced dress could mean the difference between a good DJ and a bad one, a magical venue and a mediocre one, great food and good food or a fully-stocked open bar and beer cart. Remembering this perspective will help guide you towards having the best time overall at your celebration and encouraging fun and enjoyment for your guests!
Where to Find Budget Bridal Dresses
Not all of us can be daughters of kings or corporate overlords. In fact, you may limit your wedding dress budget in favor of other factors, especially if you only plan to wear it one night or if you don’t plan on passing it down to your children. Here are some simple ideas for where to find your dream wedding dress on a tight budget:
1. Second-hand stores, vintage and consignment spots, etc.:
They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You never know when some well-intentioned relative will donate great grandma’s antique dresses to a charity store to clean out the house. Stranger things have been found at second-hand stores, pawn shops and the like. Also, look for vintage shops with a quirky, one-of-a-kind number for your big night — you might find a diamond in the rough. And you can always check out consignment stores, especially those specializing in formal wear!
2. In a relative’s attic:
Sometimes, the most elegant solution is the simplest one; try crowdsourcing your dress hunt by asking female-presenting relatives if they happened to have their old wedding dress tucked away. Even if you aren’t in love with the ‘80s sleeves or the Victorian-Era collar, you can always have the dress altered just how you want it at a fraction of the cost of a brand-new number.
3. Local retailers, as long as you can play hardball:
It’s great to support mom-and-pop shops — but remember to stay savvy too for those who may try to upsell you on something outside your financial comfort zone. For less pushy local retailers, however, you may win the lottery and be able to work with an associate who can pull the perfect dress out of thin air with consideration to your wants, wishes and budget.
4. Your favorite clothing brand — unrelated to the wedding market:
The funny thing about dresses is you can buy them almost anywhere — in any style, color, price, material or brand. Who’s to say you can’t find a super cute, elegant, statement-worthy white dress at your favorite chain retailer? You can “zjoosh” up your budget-friendly wedding dress with your leftover cash by splurging on shawls or furs, amazing shoes or stunning accessories — or book that makeup artist you admire so much.
If you are willing to go the cheapest of the cheap, you can always rely on the internet to match a dress with your desired budget. Keep in mind this might not yield the most quality results and you may have to go through a little trial and error without the ability to try each dress on.
What to Keep in Mind When Selecting Bridal and Formal Wear for Celebrants
Of course, to an extent, the clothes you wear to a wedding celebration are the least important aspect of the evening; the point is to celebrate love and a couple brave (and maybe even insane) enough to vow to tolerate and cherish each other for the rest of eternity. While everyone’s outfits are certainly not the focal point of the evening, they can affect the overall experience — for better or worse. Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting your ideal wedding dress and dream dresses and suits for your celebrants!
1. Comfort/level of formality
You want your friends to have a good time, right? Then send them on the path towards success with comfortable — particularly breathable — formal wear for the occasion. If guests insist on wearing stilettos, they can always take them off before joining the dance floor — but dress shirts and three-piece suits can quickly become sweltering straight jackets.
2. Color and theme:
This brings us back to the “planning” part of preparing for a wedding. How do you want the group to look in a photo? Are you going for vintage vibes? Bohemian vibes? Rural chic or country? Do you even want a theme or everyone to wear what makes them most comfortable?
When considering what color(s) you’d like your bridesmaids and groomsmen to wear, consider how these colors contrast and complement each other. Can you play up the relationship of these colors in garlands, tablecloths and corsages? This part is particularly fun for the artistic planners out there.
4. Ease of access for everyone in your group:
Can everyone afford what you’re asking them to buy? If you’re dead set on expensive bridal and formal wear and you know you have friends that are still working towards higher levels of success, consider leaving padding in the budget for those who might need a financial “boost” to fit your desired aesthetic.
Dream Dresses for Your Wedding Celebration: Trust the Journey!
Let’s face it, honey: only you know what wedding dress is right for you. All we can tell you is to find a dress that allows your authentic self to shine and makes you feel like a million bucks. Before you begin, consider how important the dress is to you — especially in the context of budgeting the whole experience, including atmosphere, libations and music. Start your search for your dream wedding dress early, enjoy the time spent pampering yourself and trust the process! You never know where you’ll find the perfect fit.
Serena & Dominic are a married couple and parents to 3 wonderful children. They plan weddings, run multiple small businesses, and curate wedding events.
By giving you everything you need to make your dream wedding attainable, you can eliminate stress, get the ‘wedding glow,’ and focus on spending this rocking day with the person you adore. Discover their podcast for more information