Buying your wedding dress can feel like a looming, impossible decision. For most women, a wedding dress will be the most expensive and fancy dress they ever buy. Wedding dresses are not simply a piece of cloth for a bride. Wedding dresses are a symbol. Buying a wedding dress isn’t simply about what looks good and what doesn’t; what the bride can afford and what they cannot. Picking a wedding dress is an emotional decision. The best thing a bride can do before buying her dress is to become well-informed on what her options are, so that she can make the best choice for her wedding, her budget, and her expectations.
Types of Wedding Dresses
Of course there are countless variations to wedding dresses. Some have long trains, some have none; some have sleeves or are sleeveless, or have half-sleeves. Others are backless, have lace backs or have cutout backs; etc. While there are limitless options, the following are basic guidelines to overall cut and how it lays on the body. Look at photos of each type and narrow down your search to the cut that best suits your body and your wedding.
Wedding Dress Styles
- A-Line – This is a very classic cut that is fitted through the bodice, especially around the waist, and then cut loosely from the waist and below. A-line dresses look good on nearly every body type and it is a very safe, classic, no matter the kind of wedding.
- Ball Gown – Ball gown wedding dresses are by far the most formal and “show-stopping”. Ball gowns have a fitted bodice, often all the way down to the hips, and a huge, puffy skirt. This gown is best for indoor, formal weddings.
- Trumpet – Trumpet gowns are fitted all the way down the body to the knees. This dress accentuates a bride’s curves, but is a little restrictive. If you’re the type of bride to cut a rug, the trumpet might not be the best choice.
- Sheath – This is the simplest of all silhouettes. It is a narrow, thin shaped, and reminiscent of a nightgown. This is the ideal silhouette for casual weddings, specifically beach weddings, because they are lightweight and have little to no train.
- Tea-Length – Tea-length gowns are shorter; the hem falling between the knees and the ankle. This type of wedding dress was once the standard and has been picking up in popularity over the years. A tea-length gown is usually more casual, but not always. For brides looking for a vintage, feminine look, the tea-length gown might be an excellent choice.
Where to Buy Your Wedding Dress
- Big Box Shop – Most brides will know the names of the big box stores that sell wedding dresses. Obviously, David’s Bridal is the most common. Before you dismiss these stores, take a look. There is a reason big box stores are so popular: they have huge inventories at affordable prices. Remember, you will only wear this dress for a few hours; ask yourself, do not want to spend half of your wedding budget on it. Some brides forget about other big box options such as Nordstrom’s and Macy’s. Wedding dresses at these stores are often quite beautiful. Before you settle on visiting a boutique, take a trip to a big box store, you may be surprised at what you find.
- Specialty Boutique – Weddings are a big business. Most large cities will have several specialty bridal boutiques stocked with all the biggest bridal lines. If you choose to shop at one of these boutiques, remember that most require an appointment, so call ahead. When you go in, have an idea of what you’re looking for, as not having a plan will leave you overwhelmed. Do not be afraid of asking the shopping attendant for their advice; that’s what they are there for!
- Online/Used – If you choose to purchase your dress online, take caution. Most wedding dresses will need to be altered, but make sure you really know your measurements. Wedding dress sizing is very, very different from standard dress sizing. Do not rely on size alone—get those measurements. If you buy a used dress online, make sure you understand the seller’s policy if the dress arrives damaged or unwearable.
It is a good idea to bring along members of your family or wedding party as you start shopping for your wedding dress. The in site and opinions of your loved ones can prove invaluable if you are having a difficult time reaching a decision.
Lastly, start shopping early, you want to be sure to have plenty of time for alterations and special orders. Above all, make this the exciting shopping trip that you have always dreamed about!