How to Choose Your Wedding Dress

So the love of your life has proposed to you, you are proudly wearing your gorgeous ring, have penciled in the date and are busy thinking about all things wedding and just maybe at the top of your list is wedding dresses! While finding your perfect dream bridal gown is one of the most exciting, fun and important aspects of planning your wedding with so many styles and beautiful dresses to choose from it can be a bit daunting. Here are few things to consider that may help focus your search and a few tips to make the process less stressful.

Establish Your Budget

No matter what your budget is you will be able to find a beautiful gown you just want to be realistic about what that budget is before you start looking. There is a huge range in the prices of gowns from several thousand and up for a couture gown to a couple hundred plus for a wedding dress off the rack at JCrew or Nordstrom, for example. If you are on a tight budget and want a couture gown you may find what you are looking for in a consignment store or an online reseller site. Keep in mind that regardless of where you find your dress you will want to have it fitted and potentially altered to fit you perfectly as well as possibly have a bustle put in and perhaps even steamed before the wedding day. Having a realistic budget will insure that you go to the right bridal salons and that you don’t fall in love with a dress that you can’t have.

Determine Your Style

Your wedding dress should reflect your style and personality as well as the wedding location. Whether you are having a beach, barn or private estate wedding your dress should follow your taste and be suited to the occasion. It might be helpful to keep a folder with cut outs from magazines or web searches of your favorite dresses and between your fashion sense and these you should be able to get a feel for your wedding dress style. Don’t let yourself be talked into a dress because someone else close to you loves it, you want to love it and be confident that it is the right dress for you. At the same time, keep an open mind because you just may not like a dress you thought you loved as much after trying it on or you may end up enamored with a gown that you wouldn’t even have considered trying on at all.

Wear the Dress

It is a good idea to figure out what wedding dress silhouette looks best on you. You want to find a dress that you feel good in, that fits you perfectly and accentuates your most positive features. Here is a description of the main silhouettes paired with various body shapes that look best in them.

A Line

This silhouette forms an “A” shape with a fitted bodice extending to just below the waistline that then gradually flares out while lightly skimming the hips. This is the most common and universally figure-flattering silhouette because it can make you look taller, add feminine curves, hide a heavier bottom half while de-emphasizing a wide waistline. This can be great for a pear-shaped body and can be especially flattering with a heavier fabric. If you are apple shaped choose a dress that cinches in at that smallest point on the waist line and has texture like ruching or lace on the bodice. A V-neck will slender the upper body drawing the eyes vertically.

Ball Gown

Think about your fairy tale princesses from when you where a little girl, like Cinderella. This silhouette has a dramatic effect with a tight bodice offset by a full skirt that poufs out before it angles down to the floor. This is the most traditional and formal silhouette typically featuring a natural waistline and can be a very figure flattering option for most body shapes.


Like the outline of the instrument’s trumpet bell, this silhouette follows the contours of your body just past the hips and then begins to flare at about mid thigh. The Mermaid flares dramatically at or below the knee while the Fit and Flare flares right below the hip. These silhouette options are great for a petite or an hour glass figure or for the illusion of creating an hour glass figure. Take advantage of a bridal belt or sash to highlight your natural waist and to personalize your look.


This silhouette typically features a fitted bodice with a waistline that begins directly below the busts and then either flows to the ground in a soft cascade or angles out like the A Line silhouette. This can be a flattering option for most figures as it elongates the frame while skimming over the lower body, this can also be a very versatile style.


The sheath silhouette hugs the form of the body lightly without a waistline or “skirt.” The form is typically simple with clean lines and lighter fabrics. This is great for petite brides as well as tall and slim figures and can be a versatile option as the details and styles of this silhouette vary greatly.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Keep in mind that you need to allow enough time for shopping and ordering of your wedding gown. Special order gowns can take months to receive.
  • Don’t starve yourself before your wedding just to fit into your dress. Order your dress in a comfortable size so that you won’t need to stress out about losing weight. Understand that wedding dress sizes have their own vernacular, if you are a size 8 you are probably a size 10 or even 12 in wedding size and each designer varies.
  • Be sure to get your dress with enough time to get it altered. Even a custom dress will need to be expertly tailored to fit you properly.
  • Try on enough dresses to make a proper choice. Try on choices even if you aren’t sure about the style because often a dress looks better on you than it does on the hanger.
  • Before you go to the bridal salon consider your options and make a list to give to the consultant. This will narrow down your choices before you become overwhelmed.
  • Don’t take too many people with you to the bridal salon. Too many opinions can be confusing, especially at first. Make a short-list of bridal gowns and then try them all on again before making your final decision.
  • Consider ease of wear, you want to be able to move comfortably in the dress, as well as dance and sit with ease.
  • Consider a second wedding gown/cocktail dress for later in the evening that while still bridal is more comfortable and fun.

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