How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Dress for You

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You’ll read all sorts of articles on finding the right dress for your body type. This isn’t one of those articles. Instead, it’s about how to find the right dress for your personality and your wedding.

Here’s what to consider before and during a bridal shop visit.

How important is it to you to look bridal?

A friend asked me this question, and I was surprised by my answer: I wanted to look bride-esque, but I didn’t need to be full-on bridal. This basically meant I didn’t need a grand white dress, but I didn’t want to show up in bright green either. Determine where you fall on the scale.

What sort of statement do you want to make?

For example, do you want something that’s floaty, sexy, unusual or traditional? For me, I didn’t want something that I felt like I’d seen a million times before. (When you work in weddings, you see a lot of wedding dresses.) I also wanted an interesting back because it’s on full display during the ceremony. So I was less inclined to go with a strapless gown that cuts across the back. Figure out what’s important to you, and that will point you in a direction.

What dress suits your venue?

Initially, it didn’t occur to me how much my venue would affect my dress decision. In fact, a big grand dress would look pretty silly in our log cabin venue — and it would be hard to walk around our indoor-outdoor reception if I have to gather up a many layered gown to cross the grass. A heavily beaded gown also wouldn’t make sense in our rustic venue, and yet it would look perfect in an art deco space. In the end, I went for a flowy gown that’s easy to move in and looks a touch vintage — it seemed fitting for a venue built in 1940. Think about how your venue and gown can complement each other.

What will the temperature be on your wedding day?

You’ll be guessing, but you can make an educated guess. If, like me, you’re getting married at a time when it will likely be hot and humid, you need to seriously consider your dress fabric and style. Something heavy, like satin, will be hot, as will a dress with many layers. Do you get sweaty easily? Then you may not want to wear something close to the skin either. However, cotton, chiffon and georgette are good choices for warm weather weddings.

Now, if your wedding is indoors or you’re getting married outdoors during a mild season, this is less of a concern

What best suits your figure?

Find something that suits your figure the day you’re trying on dresses. Don’t buy for the figure you plan to have — that may or may not work out. If you find yourself pulling at the dress or fidgeting, don’t buy that gown. And if the dress you had in mind doesn’t flatter you, move on. Just ask the consultant for something that would. I’ve had many friends go into the dress-buying experience with one type of dress in mind and then buy something completely different that, in the end, suited them so much better. The bride above describes that experience here.

Does dieting bum you out?

A very svelte friend of mine opted for an airy wedding dress — and not because she couldn’t carry off something more form-fitting. She just didn’t want to worry about her weight in the months before her wedding at all. With a looser dress, she felt free to enjoy champagne and pastries at her pre-wedding events. There were no nagging thoughts about calorie counting in the back of her head. If you’re worried you’ll need to diet to fit into a specific dress and you feel it will cramp your style, simply choose a dress that won’t make you feel like you should watch your weight. I took her advice and am glad I did.

Do you plan on dancing?

For me, the answer is an emphatic YES. And I don’t just shift from side to side — I move my legs, arms, I twirl — the whole shebang. So I need a dress I’m able to do all this in. If you’re not much of a dancer, then buy whatever dress you want. But if you are, buy something you can move in.

Those are my tips — feel free to add your own!

Follow Robert’s and my story here! And check out my previous articles on how to make the most of a bridal shop appointment and advice on shopping a sample sale.

Photo by Ashlee Rene Photography; check out the original article this photo comes from on how to work with your photographer.

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