How to Choose a Wedding Dress

By Olaoluwa Olowu

It’s the one thing most brides obsess over above all else – the perfect wedding dress. The right dress is a childhood dream made manifest. If you intend to make a custom wedding dress from a designer or by yourself, it’s easier to execute the image in your mind’s eye. However, if you have to choose from the rack of a store, then there are a few things you need to know to ensure you get exactly what you want or the closest thing to it.

Your dress should make you happy, it’s a second groom of sorts, something that fits you just right every way rather than something you had to settle for. Here are a few tips on how to choose the wedding dress of your dreams;

1. Set a Budget
It all starts with how much you’re willing to spend to get your wedding dress. Make sure your budget is pragmatic; at the end of the day, a wedding dress is often a one-time thing. Don’t overspend yet maintain enough financial flexibility to purchase a slightly pricey dress that’s perfect.

2. Do Research
The internet is your best friend at this point. Find ideas on Pinterest and familiarize yourself with the right term. It’s important that you’re not a complete novice about wedding dresses and dress-speak.

3. Focus on the basics
Begin with the basics. All wedding dresses can be broadly classified into different gown silhouettes and finding which one works best for your figure is key to not only getting an amazing dress but pulling it off as well.

The silhouettes are in 6 main categories: ball gown, empire, A-line, sheath, fit-and-flare, and mermaid. Choosing the basic category which works for you means going to a store to try them out and making sure, you look both stylish and feel glamorous in your gown.

The devil is in the details but a solid understanding of the basics is the basis for an elegant wedding dress.

4. Pick the right top
Most wedding photos often feature the bride up to her waist and getting a dress with the perfect top portion is immensely important. The top of your dress should feature your favorite parts of any dress as well as its most appealing details.

A frilly hemline on a ball gown is nice but your guests are very likely see very little of it at the wedding and neither will you in the wedding photos.

5. Keep it classic
Trendy outfits are nice for when you’re picking out a summer outfit or beachwear. Photos of your dress will last more than even just your lifetime and you want to pick something that you’ll love looking at 20, 30 years down the line. Keep it classic and timeless – trends may come and go but a wedding dress is forever.

6. Try, try, and try again
The biggest secret to getting the dress you desire? Trying out a lot of dresses and then narrowing down your selection until you have “the one”. At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for actually going into stores to try out the dresses you’re interested in.

However, avoid trying out too many to the point where you have decision fatigue. Once you find a decent number of options you like, start the process of whittling it down to just one.

7. Bring your accessories
Whatever accessories you intend to wear on the wedding day should be carried along with you whenever you’re going to try out the final few dresses so you can consider how well they match with the dress.

8. Snap pictures as much as you can
As long as the store allows you use your phones within the changing area, then take as many pictures as you can from all sorts of angles with different levels of lighting. How well your dress photographs is just as important as how well it fits you.

9. Consult extra eyes
“Two heads are better than one,” or in this case; two eyes. Take a small entourage with you to the store and have them offer their take on dress styles, fit and anything else. Make sure they’re people who are familiar with you and your taste – it’s still your wedding after all, and you don’t want a constant difference in opinion with your escorts.

10. Ask away
Got questions about the dresses, styles, accessories? Don’t be shy to ask right away from the store assistant who’s helping you with your shopping. Make sure you have all the information you need before making any decisions.

11. Don’t freak out about sizing
Wedding dress sizes often slightly differ from ready-to-wear sizes but that isn’t a problem at all. If you can find your perfect size, you can always get something just a little bigger and then have it adjusted.

It’s not advisable to pick a size just below in the hopes of losing the extra weight so you can fit in. Pick something that you’d be able to get into right there at the store.

12. Keep an open mind
Everyone’s least favorite part about shopping for their wedding dress is not being able to get the dress you had in mind for some reason or the other.

It’s always good to keep an open mind and be willing to try out styles you didn’t previously consider as well as assessing each dress without bias.

13. Try and get a bargain
There are a lot of bridal wear sales all year round and if you can find what you’d like at a bargain price, that’s amazing. It may be somewhat oversized or slightly worn or samples that the store is getting rid of, but if you don’t mind all these – and trust me they shouldn’t matter all that much – then you have a great dress that will leave incredible memories without breaking the bank.

14. Take your time
Bridal wear purchases (including accessories) are often final so it’s essential that you take your time with making your decision. Ensure you’re absolutely certain about the dress you want and then go out and get it.

15. The dress is about you
Finally, and most importantly, choosing a dress is about you. It’s about your personality, your tastes and capturing an embodiment of you in a fabric. Whether it’s something as small as detail work or even something as striking as choosing a different colour; your dress should ultimately reflect you.

Choosing a dress shouldn’t have to be nerve-wracking. You deserve to enjoy stress-free wedding preparations and getting the right dress shouldn’t change that.


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