THE most important person at the wedding is the bride – and her most important aspect is her wedding dress. Deciding on the dress you will wear on your wedding day is the overriding decision made by any bride within her wedding plans.
The choice of wedding theme and style will influence your preferences when deciding on the right dress for you, but it shouldn’t outweigh your personal opinions. For example, if you’ve always dreamed of having a huge princess style dress with flowing veil and you’re getting married in Register Office ceremony, there’s no rules that stop you from doing so. Equally, if you plan a grand wedding of cathedral proportions you’re not obligated to have a huge wedding gown with a mile long train when your personal preference is for something of sleeker proportions. Choosing the type and style of wedding dress is very much a matter of personal preference of the bride on her big day, regardless of venue.
The straightforward answer is NO! The colour of the wedding dress is very much a matter of personal choice, many brides are now leaving aside the tradition of the white dress in favour of a coloured wedding dress. In fact, if you study recent purchasing trends, you’ll find that few brides are opting for a truly white dress, with shades of off-white, cream and ivory being ‘kinder’ colours to wear and compliment skin tones. An ever increasing number of brides are choosing dresses which align with their favourite colour, including soft pinks, pale golds, pastels of lilac or even vibrant reds.
The tradition of white wedding dresses reflecting purity dates back to Victorian times and it’s accuracy is somewhat dubious. Bleaching and fabric conditioning wasn’t developed at the time and true ‘white’ dresses were more an indication of the wealth of the family than indicating the purity of the bride! One of the earliest noted white wedding dresses was worn by Queen Victoria at her wedding and the myth of symbolising purity would seem to have origins at that time. Before white wedding dresses became adopted as 'the norm', the bride would turn up to her wedding in her 'best dress' and the colour would be a matter of personal choice and of secondary importance.
Fabric is something you should consider when selecting your wedding gown. There are several to choose from, from light flowing materials to thick heavy fabrics. One of the influences you should take into consideration is the time of year that your wedding is to take place; you wouldn’t want a heavy and warmth generating fabric in the middle of summer, nor would you want a light and airy chiffon in the middle of winter.
There are several fabrics used to create wedding dresses, including chiffon, crepes, satins, silks and brocades. The final choice, taking account of the style of dress you choose, may be influenced by it’s ability to keep it’s shape and appearance throughout the day. Remember that your dress may have to withstand walking, kneeling, posing for photographs, sitting, dancing and socialising – so you should consider a fabric that will hold it’s shape and appearance throughout your wedding day. A good test of the fabric’s ability to withstand the rigors of the day is to scrunch a handful from an inconspicuous area of the dress and see how easily it creases.
The shape and height of your own body may influence your final choice of dress style. There are several wedding dress styles to choose from, some of which will be more flattering to your own body shape than others. For example, a wide, round princess style ball gown is rarely flattering to a small lady, but there are no definite rules. Unless you have a clear and unwavering opinion of what style of dress you wish to wear, you should try on several different styles. Ask yourself what you honestly consider to be your best, and worst, features – your choice of dress style should distract attention from the worst and draw attention to the best.
The shape of you in your wedding dress will create an overall outline image (the silhouette) and will influence your choice of style when choosing your dress. Dress styles can range from the full-skirted traditional wedding gown, to a sleek and slender fitted column dress and include single or two-piece outfits. Whatever style you choose should make you feel fabulous and unique, yet comfortable.
The traditional ball gown style wedding dress is a very full, layered skirt normally fitted with a bodice on top. These can be manufactured from various fabrics which will affect the shape of the skirt. A tulle skirt in ballerina style will be bulky but light whereas a brocade finished skirt will tend to be heavier and less flowing. Many types of body figures will suit this style but be aware that the ball gown styling can tend to emphasise the bride’s size on the fuller figured woman. This style is good to disguise a pear shaped body or wide hips. Small or petite brides can appear lost in this style of dress and should be careful that it doesn’t tend to hide the bride’s own beauty.
An A-line style wedding dress flares from the natural, or sometimes dropped, waist. As the name suggests the overall style is A shaped and a less full appearance can be achieved. A line styles normally have seams running vertically and are flattering to most body shapes. To achieve a wider silhouette and retain the skirt shape a hooped petticoat is worn underneath the dress. A sleeker, narrower look on an A line dress is achieved by omitting the hooped petticoat.
An empire style dress is similar to the A line but straighter without being too tight fitting. The empire styling has a seam just beneath the bust and then flares towards the floor. The empire style wedding dress is well suited to slimmer and smaller busted women.
A fishtail wedding dress, sometimes called a mermaid style, is quite a tight fit and figure hugging. This style of wedding dress tends to emphasise the bride’s curves until it reaches the knees, after which quite a wide flare is introduced. This style is designed to flare at the sides and back, with the fishtail usually having a flatter front than the mermaid style. Not a style for the faint hearted as this dress depends for it’s elegance on being worn on a curvy body.
A column style wedding dress has a figure hugging sleek modern line to the design. The dress is not designed with a flare at all, simply giving sufficient room at the base to allow comfortable movement. This style of wedding dress works for those brides who are taller and slim. Petite brides may benefit from the appearance of this style compared to the fuller styles of wedding dresses.
Decoration can enhance the appearance of your dress and may be in the same or a complimentary shade of the colour of the dress, or can be contrasting to create a more vibrant effect. Traditionally wedding dresses are decorated with bead work, but today’s bride has several options available, including crystals to give a diamond effect, sequins to add shimmer, embroidery or patterned fabrics. Decoration can be added to selected areas for most effect, including the bodice or skirt.
Sleeves are simply a personal choice. If you wish to have your arms covered then have sleeves, if not, then have sleeveless. An alternative to this either-or decision is to cover your arms in a sleeveless wedding dress with a shawl, wrap or jacket.