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The Bride’s Guide to Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress


When planning a wedding, at one point, you will go through a period of looking at dress after gorgeous dress. With so many pretty choices out there, you might wonder which dress is the right one for you. Before you decide on a dress that you're not completely sure about, consider these elements that might make your decision-making process a lot easier.

How should I decide on a wedding dress?

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Photography: Lover of Mine Weddings

1. Season

This is the first thing to consider when deciding on a wedding dress. If your wedding is held in the summer, a lightweight dress that emphasizes your feminine figure can give you a sense of effortless beauty. Scroll further down to learn about some popular wedding dress fabrics.

2. Location

If you're getting married at a house of worship, you will be expected to dress up modestly without baring too much skin. On the other hand, a long-sleeve dress with a cathedral train will not fare well in a beach wedding.

3. Wedding style

Will it be held indoors or outdoors? Is it going to be an intimate or grand reception? Questions like these play a great deal in determining the kind of dress you should wear. It's your wedding day and you have the right to wear anything you want, but we're sure you agree that a dramatic ball gown won't fit in an intimate al fresco wedding.

4. Budget

Financial constraints play another major role. An extravagant wedding gown with hand-embroidered beads and crystals will not come with a cheap price tag. If you're on a budget, keep on reading as we have some great tips on cutting the cost of your wedding dress.

5. Body type

Last but not least is your body type. A mermaid-style dress might look flawless on your favorite celebrity, but it might not fit your figure or make you feel comfortable. There are no limits on what you can wear on your big day, but you can check out our body shape guideline to get started.

What are the most popular wedding dress styles?

Choosing a that suits your body shape and personality is the most important step in finding the right dress. Get to know the most popular dress styles and find out which one will make you look stunning on the big day.

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Photography: Sawyer Baird, Amy Arrington Photography

1. A-line

Slim on top, fitted through the waist, and softly flaring away from the body. Shaped like the letter "A", this silhouette is flattering for most body types.

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Photography: Carrie King Photographer, Greg Finck

2. Ballerina

Traditionally thought of as a length rather than a silhouette, the ballerina dress is great for showing off your ankles and legs. This quirky dress will look great in a vintage-style wedding.

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Photography: Tamara Gruner Photography, Coco Tran

3. Ball gown

The classic choice for a formal wedding, the ball gown has a boned bodice and a full skirt supported by crinolines. If you are very short, make sure that your ball gown is perfectly tailored to fit your size.

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Photography: Catherine O'Hara, Geneoh

4. Empire

The empire dress features a high waist that hits just under the bustline. This type of dress can camouflage a short waist and heavy lower body.

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Photography: Jose Villa Photography, Eileen Liu Photography

5. Mermaid

If you want a dress that clings to your hourglass figure, this might be it. This dress hugs the torso, then flares out from around the knee. It will be too tight for kneeling or dancing, however.

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Photography: Abby Jiu Photography, Kayla Barker Fine Art Photography

6. Sheath

Also known as the column, this is a sleek and sophisticated dress with a close-fitting shape that outlines every curve. You need to be very confident about your body, as this dress can be a little unforgiving.

What are the most common waistline styles?

The waistline is another essential element that determines the overall look of a wedding gown. The right waistline will enhance and emphasize your natural silhouette. Go through the most popular waistline styles below and consult your wedding dress designer to find the best fit.

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What kind of neckline should I choose for my wedding dress?

Next, choose the type of neckline for your wedding dress. Be inspired as you get to know the 12 most popular neckline types and find your perfect match.

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Photography: Rebecca Hollis Photography - Jose Villa Photography


This particular neckline is becoming really popular lately. It's a lovely choice that will enhance or create the illusion of curves.

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Photography: Sarah Kate and Joshua Aull - Kate Ignatowski Photography

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Photography: Melissa Girdner - Greg Finck Photography

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Photography: Erin Jean Photography - Joel Bedford

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Photography: Brumley and Wells - via Pinterest

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Photography: Greg Finck - Jose Villa Photography

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Photography: doc. Charlie Brear - Sally Pinera

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Photography: Stephanie Brazzle - Julie Livingston

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Photography: WE Photographie - Untamed Heart Photography

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Photography: Veronica Varos Photoraphy - Judy Pak

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Photography: Elizabeth Messina - KT Merry

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Photography: Kelsea Holder - Carol Hannah

Glossary of wedding dress fabrics

One thing that affects the shape, texture, and sheen of your wedding dress is the fabric. Thus, it's important to know what kind of fabric you should be looking for. Aside from the fabric, embellishments like beads and lace will determine the comfort and consequently, the price of the dress. Whether you are heading to a bridal salon or designing your wedding gown from scratch, learning about some basic fabric types will surely help you along the way.

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What type of wedding dress train should I choose?

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Photography: Winsome and Wright

The wedding day is the only chance for you to wear a train, so you need to think carefully before choosing one. Aside from the formality of your wedding, location is something you should consider when determining the train length. For example, an outdoor wedding at a garden or by the beach wedding will not suit a long train. To find out which train will fit you best, check out the infographic below.

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How can I save money on my wedding dress?

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Photography: JoPhoto

The wedding dress is one of the things that many brides splurge on, as isn't it only natural for a pretty dress to come with a hefty price? However, we believe that being on a budget doesn't mean that you can't wear the wedding dress of your dreams. All you need is a little know-how, and we've prepared some handy tips for you below.

1. Work your contacts

This is a good time to open your address book and skim through your contacts. If you have friends who are dressmakers or fashion designers, try contacting them to get a special price. Even if you don't intend to use their services, you can always ask them for references and advice on picking the right vendor.

2. Make use of used dresses

A second-hand dress isn't always a bad idea. There are many websites and shops that rent out good quality wedding dresses. Just remember to pay attention to any spots or stains that the dress might have. Your mother might even have an heirloom wedding dress that she can pass down to you. Just remember to tweak the dress a little so that it fits your preferences and body type.

3. Rent or own?

You don't really need to buy a wedding dress if you don't want to. Renting a dress is a more budget-friendly and practical alternative. For some tips on renting a wedding gown, scroll further below.

4. Do it yourself

If you're a crafty bride, this is an option for you. Find a plain wedding dress, then sew in the details yourself. If you're experienced in sewing, go make your own dress! Your wedding dress will be especially yours and wearing it will make you proud.

5. Perfect timing

There are special times when wedding dresses go on sale. Do pay attention to these seasons to get the best deal on your dress. Also, when shopping for a dress, don't overlook vintage shops and trunk shows. Don't be afraid to shop around! Your might find your dream dress when you least expect it.

Below are some useful facts to help you manage your wedding dress budget.

1. Ball gowns require more fabric than slender silhouettes, so they cost more. If you're on a budget, look for a narrower silhouette.

2. Trains mean additional fabric, which means additional cost. If the train is scalloped, embroidered, or beaded, that adds even more to the price tag. Bypass a train to bring down the price. (You can always wear a long veil)

3. A heavily constructed gown (the kind that stands up by itself) costs more to make than a gown without built-in boning , corsets, and multiple layers of lining and fabric.

4. Any type of handwork, from beading to pickups, adds to the price. Look for dresses without embellishment.

5. Lace is expensive and ups the price of a dress. Stick to lace trim or skip the lace altogether.

6. Try on separates to get a better fit without so many costly alterations.

What should I consider when renting a wedding dress?

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Your dream wedding dress doesn't have to hurt your wallet. If you don't intend to keep your wedding gown as an heirloom, why don't you rent one instead? Before you take the plunge, here are some things that you should consider.

What are the benefits of renting a wedding dress?

1. Cutting costs

Renting your wedding dress cuts costs by half. While making your own wedding gown from scratch can cost around $1,000 or even more, wedding dress rentals start from around $75, and even expensive designer gowns will only cost around $500. On top of that, many dress rentals include various perks with their fees, such as jewelry rental and cleaning services.

2. More variety

Most bridal shops don't carry a large variety of dresses out of fear that they won't sell. A wedding gown rental, however, might offer a lot more options to choose from.

3. Saves space

Not every bride has enough space to keep her wedding dress. If you plan to turn it into a family heirloom to pass down to your daughter or daughter-in-law, you need to commit to regular cleaning and maintenance. This might end up being more time-consuming and costly than you think.

Where can I rent a wedding dress?

Wedding gown rentals are becoming more popular recently, and you can find the nearest one on Bridestory. They provide not only bridal gowns, but also cocktail dresses for your after-party or other special occasions. Prices vary, so you can adjust the dress to your budget accordingly. Take a look at The Silk, The Dresscodes Bridal, Lamiik Bridal, Exme Gallery, Enchanted Gown, Gaia, and U & Couturefor some fabulous choices.

What makes a high quality wedding dress?

Before making a decision purely based on the look of a gown, you need to evaluate its quality. Go through the checklist below to help you determine if a particular dress is well-made or not.

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What should I consider when trying out a wedding dress?

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Now that you know what kind of dress you're looking for, it's time to try out some wedding gowns. Here are some things that you need to pay close attention to when you go for a dress fitting.

1. Bring the exact undergarments that you'll be wearing under the dress—including your bra, shapewear, crinoline, petticoat, and hosiery. That means you'll need to buy every item you need before the first fitting.

2. Bring the shoes that you'll be wearing on the wedding day to ensure that your dress has the correct hem length.

3. Bring a second pair of eyes; your mother, a bridesmaid, or your wedding planner are good candidates.

4. Bring a camera so someone can take photos of you. It's a wonderful moment to document and share with the groom later.

5. Skip the foundation and lipstick. You don't want makeup to rub off on your wedding gown. If you're coming from work, the salon can usually provide a mesh makeup protector hood that prevents makeup from coming off on the dress.

6. Have the front of the dress hemmed an inch shorter than the back to help prevent you from catching the toe of your shoe in the hem and tripping.

Last but not least, stay updated with the latest trends in the fashion and wedding industry. You can steal some looks from the runway of the Spring 2017 Bridal Fashion Week. Or, you can browse our real weddings to find wedding dress ideas from real brides. Most importantly, you need to know what you want and be comfortable in your own skin. Once you've embraced your personality and channeled your inner confidence, you will look beautiful in any kind of dress.

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