Congrats, Congrats, Congrats!!
If you thought that this would be an article defining a small category of bridal gowns that you should be choosing based on the proportion of your waist to hip ratio....you are incorrect. There are guidelines, sure, but finding your wedding dress is a completely personal decision based on your personality, venue and style. Don't let anybody make you think otherwise.
I will, however, give some info and tricks that I have gathered along the way.
-First and foremost, set a budget. This will eliminate a whole slue of options, as well as define the designers that are worth exploring and researching. An average custom order gown is around $2000. This does not include the cost of a seamstress that will be needed to perfect the fit and add the bustle. Set aside around $400 this this service.
-Know your timeframe. Custom order bridal gowns will take 4-6 months to arrive into your salon. "Custom" gown simply means that you will be ordering your size, based on measurements, per the designer, as well as any special changes that differ from the sample.....such as color, neckline, length, etc. Don't be surprised if you end up ordering a much larger size than a dress that you would pick up at Nordstrom. It's a totally different ball game when dealing with mostly European sizing. Are you an uber proficient planner, and set a wedding date sooner than the allotted time?? Not to worry, there are rush shipping options as well as sample sale gowns in most salons that can be purchased directly from the floor if need be.
-Consider your venue and season. Yep, it's usually warm in Texas, and depending on the setting of your wedding, this will impact the decision of what gown to choose. Outdoor settings scream for flowy, lacy options, and indoor venues open the doors to heavy satin, full ball gowns and just about anything that you can imagine. Does your wedding day include a little bit of both? Consider versatile gowns that photograph great in both settings. Texture, delicate details, and layering will do the trick.
-Now to the silhouettes....bridal consultants will throw a lot of gown terminology at you...do with it what you will. Keep in mind that each designer has their own interpretation of these shapes. As long as you feel gorgeous, and like a bride, whatever "line" the gown is...that's the one for you. The most universally flattering style will forever be the A-line. Just as it sounds, the A-line is simply constructed with a fitted bodice and a skirt that flows away from the body creating emphasis at the small of the waist and attention away from the hips.
-Always want to be the belle of the ball? Ball gowns are probably better suited for you. Typically, if dresses are given this royal title because of the size of the skirt, and can be jazzed up by adding more petticoat when desired. Many of these skirts will be given more pizazz and visual interest with a variation of pleats. Box pleats wall lay flat and create a more heavy and formal fit, and small gathered pleats will add volume without weight.
-Feeling sassy?? Mermaid and Trumpet styles can be a little more sultry if that is what is desired. These shapes can range for the slightly shapely to the extreme. Similarly, these gowns will hug the body from top to bottom. The definitive difference is that the mermaid will have a joinline to separate the skirt, creating a more dramatic "poof" at the hem.
- A trumpet will typically have less petticoat, and allow more ease of movement for those that plan to boogie their night away.
-Looking for a flirty cut, but not a totally fitted shape? A fit and flare might be the right line for you. These gowns will again be fitted at the bodice, but differ, in that the skirt will be slightly snug at the hips and then trail into a fuller skirt.
-If boho chic or glam gowns are your thing...look into the sheath or empire cuts. These gowns are perfect for smaller, outdoor affairs, as well as destination weddings. The empire dress will have a join line just under the bust and can either float away from the figure or remain fitted at the rib cage. A sheath dress will usually be constructed in a lighter fabric such as a charmeuse...which means one thing...SPANX, baby SPANX. Even the tiniest and tightest of bodies will need some slimming and smoothing. Think..Pippa.
Now for the necklines.....
-Strapless. This is the most flattering, and most popular of necklines. Included in these lines will be the sweetheart, scoop and straight across, and believe it or not, there are several variations of each of these styles. The key to this puzzle?? Pick a line that lengthens your neckline, flatters your feminine décolletage and appropriately stores and supports your "girls." Are you stepping away from strapless because you have seen too many brides doing the dreaded yank move in the middle of their wedding? Don't dispair. The way to nip this obnoxious issue in the bud, is simply by wearing the proper undergarments as well as making sure that a professional seamstress is customizing the cut. Yank no more.
-Halter. Always a classic and comfortable choice. Just be aware of proportions. The smaller your frame is; the thinner the straps should be, and the deeper the plunge should go. If you have wide shoulders, choose a thicker line and a crossover bodice for more coverage and balance out your frame. Double sided tape would be a good purchase to go along with these gowns. Just to be safe.
-Off the shoulder is making it's comeback. There are not as many gowns with this option, and the reason behind this is simple...it tends to restrict movement. Dancing and hugging can be more difficult with these shoulder hugging straps, but if they are made with lace, this fabric allows for a little more stretch, and if you find the right fit, it will make for a memorable look.
-Want sleeves? Thanks to Dutchess Kathryn, there are more samples of these styles than ever. These demure designs can be customized, to create the desired length and circumference of sleeve that you desire. Another simple way to create your very own royal style? Add a lace bolero to just about any strapless gown, and viola! Your reign begins.
This is a LOT of info, and there is much more out there. Use it as you wish, and keep in mind, looking at photos of gowns is totally different than seeing them in person, and be prepared to fall in love with something that is completely different than you had envisioned. You never know how you will feel until you start trying them on. The experience when searching for your wedding dress should be fun, exciting and full of joy. Bring along loved ones if you wish, but keep in mind that this is YOUR decision, and YOUR day. And, when you find your dream dress that works with your timeframe, budget and venue.....( please forgive me for this)...Say yes to the dress. Trying on too many will only confuse and delay the situation. Again, congrats!
All of the designer gowns photos in this piece are available at Serendipity Bridal.