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How to Choose Your Dream Wedding Dress: A Comprehensive Guide
Choosing your wedding dress is one of the most exciting and important decisions you will make as a bride. But it can also be overwhelming, stressful, and confusing. There are so many styles, shapes, fabrics, colors, and details to consider, not to mention your budget, timeline, venue, theme, and personal taste. How do you find the perfect dress that makes you feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident on your big day?
Don't worry, we're here to help. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about how to choose your dream wedding dress, from knowing your body type and style preferences, to doing your research and getting inspired, to planning your budget and timeline, to shopping smart and having fun. Whether you're looking for a classic ballgown, a sexy mermaid, a boho chic A-line, or something in between, we've got you covered with tips, tricks, and advice from experts and real brides. Let's get started!
Know Your Body Type and Style Preferences
The first step to finding your dream wedding dress is to know your body type and what styles suit you best. You want a dress that flatters your figure, enhances your best features, and hides any flaws. You also want a dress that reflects your personality, matches your wedding theme and venue, and makes you feel comfortable and confident.
The Most Popular Wedding Dress Shapes and Silhouettes
There are many different shapes and silhouettes of wedding dresses that can suit every bride, but some of the most popular include:
A-line: This is a classic and versatile shape that resembles the letter A. It has a fitted bodice that cinches at the waist and then flares out gradually to the hem. It works well for all body types, especially pear-shaped brides who want to balance their hips and bust.
Ballgown: This is the traditional "princess" style that pairs a fitted bodice with a dramatic, full skirt. It's ideal for brides who want to make a statement and have a fairytale wedding. It's flattering for most body types, especially those with a large bust or broad shoulders.
Mermaid: This is a sexy and glamorous style that hugs the body from the chest to the knees and then flares out dramatically at the hem. It's perfect for brides who want to show off their curves and have a sultry wedding. It's best suited for hourglass or slender figures.
Trumpet: This is similar to the mermaid style but less fitted. It flares out from the mid-thigh or lower hip area instead of the knees. It's more comfortable and easier to move in than the mermaid style. It's flattering for most body types, especially those with a small waist or hips.
Empire: This is an elegant and romantic style that has a high waistline that sits just below the bust and then flows loosely to the floor. It's ideal for brides who want a simple and graceful wedding. It's flattering for most body types, especially those with a small bust or a pregnant belly.
Column: This is a sleek and modern style that follows the natural shape of the body from the shoulders to the hem. It's ideal for brides who want a minimalist and chic wedding. It's best suited for slender or petite figures.
The Most Flattering Wedding Dress. The Most Flattering Wedding Dress Necklines and Sleeves
Another factor to consider when choosing your wedding dress is the neckline and the sleeves. These can make a big difference in how your dress looks on you and how it complements your face, neck, shoulders, arms, and bust. Some of the most flattering wedding dress necklines and sleeves include:
Sweetheart: This is a popular and feminine neckline that forms a heart shape over the bust. It's ideal for brides who want to accentuate their cleavage and have a romantic wedding. It works well for most body types, especially those with a medium to large bust.
V-neck: This is a versatile and elegant neckline that forms a V shape over the bust. It's ideal for brides who want to elongate their neck and have a sophisticated wedding. It works well for most body types, especially those with a small to medium bust or a short neck.
Off-the-shoulder: This is a trendy and chic neckline that exposes the shoulders and the collarbone. It's ideal for brides who want to show some skin and have a modern wedding. It works well for most body types, especially those with a slender or hourglass figure.
Bateau: This is a classic and modest neckline that follows the curve of the collarbone and covers the shoulders. It's ideal for brides who want to cover their arms and have a vintage wedding. It works well for most body types, especially those with a small bust or broad shoulders.
Halter: This is a stylish and sexy neckline that wraps around the neck and leaves the shoulders and back bare. It's ideal for brides who want to highlight their arms and have a glamorous wedding. It works well for most body types, especially those with a toned or athletic figure.
Strapless: This is a simple and sleek neckline that has no straps or sleeves. It's ideal for brides who want to show off their neck and shoulders and have a minimalist wedding. It works well for most body types, especially those with a balanced or petite figure.
Cap sleeves: These are short sleeves that barely cover the shoulders. They're ideal for brides who want to add some coverage and have a sweet wedding. They work well for most body types, especially those with slender or narrow shoulders.
Short sleeves: These are sleeves that end above the elbow. They're ideal for brides who want to add some warmth and have a casual wedding. They work well for most body types, especially those with slim or toned arms.
Long sleeves: These are sleeves that cover the entire arm. They're ideal for brides who want to add some elegance and have a formal wedding. They work well for most body types, especially those with long or slender arms.
Do Your Research and Get Inspired
The next step to finding your dream wedding dress is to do your research and get inspired by different sources of wedding dress ideas. You want to explore various styles, fabrics, colors, details, and accessories that match your vision and taste. You also want to follow the latest wedding dress trends and designers that can inspire you and help you narrow down your choices.
* Bohemian lace wedding dress
* Vintage tea length wedding dress
* Plus size mermaid wedding dress
* Beach wedding dress with sleeves
* Simple satin wedding dress
* Off the shoulder ball gown wedding dress
* A line wedding dress with pockets
* Ivory tulle wedding dress with train
* Backless wedding dress with bow
* Lace wedding dress with detachable skirt
* Short wedding dress with veil
* Sequin wedding dress with slit
* Long sleeve wedding dress with lace
* V neck wedding dress with ruffles
* Halter wedding dress with open back
* Strapless wedding dress with corset
* Floral embroidered wedding dress with pearls
* Champagne wedding dress with gold accents
* Blush wedding dress with floral appliques
* Black wedding dress with red roses
* Modest wedding dress with sleeves and collar
* Gothic wedding dress with lace and tulle
* Princess wedding dress with tiara and veil
* Rustic wedding dress with boots and hat
* Country wedding dress with denim jacket
* Boho chic wedding dress with fringe and feathers
* Vintage inspired wedding dress with buttons and lace
* Art deco wedding dress with beads and sequins
* Minimalist wedding dress with clean lines and pockets
* Romantic wedding dress with sweetheart neckline and lace
Browse Online and Offline Sources for Wedding Dress Ideas
There are many online and offline sources that you can browse for wedding dress ideas, such as:
Websites: There are many websites that feature wedding dresses from different designers, brands, stores, and collections. You can search by style, shape, fabric, color, detail, price, or any other criteria you have in mind. Some of the most popular websites include The Knot, WeddingWire, David's Bridal, BHLDN, Kleinfeld Bridal, etc.
Blogs: There are many blogs that showcase wedding dresses from real weddings, styled shoots, editorials, or reviews. You can get inspiration from how other brides styled their dresses, what accessories they wore, what themes they chose, etc. Some of the most popular blogs include Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, Ruffled, Rock My Wedding, etc.
Social media: There are many social media platforms that feature wedding dresses from various sources, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc. You can follow hashtags, accounts, boards, groups, or videos that relate to wedding dresses and see what other brides are liking, sharing, commenting [assistant](#message) , or creating. Some of the most popular social media platforms include #weddingdress, @weddingdressguide, Wedding Dresses, etc.
Magazines: There are many magazines that feature wedding dresses from different perspectives, such as fashion, beauty, lifestyle, culture, etc. You can read articles, interviews, reviews, or tips about wedding dresses and see what the experts and celebrities are saying, wearing, or recommending. Some of the most popular magazines include Brides, Vogue, Martha Stewart Weddings, The Knot, etc.
Books: There are many books that feature wedding dresses from different angles, such as history, art, design, photography, etc. You can learn about the origins, evolution, trends, or meanings of wedding dresses and see how they have changed over time and across cultures. Some of the most popular books include The Wedding Dress: 300 Years of Bridal Fashions by Edwina Ehrman, The Wedding Dress: The 50 Designs that Changed the Course of Bridal Fashion by Eleanor Thompson, The Wedding Dress by Oleg Cassini, etc.
Follow the Latest Wedding Dress Trends and Designers
Another way to get inspired and find your dream wedding dress is to follow the latest wedding dress trends and designers that are making waves in the bridal industry. You can see what's new, hot, or popular in the world of wedding dresses and discover styles, fabrics, colors, details, or accessories that you may not have considered before. You can also find out which designers match your taste, budget, or vision and check out their collections or websites for more ideas. Some of the latest wedding dress trends and designers include:
Lace: Lace is a timeless and elegant fabric that adds romance and sophistication to any wedding dress. It can be used in various ways, such as overlays, appliques, sleeves, backs, or trains. It can also create different effects depending on the type of lace, such as floral, geometric, or vintage. Some of the designers who are known for their lace wedding dresses include Monique Lhuillier, Grace Loves Lace, Pronovias, etc.
Color: Color is a fun and creative way to add some personality and flair to your wedding dress. It can be used in subtle or bold ways, such as accents, sashes, belts, or shoes. It can also create different moods depending on the color choice, such as blush for softness and femininity , or red for passion and drama. Some of the designers who are known for their color wedding dresses include Vera Wang, Hayley Paige, Jenny Packham, etc.
Sparkle: Sparkle is a glamorous and dazzling way to add some shine and sparkle to your wedding dress. It can be used in various ways, such as sequins, beads, crystals, or embroidery. It can also create different effects depending on the amount of sparkle, such as subtle for a hint of shimmer or dramatic for a show-stopping look. Some of the designers who are known for their sparkle wedding dresses include Berta, Galia Lahav, Zuhair Murad, etc.
Boho: Boho is a trendy and relaxed style that adds some whimsy and charm to your wedding dress. It can be characterized by features such as lace, embroidery, fringe, or floral prints. It can also create different vibes depending on the theme of your wedding, such as rustic for a barn or farm wedding or beachy for a seaside or destination wedding. Some of the designers who are known for their boho wedding dresses include Rue De Seine, Daughters of Simone, Maggie Sottero, etc.
Minimalist: Minimalist is a chic and modern style that adds some elegance and simplicity to your wedding dress. It can be characterized by features such as clean lines, sleek fabrics, or minimal details. It can also create different impressions depending on the cut of your dress, such as sophisticated for a sheath or column dress or edgy for a jumpsuit or pantsuit. Some of the designers who are known for their minimalist wedding dresses include Carolina Herrera, Amsale, Theia, etc.
Plan Your Budget and Timeline
The third step to finding your dream wedding dress is to plan your budget and timeline. You want to know how much you can afford to spend on your dress and how long you have to find it. You also want to know how to save money and avoid stress when shopping for your dress.
How Much Do Wedding Dresses Cost and How to Save Money
The cost of wedding dresses can vary widely depending on the designer, brand, store, fabric, style, detail, size, alteration, etc. According to The Knot 2020 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding dress in the US was $1,631 in 2020. However, you can find wedding dresses that range from $100 to $10,000 or more.
To save money on your wedding dress, you can try some of these tips:
Set a realistic budget and stick to it: Before you start shopping for your dress, decide how much you can afford to spend on it and factor in any additional costs such as taxes, shipping, alteration , accessories, etc. Then, only look at dresses that are within your budget and avoid trying on dresses that are way out of your range.
Shop around and compare prices: Don't settle for the first dress you see or the first store you visit. Shop around and compare prices from different sources, such as online, offline, local, national, or international. You may find the same or similar dress for a lower price elsewhere.
Look for discounts and deals: Take advantage of any discounts and deals that are available, such as sales, coupons, promotions, clearance, etc. You may also find cheaper dresses during off-seasons or off-peak times, such as winter or weekdays.
Consider renting or buying secondhand: If you don't mind wearing a dress that has been worn before, you can consider renting or buying secondhand. You can find many websites, stores, or apps that offer wedding dress rental or resale services, such as Rent the Runway, PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com, Poshmark, etc. You can save up to 80% off the original price of a dress by renting or buying secondhand.
Choose a simple and versatile dress: If you want to save money on your dress, you can choose a simple and versatile dress that doesn't have too many details, embellishments, or layers. You can then accessorize it with different items, such as jewelry, shoes, belts, veils, etc. to change up your look and add some flair.
When to Start Shopping and How to Schedule Your Fittings
The timeline of shopping for your wedding dress can vary depending on your personal preference, wedding date, dress availability, alteration needs, etc. However, a general rule of thumb is to start shopping for your dress at least nine to 12 months before your wedding date and to order your dress at least six to nine months before your wedding date. This will give you enough time to find your dream dress and to make any adjustments or changes if needed.
To schedule your fittings, you should follow these steps:
First fitting: This is when you try on your ordered dress for the first time and check the fit, length, and overall look. You should schedule your first fitting about three months before your wedding date and bring along any accessories or undergarments you plan to wear with your dress.
Second fitting: This is when you try on your altered dress and make any final tweaks or corrections. You should schedule your second fitting about six weeks before your wedding date and bring along the same accessories or undergarments as before.
Third fitting: This is when you try on your final dress and make sure everything is perfect. You should schedule your third fitting about two weeks before your wedding date and bring along a trusted friend or family member who can help you with the bustle, zipper, buttons, etc.
Shop Smart and Have Fun
The final step to finding your dream wedding dress is to shop smart and have fun. You want to know where to buy or rent your dress and what to bring and who to bring to your wedding dress appointment. You also want to enjoy the process and have a memorable experience.
Where to Buy or Rent Your Wedding Dress
There are many options for where to buy or rent your wedding dress , such as:
Bridal salons: These are specialized stores that sell wedding dresses and accessories. They usually offer a wide range of styles, sizes, and prices, as well as professional services such as consultations, fittings, alterations, etc. They also provide a personal and intimate shopping experience, where you can try on different dresses and get feedback from the staff and your entourage. Some of the most popular bridal salons include David's Bridal, Kleinfeld Bridal, BHLDN, etc.
Department stores: These are large stores that sell various types of products, including wedding dresses and accessories. They usually offer a limited range of styles, sizes, and prices, as well as basic services such as returns, exchanges, etc. They also provide a convenient and accessible shopping experience, where you can browse different dresses and buy them on the spot or online. Some of the most popular department stores include Nordstrom, Macy's, Dillard's, etc.
Online stores: These are websites that sell wedding dresses and accessories. They usually offer a vast range of styles, sizes, and prices, as well as flexible services such as delivery, pickup, trial, etc. They also provide a comfortable and easy shopping experience, where you can shop from anywhere and anytime and compare different dresses and reviews. Some of the most popular online stores include Lulus, ASOS, ModCloth, etc.
Rental stores: These are stores that rent wedding dresses and accessories. They usually offer a moderate range of styles, sizes, and prices, as well as convenient services such as cleaning, insurance, etc. They also provide a practical and affordable shopping experience, where you can wear a designer dress for a fraction of the cost and return it after your wedding. Some