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The Bridal Gown

Most brides already have an idea of the type of gown they would like to wear on their wedding day, whether it be traditional, contemporary or something unique. There are no right or wrong styles of gowns but whatever you choose,it should be comfortable, elegant and practical – even though you will only wear it once, you will be standing, sitting and moving around for a long period of time on the day.

If you need some inspiration, visit the inspiration galleries, browse through bridal magazines or visit a bridal shop. Bridal fairs are also a good idea and are normally held twice a year – they will usually be advertised in newspapers or bridal magazines. The Internet is a useful resource that can save you time when searching for your gown. You will be able to source suppliers of gowns, bridal fairs and hire shops and most bridal requirements.

While the traditional bridal gown is white, lacy and formal, the sky’s the limit when it comes to style and colour. Modern brides are choosing a gown that suits their individual style and to accommodate their figure. You might find that your dream gown can be found in the formal wear section of a boutique or department store as opposed to a bridal shop.

Try on lots of different gowns – even if you are sure you know what you want. Enlist the help of your mother or your bridesmaids to get an honest opinion of what looks good and what doesn’t. Take along a pair of shoes with a medium size heel and wear a strapless bra, just in case. Take some basic hair accessories like bobby pins, clips or hair ties so you can get an idea of how your hair will look with veils and head pieces.

Alternatives to buying your gown are renting or having it tailor made by a couturier. Certainly, renting your gown would be cheaper but this limits the styles and colours available to you. Most good formal wear hire shops have a bridal section.

If you can’t find what you want in the stores, consider having your gown tailor made by a professional dressmaker or couturier. This way, you can create the gown of your dreams with all the preferred trimmings and extras. A good dressmaker can make your gown by just having photos or sketches to work from. Ask friends to recommend someone or look through the Yellow Pages or on the Internet.

If you decide to keep your gown after the wedding day you will need to have it cleaned and stored as soon as practical after the wedding. There are various methods e.g. calico bags or boxes with tissue paper to store your gown, but the type of material, climate and where it will be stored should be taken into consideration. Speak to your dry cleaner about what the best alternative is for your gown.

“ The Wedding gown is one of the most important garments in a young girls life and it portrays her image and feelings on this, her most important day” David Medwin - Couturier

Brides Maid Dresses

The style and colour of your attendants gowns should complement your own gown. Take into account the age, height and weight of the attendants when choosing a style. Strapless dresses may not be complimentary to full figured women. Click here for inspiration.

Consider the complexions and hair colours of your attendants when choosing a colour, as pastels can make women with fair complexions look washed out. Discuss with your attendants what they will feel comfortable wearing before making your final decision.

It is becoming increasingly popular for the matron/maid of honour to have a different gown to that of the other bridesmaids. The bridesmaids usually wear gowns of the same style and colour. Flower girls traditionally wear a smaller version of the bridal gown but this can be optional.

As the attendants usually cover the costs of their own gowns and shoes, try to select something that will accommodate everyone’s budget. A formal style may be more practical so they may wear it on other occasions and will therefore be willing to pay extra for a gown they will get further use from.

If the shoes are not covered by the dress, consider having the shoes dyed in the same colour as the gowns or even covered with the same material. This will give a lovely effect when in line at the ceremony and for the photographs.

Most shoe stores can arrange for shoes to be dyed or covered in the desired material. If not, source a local boot maker who can do this. Allow at least four to six weeks for this process. Ask to see a sample of the dye when made up before going ahead – quite often the finished product may vary from the colour chart you choose from.

Flower colours and styles need to be considered as most attendants carry bouquets. If possible, when selecting gowns or fabrics, try to have some flower petals on hand to hold against the colour to see if they will blend in.

As with your bridesmaids, the costs for the flower girl outfits are usually borne by her parents. As flower girls are usually young girls, consider a dress that will be comfortable and practical for them to wear for the whole day. They may become restless and irritable if they are restricted by a dress that does not allow them to move freely. Remember, they will probably spend most of their time running around and playing when not involved in official duties. Little slippers or ballet type shoes are a great idea and would be the most comfortable choice for little girls to wear for a whole day.

12 Tips To Follow When Shopping for a Bridal Gown

by Rose Smith

There can be a lot of pitfalls that brides fall into when shopping for that perfect dress for their special day. To help you make a more informed purchase here are 12 tips to make your shopping experience smoother and more enjoyable.

1. Set a price limit on how much you're willing to spend on a a gown.

Gowns range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. You need to have a good idea on what you're willing to spend. Then when you visit bridal shops, fib and give them a figure 10% to 20% LESS than what you've decided on. The reason behind this is because sales clerks will often trying to upsell you by bringing out gowns that are slightly over your budget range hoping you'll fall in love with the gown and buy it anyway.

2. Know your figure shape.

When looking through magazines, please remember these are super thin models that make all the gowns look beautiful. In the real world, we all come in different sizes and shapes, so what looks good in a magazine may look horrendous on your figure. You need to focus on styles that will flatter your figure type. The Wedding Channel has an online program that you can use to find gowns that flatter your shape. It's a good site to check out before you head out gown hunting.

3. Ask for bridal shop recommendations.

Talk with everyone you know who has just recently been married to find out what their experiences have been with various bridal shops. Remember, customer service is just as important as the gown you choose.

4. Shop during the week.

Don't shop on Saturdays. Weekends are when brides are out in full force shopping for their gowns and accessories. Instead, choose to go during the week when it's quieter and you can receive undivided attention. Many bridal shops stay open during the evening hours.

5. Fib about your wedding date.

You will be asked when your "big day" is...and it's best to fib by "moving" your date up by about 4 weeks. This will help ensure that your gown actually arrives in time for your wedding and gives you some breathing room to get any alterations done. Too many times, brides have been near tears because their wedding gown hasn't arrived or has arrived so close to the wedding date, that they've become anxious wrecks. You don't want to be rushed or thrown into a panic just before your wedding day.

6. Bring a buddy with you.

Always bring a friend or family member with you when shopping. Obviously, it's good to have an unbiased second opinion when trying on gowns. Also, you're excited and maybe be coerced by a sales clerk into buying something on the spur of the moment that you will later regret. Be sure you have someone with you who is cool-headed and practical to keep you grounded.

7. Take your time when choosing a gown.

Don't allow yourself to be rushed in to purchasing anything. Your first shopping excursion should help you get an idea on what styles look good on you and to find a bridal shop that you're happy with. Take notes on various gowns you really like (make a quick sketch of the gown too). Narrow down your gown choices to 2 or 3 gowns...then go home! Take a few days to review your notes, perhaps compare gowns online, and generally get a clearer perspective on what you saw. Then go back and re-try the dresses you had decided on.

8. Ask the store lots of questions.

There are many hidden fees and policies that you may not be aware of when purchasing a bridal gown. Here are some of the more important points you should ask about:

a) Who's the manufacturer of the dress?
b) How long will it take to get the dress in?
c) What kind of payment policies does the shop have?
d) How much of a deposit is required? Can you pay by credit card?
e) What is the store's refund and cancellation policy? (get it in writing!)
f) What are the costs of alterations? (get a written estimate)
g) Are there shipping fees? Size fees for extra large sizes or petites?
h) Are their rush fees? (if you have to have your gown sooner)

9. Bring a vinyl tape measure with you.

Make sure the shop takes your measurements with a vinyl tape measure, not cloth. The cloth tape measures get stretched and will give inaccurate measurements (larger than expected). This, not surprisingly, will result in "required alterations" when the dress arrives. Bring your own vinyl tape with you, so that if the store doesn't have one, you can provide your own and get an accurate measurement done. Make sure they measure your bust, waist, hips and from the hollow of your throat to hemline (for length).

10. Don't base your choice on dress size.

You may be a size 8, but manufacturer sizes vary widely when it comes to bridal gowns. A size 8 from one manufacturer may be a size 12 from another. Ask the clerk to see the listed manufacturer's dress size chart when choosing a gown, so you have a better idea on what size you'll be needing, once you're measurements are taken.

11. Don't put your gown on a layaway plan.

While you're busy paying down your gown (that you don't have yet), the manufacturer may discontinue the line or go out of business. Now you're left with no gown (and often no refund policy either). End result? You'll have to start all over and find a new gown to purchase from that bridal store.

12. Make your own headpiece.

Most bridal shops charge $150 to $300 (or more) for headpieces that cost less than $20 to make yourself. They aren't hard to make and there are several good books and patterns available to help you out. If you aren't crafty, find someone who is that would make it for you for a small fee. Another option is to rent a headpiece or buy one from a resale/consignment store.

Rose Smith is the owner of Wedding Themes and More, a website designed to help you discover your perfect wedding theme. Find more great ideas, resources and articles on our Bride & Groom Tips

Tips for Selecting Your Bridesmaids
By Leah Steenstra

You’ve got one sister, he’s got two. Your college roommates were the only ones that pulled through all-night studying sessions with you. You get along so well with those two co-workers. Then, there is “the group” from high school. So, how can you possibly choose between them? While it’s great to have all those close friends, 20 bridesmaids isn’t exactly what you had in mind. Below are a few tips for selecting your bridal party.

Less is more. The more people you choose to be a part of your bridal party, the more opinions you will have to consider, the more difficult it is to schedule events and fittings, and the more expensive it is for you! The more bridesmaids you have means more gifts to buy, more bouquets to purchase, more people at the rehearsal dinner, more limos to rent…

Generally, you need to figure that you should have one groomsman for every 50 guests. Since the amount of groomsmen and bridesmaids are usually equal, you can use that as a guideline.

Making the Cut
Choose family over friends. Friendships come and go, but your family will be a part of your life for a long time to come. In addition, friends will understand if they are not chosen because of family obligations.
Decide how much work you expect from your bridesmaids. Choose people who you know will be happy to help you and can help you because they live locally.
Consider financial needs. If you have potential bridesmaids that are struggling financially, do not put the extra burden on them that comes with being a bridesmaid. If you think they will be hurt if they aren’t asked and you really want them in your wedding, discuss the situation with them.
You do not need to include people in your wedding party even if you were in theirs. Hopefully, they will understand how hard it is choose and not take offense.

There are many other ways to honor those who are close to you besides asking them to be placed in your wedding party. Friends can usher, sing, play an instrument or read during your ceremony.

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