Even from a very young age, most girls are guilty of daydreaming about their wedding dress. We’re constantly bombarded with movies, TV, and photos of picture-perfect, iconic brides — just think of the Kate Middleton effect! And what makes these brides iconic? The dress. Although finding the right dress for your wedding day isn’t as easy as daydreaming, we’re here to help with these bridal gown basics. Luckily, in the Greater Jacksonville area, we have some amazing dress shops and even the most discerning bride can find their dream gown here!
So many styles…how do you choose?
Bridal attire ranges from extravagant princess gowns to tailored suits. That’s right — there’s no rule that says a bride must wear a fancy gown. This is the age when brides dress for their own comfort level and personal style, only more polished. Even so, most brides stick with a dress. The strapless style still reigns supreme, but the market has expanded in recent years to include gowns with all manner of straps, sleeves, and accessories. Since you are probably a Florida bride, keep in mind the time of year you will be getting married and what the weather might be like. You want to be comfortable! You’ll see many dresses that are modest in the front and dramatic in the back. Dresses are also belted, have convertible or removable cap sleeves, and come in an array of bold and muted colors in addition to just white.
Fabric & Affordability
Satin, tulle, and lace are the most commonly used fabrics for wedding gowns, and the type of fabric you choose will greatly affect the price. If you’re dreaming of intricate, hand-stitched, Italian lace with delicate beading, the cost is going to rise. But these days it’s entirely possible to find designers that create gorgeous gowns with price points that suit the mainstream bride. The professionals at your local bridal salons in the Jacksonville area will be able to help you determine which fabric and details fit within your budget.
Starting the Search
Start by gathering ideas: Bridal magazines, like Premier Bride of Northeast Florida, wedding expos like Premier Bride Expo, designer websites, and Pinterest are a great source as you start the hunt for your wedding dress. Compile the styles you like that suit the mood of your wedding. For example, is your wedding venue a rustic lodge, classic ballroom, or ultra-modern loft? Ask yourself: What kind of dress makes sense for the activities of the day?
Then make an appointment at your local bridal salon. Invite a trusted team of family and friends to join you. You don’t need an army — just a few close people you can count on to tell you the truth (sadly, not all gowns will be figure-flattering). Share your ideas for the type of gown you want with the professionals at the bridal salon, but keep an open mind.
Shapes & Sizes
Remember that no two brides are shaped alike, therefore no dress will ever accent your silhouette exactly the same way it does another bride’s body. When the time comes to try on gowns, explore a myriad of styles and cuts to figure out what works for you — you might be surprised! Note that bridal salons often carry only one sample size of each gown; try on these gowns even if they’re not your size — consultants are there to help you get in and out of sample sizes. If you’re nervous about the sizes available at your local bridal salon, give them a call. David’s Bridal carries each dress in every size so you will get an idea of a true fit, they might be a great place to start the dress look! Talking to a representative will ease your mind, and you’ll find that whether you’re full-figured or very petite, there have never been more options to accommodate brides of all shapes and sizes.
Try on Every Dress You Like…and Even Some You Are Not Sure About!
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try on dresses that aren’t necessarily in your comfort zone. Many brides think they want one style and end up with another style. You never know what a gown will really look like until you try it on, and lots of brides end up choosing a style of gown they never even dreamed of. Remember that the gowns at salons are just samples, so the size won’t be tailored to you, and most dresses can be ordered in various shades of white. So just because you’re not crazy about that big blush dress on the hanger, try it anyway! What do you have to lose?
Working With a Professional Consultant
While at the salon, make sure to take advantage of your professional consultant’s knowledge and expertise. A good bridal consultant should steer you in the right direction, so communicate your likes, dislikes, wants, and needs as much as possible. It’s the consultant’s job to handle every step of your salon experience, including showing you every option within your price range. They can also coordinate alterations and other practical matters once you’ve found “the one.” If you’re not in sync with the consultant you’ve been dealt, don’t hesitate to ask to work with a different representative; every bridal salon’s goal is to give you an enjoyable experience.
Alterations & Fittings
Deciding on a gown is a major hurdle, but that’s not the end of the wedding dress “to do” list. There are usually as many as four fittings that follow saying “yes” to the dress. Here are some tips for making this process run as smoothly as possible: First, give yourself and the tailor sufficient time. If you’re in a rush, this is when working with a bridal salon can really help; it’s usually their job to make sure alterations run smoothly and on time. Second, choose a dress that’s very close to your actual size. Most gowns can’t be changed by more than two sizes, up or down. Buy a dress that fits the biggest part of you, not the smallest part; it’s easier to take a dress in to hug your figure than it is to let it out. If you’re not working with a salon and have to find your own tailor, choose a tailor that has a great reputation, not the lowest rate. Also, account for alterations in your budget. Major alterations can cost hundreds of dollars, it also depends on the fabric and beading!
When the time comes for your first fitting, make sure you’re sporting the same undergarments and shoes that you’ll be wearing on your wedding day. Even the slightest tweak in bra padding or heel height can change the way a dress hangs and where the hem falls. As you’re working with the tailor, trust that they know what they’re doing. You may ask them to make one alteration, and they might suggest an alternate way to achieve that look, or advise against it altogether. Know when to take a deep breath and leave certain decisions to the professionals — your stress levels will thank you for it.