Getting married is one of the most important occasions in one’s life. That is why it is only expected that you look your best at your wedding. One of the biggest and most exciting decisions you will face as the big day approaches is choosing the perfect wedding dress! The process of shopping for a wedding dress can be daunting, but it can also be just as memorable and an entirely fun-filled experience—especially if you have a plan of action in place before shopping for your dream gown!
Give yourself lots of time to plan—generally the rule of thumb is that you need to order your gown at least six months before your wedding. So you should ideally start shopping for your gown a year before. If you don’t have this much time, it’s okay, just budget for some rush charges or score an off-the-rack “sample sale” item. Here are a few timeless tips to help you create your wedding-perfect vision and find your fashionably ever after without losing your mind!
Know Your Budget Range!
First things first: set your wedding dress budget. Try not to look at dresses that are unrealistic or way out of your price range, unless you plan on going over budget. If you don’t, then use top of the range gowns as inspiration for a less expensive design, so you won’t have to spend a fortune. Create your own magazine style pin-board “Love This? – Get This!” Many designers offer gorgeous gowns for brides on all kinds of budgets from value oriented to stylish designer brands, to exclusive couture and even custom creations.
Be sure to include alterations costs in your factoring. Almost every gown will need some alterations, whether it’s something, small like a hem or something major, it can add up. You’ll also need to account for undergarments, shoes, a veil and/or hair accessories, jewelry, and any other accessories you’ll want to complete your bridal look.
Make sure you are completely clear on your budget before you hit the bridal salon—and make sure that the salon you choose respects your budget.
Top Choices for Each Category of Budget!
Moderate Pricing & High Style: Impression Bridal offers a wonderful and diverse collection of stylish gowns that will certainly leave a lasting impression on your partner and guests! This diverse collection offers several high fashion looks in wonderful fabrications and a couture style fit at a fraction of the price! $
Designer & Couture Inspired Brands: For brides-to-be in search of a runway worthy gown that screams quality and good taste, there are a wealth of brands that offer looks from classic and demure to sexy and sassy! Cristiano Lucci is a great option for brides looking for classic styles with a modern twist while Simone Carvalli is the go-to for those looking to show the curves they worked so hard to attain! Modern cuts and see-through laces abound while classic satin silhouettes are adorned with sparkling beadwork. Pronovias and Rosa Clara also offer wonderful and elegant lace and vintage inspired options in this price range. $$
Couture & Luxury Brands: For the chic and sophisticated bride that is in search of the perfect show-stopping gown, a couture design is everything! Yumi Katsura Couture—one of Japan’s and the world’s most prolific designers, whose wedding dresses are considered modern masterpieces, is famous for using the finest fabrics for creating the most stunning and luxurious bridal wear. Along with their classic yet contemporary design aesthetic, you will experience the finest European fabrications, unique laces and exquisite beadwork.
For those gals who are all about the glam, the Victor Harper Collection is the perfect go-to. Inspired by the musings of feminine sophistication, elegance and sensuality, the Victor Harper Collection weaves together glamour, refinement and drama in perfect silhouettes to mold and flatter the body. Each style is embellished with beading and embroidery patterns that are hand drawn by the designer and crafted in an array of Austrian crystals, pearls and trims unique to the brand. These brands and others such as Monique Lhuillier and Vera Wang as well a host of others—some famous and others local—offer custom-made creations designed with your special requests and unique needs in mind! $$$
($: Budget Friendly ~ $$ Mid-Range/Moderate ~ $$$ ~ Luxury/Expensive)
Book Appointments Early
If you’ve spotted dresses you like by particular wedding dress designers, book appointments with the bridal salons that carry their designs and ask about trunk shows and designer or representative in-store appearances to get the opportunity to see a wide selection of the designers’ newest styles right off the runway. If you’re a plus-size bride, call ahead to see if your desired store carries a considerable amount of plus-size samples—not all do.
Choose a Style
Look through magazines and online to get an idea of the style of dress you’re looking for–it could be classic or contemporary, ornate and elaborate or slinky or strapless. Consider your venue and the time of year, as well as what your personal style may be or the style that you wish to portray on that special day!
You might have pictured a clear image of the perfect wedding dress ever since you were a little girl. Alternatively, you may have no idea what you are going to wear. Fear not, try on various styles of dresses. You may find that a style you think won’t suit you actually looks fabulous! Remember that this is the one day where everyone that loves or cares about you will see you while you are alive so put your best self forward! The important thing is to relax, have an open mind. Remember that there are many different kinds of dresses out there and there is something out there that is perfect for you!
Pick a Shopping Partner or Two
Go for your first appointment with an open mind and a helpful friend and, or family member. Don’t take more than two people with you—any more and the experience can be a little overwhelming and confusing. This is your production!
Don’t be rushed into any decisions. If you find yourself liking a dress but also having doubts, or if you’re feeling pressured from a part of your entourage or a salesperson to make a purchase, it’s okay to go home empty-handed, sleep on it, and return at a later point if you’re still dreaming about the dress. If you think you’ve found ‘the one,’ you can always go away and think about it before making your mind up. Think things through, but don’t drive yourself crazy. Just keep in mind that dresses can take up to six months to arrive in store!
Trust Your Choice & Don’t Overthink
When you’ve found the perfect dress, don’t try on any more! Your future appointments will be disappointments! Overthinking equals undue stress on all involved. Arrange your fittings, and start shopping for bridesmaids, the rest of the wedding party, underwear and shoes. Your happily ever after awaits!
Principal, Designer Loft Productions
Partner, Designer Loft Bridal Salon, NYC
Creative Director, North America – Yumi Katsura Couture
Creative Director, Disney Forever Enchanted, Disney Royal Ball
Paulette Cleghorn is a co-founder/partner of Designer Loft: A bustling New York City Bridal salon featuring today’s top and emerging bridal designers with gowns reflecting a variety of tastes, sizes and styles, created to celebrate the diversity of every bride. She also serves as the founder and CEO of Designer Loft Productions – a NYC based brand building, product development and strategic alliance business. Ms. Cleghorn also serves in the capacity of creative director for Disney Forever Enchanted Special occasions collection as well as Disney Royal Ball – a princess inspired collection designed for young Latinas celebrating their Quinceañera. In addition, she is the current creative director for Yumi Katsura Couture since 2010 and previously as Head of Strategic Alliances and North American expansion to the legendary designer since 2007. Katsura is one of Japan’s and the world’s most prolific design houses, whose wedding dresses and couture creations are considered modern masterpieces.
Successfully launching over 350 products to the North American market – from cosmetics and electronics to jewelry, dolls and denim, Cleghorn is known for her no-nonsense approach, as well as her expert execution and ability to effectively assess, direct and build brands. Charged with creating and marketing the first bridal collection for the Disney brand, she was able to break industry sales, brand expansion and product placement records in one season.
For the past eight years, DLPR has showcased Paulette’s unique brand of high-energy personality, charisma and image. With a background that spans the range of cosmetics, fashion, governmental, non-profit work, and public relations, Paulette has created a niche for herself and her respective companies that is founded on her ability to set and seek industry trends, combined with an acute sense of how to communicate them, market them and sell them. Before entering the world of fashion, Ms. Cleghorn served as Director of Product and Media Relations for the British based billion dollar cosmetics company –The Body Shop and was the US spokesperson for dynamic company founder, Anita Roddick.
Ms. Cleghorn has also served as guest lecturer on topics from advertising to body image and skin care at prestigious institutions such as Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and FIT/Fashion Institute of Technology. DLPR brands have been featured in all major publications globally, as well as on mainstream media and a wide array of television programs. Ms. Cleghorn has been interviewed extensively and has appeared on many shows on such networks as NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News.