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Selecting the Right Wedding Gown

Selecting the Right Wedding Gown

Selecting the right wedding gown is like no other shopping experience, since there’s no other article of clothing quite like it. But before you schedule the first salon appointment, read these tips for successful shopping.

Selecting the Right Wedding Gown

For some brides, it’s really all about the dress. They’ve dreamed of selecting the right wedding gown since childhood. Dress styles dominate their Pinterest boards. For them, the white dress is THE  iconic wedding statement. And there’s something to be said for the shared experience of gown shopping with family members and friends. But before you get your heart too set on a particular style, keep these thoughts in mind.

Tips for Selecting the Right Wedding Gown

Selecting the Right Wedding Gown
Use the season and comfort and guidelines to the right gown.

Shop for the Season and the Venue: Even if you haven’t nailed down a date, you probably have a time of year in mind. And if you’re marrying outdoors, factor that need for comfort in as well. Your venue will also influence your wedding fashion choice. You probably wouldn’t select a ball gown for a rustic reception. Although there is something charming about a ballgown and a flannel shirt (thank you Pinterest!).

Know Your Lines: There’s a reason sweetheart necklines never go out of style. It’s because they look great on every woman. The same is true with certain silhouettes like ball gowns, A-lines, and sheaths. Take a look at this chart to familiarize yourself with shapes.

Good Gowns Take Time: Unless you are shopping off the rack, your gown will be made to your measurements. Quality construction takes time. You also need to allow for both a first as well as a final fitting. Think 6 to 9 months out from your wedding date for shopping.

Selecting the Right Wedding Gown
Maggie Sottero (L) and knockoff (R)

Beware the Internet: There are beautiful gowns in a wide range of price points. Gown construction and fabric choices are usually what impact price. And that’s why it’s important to actually see what you’re buying. There’s a reason why that Maggie Sottero dress sells for $1800 in every store that carries that style. It’s the floor price set by the designer and salons cannot sell that dress below that price while the style is still available. So, if you see the so-called same dress for only $200, know for a fact it’s a knock off. And not even a good one at that – the internet is full of gown gone wrong stories.

More Gown Shopping Tips

You Can Find a Great Dress in Your Price Range: Bridal salons typically shop twice yearly for wedding fashions, so that means sample sales to make room for new stock. Unlike ready to wear, wedding gowns are not as subject to fashion’s seasonal whims. And salons are more savvy about carrying a wider selection of sample sizes that reflect real curves. There are also bridal shops that specialize in consignments, so consider a “once loved” dress.

Size is Just a Number: Can we please get over this one already? How has this curse been handed down through generations of females? No one is going to peak at your dress tag. And here’s an interesting little secret about wedding gown sizing – most dresses run small through the back. It is not uncommon to wear a size 10 in street clothes and a 12 or even 14 in a wedding gown, depending on the silhouette.

Selecting the Right Wedding Gown
Don’t forget to budget for the rest of your attire. Photo by Terje Sollie from Pexels

It’s More than Just the Dress:  While your dress will take up the majority of your fashion budget, you need to consider other items as well. Will you need a veil or headpiece? What about jewelry and shoes? What you wear under your gown goes a long way in defining how your dress fits. And don’t forget to budget for your alterations.

Enjoy the Process

Who to Take on the Hunt: Selecting the right wedding gown can be a beautiful way for a mother and daughter to bond. Or not. Don’t try to force it. But if your mother is giving you money towards your gown, the polite thing to do is to invite her on a shopping trip. Then ask your maid of honor. That’s it. Sure, it looks like fun having your bridal squad along for the ride, but the chaos is not worth it. Let your MOH represent. And trust your own judgement.

Selecting the Ridge Dress
Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels

Dieting for a Dress: Let’s make that one a big NO. If you want to drop a few pounds to feel better, go for it. But don’t put unrealistic expectations and stress on yourself. Just love the skin you’re in, because someone else does!

Keep an Open Mind: Sometimes a dress doesn’t look all that great on a hanger, but put it on and wow! Trust your bridal salon consultant. This is one of the few times you can play dress up as an adult, so enjoy it.

Remember, Comfort Brings Joy: You’re going to move in this gown so make sure that you can. Sit, shimmy, and check for possible wardrobe malfunctions. And remember to try on dresses with the heel height you’ll be wearing on the big day. When you feel comfortable, you feel confident.

And finally, pockets rule.

Where to Find a Wedding Gown in the Shenandoah Valley

Here are a few locally owned and operated Shenandoah Valley bridal salons to help you with your style search:

The Barn Bridal: At the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley in Inwood WV, you’ll find this Blue Ridge bridal institution known for their customer service.

The Valley Bride: If you’re looking for a more bespoke gown, take a look at these carefully curated designs at this old town Winchester salon.

She Said Yes: Adventurous brides will appreciate the selection at this bridal and formal wear consignment shop in downtown Winchester. 

Bridal Impression by Amanda’s Touch: Lots of plus size styles in the popular collections at this Harrisonburg salon.

The best advice for dress shopping is to just enjoy the experience. Be thorough with your budget and allow plenty of time. Shop with season and comfort in mind. And remember, it’s not nearly as frustrating as buying a bathing suit.

Want more planning advice? Then be sure to read our Wedding Tips on Blue Ridge Bride.

Happy planning!

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