Your Wedding Dress
Choosing your dress
When choosing a style, working with your body shape is very important. Camouflage any problem areas you may have and emphasize the good aspects. A good design will make you look 6 foot and a size 10. Your torso height is governed by where the fabric of the gown starts. For example, in a strapless gown, your height starts from where the fabric starts at the neckline edge, so if you are short through the upper torso body length between shoulder and waist, a strapless gown will emphasize this. Solid straps over the shoulder, rather than a strapless gown with “shoe string straps”, will create length through the body. A ‘halter-neck’ style will make the shoulder area look narrower and the hips bigger.
For those of us who are small busted i.e. A/B cup, cheating is compulsory, to establish a proportioned body shape. There are plenty of products on the market that will enhance a bust. Bumping up half a cup, or even
a full cup size is acceptable but more than that will look unnatural.
Gown to suit your venue choice
Twenty-five years ago, most weddings were traditionally held in a church. However, times have changed and nowadays most weddings are planned outdoors, either in a garden, beach or at a winery. With this in mind, it does not mean the dress code is now casual. Your gown can still be as elaborate as you want it to be.
The groom and his groomsmen should also complement the bride and her attendants. By this, I mean that even though the wedding may be on the beach, board-shorts and a T-shirt are unacceptable. If he prefers not to wear a formal suit and tie, full length dress pants and tailored shirt would still be appropriate. The groom’s attire should complement the bride, not the groomsmen. For example, have the groom in a black suit and his accessories (i.e. shirt, vest and tie) complement the bride’s colour tones. Then, as a contrast, have the groomsmen in a charcoal suit complementing the bridesmaids. You will find suit hire costs are the same as hiring suits all one colour. You never see the bride dressed the same as the bridesmaids, so why should the groom dress the same as the groomsmen.
Where to Buy
All bridal stores generally stock a range of gowns which are imported from Australia or America, but have been made in China or Vietnam. Most gowns are polyester gowns, strapless and are embellished with lace, sequence and beads and a great number are lace-up to allow for a varied fit.
The advantage of purchasing your gown ‘off the rack’ is that you visually get to see the gown as a finished product and how the gown will look on you. In some stores, confirming your gown early is essential, as some do take 6 months to arrive into the country. Also allow for alterations that may be required.
Online or Second-hand
Buying off ‘Trade Me’ can be extremely risky. Size of the gown is always an issue, unless you supply the seller with a complete set of measurements or visa-versa. For example, a size 10 can vary, depending on which country the dress first originated from. You can, on the other hand, buy a designer gown at a very reasonable price. If you can, ensure that you get to try the dress on and take someone with you who knows something about sewing. That way if alterations are needed she will be able to guide you as to whether this will be possible or not.
There are a number of extremely good dressmakers out there. A lot of us have mothers, aunties or friends in this category. Unless you are confident that the style and fabric you have chosen are going to be most suitable for your body shape, going with a dressmaker is not the best option. A dressmaker is just that, a dressmaker. Most do not have the experience to guide you on a suitable design that will suit your body shape.
A designer/dressmaker has a wealth of experience in design to suit body shape as well as knowing the most suitable fabric for the design. A good designer is generally blunt and honest to guide you. They have the knowledge to use your ideas and inspirations, but will work with your body shape to create a gown that is not only unique but has given you the best silhouette and shape, camouflaging any body areas that are generally an issue. In most cases, a calico (mock of the gown) is tailored to your body shape to finalise all aspects of the design i.e. neckline, strap width, how low the back drops etc… Remember, the gown is made to fit your body shape, which guarantees the ultimate fit.
Cleaning your gown
Any polyester gowns can be hand washed. Concentrate on spot cleaning the most obvious marks with a laundry soap like “Sard Wonder Soap”. Soak in the bath with a soft laundry detergent, rinse thoroughly and give a gentle spin in the washing machine to eliminate excess water. Then drip dry. Gowns should be cleaned as soon as possible after the wedding day. Stains will ’set’ if left too long. All silk gowns are dry clean only. Find a reputable drycleaner.
Storing your gown
Wrap the gown in an acid-free tissue paper and then store it in a cardboard box or any paper carry bag. Avoid plastic dry-cleaning sleeves or plastic bags. Any clean cardboard box or paper bag will be suitable. They can also be packaged in a ‘memory box’ by the drycleaners but at a cost.
Selling your gown
If you are considering selling your gown, this should be done as soon as it returns from the drycleaners. Wedding dresses are high fashion items and will date quickly, as all fashions do. A reasonable asking price is generally half of the purchase price.
Remember, tradition no longer exists in weddings. It has come down to dollars & sense, suitability to body shapes and practicality.
Choose a gown for your bridesmaids that will flatter all of their shapes and sizes. A-line is the most popular style because of this reason. It is quite acceptable to choose one colour and one length, but each bridesmaid to choose their own neckline. What suits an A-cup will generally not suit a D-cup. If the style flatters individual bridesmaids, it will create a ‘point of difference’ in the wedding party and a greater chance of your bridesmaids wearing their gown again.
Deeper colours like black and charcoal grey are now the most popular for bridesmaids. It will suit any skin type, eye or hair colour and is not only flattering, formal and slimming but is practical and doesn’t take any eye focus away from the bride. The brighter the bridesmaids colour, the more the bridesmaids are visible and the less you see of the bride. Bright colours generally takes all the eye focus away from the bride. Eyes are always attracted to bright colours and the bridesmaids should not be the main focal point in the wedding. It should be the bride.
Allocate each bridesmaid with a duty. This way everyone has a duty to perform throughout the day, photos will always be perfect and there is no fuss or confusion.
Bridesmaid 1 = Always check flowers are held in the correct position.
Bridesmaid 2 = ‘Fluff’ the brides train and check her gown and veil are looking great.
Other duties to allocate:
The famous old rhyme …. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something new and a six pence in your shoe.
Something old ....
The ‘something old’ represents the bride’s family and her past—her ‘old life’. Whatever is chosen should symbolize that the people you love will always be part of your life. This item is traditionally from the bride’s mother or grandmother.
Something new ....
‘Something new’ symbolizes the brand new family that will be formed by the newlywed couple. This item represents good fortune, happiness, health and a successful marriage. Most brides count their wedding gown as something new.
Something borrowed ....
Borrowing something to wear is an especially important tradition. The borrowed item is to come from a happily married woman, who is thereby lending the bride some of her own martial bliss to carry into the new marriage.
Something blue ....
In ancient times, blue was the symbol of purity. So wearing something blue on your wedding day symbolizes your faithfulness and loyalty. Something blue can include a blue bow on your lingerie or garter, blue flowers, a blue ribbon (sewn on the inside of your dress), or a blue trinket inside your bouquet—like a butterfly or bow.
A six pence in your shoe ....
Traditionally the “penny” is fastened onto the inside of the shoe, as a symbol of financial wealth, good luck and fortune in the upcoming years of your married life. Nowadays the “penny” can be money of any denomination, from an old-fashioned coin right through to a brand-new shiny coin to a modern note.
Preparation before your wedding day
If you are wearing a strapless gown, halter-neck or any gown with a neckline that is low cut in the front or back, ensure you avoid any tan lines that will be visible once your gown is on. Spray-on tans should always be trialed well before your wedding day. This will give you an indication of how many days it takes for the tan to fade to a more natural look. This will enable you to book your tan so many days before your wedding. You may find the tan is more natural after 3 days, so book the spray tan 3 days before the wedding. This also allows for any residue bronzing solution to wash off the body to eliminate any marks on the gown.
It is important to keep in mind while selecting your jewellery, that each item both complements the embellishments on the dress and each jewellery item.
For example, if you have crystal detailing on your gown it is nice to follow that theme through with crystal jewellery, and if you have a pearl bracelet it is always more uniform to continue that theme with pearl earrings.
If you have a necklace, then reduce the size of your earrings.
If you have no necklace at all then work with longer earrings. Longer earrings work well with a bracelet for balance (remember the bracelet is always worn on the right hand so it does not distract from the rings). When choosing a bracelet, choose one with a smooth rub over setting or a style that will not catch or pull the gown.
When choosing your hairstyle, take all things into consideration—neckline, style of gown, theme of wedding and most importantly, facial shape. If you are doing a necklace with a halter-neck gown and a ‘down’ hairstyle, this would be considered as too cluttered. In these circumstances, you would eliminate the necklace and work with a hairstyle that is half up and half down and bring more length into your earrings. Also when considering your hairstyle, the venue is a main factor. If your wedding is on the beach, there is generally always a sea breeze. Loose hair never stays in place or tidy in the wind for long. A style that is half up, half down or a very unstructured do-up will allow for more product to be used to keep the hair in place.
When choosing the style of your bouquet, remember the flowers are an accessory and should not overpower the gown. The colours of the flowers should complement your gown. If you have looked at wedding photos in a magazine of a bride in white and her bouquet is red, the first aspect of the photo that is visible is the flowers. Work the bouquet size to the proportion of the brides body. A size 10 bride should work with a bouquet no larger than 20 centimetres in diameter.
Always state a back-up venue on your marriage licence, if your initial venue is outdoors. Legally, you can only get married at the venue or venues you have stated on the licence.
On your Wedding Day
The chief bridesmaid or mother of the bride is generally responsible for helping the bride get dressed. This person should not get dressed herself until the bride is fully dressed. If she is in comfortable, casual clothes, this will make movement easier for her and will eliminate her gown creasing. Hair and make-up is always done first, so all she has to do is get dressed. Unless instructed otherwise, the bride should always step into the gown. If the gown has a separate petticoat, this is to be placed on the floor and opened up, enabling the bride to step into it. The petticoat is to be fastened on the waist, not the hip, then the closing of the gown can proceed, whether it is buttons, zip or lace-up. Make sure the centre back seam is centred with the spine. The straps of the gown are to be placed off the shoulder, then once fully fastened, they can be lifted onto the shoulder. If your gown has self covered buttons, pinch the elasticated loop and place over the buttons. Make sure all hook and eyes are fastened underneath the buttons. Once the gown is fastened, go underneath and give the lining a good tug.
As hair is generally one of the first things to occur on the big day, the hairdresser should be informed of the position you wish your veil to sit. This will allow her to leave a space to insert it later on. (As your makeup is yet to be done as well as getting dressed into your gown, these are always a lot easier without the veil.)
The veil should be placed into the hair once you arrive at your venue, just before you walk down the aisle. This responsibility is generally given to your maid of honour. This way it reduces creasing and avoids any unnecessary tearing while getting ready or getting in and out of the car.
If the veil is creased or crushed, hang in the bathroom after someone has had a shower. Generally, the steam will drop out most of the creasing. If this fails, a veil can be pressed but use a damp pressing cloth and medium/high heat, ensuring that the iron does not come into contact with the tulle. Tulle is very delicate and can tear or melt easily.
Always cut the ribbon off the comb. (This applies only to veils purchased at The Bridal House by Corina Snow, as this is only to hang the veil.) Hold the comb of the veil so that the prongs face skywards and the curve of the comb, when held against the bust, fits the curve as a bra would. Flip the comb away from you towards the bride’s hair (prongs are now facing down) and secure into the hair.
Before the ceremony, place your engagement ring on your right hand or ask your chief bridesmaid to mind it during the ceremony. After the ceremony, once the wedding ring has been placed on the left hand, the engagement ring can be placed back onto the left hand. If the rings are difficult to place on your finger, smear a small amount of Vaseline around the inside of the rings. The rings should glide on more easily.
There is one simple rule when you wear a wedding gown... “Be a lady on the day”. Take care when placing yourself into the car, and arrange your gown to eliminate creasing. Posture is very important. Ensure you always sit and stand tall. The one time this rule doesn’t apply is when you go to the toilet. You may need to take your chief bridesmaid with you to eliminate accidently flushing the train down the toilet!!
Rescue Remedy is a product recommended by most brides. It is a natural product to calm and relax anxious brides. Ensure you have a good deodorant to eliminate perspiration transferring onto your gown. Maxim is doctor and dermatologist recommended. It is available at Life Pharmacy. A crystal stick is also effective.
Ensure you and the bridal party are wearing a non-oily sunscreen. Photo sessions taken outside can last up to 3 hours. In this time, you are oblivious to sun exposure and unknowingly get sun burnt.
Purchase your own lip colour. This way you can take it with you and touch up your lips throughout the day.
Cleaning marks wedding gown
If the mark isn't very obvious, just leave it. You can do more damage by attacking it, Silk can ‘bruise’ if a mark has been worked on too long. The best solution to remove a mark is vodka or oil of eucalyptus. Gently rub using a VERY clean cloth. If the mark is really bad… I suggest to just drink the bottle of Vodka!!
Hold your flowers
Always hold flowers with both hands if the arrangement is a posy structure. The forearm should rest on yours hip bone, elbows out from the waist and flowers positioned in front of your pelvic bone. The ‘nervous’ pose is to hold the flowers at the waist. This will not only hide any detailing and embellishments featuring on your gown, but in photos, will also make your body look shorter than what it really is. The bridesmaid with the “flower duty” will eliminate this from occurring.
Generally, all fabrics can be ironed. Always use a pressing cloth (a flat smooth cotton piece of fabric e.g. a pillowcase). This will eliminate iron shine, transfer of iron dirt or burning holes or scorch marks. Silk can tolerate a high temperature and steam is allowed. Do be careful if you press a crease into silk, it can be difficult to remove.