Shopping for Your Wedding Gown

Dress shopping is one of the most exciting parts of planning your weddings but can also be quite hectic so here are a few helpful hints to maximize your dress hopping experience.

1. When you go shopping for your gown, don’t bring ALL six bridesmaids and your mother. If you bring too many people shopping, it can be VERY CONFUSING. Try shopping with just one or two people.
2. When you go shopping for your dress – look your BEST. Sometimes even the most beautiful gown, won’t look “right” when your hair is a mess and you’re wearing sweat socks. Here are a few more hints:
* Fix your hair before you go
* Wear a little makeup
* Wear nylons and shoes (not sneakers and sweat socks)
* Wear a strapless bra or bustier. (If you don’t own one, wait until you’ve purchased your gown, so you know exactly the right type to buy.)
3. Bring magazine clippings with you to your appointment with the bridal salon. This will give them a much better visualization of what types of gowns you like.

BUT… be sure to try on as many different styles as you can. A wedding gown is unlike any other dress and sometimes you just can’t tell which style is going to look best on you.
4. Trust YOUR instincts and you’ll know exactly when you’ve found THE DRESS.


5. To save money on your wedding dress, buy your wedding gown from a reputable discounter. You may not feel as “pampered” as you would from a bridal salon, but you can save up to 30% off the retail price.
6. When you to go order your wedding dress, order the dress in your current size. Don’t order a smaller size anticipating to lose weight. It’s always easier (and LESS EXPENSIVE) to take in a dress rather than letting it out.
7. If you’re buying your wedding dress and bridesmaids’ attire from a bridal shop… try and purchase ALL of the dresses from the same shop. They’ll usually give you a pretty good discount off the dresses or free alterations. If they don’t offer a discount… be sure to ask!
8. Before you order your dress, be sure to check into the shop. How long have they been in business? With lead times of over 6 months sometimes, you want to feel comfortable that the shop will be in business 6-12 months from now.

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Buying Bridesmaid Dresses

1. Start Early

Bridesmaid Dress manufacturers are constantly adding and discontinuing styles and often increasing prices on more popular carryover styles of bridesmaid dresses. As a result, it is strongly recommended shopping for and ordering your dresses as soon as you have made a decision on the bridesmaid dresses you want. Different bridesmaid dress manufacturers have different lead times. You will also want to leave enough time for alterations for your bridesmaid dresses – usually at least two weeks to one month before the wedding if not sooner.

2. Get Measured

The first thing you want to do is to have all of the bridesmaids professionally measured for their bridesmaid dresses. You can often do this at your first bridal shop or department store. This way you can cross reference them with the size chart for the manufacturer you have selected in order to ensure you order the size that is closest to their figure. Most bridesmaid dress designers make their dresses in accordance with the measurements of their own size chart and not to each individual. As a result, you won’t be able to assume that a size 8 from manufacturer “A” will fit the same way a size 8 does from manufacturer “B”. Also remember bridesmaids taller than 5’7 may need to add extra length to their dresses.

3. Consider Your Bridesmaids Before Deciding on Your Bridesmaid Dresses

When choosing a dress, it is the bride’s privilege to select the color and type of fabric of the bridesmaids’ dresses. It should compliment the bride’s gown, but it should also be comfortable and attractive for the attendants. Consideration should be given to the bridesmaids’ styles, color preferences, their figure types as well as their budgets.

4. Shop Online for your Bridesmaid Dresses

Help your bridesmaids save money buying finding a reputable buying service online. Online retailers offer much better prices than most bridal shops! You can even have the dresses shipped directly to each bridesmaid if you prefer just in case your bridesmaids live in different states or countries.

5. Order All At Once

You should order all your bridesmaid dresses at the same time as fabric dye-lots can vary. If you don’t order the dresses one at a time, the dresses might not all be from the same dye-lot so they might not all be the exact same color. This goes for dyed shoes as well.

6. Leave Plenty of Time for Alterations with the Bridesmaid Dresses

Once you order your dresses, be sure to set up an appointment for alterations for your bridesmaid dresses. Since most dresses will need some degree of alterations, you should allow plenty of time for two fitting appointments. Bridal attendants should bring shoes with the correct heel size to the fittings, as well as appropriate hosiery and slips.

7. Accessories

Accessories, such as shoes, gloves, shawls, purses and hair combs should also be decided upon once the bridesmaid dresses have been selected. Leave plenty of time for shoes to be dyed and picked up. Also consider what color hosiery you want everyone to wear, as well as bras and slips if applicable.

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Weight Training Basics

Weight training will firm your body and maybe even give you some killer biceps. While it doesn’t promise to reduce your weight, those toned arms will look great in your sleeveless gown!

Below are a few facts and suggestions for the novice body builder.

* To start, schedule a weight routine for twice a week, using a 5-lb barbell.
* Your weight routine should include 8-10 different exercises that each work separate muscle groups.
* Each individual exercise should include 10-15 repetitions. If you can’t do 10 repetitions, then your barbells are too heavy. If you can easily do 15, then you should choose heavier barbells to work with.
* If you plan on doing cardiovascular and weights on the same day, work out with weights first, and then move onto the aerobic activity.
* If you like the idea of toned muscles, but don’t feel that lifting weights is for you, consider swimming. The water provides gentle resistance and is especially good for those people who have weak joints.

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Wedding Day Makeup

USABride recently spoke with bridal makeup expert, Vicki Morgenstern, of Vicki Morgenstern Cosmetics in Boston, MA. She is a licensed, professional makeup artist specializing in photography makeup as well as skin care and treatment. We talked about what brides should consider when planning their wedding day makeup.

We’re hearing that more and more brides are hiring a professional makeup artist for their wedding day. Do you agree?

Absolutely. I think this is largely due to the media attention to makeup, skin care and both women and men taking more effort to care for themselves. The media has been increasingly educating people that the services of professional makeup artists, specializing in bridal makeup, are available. Not only are they available, they are affordable and beneficial. People are recognizing that a healthy lifestyle includes proper skin care to prevent premature aging.

People may have the perception that makeup on their wedding day is too expensive or an extravagant expense. What do you say?

No, it is not true at all. For a bride, it is a service that can easily fit into their budget and more importantly – a necessity to ensure that photographs and videos are flattering. Compared to the cost of disliking the way they look in the most tangible memory of their wedding, the investment is minimal. Prices vary throughout the country but typically range from $100 to $300 and up for a large wedding party of six people or more.

What criteria should brides consider when choosing a makeup artist?

Experience is the most important factor. The makeup artist should be thoroughly familiar with how the camera “reads and translates” different colors. The level of professional skill usually goes hand-in-hand with an artist’s experience. The more skilled artist will be adept at “sculpting” and transforming facial features through the use of highlighting and contouring to enhance bone structure. Using “high performance” products is essential for achieving professional results.

Training, licensure, and professional temperament are other key factors to consider. You will want someone with whom you are comfortable – they set the tone for the rest of the day.

Can you tell us what “high performance products” means?

High performance products are those professional products that are long lasting, have high pigmentation and blend easily. The newest products have built in “healthy” ingredients (i.e. antioxidant vitamins, moisturizers, etc.) so that they treat the skin as well as define the features.

Colors should compliment the wedding attire. Keep in mind that flash photography makes any blue-toned colors darker. So warm, neutral shades create the most natural-looking visage. In general, it is advisable to avoid the following:

* Lipsticks that are too bright – fuchsia, blue-reds

*Highly reflective, frosted cosmetics (the sheer, luminescent textures of the ’90s are fine)

*Avoid skipping concealer and foundation

If you are going to do your own wedding day makeup, what advice would you offer?

First, I don’t advise doing your own bridal makeup. However, even if you feel more comfortable doing your own, consult with a professional makeup artist for a private lesson to learn some of their specialized techniques.

In designing your wedding day look, first assess your skin condition (i.e. oily, combination, normal, dry, etc.). Look carefully at the anatomy of your facial features (close-set eyes, thin face, wide forehead, etc). Determine the undertone of your coloring (warm or cool). Finally, design a color palette that compliments your coloring, considers the lighting variables under which your pictures will be taken, and use products that are compatible with your skin condition.

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Make-Up Application Tips

Okay, let’s “face” it. There are very few women in the world that are naturally picture perfect. Luckily, there are many make-up techniques that can help.

What colors are right for your skin tone? How should your make-up be applied? Here are some general ideas for those of you who are applying your own make-up on your wedding day.


*Do not apply white or black shadows to your eyes. If you want to apply a light color, choose light beige. If a dark look is your thing, go with dark brown or gray.

*If you have an olive complexion, avoid shades of gray.

*If you have a pale complexion, stay away from bright, vibrant colors.

*For blush and lipstick, blondes should go with pink shades, brunettes with peach, and red heads should go with bronze. Experiment with different shades of the same base color to find your best look.

*For a natural look, use brown mascara.

Application Tips

*To make your eyes pop, curl your eyelashes with a lash curler and use several coats of mascara.

*Apply a light color all over the lid. Use a darker shade for your upper, outer lid. For deep-set eyes, use another shade that’s the darkest of the three and apply only to the crease of your eyelid. Blend well.

*To apply blush, use a round tip blush brush and place it on the apple of the cheek. Blend well.

*Place dots of foundation on your forehead, cheeks, chin and nose. Rub in well with either your fingers or a make-up sponge.

*For longer lasting lips, color in first with a lip liner, and apply lipstick over that.

*Use make-up brushes to apply your eye shadow and abandon those tiny brushes that come with your cosmetics.


*Purchase Neutrogena Healthy Skin Foundation. This is proven to cover up acne well, without looking too thick.

Dark Circles

*First pat an eye cream underneath your eyes. Then use a yellowish undertone concealor to balance out the blue and complete the job with a foundation that matches your skin tone.

Thinning Eyebrows

*Use a sharp eyebrow pencil that matches your eyebrow color and short quick strokes.

Wide Nose

*Create a shadow effect. Use a dark foundation or powder and apply it down the sides of your nose. Highlight the center of your nose by using a lighter colored powder.

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Wedding Hair Tips

Bridal hairstyles need to reflect the brides’ personality and personal style. The “natural” days are finally ending as today’s bride looks for “more” from her wedding day salon services. More fun, more beauty, and more individuality are what brides are in search of. Creative personal touches help originate a “signature touch” for the couples’ big day.

Long Hair

If your hair is long and you wear it pulled back most of the time than an elegant Updo would be just the look. Incorporate a detail from your gown into your hair design. Details such as braiding or twisting of fabric can be duplicated into the hairstyle. Or look to the texture of the dress.

A soft wispy hairstyle complements a full-skirted tulle gown. A smooth gown of a heavy weight fabric is complemented by a smooth, shiny hairstyle of knots or rolls. Do you wear your long hair down most of the time? Then try wearing some of it up away from your face and leave the rest to cascade around your shoulders. Let few tendrils escape to float around your face, they can be curled or left natural. Having it all down is just too casual for the big day.

Tip: Natural curls? Enhance them and work with them; keep your look soft. Straight hair? Don’t expect a set to last all day, wear it up. If the curls are pinned in place there will be less worry.

Medium Hair

If your hair is medium in length it can be curled and worn with a sparkly headband or tiara to dress it up. Or simply tuck some hair behind your ears and use one of the very popular decorative hair clips to hold it back. With the help of a talented stylist, your hair can also be worn up.

Tip: If your dream is to wear it up and you have a few months grow it out, go for it. Medium hair is versatile, try a few looks with your stylist at least a few months ahead of time. This helps to chart out the growing process.

Short Hair

Believe me there is lots that can be done! Dust off your curling iron and give your hair some fullness in the crown area and back. Don’t curl the front, it won’t look like you. Flatter fronts are in right now so sweep the hair off to the side and save the curls for the back area. Today’s “curls” are for creating texture. Many hair products on the market are designed for “texturizing the hair” not necessarily for hold.

Tip: Don’t touch the curls while they are warm, it will loosen them up too much. Once cooled run your finger through your hair with some hair wax and pinch and place the “texture” where you want it! Don’t brush them out it will look too poufy, frizzy, and (Horror!) dated!! Top your do with a tiara or a few hair clips and you are ready to go!

By Gretchen Maurer, creator of

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Tips for Getting Your Hair Done at the Salon

1. Schedule your wedding day hair appointment at least eight weeks ahead.

2. Have a practice session at least a month ahead and bring a picture of your dress and your headpiece with you to the salon.

3. Record your travel time from the salon to where you are getting dressed.

4. Add on extra time for getting dressed and make-up if the salon is not applying it.

5. Bring a Polaroid camera to your hair appointment and take pictures of the front, side, and back.

6. Ask for more than one stylist to help with the wedding party. Three stylists for a party of six is the best bet for staying on schedule.

7. Schedule all nail appointments for the day before, this also saves time.

8. Don’t expect to get your favorite stylist to do your wedding hair is you desire an intricate Updo. This is a specialty service and best left for the resident expert.

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Choosing a China Pattern

Choosing a china pattern is not always easy. Some brides feel more pressure about this decision because it is an “investment” and as your mother always says “It’s something that you’ll have for the rest of your life”. How do you know that you will still like that same pattern ten years from now or even next year?

Well, don’t worry, here are some hints to help you when selecting your fine china.

First, let’s talk about the basics. There are two types of fine china – bone china and porcelain china. Bone china is made with bone ash and porcelain is made from refined white clay. Both types of china are just as beautiful and although they may look delicate, they are actually quite strong and durable. Most fine china (except ones with gold or silver accents and trim) can even be placed in the dishwasher. But of course, you’ll always want to read the care instructions before doing so.

Some brides like to choose a simple white pattern for their everyday dinnerware and a more colorful and bright pattern for their china or vise versa. When it’s time to register for your china or dinnerware, if you’re not sure about your color scheme yet – go with white or ivory. You can always add color (and change colors) with interesting table accessories, candles, flowers and table linens.

Today, there are so many colorful patterns to choose from when selecting your dinnerware patterns. The department and specialty stores know exactly how to display these designs to make a table look so appealing! But remember, the only thing missing in those beautiful displays is the FOOD! So, before you make your selection – visualize how that bright floral green pattern will look with a piece of lasagna!

Sometimes if a pattern is too busy it can take away from the presentation of the food. For instance, most restaurants serve their food on white or ivory dinnerware. So, if you like the colorful patterns, a good compromise it to choose a pattern with a colorful border and trim and solid white middle.

When it comes to table settings, you should register for at least eight, but preferably twelve. Twelve may sound like a lot right now, but don’t worry over time – you’ll use them!

Now, your mother has probably told you that china is to be used for only special occasions. But, what could be more special than dinner or breakfast with your husband? And what about dinner with your friends? So, once you do decide on your china pattern, use it often and enjoy!

Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Fiance Before Selecting Your China

Talk with your fiance about setting up your home and about each other’s tastes and preferences and try to answer these questions:

*What is your favorite color?

*What is your finance’s favorite color?

*Do you have a favorite color together?

*Do you have a color scheme for your dining room?

*Will you have a formal dining area?

Now let’s think about your lifestyle and personality and ask yourself some more questions:

*Do you have a more elegant or casual style?

*Are you more traditional or contemporary?

*Do you prefer vibrant, bright colors or more muted pastels?

*Do you prefer a very simple looking table setting?

*Do you prefer a more adorned and rich look with lots of color, pattern and texture?

*Do you prefer things that take minimal care and are easy to clean (i.e. dishwasher safe?)

HINT: You may use your china more if it is easier to clean and take care of.

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Gift and Wedding Registry – Where to Begin

How Do I Begin?

Before you start to register, talk with your fiancé about your lifestyle, preferences and personalities. Here are some questions you both you answer:

* Do you prefer a casual or a more elegant style?
* Do you prefer things simple or more elaborate?
* How would you describe your tastes? Contemporary? Modern? Country? Victorian?
* Do you prefer lots of vibrant color or soft pastels?
* Do you prefer lots of intricate patterns or simpler designs?
* Do you know what your fiancé’s favorite color is?
* Do you have a favorite color together?
* Do you prefer things that are convenient, easy to use and easy to clean?

Once you and your fiancé have talked about some of the general preferences outlined above (and hopefully agreed on a few…) then, you’re ready to start selecting items for your registry.

If you are going to register for kitchen and tableware items, it is best to start with your dishes first. Your dishes, whether it’s casual dinnerware or fine china, will be the focal point of your table setting. Then, move on to choose your coordinating flatware and glassware.

When Should I Register?

It’s recommended to register 4-6 months prior to your wedding date. It’s also a good idea to check back with the store occasionally and at least a month before the wedding to make sure that the items you selected are still available and in stock. It is also a great time to select some new “seasonal” merchandise to add to your registry.

What Should I Register For?

Select a wide variety of merchandise. No longer is it just about choosing china, crystal and linens. Today, couples are getting married later in life and many already have the basic kitchen and home items. So instead, couples are registering for recreational items from camping gear to in-line skates and even computer equipment.

Take a look at USABride’s Registry Checklists to help give you some ideas of all of the items you can register for.

Also, be sure to register for items in wide range of prices to ensure that everyone can take part in your wedding registry regardless of their budget.

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Flatware Registry Tips

*When choosing your flatware pattern, here are a few things to think about in terms of your style and preferences:

Do like simple lines or a more intricate pattern?
Do you like soft curves or more pronounced edges?
Do you like flatware that feels “heavier” or very light?
Is the flatware dishwasher safe?
Does your formal flatware require any polishing or other special maintenance?

* If you are choosing a very elaborate design for your dishes and glassware, you may want to go with a simpler style for your flatware.

*Register for at least eight, but preferably twelve. It may sound like a lot right now, but don’t worry – you’ll use them!

*Register for the same number of place settings as your dinnerware and glassware. The only exception – if you are registering for less than twelve place settings – you may want to register for extra spoons. That is usually the most “used” utensil and the one you run out of the most too.

*Always pick up the flatware in your hands and feel it. Pick up all the utensils (fork, knife and spoon) and make sure it feels comfortable in both your hands and your fiances’ hands.

*You should register for at least one “Hostess Set” which includes one large serving spoon, a serving ladle and sugar spoon and one “Serving Set” which includes a serving fork, butter knife and pierced serving spoon.

*To add elegance to your formal dinning, consider registering for flatware that has gold accents or is gold plated.

* You want your dinnerware, glassware and flatware to all coordinate. Sometimes it is hard to imagine how all of the items will look together when they are displayed in different shelves through out the store. So, ask for assistance from a sales associate and set up a complete table setting including your dinnerware, flatware and glassware.

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