The Wedding Dress

By Brittney Bonds

Since childhood, women often fantasize about weddings and the beautiful dresses that brides wear. We like to play dress-up and pretend it is our wedding day. Our earliest fantasies involve ourselves, a prince and a dress. The dress is what captures our attention.

We have seen beautiful weddings on TV and glorious pictures of brides in their gowns. Perhaps we were flower girls in someone’s wedding. Regardless of our differences as adult women, we have all fantasized about our dream dress from childhood.

Choosing the wedding dress makes all the other decisions pale in comparison. Once the gown is chosen, the tone of the wedding is set. If you chose a heavily beaded gown with a cathedral length train, then you should plan a formal wedding. If your heart is set on a knee-length dress that shows off your figure, then you should plan a more informal wedding.

Many of the “old rules” do not apply anymore. A formal wedding does not have to occur after 6 PM, and most grooms choose not to wear tails on their tuxedos. The formality of the wedding dress should be reflected in the degree of formality of the wedding. Since you already have a style of dress in mind, begin shopping for the dress before planning any other aspects of the wedding.

A good guide to trying on dresses is to try on 5 dresses and then choose 2 to try on again. Then try on up to 5 more dresses. After the second round of dresses, pick two or less from that group to try on again. Now you have tried on 10 gowns and have narrowed it down to no more than 4 dresses. Try on all four dresses again and linger in them.

Walk around the store in them. Is the dress comfortable? Is the material of one scratchy? Is the dress well lined? Are there any defects?

Have another person come with you to the bridal stores, usually your Maid of Honor or your Mother. Have that person bring a notebook and pencil to record details about each of the final choices. Note such things as material of the dress, length of the train, design of beadwork, shape of sleeves, shape of the neckline, and color. If you don’t know the type of material or exact color, etc., ask the saleslady. These notes will help you to remember the unique details about each dress.

Another guide for purchasing your dress is to visit only 1 or 2 bridal stores per day. It is also advisable to give yourself one day in-between shopping expeditions. This way, you can reflect on the dresses you tried on yesterday, without being bombarded with different dresses to confuse you.

A bride planning a wedding in 2000 has more leeway than her predecessors. Every detail can be set by the bride to create a wedding that is uniquely her own. Tradition is accommodated, but modern touches overrule the antiquated etiquette. While others can advise you, do not allow them to make final decisions or dominate the planning. If you are able to accomplish this monumental task that all brides face, choosing a dress should be a piece of cake!

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Where To Buy Your Wedding Dress

On a small budget? There are many other places where you can get a wedding dress besides ordering from expensive bridal salons. Below are a few ideas for the discriminating, yet frugal, bride.

Bridal Warehouses: These facilities offer dresses that you can purchase off-the-rack for prices often much cheaper than bridal salons. Many of these places carry designer gowns that were either bridal shop samples or overstocks.

The advantage to these stores is that there is no ordering, no waiting and no worrying about whether your dress will come in on time. David’s Bridal has been servicing brides since 1950 and has over 100 locations nationwide.

Mail Order Discounters: You can save 20-30% off the retail price of most major designer gowns. All you need is the name of the designer, the style number of the dress and your measurements. The dress is then mailed to your home. Then, alternations and pressing are usually required. has been satisfying customers for more than 10 years and discounts wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses up to 25% off retail.. with free shipping.

Consignment Shops: Although selection is limited, it is possible to find the deal of a lifetime here.

Sample Sales: Many salons have annual or semi-annual events where they sell their samples that have recently been expired. While probably not as cheap as the preceding two choices, you can still save a ton of money.

Seamstress or Tailor: He or she will be able to create a dress completely designed for you. While this isn’t always a cheaper option, it is definitely something to look into, especially if your gown will come from a fairly simple pattern. Before deciding on your seamstress, check references!

Borrow: If you don’t mind not owning your own dress, you can always borrow it from someone. Before doing this however, check and see what their policy is on making alterations to fit your body frame.

Before grabbing a dress that is two sizes too big just because it’s a good bargain, don’t forget to figure in the cost of alterations. These can be very expensive so purchase wisely! Always check your dress for stains, rips or missing beadwork and bring someone with you so they can carefully examine the back of your dress for you. They might notice an imperfection that you are missing.

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Preserving Your Wedding Gown

Your wedding dress should be preserved for a number of reasons. For many families, the wedding dress is an heirloom that passes from the hands of a mother to her daughter, or perhaps even a granddaughter. Other families will use just the preserved fabric to create dresses for their children’s important events, such as communion or their own wedding. Even if it is never worn again, it is a great memento to cherish and one that should be taken care of.

After the wedding is over, professionally clean and store your dress so that it will last for years to come. Even though you might not get anything on your dress, it is still important to send it off to a dry cleaner’s. While you may not notice perspiration stains now, they will become more prominent through the years.

How you store your dress also makes a big difference. Dresses inside plastic bags tend to accumulate mildew and hangers can stretch a dress out at the neckline.

Find a dry cleaner that will place your dress in an airtight box, which will preserve the delicate material and allow your dress to keep its shape. Be sure to find a reputable dry cleaner that will do this for you – your carefulness now will pay off in the long run.

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Top 10 Ways to Save Money on Bridal Fashion

1. Choose a simpler style gown with less beading, lace and detail. If you really want more beads and sequins, they can always be added later by a seamstress or by a friend or relative who sews.
2. Hire a seamstress to make your wedding dress.
3. Purchase your wedding gown at a place other than a bridal salon. See Where To Buy Your Wedding Dress.
4. Rent your wedding dress.
5. Make your own veil. Most craft stores sell how-to books and supplies. You can save hundreds of dollars by making your own.
6. Don’t dye the bridesmaid’s shoes. Instead, have them wear white or black shoes, depending on the shade of their dresses.
7. Borrow. You can get everything from a crinoline slip to your wedding dress.
8. Forget the purse, you don’t need it.
9. If you opt to go with a bridal salon, choose all your dresses from the same place. They might give you a discount, or at least free alterations.
10. Save money by not purchasing a going away outfit. You’re only going to wear your wedding gown once, so why not enjoy every single moment! Plus, the 20 minutes or more that it takes to change, will take you away from your reception and your guests.

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The Right Fit for Your Wedding Gown

By Kathy Boyd-McLaughlin

It’s not everyday you go out and buy a white, formal gown, made of expensive silks and lace that weighs 30 pounds or more. It’s not everyday you wear this dress, but this dress is the only dress you’ll ever care about.

So why does every bride worry excessively over this one particular dress? Well, most likely because it is the dress she will be wearing that will be photographed over and over again. It is the dress she’ll be wearing when her new husband sees her for the first time as his wife. It is the dress she’s dreamt about ever since she was 3 years old.

Many thoughts go into choosing the right dress. You get an image of what you like and how you want to look and feel. When a bride finds the right dress, she just “knows” it is the right dress because she’ll get an emotional flood that takes over all her senses.

She’s happy and thrilled to have found the perfect dress. She’s nervous thinking of how she’s going to look when the final alterations are done. She’s eager to have the wedding day arrive so that she can wear the dress “for real.” And finally, she’s a little sad because now she is grown up and no longer a little girl. Moms usually cry hysterically, when they see their little girl in her wedding gown. When that happens, you just know it is the ONE.

Few things to remember about that dress:

* First, keep an open mind. That ugly thing hanging on the hanger just may be the dress of you dreams in hiding.
* Dresses take on a whole new shape when they are worn on the perfect body.
* Larger sized brides will look wonderful in A-line or Empress dresses but will look frightening in a mermaid style.
* Extremely thin and shorter brides will get lost in a big, ornate and pouffy ball gown style. But try them anyway. This will give you a feel for what you don’t want as well as what you do want.
* When you decide, and the dress has been fitted, do make sure it feels comfortable.
* Your hemline should stop just above your toes in the front.
* You should be able to walk in your gown without fear of tripping, getting a heel caught, or having to carry or hike up the skirts.
* Walk normal in your dress. The only time you should lift the skirts is when you are climbing or descending stairs or steps or getting in and out of a car. Oh, and kneeling. Don’t feel silly to “pretend to dance.” Do the twist and do the YMCA. Move girl, move!!
* Do make sure you bring the exact shoes and under garments you will be wearing on your wedding day to every fitting. Even a slight difference in a bra, can make or break the bodice after it’s been altered.
* Which brings me to another point: No matter what sleeve and neckline you choose, you should be able to lift your arms over your head without fear of ripping any seams, popping any buttons, or unraveling any lace.

Any seamstress, who tells you that the dress is supposed to be a little tight, is not a professional. After all, a bride needs to hug, kiss, shake hands and dance all day. She has other things to worry about without adding the stress of not being able to give a big hug to her father or a great big kiss to her mother. If your dress feels snug, tell them to let the seams out a little. If they say no, take the dress to another seamstress or tailor who will fit it properly.

You’ll wear this dress, on an average of 10 hours.
You should be comfortable in it as well as beautiful!

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Coordinating Colors

For those of us who haven’t graduated from design school, the task of getting everything coordinated can seem a bit daunting. What colors should be chosen? How can these colors be used for the best effect? For reference purposes, a simple color wheel goes from yellow to orange to red to violet to blue to green to yellow, with other hues in between. Below is a quick list of color schemes used by designers that will help you achieve visual balance in your decorations.


One base color is used throughout, but there are several different hues and tones present. For instance, you may choose blue as your color. The bridesmaid’s dresses can vary in color from navy to periwinkle to powder blue and have a stunning visual effect through this color scheme.


Two or three colors are chosen that are adjacent to the color wheel. An example of this is to have yellow, yellow-green and green tones throughout the wedding.


Three colors are used, that are equidistant from each other on the color wheel. For instance, a bride may choose yellow, blue and red for her colors.


This scheme is very popular for weddings. Two colors are chosen that are opposite on the color wheel. Two examples are using red and green or using violet and yellow.

You’ll want to choose a dominant color for your wedding that is present in most of the decorations. The other colors you choose should be accents.

By Leah Steenstra

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Choosing The Right Tux to Fit Your Body Type

Brides aren’t the only ones who need to worry about figure flaws. Grooms can look fabulous too, by choosing the right formal wear that enhances their body types.

Short, Slender Grooms:

* Grooms should look for single-breasted jackets with long lines, a low button stance (it elongates the body), and wide peak lapels.
* Other stylish options include wearing a double-breasted tuxedo jacket or subtly patterned vest and tie.
* Selecting the right pant style is key, too. Reverse double-pleated pant leg should always break slightly on top of the shoe and angle a bit downward in the back.

Short, Stocky Grooms:

* Grooms with athletic or muscular body types look best in tuxedo jackets with slim shawl collars.
* The top button should fall at the small of the waist to give the torso a leaner look.
* Also, choose jackets with a natural shoulder line and avoid the more broad European styles.
* When it comes to pants, reverse double-pleated trousers with pleats extending toward the pockets tend to offer the best comfort and style. Pants should extend as low as possible on the foot, angled slightly in the back to elongate the leg. Be sure to avoid too much of a break on the foot, otherwise the pant leg will look sloppy.

Tall, Husky Grooms:

* Grooms with broad shoulders and muscular frames look best in shawl collar tuxedos.
* Jacket length is especially important. To determine a good fit, groom should place his arms at his sides and relax hands and fingers. His fingertips should touch the bottom of the jacket and his shirt cuffs should extend at least half an inch beyond the jacket sleeve.
* The construction of the jacket may need to be a bit loose to provide ease of movement.
* Also, grooms with thick necks and wide faces should avoid ties that are too narrow and wing tip collars that look constrictive. Instead, opt for lay-down collars and fuller bow ties.
* And the pant leg should have a slightly wider silhouette to accommodate muscular thighs.

Tall, Slim Grooms:

* Grooms look well in just about every tuxedo style. An especially good choice is a double-breasted tuxedo with slightly broad shoulders and a suppressed waist.
* Jacket buttons closed up high on the waistline look especially good, and a high shoulder line is better than a natural one.
* Garments should be full, while still following the lines of the body, and trousers should also have a higher-rise with more of a break in the pant.
* This figure type can easily wear vests and ties in colors and patterns.

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Selecting Your Wedding Shoes

Little girls are always imagining their wedding day. They fantasize about their future groom, that ever perfect dress and the sparkling diamond tiara. They picture the perfect hair with the perfect veil. They dream of everything. Everything that is, except the shoes.

It is a rare bride who thinks about her wedding shoes before she actually becomes engaged. But once you start assembling that perfect dress and veil ensemble, a bride can become panic stricken in finding the perfect shoe. They must be beautiful and they must be comfortable. These are the shoes you will walk in from single-hood into wedded bliss. And these are the shoes no one will even see, except for a very few. But still they must be perfect!

* Some brides feel the shoes are the least important of the wedding day attire, and they choose to wear decorated tennis shoes.
* Some hardly think of the shoes at all except as something to cover their tired feet and so they choose ballet slippers.
* While others want the most ornate shoe with the highest heel ever making them feel more regal and more elegant.

One of the most important things a bride-to-be must realize, is that the height of the shoe must come first and that the shoes are important to the altering of the dress. Once you’ve established the height of the heel, you must have the shoes in order to have your wedding gown fitted properly. Changing the height will change the hem of the dress.

I recommend that once you’ve found your dress, you start looking for the perfect shoes immediately for your wedding. You should have your shoes by the time your gown is delivered and ready to be altered. You will need to bring your shoes to every fitting so that the hemline remains the same.

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Choosing The Right Tux For the Occasion

Here are the most popular types of tuxedos:

* Full Dress Tailcoat is also referred to as White Tie. Perfect for an ultra-formal evening wedding.
* The stroller is often worn by attendants, while the groom wears a Cutaway. These are good for an ultra-formal morning wedding.
* The Notch Lapel Tuxedo is a contemporary option appropriate for a formal wedding.
* The Peak Lapel Tuxedo is a more traditional choice than the Notch-lapel, appropriate at any time of the day or evening.

Guideline for an
Formal Daytime Wedding: Guideline for an
Ultra-Formal Daytime Wedding:
The Coat:
Classic = Stroller
Contemporary = Tuxedo or Tailcoat black, gray or sliver year round. White or ivory, weather permitting. The Coat:
Classic = Grey Cutaway
Contemporary = Black Tuxedo or Tailcoat
Classic = Grey striped
Contemporary = to match coat.
Classic = Grey striped
Contemporary = Black
Classic = White spread collar
Contemporary = White wing or spread collar
Classic = White Wing Collar
Contemporary = White Wing Collar
Classic = Ascot or Four-in-hand
Contemporary = Bow tie to match coat or colored to match cummerbund
Classic = Ascot
Contemporary = Black Bow Tie
Cummerbund/Vest: Classic = Grey Vest only
Contemporary = Vest to match coat or colored cummerbund and bow tie to match.
Classic = Grey Vest Only
Contemporary = Black Cummerbund or vest
Pocket square (The tiny bit of handkerchief that stays in the pocket):
Classic = None
Contemporary = match accessories.
Classic = none
Contemporary = Optional.
Classic = Black
Contemporary = To match coat
Classic = Black,
Contemporary = Black
Classic = Black
Contemporary = To match coat
Classic = Black
Contemporary = Black
Classic = White
Contemporary = White
Classic = White
Contemporary = White

The Formal Evening Wedding: Ultra Formal Evening Wedding:
The Coat:
Classic = Black Classic Tuxedo
Contemporary = Tuxedo or Tailcoat black, grey or silver, year round; White or ivory, weather permitting. The coat:
Classic = Black full dress tails
Contemporary = Black tuxedo or tailcoat
Classic = Black
Contemporary = To match coat
Classic = Black
Contemporary = Black
Classic = White wing or spread collar
Contemporary = White wing or spread collar
Classic = White pique wing collar
Contemporary = White wing collar
Classic = Black bow tie
Contemporary = Bow tie to match coat or colored to match cummerbund
Classic = White pique bow tie
Contemporary = Black bow tie
Classic = Black vest or cummerbund
Contemporary = Vest to match coat or colored cummerbund and bow tie to match
Classic = White pique vest only
Contemporary = Black Cummerbund or vest
Pocket square:
Classic = Optional
Contemporary = To match accessories
Classic = None
Contemporary = Optional
Classic = Black
Contemporary = to match coat
Classic = Black
Contemporary = Black
Classic = Black
Contemporary = To match coat
Classic = Black
Contemporary = Black
Classic = White
Contemporary = White
Classic = White
Contemporary = White

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How to Choose a Drycleaner (to Preserve Your Gown)

*Ask friends about dry-cleaning firms whom they trust. Try to find someone who routinely cares for wedding dresses and eveningwear.
*Check with the Better Business Bureau for specific cleaners you are considering.
*Find out whether the cleaner is a member of the International Fabricare Institute. This nonprofit trade association keeps its members up-to-date on the latest information about cleaning techniques.
*Ask your dry cleaner how often they change the solvents. This should be done at least once a month. Specify that the solvent used must be clean. Dirty solvents can discolor your wedding gown.
*Don’t necessarily look for the lowest price. Keeping your gown beautiful is worth the price of a cleaning.
*Take note of the appearance of the shop. Is it clean and well organized? Does it look like a place that will do a good job?

When purchasing your gown, find out as much information as possible from the retailer about how to clean and care for it.

If you have specific questions about cleaning and preserving your gown, you can contact the International Fabricare Institute. Email them at, or write to the International Fabricare Institute, 12251 Tech Road, Silver Spring, MD 20904 or call them at 301-622-1900.

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