Dress For the Occassion

So you need a wedding dress. Whether you’re looking for an ivory mermaid dress with lace and a long train, or you just know that you need a dress and it should probably be white, we have your back. We asked Amber Thorson, our resident wedding dress expert, for her advice and input on wedding dress shopping, so you can find the perfect dress with less stress – no fairy godmother required.

Setting the Scene

Trends in wedding dresses correlate to venues that are currently popular. The industrial style that is replacing rustic venues is also influencing wedding dresses, breaking from the updated vintage look of 2018. The new styles feature more graphic lace, sheer panels and cutouts. The graphic lace patterns of 2019 will be larger and more structured than the smaller, tight-woven floral lace of past years. Brides are also adorning strapless dresses with off-the-shoulder straps, or simply looking for off-the-shoulder dresses – think Belle from Beauty and The Beast for this style.

When planning your wedding, decide on the venue, the photographer and the dress, in that order. Often, Thorson said, the style of the venue guides or dictates the style of dress the bride will wear. For a modern, fancy venue, a red carpet-type dress with sparkle, tulle or general princess-ey ambiance is the norm. Where as, a more traditional venue with oriental carpets and intricate woodwork might warrant a more classic, elegant and conservative wedding dress style. For a barn wedding, brides will typically choose a vintage-looking dress with lace and narrower silhouette and shorter train. The narrower silhouette and shorter train are practicalities for any outdoor wedding and reception, or barn or beach venue. Although, for a beach wedding, dresses tend to be more casual and flowy. For a European-style venue, something resembling a fairytale castle, a tulle-focused princess gown is just the thing to make the bride feel like the Cinderella to her magical pumpkin.

The Latest Fashion

Next year will bring many changes in wedding dress styles and fashion, including clean lines, simple silhouettes and classic styles are become more popular, Thorson said. That’s the Meghan Markle effect. Her timeless wedding dress started a movement toward more classic and simple elegance in wedding dress trends. Straps are also becoming more popular this year; Thorson explained that brides want straps because they like the dramatic, detailed back, which is harder to achieve without straps. 

Not only is your big day… well, big, it’s also a production, and productions require a costume change. More often, brides are choosing two dresses for their wedding: a wedding dress for the ceremony and a shorter white dress or evening gown for the reception. The second dress is usually the “party in the back” version of the ceremony gown. It can have more sparkle, more tulle or just be a different style than the wedding dress, Thorson said. 

As wedding dresses become more modern and personalized this year, colors are becoming more acceptable as well. No, we’re not talking purple or yellow, but Thorson said that brides may be going with more blush and champagne rather than white or ivory because the colors are warmer and can work better with some skin tones. Know before you ask for a white dress, however, that most brides wear ivory because it is a slightly warm white that looks “bridal” on a variety of skin tones.

Bagging the Ballgown

Start shopping with an open mind, Thorson suggested. Be willing to try on new styles you hadn’t previously considered to see what you like and don’t like on yourself. Then, you can start to narrow down your options and even go to a more specialized store to find the perfect dress. Trust your consultant when trying on dresses, Thorson said. As they suggest new options, they might open you up to an option or style you hadn’t considered before, or reinforce that you know the style that you like and want. Tell the consultant about any potential big personalities in the group so that they can work as your advocate during the trying-on stage, even directing your group away from dresses that are out of your price range or not the style you want.

With wedding dress shopping, it’s important to pace yourself. Do not, we repeat, do not shop till you drop! If you keep the group small and only schedule two appointments in a day, it will be more manageable and more fun. Choose wisely who you bring with you to try on dresses, Thorson said. Pick the people whose opinions you value the most and who know you best. They should know what clothes you normally wear and have a good idea of your style, and most of all, they should be comfortable being honest with you. Three people is the ideal number that Thorson recommends, but it’s a very individual decision and, unlike math, there is no wrong number. Wedding dress shopping is all about knowing yourself, and having the people you value and love with you to tell you honestly if the dress is a yes.

When you find that perfect dress, it’s okay not to cry, Thorson said. Don’t feel the need to have a dramatic “Say Yes to the Dress” moment. Give yourself enough time to find the dress; Thorson suggested starting to shop a year before your wedding date. This timeline leaves ample time for alterations and additional fittings you might need. The dress is the fabric of the wedding, if you will. It is the element that holds it all together, so once you have the dress, many other details often fall into place.