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The complete month-by-month wedding planning timeline

Wedding planning

Only a handful of brides have the unbelievable ability for successful short-term wedding planning. However, if you are like most women, you may take a year or more to sort out all aspects of wedding planning.

So, there is no exact timeline to plan a perfect wedding.

Nonetheless, you need a plan! Even if you are an easy-going bride who somehow gets things done in the nick of time.

If you have already planned a wedding, you will need some direction and guidance on what needs to be done.

Don’t you agree?

So, here is a practical wedding planning timeline and month-by-month checklist of all the different tasks that it involves. Use it as such or as a reference to create your own personalized wedding plan and you simply cannot go wrong.

Note: This wedding planning timeline is created for the “average” engagement period, which is a whole year. However, you can adjust it to divide and conquer all the relevant, tasks even if your engagement is longer or shorter.

When you have 12 months left

Wedding budget
Wedding finances

Freshly engaged and still reeling from the thrill of the beautiful proposal? Indulge yourself in the ecstasy of this milestone chapter in your life, for it happens just once.

Have a party, take a holiday; all you need to celebrate! Then, get down to business!

Start your wedding planning process with the following tasks.

Prepare the Wedding Budget

Weddings are expensive affairs, and this is the right time to discuss finances with your fiancé.

Calculate the maximum amount you can afford to spend. Then, divide the funds into different expenses. Some of the important factors to consider at this point are:

  • Who pays for the wedding? Are your families/other generous relatives contributing? If so, how much will they be paying?
  • What are your priorities—venue, décor, entertainment, food, honeymoon?
  • What tools will you use to jot down and track expenses? Do you prefer the pen and paper route, spreadsheets or a budget planning app?

This useful budget planning tool will help you create an estimate and break it down into different aspects.

Plan the guest list

It is never too early to sort out your guest list as the number of guests will determine important aspects like the choice of venue and food. So, you must have at least a rough idea of how many guests will be attending the wedding.

If your parents are contributing, it is only fair that they also get to invite some guests. Compile the lists from your partner, parents and yourself to get a total headcount. If there are more people than you can afford, this is the time to negotiate and arrive at a reasonable number.

To hire a wedding planner or not

Do you think you are better off entrusting your wedding planning or at least certain aspects of it to a wedding planner? If so, this is the right time to find an event planner.

Hiring a wedding planner is expensive. However, it may be the best option if you cannot dedicate time for wedding planning.

So, weigh your options and if you decide to hire someone, do it right away.

Fix the date, plan the theme and book your venue

Good venues get booked fast. So, don’t delay in making your booking.  

You can either choose a theme and tour venues that match the vibe or pick the venue first and then think of a suitable theme.

Don’t worry about the specifics at this stage of wedding planning. Instead, focus on finding a venue that will accommodate your guest list and falls within budget.

11 months left

Wedding decor

You still have plenty of time left. Tackle the following tasks during this month.

Choose your wedding party members

Don’t wait longer to choose your Maid of Honor, bridesmaids, best man, and groomsmen. Then pop the question to them and finalize your wedding party list.

Look for inspiration

You can now start planning the smaller details of your wedding. Turn to Pinterest, magazines and any other sources that can help you with this task. Prioritize the following tasks during this month:

  • Fixing the colors in your wedding theme
  • Narrowing down your décor and food choices

Work on your wedding website

A wedding website is a brilliant resource that will help you compile and share all relevant information about the wedding, with your guests.

You can inform them about the venue address, wedding day timeline, wedding registry information and even photos using such a portal.

Check out this post on A Practical Wedding website for the essential etiquette rules that you should stick to when designing a website.

Plan your entertainment, food, and décor

The following questions will help you with wedding vendor selection:

  • Do you want a band or DJ for the reception? And are there any specific artists you wish to hire?
  • What type of décor would you prefer? More importantly, think of the floral details you want it will soon be time to choose a florist.
  • What type of food should be served at your wedding? Do you prefer a full four-course meal a buffet? Accordingly, find caterers who can deliver to your expectations.
  • What type of photography do you like most? Read up on the different types of wedding photography styles and choose your favorite. Then look for photographers who specialize in your chosen style, contact them for their prices and move on to the next stage.

Start thinking about your wedding dress

Dress shopping is one of the best parts of wedding planning. However, wedding dress orders typically take six to nine months to be delivered. So, you will have to start shopping for your wedding dress shortly. Make the task easy by preparing for it.

Read up on wedding dress trends and familiarize yourself with wedding dress lingo. There is a ton of information online. So, use the resources at your disposal to become familiar with all that you should know about wedding dress shopping.

Also, use this time to shortlist boutiques that carry gowns in the price range you can afford. You can contact them right away and fix your bridal dress appointment in the coming month.

10 months left

Vendor selection
Wedding Vendor selection

By now, you should have booked or at least finalized the venue, decided on the type of entertainment, food, and décor you want and have a headcount for guests. Let us now move on to the remaining tasks.

Hire the wedding officiant, caterer, photographer, and other important vendors

Your officiant, photographer, DJ/band and caterer are crucial to creating great memories of your special day. So, it is important that you are comfortable and strike a good rapport with your chosen vendors.

Since good vendors tend to get booked quickly, make your choices quickly. Book a tasting session with the caterer if necessary. Similarly, ask for previous performance records from your DJ and band. You can also consider getting engagement photographs taken, to assess how good your photographer is.

Do your research, make your final decision and put down the deposit. You can then cross this task off your wedding list.

Work on your wedding invitation and send out save-the-date cards

Wedding invitations come in a stunning variety of styles. You can also have custom wedding invitations, but these involve a lot of time and effort. Decide on your preferences and start looking for suitable choices.

If your wedding is during peak season or it is a destination wedding, you can send out save-the-date cards right now or in a month, so your guests have enough time to make plans.  

9 months left

Wedding dress shopping
Wedding dress shopping

Your wedding is approaching, and it is now time to start planning the bigger (even game-changing) aspects of your wedding day. Let’s find out what they are

Go shopping for your wedding dress

Start your wedding shopping now and you will have ample time to complete the entire process. Not only should you be able to explore your options in different stores but you can also save on rush fees.

If you place your order at least 6 to 9 months before the wedding, you can conveniently schedule alterations and accessories selection. So, book your appointment and get on with it already.

Visit this post for all that you need to prepare well for the task.

Set up your gift registry

Your guests will begin thinking about gifts as soon as they receive your invitation. So, it will be helpful if your gift registry is set up by then.

To decide what should go on your registry, discuss with your partner about your personal preferences, hobbies and how you expect your lifestyle after marriage to be. Accordingly, plan your wedding registry and register yourself at your chosen retailers.

Also, add your registry information to your wedding website. This is a smart way to pass on the information to your wedding guests.

8 months left

Bridesmaid
Bridesmaid

You are nearing the half-way mark and you should ideally have tackled most of the time-sensitive tasks by now. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of work left to do.

Book rooms for out-of-town guests

Your guests will appreciate it if you can help them plan their stay if they are coming from far. Hotel rooms tend to be full during peak season. So, book your rooms well in advance.

Since your guests will be paying their own bills, it is a good idea to look for hotels in different price ranges. Share the details with them and block the rooms as soon as they confirm.

Contact rental companies

If you must need tables, chairs, music systems, lighting or anything else at the venue, this is the time to take quotes from rental companies and book their services.

Time to look for bridal party outfits

Now that you have placed the order for your own wedding dress, move on to outfits for the rest of your wedding party. Consult your bridesmaids or go with your instincts to choose the color, style, and other details.

Do your research on the places where the dresses are available at reasonable prices. Then book an appointment to explore your options.

Once you shortlist the dresses, you should take your bridesmaids along to see how they look in these dresses. You can then go ahead with placing the order.

Plan your honeymoon

Before you know it, you will too busy to plan your honeymoon. So, plan your honeymoon budget without delay and select a suitable location. Book your accommodation and travel, so that is out of the way.

7 months left

Florist
Florist

Here are the tasks to tackle this month.

Book the rehearsal dinner venue

Now is the time to plan the rehearsal dinner. Consult your fiancé to find a convenient venue for the wedding. Also, decide whether you want it to be a casual-style dinner or a formal setting.

Meet your wedding officiant

Some couples prefer to hire a professional officiant to oversee the wedding ceremony. Others keep it casual by asking a family member or friend to do it.

Either way, you should meet with them prior to the wedding and map out the ceremony. Also, check whether all the legal documentation is sorted out.

Arrange transportation

Plan and arrange transportation to and from the venue. Contact cab operators to hire a limo, vintage car or any other form of transportation. This is also the time to look for mini-van rentals, individual cab services or bigger vehicles if you plan to arrange transportation for your guests.

Meet your florist

By now, you should have a good idea of how your wedding décor will be. You should also be aware of the individual bouquets you will need for yourself and the bridesmaids. Share this information with your florist and ensure you are both in agreement regarding the plans.

6 months to go

Wedding rings
Wedding rings

You are the half-way mark and with very little time left. There is no time to lose!

Order your wedding rings

Shop for wedding rings with your partner this month. Remember that you will be wearing these rings all your life. So, make your decision wisely.

If you would like to have them engraved or custom-made, you still have plenty of time. Also, opt for durable and reliable choices that are not high-maintenance.

Shop for your groom’s suit

Remind your fiancé to go shopping for his wedding day outfit. Whether he is renting or buying, he will need time to go around and find the best options.

5 months to go

wedding invitation
Wedding Invitation

With just a few more months till D-day, it is time to get on with the more important aspects.

Collect and start addressing invitations

You will have to send out your wedding invitations next month. However, they will all have to be addressed before posting. This is a time-consuming task. Get on with it while you still have time to breathe. Simultaneously create an RSVP list, as it will help you to mark your guest replies later.

Time for premarital counseling

If you are getting married in a religious setting and premarital counseling is necessary, schedule it for this month. Even if it isn’t compulsory, attending a pre-marital session is often helpful. So, give it some serious thought.

4 months left

Wedding cake
Wedding cake

We are nearly there and there’s still so much to do.

Go shopping

You need to buy more than just your wedding dress. There are accessories, make-up and undergarments to shop for. You also need outfits for your rehearsal dinner, bachelorette party and honeymoon. Finally, you should get gifts for your bridesmaids. Don’t wait for the last minute.

Create a shopping list and schedule shopping trips for all that you need to buy.

Order your wedding cake

The wedding cake is a very important aspect of the wedding. And you have so many options to choose from these days. Selecting the wedding cake can be a demanding task since you not only have to choose the right flavors but also pick the design for it.

Get recommendations from friends and family and find a professional wedding cake. Remember that you will have to find time for cake-tasting sessions. It sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

You will also have to attend a meeting or two with the caterer to discuss your design expectations and sign-off on the chosen design.  

Sort out the groomsmen’s outfits

This is also the right time to start looking for groomsmen outfits. If they will be renting their tuxes, they should make the booking now.

Plan the guests’ favors

You want to tie the wedding favors to the theme of the wedding and find those that fit your budget. Explore your options and start negotiating with vendors to find the best choices for your budget. Then place your order.

Some brides prefer DIY wedding favors. If you plan to take this route, remember that it will take time. Dedicate reasonable blocks of time in your calendar to the task, so you don’t end up overworking yourself at the last minute.

3 months

Wedding food

You are nearly there. So, let’s pick up the pace.

Finalize the menu

Now that you are so close to the wedding, you can inform your caterer of your final menu choices. You may also like to look at the seasonal ware to decide the best menu options.

Write your vows

If you will be writing your vows, it is high time to start thinking of it. Here is some help to come up with memorable and impactful vows. Once you complete it, you can also practice them. This will help you fine-tune it till it is perfect for when you must say it aloud.

Check on your vendors

By now, you should have everything in place for the wedding. You should have hired entertainment, photographer, caterer, florist, transportation, and cake. Confirm your bookings and make sure that there is no confusion regarding the date and schedule with each of them.

Send out invitations

Mail invitations at least six to eight weeks before the wedding. Also, set the RSVP date a month before the wedding. This will leave you enough time to plan the seating arrangement and also to accommodate for any last-minute changes to the guest list.

Create your schedule for the remaining days

You will have your wedding dress fittings, bachelorette party and meetings with vendors in the coming months. Avoid getting overwhelmed with all the activity by setting up a timeline for yourself where each activity is properly spaced out.

2 months to go

Wedding party

We are counting down now. Few more tasks to go!

Send out rehearsal dinner invites

It is just a few guests at the rehearsal dinner. Nevertheless, you want to get it right as it is a practice for the actual reception. Invite all concerned parties to the event and inform them of how formal it is.

Have your hair and makeup trial

Organize your hair and makeup trial with your chosen hairdresser and make-up artist. It is highly likely that your wedding dress fitting will also be this month if you booked it early. So, plan your hair and makeup sessions in such a way that it coincides with your dress fitting appointment. That way, you can see how the overall look comes together.

Start your wedding dress fittings

You should ideally have your first wedding dress fitting this month and the next one in the coming month. This will leave you plenty of time to get your dress ready in time for the wedding. Confirm your appointment slot and contact the seamstress to schedule your fitting.

Get your papers in order

Six weeks is a good time to apply for your wedding license. If you are getting married abroad, check for legal requirements and ensure the paperwork is taken care of.

Check with your wedding party on their dresses

Your bridesmaids should receive their dresses this month and schedule alterations.

Entrust the task of following up on the progress to your MOH or handle it yourself. Just make sure that nobody is left out and that there are no confusions later.

Finalize your wedding day songs or playlist with your DJ or band

Review the playlist with your DJ or band. If you have any last-minute ideas or changes to make, you can check with them right away.

They should still have enough time to accommodate changes if it isn’t anything major.

Just a month to go

Wedding planning
Wedding planning

In the last few weeks leading up to the wedding, you should be equipped to handle just the final closing details of the wedding tasks. Let us look at what they are.

Plan your seating chart

You should have the complete guest list by the first week of this month. Now that you know who all will be attending, set up the seating chart.

Arrange vendor payments

Whether you will be paying your vendors after the wedding or just before it, make sure that the funds are ready so you can settle the amount as and when necessary. Also, track the expenses to make sure that they are all accounted for and there is no confusion later.

When making payments in cash, entrust the task to a trusted aide who will handle the payment, so you can concentrate on being the bride.

Sort out your accessories

Don’t wait till the day before your wedding to finalize and arrange all your jewelry, accessories and make-up essentials. Put aside a dedicated bag or space in your room where you can neatly arrange them as and when time permits.

This way you will have everything set out when it is finally time to get ready on the wedding day.

Get your emergency wedding day kit ready

Find out all about what your emergency kit should contain in this post. Whether you decide to buy it readymade or collect all the materials yourself, have everything in place at least a week before the wedding.

Attend the final dress fitting and collect your dress

Your wedding dress should be perfect and ready to wear in the week leading up to your wedding. Take your bridesmaid with you to the final fitting, so the consultant can brief her on how to bustle the dress, in case it is required.

Once you collect the dress from the salon, place it in a safe, low-traffic area of your house where it isn’t prone to moisture, insects or stains.

Confirm all arrangements

Cross-check that everything is progressing as per plan with your vendors, wedding party and photographer. Confirm all arrangements and entrust responsibilities to designated wedding party members.

Run the day-of plan with the main crew at your wedding, so they are all aware of when and where to be and what to do.  Also, hand out wedding bands and other items to the responsible members of the wedding party and give them instructions about their responsibilities in this regard.

Pack your honeymoon bag

Since you will most likely be heading off on your honeymoon immediately after the wedding, keep your honeymoon bag ready and packed to go. This should be one of the final tasks to handle, but it is important nonetheless.

Put someone in charge of getting the gown to the cleaners

Your honeymoon cannot wait. However, cleaning your wedding gown cannot wait either.

Assign the task of taking the gown to the cleaners to a trusted bridesmaid, so it doesn’t have to wait till you are back from your honeymoon. Book your cleaning in advance, so the drycleaners have your slot ready. For more details, visit this post.

Make a checklist

It is a good idea to create a checklist for the wedding eve and wedding day and distribute copies to your MOH and best man. Assign relevant tasks to your wedding crew and brief them on their responsibilities.

Make sure that you have very few tasks to handle by yourself, so you can be fully involved in the wedding day activities and enjoy every moment to the fullest.

Break in your shoes and prep for your wedding day

Avoid the discomfort of wearing new shoes by breaking in your shoes during the last few days before the wedding. Also, book yourself a manicure, pedicure and facial to relax, de-stress and look great. This is also the time to touch up your hair color, trim your hair and do all your last-minute beauty prep.

To wrap up…

Follow this schedule when planning your wedding and you will not overlook any aspect. Finally, if things get too hectic or don’t go as per plan, take it easy, sit back and reassess the situation. You will mostly find an alternative solution that works out just as well.

Keep in mind that your wedding day will be over before you know it and it will be a pity if you were too busy to enjoy it.

For help with most aspects of your wedding, including the all-important decision of wedding dress selection, visit us at Best for Bride. We will help you celebrate this milestone lifetime event in the perfect dress of your dreams. Contact us today to book your appointment.

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The comprehensive guide to understanding body types and how it relates to wedding dress selection

Why is it important to identify your body type before you shop for your wedding dress?

Does the very thought of wedding dress shopping make your nervous?

As exciting as bridal dress shopping is, many brides dread the idea of choosing the wrong dress for their special day. This can be an expensive and often, irreversible mistake.

Now, here’s the good news! You can avoid such a mistake.

Wedding dress shopping isn’t complicated if you understand certain basic concepts about dress selection. And this is what we will explore in detail.

I’ll first describe the exact step-by-step procedure to identify your body type, since this factor has great significance in your wedding dress selection.

Thereafter, I’ll help you identify the best wedding dress choices based on your findings. Keep reading to find out more.

How to identify your body type

One of the first and most important factors to consider when selecting any dress (not just wedding dresses), is identifying your body type.

Yes, this is important, because dressing right is about celebrating your best features and hiding (or diverting attention from) the less desirable ones.

If you search online, you will find tons of articles describing different ways to identify your body type. Most of these work with three measurements: the bust, waist and hips. However, wedding dresses are more fitted than regular garments. So, you will require one more measurement, and that is your shoulders.

When it comes to determining your actual body type, we will be following the Bayou equation , where the shoulder and bust measurements can be used interchangeably. This is because not all women are alike.

So, if you have a particularly big or small bust or broad/narrow shoulders, you may fall into two categories, instead of just one. In such a case, you should ideally explore options that are suitable for both body types and find dresses that suit you best.

Let us get on with the actual measurement procedure. 

How to accurately measure yourself to find your body type

You will be taking your measurements standing upright. Here is what you will need for it:

  • An accurate tape measure and notepad for the reading
  • A calculator
  • Comfortable fitting clothes
  • A helping hand (optional)

Although you can do the measurements yourself, the shoulder and bust measurements are usually more accurate when someone else does it for you.

Here is how to carry out each measurement.

Shoulders: It is better to have a friend measure this for you. Your shoulder measurement is the total tape length from one edge of the shoulder all around you to the same point.

Bust: This is the circumference measure across the fullest part of your bust, holding the tape taut but not too tight.

Waist: Locate the narrowest part of your waist. It will usually be just above your belly button. Use a tape measure to go around your body along this point and note it down.

Hips: This measurement should be taken just below the hip bone. Locate this point and find the circumference of this area.

If you aren’t sure of getting the measurements right, here’s a guide on wikiHow that will help you with detailed instructions and illustrations.

 Identifying your body type based on your measurements

Now that you have all your measurements, it is time to use your calculator and do the following Math.

  1. Shoulders or bust / hips
  2. Waist / shoulders or bust
  3. Hips / shoulders or bust
  4. Waist / Hips

Once you have these numbers figured out, you can use them to identify your body type from the four different standard types, which are:

  1. Apple or Inverted Triangle
  2. Rectangle or straight body type
  3. Pear or Triangle
  4. Hourglass

These are based on Bradley Bayou’s technique, as outlined in his book, The science of sexy.

You can also find detailed explanations for these calculations, here on the Oprah website.

Now, let us look at how to correlate the numbers you just figured out to the corresponding body type. 

Different body types and their characteristic features

To discover your body type, you will need the numbers you just measured as well as those that you previously calculated. They were:

  1. Shoulders
  2. Bust
  3. Waist
  4. Hips

And the ratios of

  1. Shoulders or bust / hips
  2. Waist / shoulders or bust
  3. Hips / shoulders or bust
  4. Waist / Hips

Read on to understand the four different body types and find out which of these you identify with best.

Apple or Inverted Triangle

If you are an inverted triangle, the ratio of (Shoulders or bust / hips) will be greater than or equal to 1.05.

This means that your shoulder or bust measurement will be greater than your hip measurement by 5%.

Defining characteristic: your shoulders or bust will be larger than your hips.

Rectangle or banana

Pay attention to the ratio of (waist / shoulders or bust). If you are a rectangle, this ratio will be greater than or equal to 0.75.

If this is the case, next look at your bust and hip measurements. They should be within 5% of each other. To establish this, take the largest of your three measurements and multiply it by 0.95. Then multiply the remaining two measurements. If the result is greater than that of the (largest measurement x 0.95), you are a rectangle.

Defining characteristic: Your shoulders, hips and bust are similar in size.

Pear or Triangle

If you are a triangle, the ratio of (Hips / Shoulders or bust) will be greater than or equal to 1.05

In other words, your hips will measure at least 5% more than your shoulders or bust.

Defining characteristic: Your hips are broader than your shoulders

Hour glass

There are three factors to satisfy if you are an hourglass

Firstly, the ratio of (waist / hips) should be Less than or equal to 0.75

Next, the ratio of (Waist / Shoulders or bust) is less than 0.75

And finally, your shoulder and hip measurements will not differ by more than 5%.

Defining Characteristic: Your upper and lower halves are well-balanced, with a well-defined waistline.

If you would like to further evaluate these formulae or understand each of these calculations and how they relate to the different body types, visit this article on the Daily Fashion Muse. 

So, we have now understood how to identify each of the body types using different measurements and calculations. We also analyzed the defining characteristics of all the four body types.

Let us now look at the desirable features as well as the less favorable aspects of different body types. 

Desirable features and less favorable aspects of different body types—what to highlight and hide

Even before you identified your body type with the help of this guide, haven’t you felt that certain dress styles look better on you than others?

This is because each body shape has certain desirable features and some less flattering ones. Different dress styles draw attention to different aspects that work in the favor of certain body types.

So, let us start.

Apple or Inverted triangle.

Best features: Your curves, slim legs and full bust

Less desirable feature: Thick waistline and narrow hips

When choosing a wedding dress, you should focus on creating a curvy look by adding definition to your waistline. Styles that flare out at the hips, concealing its narrow dimensions will balance both halves your body. Also look for designs that add volume and curves to the lower half, thus toning down the dimensions of the top half.

Rectangle or Banana

Best features: Smaller bust

Less desirable features: Lack of curves and undefined waistline

Silhouettes that create the illusion of curves where there aren’t any, are the best choice for this body type. Skirts with added texture or elements like ruffles and bows that add volume will enhance the dimensions of your hips and create a curvy figure.

Pear or Triangle

Best features: Small bust and narrow waistline

Less desirable features: Large hips

Keep details in the hip area simple and tone it down with more texture and added volume in the upper half. Dresses that flare from the waistline will conceal and distract from the hips. They will also highlight your upper torso and small bust.

Hour glass

Best features: Balanced upper and lower halves and well-defined waistline

The hourglass is considered the ideal body type as it is naturally balanced and curvy. Close-fitting dress styles that highlight your natural curves are the best choice for this body type. Nevertheless, the hourglass can carry off any dress style easily and you will have more options to choose from if you are an hourglass than any other body type. 

Understanding popular wedding dress silhouettes

By now, you should have successfully identified your body type and you should also be aware of the best and less desirable features of it. So, what is next?

Finding the ideal wedding dress silhouettes for your body type, isn’t it?

Well, not just yet.

Before we go there, I think you ought to understand the different types of wedding dress silhouettes that are currently available. This will help you understand what each one looks like and why some of them are suitable for your body type, while others aren’t.

So, here are the top-most and popular wedding dress silhouettes you should be aware of:

A-line

Look at the dress in this image. Do you see how it resembles the shape of an A, with the skirt that flares out from the waistline? Hence the name A-line!

So, this dress style basically has a bodice that fits closely along the rib cage and then flares out into a smooth A-shape from the waist.

A variation of the A-line, called the modified A-line is also gaining popularity among brides. Here is one such gown.

Notice how it is fitted along the bodice and the waistline, all the way down to the hips. It gently flares into an A-line shape from the hips downwards. The benefit of this style is that it is roomier around the hips. Although the simple A-line silhouette is a classic, the modified A-line dress has an edgier look, and is better suited for a modern touch.

Ballgown

The signature princess style silhouette, this style is characterized by its full and voluminous skirt. The dress style also features a snug-fitting bodice that offsets the thick skirt. Here is a perfect example.

You simply cannot miss the thick and wide skirt that characterizes this silhouette. It is a very feminine style that is dramatic from every angle. Whether it is the fitted bodice, the ample skirt or the statement train, the ball gown is the silhouette that can stir up quite an impact.

Mermaid

If you wish to show off your natural curves, there couldn’t be a better silhouette to choose. The mermaid fits snugly all the way from the bodice to the waist and hips, down to the knees. It then flares out beyond the knees, creating a stunning statement. Look at this dress and you will see what I mean.

Not only is the silhouette sexy, it also oozes confidence and style. Not every bride can carry a mermaid-style dress well. So, if you have the body for it, it is a style you shouldn’t overlook.

Trumpet

This silhouette is often confused with the mermaid. However, there are stark differences.

Firstly, the bodice is straight and not snug-fitting like the mermaid. It is also more forgiving than the mermaid, since this style flares out from above the knees.

Here is a trumpet style dress to demonstrate this difference.

Do you see how the shape closely resembles that of a trumpet? The skirt is also less voluminous compared to the mermaid. Nonetheless, it is a style that allows you to highlight your curves and feminine figure.

Sheath

Just as the name suggests, the sheath is a straight silhouette which falls to full length after skimming the body along its natural curves. The sheath is unusually feminine, like you can see in the following image.

This is because of how it gently hugs the body, without being too close-fitted. This creates the illusion of curves, even when there aren’t any. The silhouette also elongates the body, making it appear taller and slimmer.

Empire

This is a unique silhouette that is defined by its raised waistline. Unlike other wedding dress silhouettes, the waistline in an empire dress is higher than the natural waistline. It appears just under the bust. The following image illustrates how it looks.

If you look carefully, you will see how the bust has a very distinct demarcation, and the skirt flows into layers right beneath it. It gradually flares away from the body, but the difference is that this happens from right under the bodice. The skirt is loosely draped, while the bodice is well-defined. This style camouflages the waistline and hips, and is a very forgiving style that hides the flaws in the lower body.

Dropped waist

Just like the name suggests, this dress silhouette has its waistline lower than the natural waistline. So, the bodice continues all the way down to below the waist, and slowly flares into a skirt that flows to full length. For instance, check out this dress.

This is a popular dropped waist design, where the draped bodice continues all the way down the waistline to near the hips, where it then flares out into a full skirt. The dropped waistline detail is emphasized with the draping pattern of the dress. The style elongates the torso, making you appear slimmer in the upper body and adding more volume to the lower half beyond the hips

That brings us to the end of the most popular wedding dress silhouettes that you will come across. Now, let’s move on to the fun part—identifying the best wedding dress silhouettes for each body type!

Remember that there may be more than one silhouette recommended for each body type.

This gives you a good variety to choose from. It also means, you can have a lot of fun trying dresses of each type during your wedding shopping appointment, till you find your favorite. 

Best wedding dress silhouettes for each body type

In the previous chapters, we looked at how to identify the different body types. We also covered the characteristic features of each body type, including ones that are desirable and those that are best camouflaged.

We also analyzed the most popular wedding dress silhouettes available. It is now time to combine all this information together. This will help us to find suitable wedding dress silhouettes for each body type.

Read on to find out what are the recommended dress styles for each body type, and don’t forget to make note of what is right for you.

Apple or inverted Triangle

The ideal wedding dress will help you flaunt your curves, which is your strongest asset. It will also hide your slight hips, and create a curvy look by adding more volume to this area. Here are some suggestions:

Recommended dress silhouettes:

An A-line dress with a thick skirt will look beautiful on you. Aim to find one that nips at the waist and flares out beyond it. This will create the illusion of a slim waistline, and highlight a curvy figure.

Also look at ball gowns. The full skirt of this style makes it best for brides with slender hips and legs.  They achieve the same effect as an A-line gown, with a slim waistline and thick layers in the skirt that create a curvy figure.

Styles to avoid:

The basic idea is to avoid any dress style that draws attention to your slender lower half or thicker waistline. This would mean dresses like the trumpet and mermaid that fit closely all the way down to the hips.

Rectangle or banana

If your body type is straight or rectangle, you will lack a curvy appearance. So, dresses that create the illusion of curves where there aren’t any are the best choices.

Recommended dress silhouettes:

Explore ball gowns, since these create a very feminine look with a nipped waistline and thick skirt. This will also draw attention to your small bust, while balancing out the overall look with a full skirt.

Another dress style that works on straight figures is the sheath. Since the dress loosely drapes along your natural body, it adds the illusion of curves.

Styles to avoid:

Any dress silhouette that lacks a defined waistline will exaggerate your straight figure. So, avoid styles like the fit and flare, mermaid or dropped waist gowns.

Pear or Triangle

Your best asset is your toned and trim upper body. So, dresses that draw attention to this area and distract from your ample hips will look best. Since you have a small bust, you can also consider dresses with textured and embellished bodices.

Recommended dress silhouettes:

Ball gowns flow away from the waistline, thus camouflaging your large hips. So, this is a great choice to consider.

A similar effect can also be achieved with an A-line dress that flares out from the waist, hiding the area below it under layers of fabric.

Styles to avoid:

Avoid any style that accentuates the hip or stomach area, since these are your less desirable traits. This means that the trumpet is a definite no! Also avoid the sheath, since it adds more volume to the lower half.

Hour glass

If you are an hourglass figure, you are fortunate. Yours is the body type that looks amazing in any and every wedding dress silhouette. Nevertheless, flaunt your beautiful natural curves in dresses that draw attention to your figure. Choose wedding dress silhouettes that will highlight your natural figure, and you will look stunning. Here are some suggestions.

Recommended dress silhouettes:

Yours is the perfect body type to flaunt fit and flare dress styles like the mermaid and trumpet. Since these silhouettes course snugly along your natural curves and flare out beyond the hips, it will create a dramatic look.

Styles to avoid:

A well-balanced figure like the hourglass will look good in any dress silhouette. So, there are no specific dress styles to avoid. Even so, it is a shame to hide your curvy and sensual figure under dresses which drown you in layers of fabric. Although you will be able to carry it off, you can do better than choosing an A-line or sheath silhouette. 

Wedding dress selection for plus-size and petite brides

Apart from the different body types we discussed earlier, there are two more that we haven’t looked at till now. These are:

Plus-size and petite

This guide would be incomplete unless we discuss wedding dress selection for women who fit this category too. So, let us find out more.

What is plus size and petite?

In the fashion industry, anyone with larger than average proportions is plus-size. So, the typical dress sizes in this case would be 14 or more.

Petite women, on the other hand, have a small stature and are shorter than average. Their characteristic feature is a well-balanced overall figure but height that is less than 5’3”.

Let us look at wedding dress selection for both the plus-size and petite bride in detail.

Defining characteristics of plus-size brides

The fit and proportion of plus-size women differ from that of other women, as their curves are more exaggerated. Most plus-size women are curvy in nature.

Plus-size women also have body types that fit into the five different categories we discussed earlier: triangle, straight, inverted triangle and hourglass. The only difference is that the actual measurements for these women will be larger than the average.

Best wedding dress silhouettes:

The best wedding dress silhouette for your body shape will depend on which body type you resemble closely. Use the guidelines in the previous chapter to determine the best dress silhouettes for your body type.

Nevertheless, a general recommendation is that you choose dresses with good fitting, so it plays up your natural shape.

The empire-style and dresses with a well-defined waistline like the A-line or ball gown look amazing on plus-size brides.

Styles to avoid:

Stay away from loosely draped dress silhouettes like the sheath. These only add extra pounds to your look. Also avoid fabrics that cling and instead opt for structured gowns.

Check out our video below, for more help with dress selection when you are plus-size.

Defining characteristics of petite brides

Petite brides are short, but with a well-balanced figure. However, their height can make it difficult to find many options in wedding dresses, as the typical wedding dress is designed for women of height 5’5” or more.

Best wedding dress silhouettes:

Any wedding dress style that creates the illusion of extra height by raising the waistline is recommended for petite brides. A-line dresses, trumpets and sheaths also work for this body type, since it is well-balanced in both halves.

Styles to avoid:

Petite brides will look even shorter in dresses with dropped waists. So, this is definitely a style you shouldn’t wear. Similarly, elaborate silhouettes like the ball gown can overwhelm the smaller size of a petite bride and is best avoided. 

Do check the following eHow video for more tips on selecting your wedding dress, when you are a petite bride.

Checklist for understanding your body type and selecting the right wedding dress

Now that we’ve covered the entire scope of this subject, I thought this quick and easy checklist will help you with your wedding dress selection. So, here are the steps to follow.

  • Begin by attempting to identify your body type by measuring your
  • Shoulders
  • Bust
  • Waist and
  • Hips
  • Perform the following calculations
  • Shoulders or bust/hips
  • Waist/ shoulders or bust
  • Hips/ shoulders or bust
  • Waist/ hips
  • Correlate your measurements with the identified body types:
  • Apple or inverted triangle
  • Banana or rectangle
  • Pear or triangle
  • Hourglass
  • Plus-size
  • Petite
  • Cross-check with the suggested dress silhouettes to understand your options

And finally,

  • Go wedding dress shopping, armed with this information!

So, that’s it about the different aspects of wedding dress shopping by body type. Didn’t I tell you that it wasn’t complicated if you followed the right steps?

Now you know all about identifying your body type and choosing the right wedding dress silhouettes accordingly. So, tell me what are the new features you will be looking for when you go wedding dress shopping by dropping us a comment below.

For inspiration and also a look at the latest trends in wedding dress fashion, visit this link to our bridal dresses. You will find an enormous variety of wedding dresses with all style features and details here. Use it to shortlist your favorites and prepare yourself for when you go shopping.

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Demystifying wedding dress silhouettes—All you wanted to know about different wedding dress styles

If we say that finding the perfect wedding dress is as challenging as finding the perfect groom, will you agree?

The wedding fashion scene presents an overwhelming variety of options in wedding dress. This, of course adds to the excitement of dress shopping; however, wait till you set foot in a bridal shop, and all this variety will only add to your confusion.

Nevertheless, you must find a way out and reach your goal—a “dream wedding dress” perfect for the most special day in your life! And for this you must know what your options are and direct your attention to choices most suitable for you.

Clever brides know that the wedding dress search begins with choosing the right wedding dress silhouette.

So, join us as we explore this first step in detail. In the coming sections, we will look at different wedding dress silhouettes and identify which of these is best for you based on your body shape.

Let us begin!

Chapter 1: Wedding dress silhouettes—how are they different from regular clothing? 

Wedding dresses are very different from regular clothes in the following ways

  • They are complex garments that have internal boning and other special elements like corsets and heavily layered fabric. These features hold the gown up by creating its structure and shape and allow it to drape perfectly. You will rarely see these features in regular clothes.
  • Most wedding dress silhouettes involve intricate and elaborate details like embroidery and lace appliques. This type of fine work is often hand-embroidered.
  • The fabric used in designer wedding dresses is of high-quality, expensive and made of the finest fabrics.
  • Look closely at any designer wedding dress. You can see the impressive quality of work at each level. Everything from how the seams are made to the definition of details will be impeccable.

This video will help you better understand the extent of work that goes into the construction of a wedding gown.

See how much effort it involves?

So, wedding dresses are very different from any other garments!

Now, let us move on to the key factor that differentiates different wedding dress styles—the Silhouette!

By silhouette, what we mean is the shape that your body has when you wear the dress. Wedding dress designers follow certain basic structures when designing wedding dresses. Although there is a stunning variety in style aspects like neckline, sleeves, fabric and length, there are only a handful of wedding dress silhouettes.

Recognize the wedding dress silhouettes that flatter your body type best and your search for the perfect dress becomes much easier. We will tell you why in the coming section.

Chapter 2: Importance of wedding dress silhouettes in your search 

We already told you that the silhouette is a defining factor of a wedding dress, which is basically the shape that your body achieves when you wear a certain gown.

Since there are just few wedding dress silhouettes, you can use this as the starting point for your wedding dress search. Identify the dress silhouettes that suit your body type and appeal to your taste and it will be easy to narrow down the rest of your search criteria.

Let us look at this with an example.

Say, you decide to go with the ball gown silhouette. So, this is your first search criterion.

When you convey this information to your bridal consultant, she will only bring you ball gowns to try on. This eliminates the need to explore other silhouettes. Such a focused search will save you time and effort.

Except for the highly unlikely situation that you do not find a single ball gown that you like, you need not even pay attention to any other dress style.

Chapter 3: Types of wedding dress silhouettes 

Let us now move on to decoding each wedding dress silhouette in detail. For this, we will discuss the defining characteristics of different silhouettes as well as the pros and cons of each style.

The first one on the list is the ball gown.

Ball Gowns 

Think fairytale, and the ball gown is the first style that pops into mind!

The ball gown is a silhouette that says ‘bride’ so very clearly. Synonymous with the princess look, it is opulent and dramatic.

Ball gowns always feature a fitted bodice, defined waistline and full skirt. The contrast between the top and bottom halves of the dress is what makes this silhouette very dramatic.

These dressy gowns are created in fabrics like silk, taffeta and tulle and the skirt is structured to hold a fancy, bouffant style. Ball gowns feature different necklines and sleeve styles, as the ballooning skirt can hold its own against any elaborate or simple bodice.

If you want a dramatic and striking look without much effort, the ball gown is the perfect choice. You will have no dearth of options as there are ball gowns with tiered skirts, ruffle details and stunning embellishments in the hemline or scattered in the skirt. This style looks good on most body types, and hence is a safe choice.

Modern versions feature illusion bodices, striking back details and crisp lines that add flair to this classic silhouette. When fashioned in shantung or dupioni silk, the look is polished and sophisticated.

This dress style works just great for weddings in the cooler months, since it offers ample coverage and keeps you cozy under layers of fabric. When your silhouette is as dramatic as a ball gown, you need few other accessories to complete your wedding day look.

Who should avoid ball gowns?  

Ball gowns are not the best choice for brides who are petite or curvy. Petite body structures tend to be swallowed by the elaborate layers in a ball gown. Similarly, curvy brides will look fuller when they opt for this silhouette.

Still unsure? Visit this post for more reasons on why the ball gown is an amazing choice.

Here are some sample ball gown styles from our collection to inspire you.

Sweetheart neckline, draped bodice and ball gown skirt

Romantic illusion bodice and lace appliques on ball gown skirt

Modern ball gown with sheer bodice and spaghetti straps

For a quick and easy understanding of the ball gown shape in wedding dresses, we suggest you view this video.

A-line and modified A-line 

The very name of this wedding dress silhouette is self-explanatory, isn’t it?

The easiest way to identify an A-line dress is to check whether it resembles the shape of a letter A. A-line gowns have a fitted bodice and waistline and open into a full skirt beyond the waist. This makes the silhouette look like the letter A.

This style is classic and elegant and is suitable for both formal and casual wedding themes. The A-line skirt is also very versatile, and works well with any neckline and sleeve style.

Now, there is a variation of the A-line that is very popular. It is the modified A-line, which is very similar to the classic A-line, except that the dress has a fitted bodice and waistline that continues down to the hips. It flares into a full skirt only beyond the hips, thus defining the natural curves of the body better than a regular A-line wedding dress silhouette.

The modified A-line is the perfect balance between the classic A-line and mermaid. It defines the shape better than an A-line, but allows easier movement than the mermaid.

A-line silhouettes are universally flattering choices, that look good on most body types. Hence it is a very popular choice among brides. Here is a video that explains the shape and structure of the A-line silhouette in detail.

Here are some of the diverse choices in A-line wedding dresses from our collection at Best for Bride.

Sweetheart neckline and lace embellishments on A-line wedding gown

Illusion halter neckline with sweetheart bodice and A-line wedding skirt

Plunging V-neckline on sleeveless lace bodice A-line gown

 Trumpet 

The trumpet is a wedding dress silhouette with a straight bodice that continues down the waistline and hips. The skirt begins at mid-thigh and opens out into a flared shape that resembles a trumpet. The flared skirt is easy to move around in.

The straight shape of the top-half draws attention to the stomach and hip area. Hence it is a good choice for women with slender waistlines and delicate figures. Brides with a curvy figure can accentuate their curves with a trumpet silhouette.

However, if you have a full figure, we believe this may not be the ideal choice since it further enhances your natural curves and draws attention to less desirable areas of your body.

You can find trumpet dresses with all types of necklines, sleeves and interesting features. Watch all that we just discussed in the video below.

Here are some trumpet dress silhouettes from our collection.

Spaghetti strap trumpet dress with all over lace design

Off-the-shoulder lace trumpet gown with full-length illusion sleeves

High neckline with illusion lace motifs over sweetheart bodice and trumpet skirt

Mermaid 

Do you want a sexy, stylish and stunning wedding dress silhouette?

Then, the mermaid is the best choice to consider. It has a fitted bodice that closely fits the natural curves of the body all the way down the waistline and hips. The silhouette flares out into a dramatic and full skirt below the knees, creating a stunning effect.

The fitted style of the mermaid makes it suitable for curvy brides who like to show off their natural shape. It is not the best choice for brides with bulky waistlines and hips, since the shape highlights these areas.

Don’t worry if you find yourself confused between the mermaid and fit and flare. Both wedding dress silhouettes have similar shapes and it isn’t always easy to distinguish between them. However, there are differences. So, look for the following.

  • The bodice in the fit and flare gown is straight while the mermaid features a fitted bodice that closely curves along the natural body shape.
  • The skirt in the trumpet silhouette usually starts at mid-thigh while the mermaid skirt flares out further below, at knee level.

Here are some mermaid dresses

Dramatic strapless satin mermaid dress with ruffle skirt detail

Flounced organza mermaid wedding dress with embellished bodice

Ruffled mermaid gown with lace applique embellishments in bodice

Fit and Flare 

Like the mermaid and trumpet, the fit and flare silhouette also has a fitted bodice and a full skirt. However, the difference here is that the skirt flares out gradually, beginning at the waistline. In the case of the trumpet and mermaid, the flaring of the skirt occurs much below, at thigh or knee level.

The fact that the fit and flare silhouette has a skirt that gradually flares out makes it comfortable to move around in. Hence it is convenient to dance, walk around or climb stairs in it.

The fit and flare dress looks good on brides with slender waistlines. Since it draws attention to the waistline and bust, it can also be worn by brides who wish to distract from their hips and legs.

Here is a video to demonstrate the difference between the fit and flare, mermaid and trumpet silhouettes.

Let us now look at some examples of fit and flare dresses.

All-over lace appliques on fit and flare silhouette with V-neckline

Satin minimalist sleeveless gown with fit and flare silhouette

Sheath 

This is one of our favorite wedding dress silhouettes, as it is simple, classy and elegant. The sheath silhouette follows your natural body shape from top to toe. It doesn’t have any defined lines and simply flows over your natural body curves.

The sheath is very simple with a straight structure. It does not have multiple layers like other dress styles. Nevertheless, the simplicity of this dress style is its strongest feature.

Sheaths are also known as column-dresses. They look great on straight figures, as they create the illusion of curves. Sheaths are also good for brides with defined waistlines and brides who wish to flaunt their curves.

For more information on this wedding dress style, watch this eHow video.

The following sheath dresses belong to our Best for Bride wedding dress collection.

 Stretchy crepe sheath dress with illusion scoop neckline and sweetheart bodice

Shimmering lace appliques on sleeveless sheath gown

Chapter 4: Wedding dresses and different body types 

We just looked at the different wedding dress silhouettes that are available for brides.

So, when you go wedding dress shopping, do you try dresses in all available silhouettes?

That certainly wouldn’t be a sensible idea!

Unless you limit your options, your wedding dress search will never end. And for this, you should first identify your body type and then find the best wedding dress silhouettes for it.

So, let us first look at how to evaluate what body type you are.

How to identify your body type

Where body shape is concerned, there are four categories:

  • Apple or inverted triangle
  • Pear or triangle
  • Hourglass
  • Rectangle Straight

To recognize which of these you belong to, first measure yourself around the bust, shoulders, waist and hips. Then compare each of these measurements against each other to find out which body type you are according to the following instructions.

  • If your shoulder measurement is much greater than your hip measurement, you are an Apple.
  • When your hip measures more than your shoulder and bust, you are a pear or triangle.
  • If your shoulders and hips measure pretty much the same, and your waist measures smaller than both these measurements, you are an Hourglass.
  • When the measurements of your shoulders, hips and bust are similar, you are a Rectangle.

This comparative method should give you a fair idea of what your body shape is. However, you can also follow the more detailed process in our guide to correctly identifying your body type to analyze your body shape.

Alternately, refer to this post for detailed instructions on how to correctly identify your body type.

Once you recognize your body shape, most of your work is done! It is now easy to find the wedding dress silhouette that best enhances your positive assets.

So, let us move to this step.

In the coming section we will look at the different silhouettes that are best suited for each body type.

Chapter 5: Best wedding dress silhouettes for each body type 

Now, let us look at the different wedding dress silhouettes for each body type and understand why it is suitable. We will also look at the dress styles you to avoid for each body type. Here goes!

  • Apple or inverted triangle 

If you are an apple, your upper body dimensions are larger than those of your lower body. So, you have broad shoulders and less curves in your lower half.

Based on these characteristics, the ideal dress silhouettes are those that balance out your broad upper body by adding bulk to the lower body.

Dresses that flare away from the waistline, thereby concealing slight hips will achieve this effect. Also, silhouettes that pull the upper half in and define your waistline better will flatter you.

Here are the recommended choices:

A-line: Hide your slender hips and legs under an A-line skirt that flares out at the waistline. The larger the skirt, the better it will balance out your upper body.

Ball gown: These dresses have heavy skirts that can camouflage a slender lower body. The thick skirt also creates a defined waistline that adds the illusion of curves, thus enhancing your figure.

Avoid fit and flare and trumpet dresses since these emphasize the larger proportions of your upper half.

  • Pear or triangle 

Pear-shaped women have larger dimensions in the lower body than in the upper half. So, your hips are wider than your shoulders, and you are small on top.

The best wedding dress silhouettes for you will show off how little you are on top, while hiding the larger proportions of your hips. These would be dresses that either hide the hips or flare away from the waistline, camouflaging their larger proportions.

We recommend the following

Ball gown: The full skirt of these dresses and defined waistline will draw attention to your slim natural waist. Your thicker hips will not be obvious under the naturally puffy skirt of a ball gown.

A-line: A-line dresses with skirts that do not cling are good for pear-shaped women. These balance the proportions in either half by flaring away from the waistline and hiding the natural shape of the body beyond the waistline.

Sheaths and trumpets are two silhouettes to avoid. The sheath emphasizes your natural curves and draws attention to your lower body. Trumpets draw attention to the stomach and hip area with their straight lines, and this will not work in your favor.

  • Hourglass 

The characteristic feature of an hourglass shape is well-balanced upper and lower halves and a defined waistline. So, your hips and shoulders will be quite the same size and you will have a beautiful curvy structure.

The balanced proportions of both your body halves makes it easy to carry off any wedding dress silhouette. Since there are usually no features to hide, you should show off your curves to look more fashionable. Here are the silhouettes that achieve this effect.

Mermaid: This wedding dress silhouette shows off your natural curves and hence is one of the best choices for hourglass figures. You will look stunning in the well-defined curvy shape that draws attention to your slim waistline.

Fit and flare: You can carry off fit and flare gowns with details like a dropped waist, ruffles and textured bodice with perfect style. This silhouette also accentuates your naturally curvy figure, showing off your best assets.

Sheath: The straight shape of the sheath plays up your natural features, making it a wonderful choice for hourglass figures.

  • Straight 

With similar proportions in both the top and bottom halves, your waistline isn’t obvious when you have a straight shape.

When choosing wedding dress silhouettes, look for dresses that create the illusion of curves where there aren’t any. Also look for dresses with bodices that pull in the upper half and create a more defined waistline.

Here are the best choices

Ball gown: This dress has a slender bodice and a full skirt, that creates a full figure by itself. When brides with a straight shape wear this silhouette, the longer and straight proportions of their upper body balance out by the larger proportions of the skirt.

Sheath: The benefit of this silhouette is that the straight appearance creates an illusion of curves in the lower body. As a result, your body shape will tend to look curvier than it actually is.

A-line: A-line dresses with a defined waistline and full skirt also look attractive on rectangle body types. This dress style creates a full look at the waistline and beyond, thus adding more dimension to your lower body.

If you are a rectangle, avoid wedding dress silhouettes that accentuate your straight structure. Stay away from trumpets, mermaids and fit and flare silhouettes that closely fit.

Chapter 6: Some more important things to know 

We have now finished looking at wedding dress silhouettes and how to choose the right one according to body shape. So, ready to go shopping?

Not just yet!

Here are some important tips to help you make the most of your wedding dress shopping.

1.Only shop at the right place

Don’t limit yourself when you shop for your wedding dress. Choose a bridal salon with rails and rails of diverse collections, so you can explore all your options. Also make sure it has great customer reviews, since this directly impacts the quality of your shopping session. Go with a reputed salon and your wedding dress shopping will be a fun-filled and memorable experience in every way.

2.Keep an open mind

Do you know how many brides end up buying a wedding dress they never initially considered?

Bridal dress shopping is funny that way! A dress may look unappealing on the hanger, but amazing when you wear it. Unless you are flexible with your ideas and open to trying such dresses, you may miss your dream dress. So, shop with an open mind and you may be luckier than you expect.

3.Trust your consultant

An experienced wedding dress consultant will be an expert in wedding dress silhouettes and styles. She will also be able to identify your body type by just looking at you. As a result, she can suggest dress silhouettes that are sure to look amazing on you. So, trust her and try on her suggestions. You will not be disappointed!

4.Buy it only if you love it

There is no such thing as a wise impulse buy when it comes to wedding dresses. So, take your time to think your choices through before you make your final decision. If unsure, go home and think over it. Finalize your wedding dress only when you are certain it is right.

As challenging as wedding dress shopping is, you cannot go wrong when armed with the right knowledge and information. Revel in every moment while you shop for your dress, explore your options, and wedding dress shopping will be a fond memory that you will always cherish.

Look no further than our bridal gallery at Best for Bride for all the wedding dress inspiration you need. Irrespective of the silhouette, whether it is a ball gown, sheath, fit and flare or mermaid, we have a stunning variety of options for you to choose from. So, start preparing for your shopping by browsing through our gallery of dresses here.

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The definitive guide to bridesmaid dress shopping

bridesmaid dresses

Bridesmaid dress shopping is an indispensable and important aspect of your wedding planning.

bridesmaid dresses

Choosing the right dresses for your wedding party members involves unique challenges such as finding dresses that your bridesmaids approve, that also work with the wedding theme.

So, bridesmaid dress shopping may even end up being more demanding than wedding dress shopping itself! However, with proper preparation and planning, you can tackle bridesmaid dress shopping efficiently.

This comprehensive guide to bridesmaid dress shopping will discuss all that you need for stress-free bridesmaid dress shopping.

So, let’s get started!

Preparation for Bridesmaid dress shopping: Decisions to make

Did you know that the actual shopping process begins much before your bridesmaids set foot in a shop?

Ideally, you should start planning bridesmaid dress shopping at least six months before the wedding.

This will give you enough time to finalize the selection criteria, co-ordinate with your girls and fix shopping appointments and book alterations when the dresses arrive.

So, let us look at the different steps to consider during the preparation stage.

What is the budget?

Being chosen as a bridesmaid comes with many perks. However, at least some of your girls may worry about one aspect—the expenses they must bear.

According to this survey by the Knot, the average bridesmaid dress costs $150. It may be higher or lower based on the bride’s preferences.

Make it easy for your bridesmaids by asking them what they are comfortable spending. Accordingly, fix the budget and restrict choices to dresses in this range.

If the price is a severe constraint, here are some practical ideas to save on bridesmaids dresses.

Who makes the final choice?

Gone are the days when the bride would choose a single dress for all her bridesmaids. Modern brides are fashion-conscious and acknowledge the fact that their bridesmaids would like to be consulted about their preferences.

If you are really flexible, you can even let your bridesmaids pick their dresses themselves. However, there is a challenge!

When you give them free rein, the final look may not be cohesive.

Avoid this issue by specifying two to three guidelines. Choose from color, fabric type, length, neckline style or sleeve style.

The other option is to take the whole group shopping at the same time and ensure that the final decision is yours.

When to go shopping?

Bridesmaid dress shopping should be completed months ahead of the wedding. Play it safe and book the session four to six months in advance.

Talk to your bridesmaids and schedule their appointment in such a way that it is convenient for most of the crew.

For bridesmaids who stay far away, you can even explore the option of buying their dress at a different store that is near their place. This will make the collection and alterations much easier.

Where to buy?

The best place to shop for bridesmaid dresses is at a real store. However, it is important to shop at least a few months before the wedding. Stores require time to place your order with the manufacturer and get it delivered.

When you decide to shop at a real store, you can touch and see samples prior to ordering. Your bridesmaids can also try on the dresses to see how it looks on their bodies. This eliminates confusion regarding the quality of the fabric, dress style and choosing the wrong size.

Nonetheless, there are certain challenges when you decide to take the girls shopping. Let us look at what they are and how to tackle them.

To invite all the bridesmaids or not?

If you will be making the final decision regarding your bridesmaid dresses, you will have to go shopping with them. However, it is a bad idea to take all your bridesmaids with you for the first appointment.

Too many opinions can result in chaos and you may end up more confused than before.

Instead, take someone you trust (like your Maid of Honor or mother) when you first visit the boutique. Share your vision with the shopping consultants.

Also, remember that your bridesmaids will have different body types and complexions. Discuss these factors with the sales team.

With their help, narrow down your choices to a few dresses. Make your choices in such a way that there is something suitable for everyone.

These will be the ones that your bridal crew will finally try on. At the next appointment, include all your bridesmaids and help them make the final decision.

Sizing issues and other challenges

When placing the order, your sales consultant will measure the girls and select the size that is closest to their measurements. Since sizing charts are different from those for regular clothes, their bridesmaid dress size will differ from their regular dress size.

Remember that it will be easier to take in a big dress than add extra inches to one that is too small. Choose accordingly.

In the rare case that a bridesmaid is unable to go shopping and you should order on her behalf, choosing the correct size can be a problem. Ask her to get measured by a professional seamstress to ensure you are given accurate measurements to choose the right size.

Once the dresses arrive, each bridesmaid will need one or two alteration sessions to get the dress to fit correctly. Alterations will typically take one to two weeks.

Factor this into the bridesmaid dress shopping schedule. Be considerate of their schedules when planning their fitting appointments.

Now that we have looked at the different challenges you will face during the preparation stage, let us move on to the more interesting task—the actual dress selection.

Getting down to business: Actual bridesmaid dress selection

Once you have fixed the budget and where and when to shop for your bridesmaid dresses, you are ready to begin the actual selection process.

As we discussed earlier, you have two options: either join the bridal party when they go shopping or let your bridesmaids handle the task themselves.

Irrespective of which option you choose, you must guide your bridesmaids towards suitable dresses by supplying a few specifications. Let us look at the various factors that you should consider in this regard.

Choosing colors and styles: factors to consider

Although it isn’t necessary that all the bridesmaids should wear the same color, it is essential that the dress colors match the color palette of your wedding.

If your central colors are bold and bright, it may not flatter all your bridesmaids. In such a situation, you may like to look at dresses in neutral colors. Not only will this complement your bridal look, but it will also blend with any theme.

The bridesmaid dress choices should also complement the bridal gown in terms of fabric and style. This will ensure that your bridal portraits with the wedding party will look splendid. So, complete your wedding gown shopping to go bridesmaid dress shopping.

When choosing your bridesmaid dress color, remember that flexibility is key to a good-looking wedding party. By being open-minded you can find dresses that flatter all your girls, which also tie with the overall wedding theme. For more insight on how this works, watch this video

With proper planning, you can use different dresses to create a dynamic, but attractive wedding party. Here are some practical mix and match ideas to make this happen.

Same color, different dress styles

Give each of your bridesmaids a distinct look by choosing dresses with different style elements. You can vary the silhouette, neckline details, sleeve length, and even hemline to make this happen.

Then tie together their different styles with color. You can ensure that the color remains the same throughout the group by picking different dresses from the same collection.

The result will be fabulous!

Same dress style, different colors

Most designer bridesmaid dresses are available in a range of colors. So, choose different colors for each of your girls.

With this option, the group will look very lively. The bonus is that you can pick colors that suit each of your bridesmaid’s skin tones.  Since you are varying only the color and the rest of the dress design remains the same, you needn’t worry about cohesiveness.

Variations of the same color

Here’s another variation of the first idea we discussed. In this option, you settle on a single color, say purple. Then have your girls choose dresses in different shades of blue. So, you can have dresses in purple, lavender, plum, and periwinkle. The base color will unify the group while each of the girls enjoys her own unique look.

Prints of a type

Printed dresses are all the rage now. So, if you want to enhance the overall style quotient of your group, consider printed dresses. To unify the group, specify the type of print (You can choose from florals, geometric designs, animal prints, etc.) This is also an excellent way to highlight the theme of the wedding through their choice of outfits.

Using the same texture

By choosing the same fabric, you can again create an elegant mix and match effect. Fabrics like lace, chiffon, net or velvet have their own individuality. Choose different colors or styles while keeping the texture similar and you will have a winning combination.

Another unique challenge when choosing dresses for a bunch of ladies is to ensure that it flatters each one of them. After all, you want all your wedding party members to look their best on your special day.

How to find dresses that flatter different body types

Look at your bridal party and you will see that no two women are alike in terms of body structure.

Nature has blessed each woman with her specific body shape.

Body types are basically divided into four: apple, pear, hourglass and rectangle. Each of these body types has its own favorable aspects and some not-so-desirable ones. And this varies from one type to the other.

Hence, a dress style that flatters a specific body type may not look good on another one.  Since the women in your group will each have different body types, it is unlikely that any random dress style will flatter all of them.

So, you have two options:

  • Mix and match silhouettes, so each woman gets a dress that suits her specific body type.
  • Opt for universally flattering styles that will look good on most of the women.

Let us look at each of these in closer detail.

Mix and match silhouettes

The ideal dress style for any body type will highlight the best assets while distracting from the less desirable ones. The dress would also create a balanced structure that resembles an hourglass.

For an apple body type, the upper torso is more prominent. To balance the lower half, it is necessary to choose dresses that create the illusion of a waistline and more volume to the slender proportions of the lower body.

On the other hand, a pear body type has thicker hips. To balance the shape, it becomes necessary to enhance the upper body with a textured yoke.

So, if you have a pear-shaped and apple-shaped bridesmaid, the same dress silhouette would not suit both.

In such cases, consider mixing up silhouettes to flatter these individual body shapes. Keep two or three factors in the dresses similar for overall cohesiveness.

Universally flattering styles

Sometimes, you may simply not have the time or energy to find dresses that flatter each of your bridesmaids. Otherwise, it could be that you prefer to finish off the task faster by choosing a single dress style for all the bridesmaids.

In such cases, it is best to play it safe with universally flattering dress styles. These dresses will look good on almost all body types and your girls will be less likely to complain.

Let us look at some of these options:

Flutter sleeves

When your bridesmaids are from different age groups, have different body types and are of different heights, choose dresses with flutter sleeves and it will suit everyone.

Not only does this result in a modest look, but it is also elegant and flatters almost any woman.

Midi-length skirt

Midi dresses end between the knee and the calf. The benefit of this length is that it is slimming and elongates your legs.

Keeping it below knee-length makes it ideal for women who aren’t fond of showing much skin. This length will also draw attention to their shoes, making it another attractive factor. You can have the exact hemline altered to hit the best part of the leg for each girl.

Fit and flare silhouettes

This dress style is fitted around the torso and flares out from the waistline. It is a universally flattering dress style that creates the illusion of a slim waistline when there isn’t any. It also highlights the waist area in a good way.  

Hence, it is a style that works for both pear and apple-shaped women. Fit and flare dress styles create a curvy figure for a rectangle body type while emphasizing the slender waistline of an hourglass figure. Hence it is a win-win for all body types.

Bridesmaid dress shopping based on season and formality

When choosing bridesmaids dresses, be mindful of the weather conditions at the time of your wedding. Make decisions regarding the dress fabric, hemline and sleeve length based on how cold or warm it will be.

The bridesmaid dress choices should also complement the formality of the event. Opt for casual styles when the wedding has a semi-formal or casual theme. In formal settings, elegant and sophisticated choices look best.

Here are some tips:

  • For warm months, light-weight and breathable fabrics like cotton, linen and chiffon are ideal. You can opt for silk, velvet or wool when the weather is cold.
  • Long gowns are a good choice for autumn and winter. Midi and Mini dress look good in summer.
  • Match the bridesmaid dress style to the formality of the event. Long gowns in bold colors look good at formal weddings while short dresses in cheerful colors and lightweight fabric are suitable for informal settings.
  • Sleeveless and strapless dress styles can make your bridesmaids uncomfortable in cold weather. Either opt for longer sleeves or select accessories like shrugs and stoles to keep them cozy in such conditions.

Other important factors to consider when choosing bridesmaids dresses

While we have already covered the most important aspects of bridesmaid dress selection, there are some more factors to consider. Let us look at what they are.

Are your bridesmaids uncomfortable wearing certain styles?

Certain neckline, sleeve-length or hemline choices may be unsuitable for some of your bridesmaids. And you want your bridesmaids to be comfortable and not too conscious about their dress on the day.

So, it is a good idea to check with them about the dress elements they would rather not have in their dresses.

Are some of your girls uncomfortable in shorter dress styles? Do they find certain necklines (like strapless or a deep-cut V) to be too revealing?

Get their insight on these aspects and make a wise decision that will not inconvenience them.

When there are plus-size or petite bridesmaids

When choosing bridesmaid dresses, you may not always have the same variety of options if you have plus-size or petite bridesmaids.

The good news is that there are specific dress collections for petite and plus-size women and you can choose from them. Nevertheless, you may like to be more flexible with your selection criteria if you would like to keep the look cohesive in such cases.

If you narrow down your choices to very specific details, it may be more difficult to find suitable dresses for bridesmaids who are on either end of the size spectrum.

If a bridesmaid is pregnant

When your bridesmaid is pregnant, you cannot really predict the exact size to order for her bridesmaid dress. If you are ordering the dress five to six months in advance, her measurements can change drastically by the time the dress arrives. So, this is a very tricky situation.

Here are some options you can consider:

  • Choose a dress with an empire waistline which is by and large the most flattering style for a pregnant bridesmaid.
  • Look for maternity bridesmaid dresses that are designed to keep pregnant women comfortable while looking good.
  • Order up to two sizes larger than her current measurements. This should ideally compensate for the increase in bust and hip measurements over time. In case the dress ends up being too large, it can always be taken in.
  • Rather than choosing the same style for all your bridesmaids, you may like to restrict your selection criteria to the same color, but different styles when one or more bridesmaids are pregnant.

For more tips on how to shop for a pregnant bridesmaid, visit this article.

Choosing accessories to complete the look

The dress is always the highlight of the bridesmaid look. However, suitable accessories will further enhance their style quotient. So, here are some guidelines to help.

  • If you have chosen the same dress for all your bridesmaids, let them pick out their own jewelry and accents. This will help their individuality shine and also prevent the “cookie-cutter” look.
  • For dresses that are brightly colored or embellished with details and texture, keep accessories to a minimum and let the dress do the talking.
  • For mismatched bridesmaids, bring the look together with the exact same accessories. This can be shoes, belts or even statement jewelry.
  • Accessories quickly add up. Since they are paying for their dresses, it wouldn’t be nice to ask them to buy expensive accessories as well. Just give them guidelines like color and material and ask them to buy the nearest match within their budget. Or you can consider gifting them their accessories to wear on the day.

The final stage of bridesmaid dress shopping: Alterations and Collection

The final part of bridesmaid dress shopping is collecting the order and getting it altered to fit correctly.

We mentioned earlier that almost all bridesmaid dresses need one or two alterations. Let your bridesmaids know about this.

Bridesmaid dress alterations are ideally done a month before the wedding. This will help to get the best fit even if there any weight fluctuations after the dress was ordered.

Have your bridesmaids fix their appointments with a professional seamstress well in advance. This will ensure that the dresses will be ready on time. Also, remember that professional seamstresses can be very busy during peak wedding season and prom season.

It is a good idea to schedule the fitting appointments at the same time as placing the dress orders. For more valuable inputs on how to prepare for bridesmaid dress alterations, visit this post on the Martha Stewart website.

Step-by-step process to follow to ensure bridesmaid dress shopping is completed on time

We have now looked at all the details about preparing for bridesmaid dress shopping and the dress selection criteria. So, let us move on to the step-by-step process to ensure things are completed as per plan.

  1. Start on time: Begin planning for your bridesmaid dress shopping at least six months before the wedding. This will leave you enough time to narrow down your selection criteria, book the appointment, take your girls’ shopping and plan alterations after the dress arrives.
  2. Put your MOH in charge of scheduling shopping appointments and checking on progress: If your bridesmaids will be handling the shopping and dress selection themselves, you should keep tabs on their progress. Since you will be busy attending to other wedding-planning tasks, you can also entrust this important job to your Maid of Honor.
  3. Keep a tab on whether things are progressing as per plan: Plan a schedule or complete-by date for each of the tasks related to bridesmaid dress shopping. Then, communicate the set deadlines to your team of bridesmaids and check whether things are progressing as per plan.
  4. Plan fittings and alterations: Receiving the bridesmaid dress is only part of the process. Next, you should also stay on top of fittings and alterations to ensure the dress is perfect in time for the wedding. Add this schedule to your calendar and remind your bridesmaids to attend their appointments as per the plan.

To wrap it up…

Bridesmaid dress shopping is as challenging as bridal dress shopping. Nonetheless, you can tackle it efficiently with a planned and organized approach. The three main stages are:

  • Preparing for bridesmaid dress shopping
  • The actual dress selection process
  • Fittings and alterations

We have looked at each of these factors in detail over the course of this guide, and you are now all set for the process. Follow these steps and your bridal party will look fantastic.

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