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The definitive step-by-step guide to preparing for your wedding dress shopping

Wedding dress shopping is one of the most exciting wedding planning tasks for a bride. We like to think of it as a wonderful and unique journey where brides explore diverse options and finally find a magical dress that transforms them into the beautiful brides they always wanted to be.

However, the path to finding this one and only perfect dress is not simple. It is fraught with challenges and the options are endless. So, it is essential to plan for the task and avoid drowning in the endless variety of dresses presented to you.

This is where we will help you!

This step-by-step guide will prepare you for your impending wedding dress shopping and the task will not overwhelm you.

Over the next chapters, we will tell you what to expect at each stage leading to wedding dress shopping. We will also tell you how to navigate potential issues so you can enjoy the shopping experience, just like you deserve to.

Let us begin!

Step 1: Factors to consider when shopping for your wedding dress

Are you unsure of how of begin planning for wedding dress shopping?

Don’t worry, for we know exactly what will help you set your shopping criteria. These are practical factors or constraints, that directly affect your dress decision. Start by considering these factors and you will be able to narrow down your search. So, here they are!

Venue and theme 

Have you decided on a wedding theme yet? Your chosen theme will determine your venue choice, and directly impact your wedding dress selection. We’ll tell you how.

Imagine you have your heart set on a beach wedding in summer. Would it be practical to wear a heavy satin gown with an elaborate train to this venue?

No!

Such a wedding dress will look inappropriate and it will also be uncomfortable.

Instead, you will have to limit your choices to dresses made from light fabrics in simple silhouettes that are comfortable for the venue and weather. Such dress choices will also tie your look to the theme of your wedding.

Budget

Wedding dresses are expensive. Nevertheless, there are options for every budget.

If budget is a constraint, you will have to stick to affordable choices. So, this is another factor to plan before you go shopping. Latest designer wedding dresses will be super-costly, while ones from previous seasons are usually cheaper in comparison. Keep this in mind when you go shopping.

Body shape and personal preferences

It does not matter how expensive or amazing a wedding dress is. It will not look good on you unless the silhouette flatters your body shape.

So, you should look for dress styles that flatter your assets and distract from less attractive parts.

If you are either plus-size or petite, you may have to tailor your wedding dress search to suit your specific requirements. Not all bridal salons stock dresses suitable for plus-sized or petite brides. So, call ahead to check whether options are available and you won’t waste time at places that don’t stock collections in your size.

It is also important to choose a style that feels comfortable since you will be spending several hours in your wedding dress. Steer clear of dresses that make you feel conscious, restrict movement or are too bulky to handle.

So, you are now aware of the different factors to consider before you step into a wedding shop.

Next, let us look at another key step of preparing for your wedding dress shopping—choosing the right time to shop.

Step 2: Choose the right time to go shopping 

Is there such a thing as right timing when shopping for your wedding dress?

Yes! And this is very important when making your shopping plans. We’ll tell you why.

When you place your order with a bridal salon, they pass your details to the designer. The designer then starts creating your wedding dress from scratch. Since wedding dresses are elaborate garments, the entire creation process takes months.

Once the dress is ready, it will be sent to the bridal store. However, it is not yet time to take the dress home.

You now need alterations to make the dress fit perfectly. This can take another month or so.

So, the entire process from when you place your order to taking the fitted gown home can take anywhere between six and nine months. So, this is how early you should finish your wedding dress shopping once you fix your wedding date.

If you shop too late, you jeopardize your chances of getting the gown you love. Although some designers undertake rush orders, they charge extra for it. And imagine the disappointment if the gown you love cannot be created at short notice and you must settle for something else.

Shopping too early isn’t wise either. New collections come out every six months. So, if you shop too early, you may miss looking at the latest trends.

Play it safe and plan your wedding dress shopping six to nine months before the wedding. This should leave you enough time to sort out everything and take your dress home in the weeks leading up to your wedding.

Step 3: Plan the wedding dress budget 

Your wedding dress is one of the costliest items in your wedding budget. Be clear about what you can afford to spend on it before you go shopping and you can avoid upsetting the rest of your wedding plans.

To come up with a realistic wedding dress budget, you should first understand wedding dress pricing and associated charges. Let us look at what they are in the following section.

Understand wedding dress costs

Most brides spend between $400 and $1700 on their wedding dress.  However, there are dresses that are more expensive or cheaper.

In any case, you should have realized that wedding dresses cost more than regular dresses. Wondering why this is so? Here are the obvious reasons.

  • Wedding dresses use expensive fabric. Most silhouettes also have several layers of fabric. This larger quantity of high quality fabric contributes to the price.
  • Wedding dresses involve intricate details like embroidery, lace appliques and beading. Most of these details are done by hand. The labor and time involved in creating such stunning gowns adds to the price.
  • Wedding dress construction is different from that of regular dresses. Internal boning is used in many designs and the structure has several layers of fabric. This involves more effort and hence the higher cost.
  • Finally, wedding dresses by famous designers are more expensive due to the designer tag accompanying it..

These factors justify the higher costs of wedding dresses. More details on why wedding dresses are so expensive is available here, on the Southern living blog page.

One important thing that you should know when buying a wedding dress is that your expenses aren’t limited to just the cost. There are some unavoidable additional charges that you will incur, and here they are.

Unavoidable additional costs—accessories and alterations 

Apart from the price of the wedding dress, expect to spend some money on the following.

Alterations and fittings: When you order a dress, you pick a size that is closest to your actual measurements. This means that once your dress arrives you will need custom alterations to have the dress fit to your exact measurements. These alterations are additional expenses. The actual cost will depend on the extent of changes needed. More information on wedding dress alterations are available in the following video.

Accessories: Your bridal look is incomplete without the right accessories. This includes your wedding jewelry, shoes, veil, head-piece and undergarments. You will have to set aside a part of your wedding dress budget for this purchase as well.

Here is a video that outlines how to accessorize your wedding dress.

For more tips on choosing your wedding day jewelry, take a look at this video we created for the purpose.

Dry cleaning and preservation: Whether you decide to keep your gown after your wedding or sell it off, you must have it professionally cleaned after your wedding. Otherwise, the quality of your gown will deteriorate over time and it won’t be suitable to hand down or sell. So, factor in this cost as well.

Now you should have a better idea of how to calculate your wedding dress budget and all the factors to consider.

What if you are on a tight budget?

Although wedding dresses are expensive, there are still ways to save money on your wedding gown. Read on to find what your options are.

When your wedding dress budget is small 

How nice would it be if you could shop without limitations for the wedding dress of your dreams!

Unfortunately, this is impossible!

When price is a constraint, there are some ways to maximize your wedding dress budget and find a fabulous dress for a bargain price.

  • Limit your dress selection to dresses that fall within budget. Resist the temptation to try on dresses that you cannot afford to avoid disappointment.
  • Remember that the more details a dress has, the costlier it will be. Choose from simple styles for better prices and dress it up with statement accessories to complete the effect. Low cost accessories like beaded belts, vintage veils, sparkling jewelry and shrugs can enhance your overall bridal look.
  • Look out for sales at bridal boutiques, where you can find great deals on wedding dresses. At sample sales, boutiques sell their stock at discounted prices to make space for new collections. You can score fabulous gowns at bargain prices at such sales.
  • Mix and match bridal separates to create your unique look at an affordable price. This not only lets you stay within budget, but is a modern and smart approach to wedding dress shopping.

The wedding dress budget is a critical factor concerning wedding dress shopping. Once you figure it out, it is time for the next step which is researching your options.

Step 4: Do your research 

A little planning goes a long way, and we want to make sure you are well-equipped with all the information you need to make the right choice. So, we will tell you all the different things you should analyze, understand and note down before you set foot in a bridal store.

Understand essential wedding shopping lingo 

When you attend your wedding shopping appointment, you will hear terms like mermaid, fit and flare, empire, butterfly sleeves, illusion necklines, organza, tulle and more. Do you know what these terms mean?

If not, spend some time trying to understand wedding dress lingo, so you aren’t lost and confused at your wedding shopping appointment. Here is an easy glossary of wedding dress jargon for the uninitiated.

Wedding dress necklines:

Apart from the silhouette, the neckline is another distinctive feature of any wedding dress. Apart from the square, round and V-necklines, here are the other types of necklines seen on wedding dresses.

Strapless: Bodice cuts straight across the bust and there are no supporting straps or sleeves

Sweetheart: Strapless style where the top part of the bodice resembles a heart.

Bateau: Designed in the shape of a boat and reveals collarbones, as it extends from one shoulder to the other

Illusion: Sheer or see-through neckline over underlying bodice. Often embellished with lace or bead accents.

Single shoulder: Features a single shoulder strap and reveals other shoulder

Queen Anne: Neckline rises at the back of the neck and it has a V-neckline or scoop in the front

Halter: Straps wrap around the neck revealing a low-cut back and deep armhole

High neck: Neckline sits above the collar bones

Off-the-shoulder: Sleeves fall off shoulders to reveal décolletage and collar bones

Spaghetti straps: Thin straps support the bodice on either side

Silhouettes

Here are the most common wedding dress silhouettes.

Ball gown: Structured bodice and ample skirt with layers of fabric that fall to full length.

A-line: Fitted on top and flares away from the body at the waistline, resembling the shape of an A.

Sheath: Column-style dress that outlines the natural curves

Trumpet: Fits snugly along the bodice all the way down to the hips, from where it flares out into a full skirt. Also known as the trumpet

Mermaid: Silhouette structure similar to trumpet, but skirt begins below the knee creating a more dramatic effect

Sleeves

The terms full sleeves, half sleeves and three-fourth length sleeves are self-explanatory. Apart from these, there are other types of sleeve styles as follows.

Cap sleeves: Barely cover the shoulders and top of the arms, revealing the arm hole

Bell: Fitted sleeves that taper into a bell-shape as it reaches the wrists

Juliet: Fitted at the wrist and puffed in the area between the shoulders and wrist

Waistlines

Basque: V-shaped defined waistline

Empire: High waist that begins just below the bust and continues into a full skirt

Dropped Waist: Bodice extends to beyond the actual waistline

Wedding dress trains

The length of fabric that extends beyond the wedding dress contributes to the overall impact and adds to the attractiveness of a dress. Based on length, the following types of trains exist.

Sweep: Short train that just brushes the floor as you walk

Court: This train extends to a foot beyond the hemline

Chapel: Longer than the court train and usually measures three to four feet length from the natural waistline

Cathedral: Dramatic train that measures over six feet from the waistline

Royal: Long train that flows to twelve feet or more length.

Wedding dress fabrics

Fabrics like chiffon and crepe are lightweight and soft. Satin and silk are also soft, but have a distinguishing sheen. Taffeta is heavy with a lustrous sheen. Organza and tulle are stiff fabrics used in structured gowns. A variety of lace also appears on wedding dresses. Find out how to identify each type of wedding dress lace in our article here.

Although we have covered most of the terms you will come across when you go shopping for your wedding dress, this list isn’t exhaustive. If you would like to learn more of these terms and in greater detail, here is an article on the Brides website to help you.

Now let us move on to the next important part of your research—identifying your body type and suitable wedding dress silhouettes.

Identify your body type and shortlist best dress silhouettes

We already mentioned that not all gowns look good on all body. To improve your chances of finding a dress that is right for you, you should first identify your body type.

There are four body types: Triangle or Pear, Inverted Triangle or Apple, Hourglass and straight or Rectangle. Each body type has its own characteristic features.

Triangle or Pear: Small bust but wide hips and waistline that lacks definition.

Inverted Triangle or Apple: Broad shoulders and a slighter lower half.

Hourglass: Well-balanced upper and lower halves and defined waistline.

Straight or rectangle: Similar proportions in the upper and lower halves and waistline not well-defined.

The right wedding dress will flatter the positive aspects and hide less attractive traits of your body. So, find your body type and later use this information to choose the right dress silhouette for it.

This post on Who What Wear will help you use your different measurements and correctly identify your body type.  Check it out!

Here are some practical silhouette suggestions for each body type.

Triangle or Pear: Hide the larger proportions of your hips and waistline with A-line gowns and ball gowns that flare out at the waist. Avoid the trumpet and sheath, since these styles accentuate the hip and stomach area.

Inverted Triangle or Apple: A-line dresses and ball gowns with thick skirts that nip at the waistline are suitable for this body type. We do not recommend the trumpet and for this body type.

Hourglass: If you have an hourglass figure, you can carry almost any wedding dress silhouette with ease. Aim to show off your curvy figure and slender waistline with dresses that closely follow your natural curves.

Straight or rectangle: Increase your feminine appeal with ball gowns and sheaths that create the illusion of curves. Avoid fitted styles like the mermaid and dropped waist dresses that enhance the straight contours of your body.

Find the right place to buy your wedding dress 

Remember what I told you in the beginning about factors that affect your wedding dress selection?

Based on your personal preferences, specific needs and budget constraints, decide where to shop. The following are the options available to you.

Bridal salons: The traditional place to buy a wedding dress, you can enjoy a one-on-one session with a dedicated consultant who will take you through your choices during your appointment slot. Bridal salons have a variety of designer collections, and you can try dresses based on the ideas you communicate to your consultant.

Trunk sales: The perfect option if you want dresses only from a particular designer. New collections are introduced to such customers at highly reduced prices, so you can choose a dress at a lower price than you have to pay otherwise.

Sample Sales: This is when bridal salons sell off old stock to make space for new collections. The dresses in this case are either floor samples or those in the store inventory. So, there will be limited sizes and you may have to clean the gown before using it on your wedding day.

Consignment shops: This is the perfect place to find designer dresses on a discount. Good consignment stores will have dresses that are good-as-new, available at a fraction of the cost of a similar original gown.

Online: Consider this option if you have no way to shop at a real store. Online wedding dress shopping is risky and many brides have terrible experiences when choosing this route. This post sheds some light on why online wedding dress shopping isn’t a wise idea.

Compile all information and shortlist your options 

A quick question—What do you think was the idea behind all this wedding dress research?

It was to collect all relevant information and use it to narrow down choices to the right selection criteria.

As you do your research and understand about wedding dresses, collect and compile information on dress styles and features that appeal to you. Start a Pinterest board and start collecting pictures of dresses you like.

Don’t worry if you seem to fall in love with all the dresses you come across when you first begin. To narrow down your options, ask yourself the following questions

  • What features of this dress are suitable for my wedding theme?
  • What makes it suitable for the weather at the time of my wedding?
  • Why is this dress a comfortable choice for my wedding?
  • What is the stand-out feature of this dress that is most appealing?
  • Will this dress flatter my natural figure and best features?

Soon enough, you will see a pattern emerge and this will help you identify what dress features appeal most to you. This information will be of valuable help when you go shopping.

Step 5: Get ready for your shopping session 

By this stage, you have all the information you need and are ready to go shopping. So, here is what is left to do.

Choose your entourage

Your wedding dress is the most important dress you will ever choose, and you must make this decision wisely. So, invite two or three of your closest family members or friends to help you. The reason we tell you to limit the size of your party is because too many people will do more damage than good. Take along only those whose opinions really matter to you, and who can actually contribute to your decision

Book your appointment

Find a convenient time and date for your shopping appointment at the boutique you choose. Preferably have your appointment on a weekday when the salon will be less crowded.

Get everything you need for your appointment ready

Make sure that you are prepared for dress shopping by carrying all that you need for the day with you. Wear clothes that are easy to change out of . If you will be wearing heels on your wedding day, carry a pair to your shopping appointment. For more tips, visit this post. 

Understand what to expect at your bridal appointment

Every bridal dress shopping appointment is different. The better prepared you are for what to expect, the more likely you are to have a productive and pleasant shopping experience. We suggest that you read the information here, to obtain a fair idea and prepare well for your shopping trip.

Set your expectations correctly

It is easier to find the perfect gown when you are flexible and open-minded. You will have experienced bridal consultants directing you, so listen to them. Try on their suggestions even if it isn’t something you would pick. You may be lucky and find your dream wedding dress this way. Trust me, this happens all the time!

Remember that you may not always find your wedding dress on your first trip to the store. This is perfectly normal. Be patient and flexible and you are sure to find the perfect dress that completes your bridal vision with perfection.

As you prepare for your wedding dress shopping, don’t forget to visit our bridal gallery at Best for Bride for inspiration. Find an immense variety of jaw-dropping designer collections in every price range and with every feature you may seek in our collection. Shortlist your favorites and get ready to go shopping. With expert consultants, excellent infrastructure facilities and all associated services under one roof, Best for Bride is the best destination for you to find your wedding gown, whenever you are ready.

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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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What to do with your wedding dress after the wedding

Your wedding dress is one of the most important dresses you will ever wear in your life. This dress has more meaning than just a piece of fabric. It is also a symbol of happiness and unity. Your dress is also a reflection of your personal taste, who you are as a person and perhaps even your love story. Apart from all these factors, your wedding dress is very expensive.

So, isn’t it quite sad that you will wear it just once in your life?

You may not find it easy to decide what to do with your dress after your wedding day. With so much money and emotion invested in making this choice, you may not think it apt to just leave it as such. So, we have rounded up all possible ideas on what you can do with your wedding dress once the big day has come and gone.

But before we proceed further, I must touch upon the importance of having your dress professionally cleaned and preserved. You should do this soon after the wedding day. The only exception for this is if you plan to trash your wedding dress.

Unless you have it cleaned immediately to remove dirt and stains, you risk the following:

  • The damage from stains that occur on the wedding day in it can become permanent. It will not be easy to restore the dress to its original condition once this happens.
  • Your dress will have picked up dirt, grime and sweat over the day. This can sink into the fabric and spoil its pristine look. It can also result in mildew and mold, if left untouched for long.
  • Creases and wrinkles affect your gown when you wear it or store it. You should have these removed promptly if it isn’t to set in permanently
  • The longer you leave your dress outside, the more susceptible it is to environmental conditions. The white color will yellow. Also, the dress is prone to new stains unless it is isolated and boxed.

For more information on the importance of professional cleaning and preservation of the wedding dress, visit this section on our website

Now that we have covered this aspect, let us take a look at the various options available to you after your wedding day is over.

Save it as an heirloom

Vintage wedding dress trends keep returning to the wedding scene. So, it is highly likely that your daughter, grand daughter or even great grand daughter will someday seek a dress like yours. Save your wedding dress in pristine condition, and it will come in handy in such a situation. Even if the dress isn’t used as such, it is possible that your future generations may re-purpose parts of the gown to make their own wedding dress. Whether it is worn in its original form or customized into something modern and chic at the time, it will once again find use.

The downside of saving your wedding dress for this purpose is that there is no guarantee your dress will be used. It depends on whether your children will even consider the option. If your daughter chooses to buy a new wedding dress, just like you did, saving it carefully would simply be a big waste.

Save it for your future vow renewal

Many couples decide to celebrate their marriage years after they are married, with a vow renewal. You may like to reuse your wedding dress on such a day. This is an apt occasion to relive your wedding day and deck yourself up as you did when you were a bride the first time. However, it isn’t necessary that your dress will fit you in the future. If you don’t change size significantly, you could wear your wedding dress once again with some alterations.

Nevertheless, you can even use parts of your wedding gown in a new dress for the day. All you need for this is a talented seamstress who can convert your dress into something else. Are you having trouble thinking up interesting ideas on how to achieve this transformation? Here are some stunning ideas on the Good Housekeeping website . There are more ideas here as well, on the Cosmopolitan to inspire you.

Sell your dress

Wedding dresses are expensive. If you never intend to use it again, it is sensible to sell the dress after your wedding. This will help you recoup a part of the money spent on it. There are many websites that allow you to list your dress online and sell it through them. Improve your chances of making the sale by having it professionally cleaned and restored to mint condition. Also, make sure you capture amazing photographs of the dress and add all relevant details to the listing.

Put up your dress for sale promptly after the wedding and improve your chances of making a sale. The longer you wait, the more likely its price will go down. For more advice on how to sell your dress online, visit this article on the Daily Life blog. 

You can also discuss this option of selling your dress with the boutique that you buy your dress from. If the shop has a dress rental service, it is likely that they will be ready to buy back the dress after your wedding at a reduced price. With this option, you needn’t search for another buyer, since the sale is guaranteed.

Trash the gown

If the money you spent on it doesn’t matter, trash your gown. This trend is supported by a relatively new style of wedding photography called the Fearless bride or rock the frock. Here the photographer will use a location that is entirely different from the typical wedding day scene. This could be a marsh, beach, field or outdoor location. The photographer aims to shoot photos that fit into the fashion photography genre. The pictures will look amazing, unique and one-of-a-kind. Your dress will become wet or dirty during the course of the session. So, it may be impossible to restore it to the original condition after the session. Because of this, it isn’t a good option if you wish to keep your dress for later use.

The photos are however worth the effort. In the hands of a talented photographer, these photos will be at a whole other level and much better than regular, wedding photos in every way. Take a look at this article to see what you can achieve with this idea. 

Donate your dress to a worthy cause

You can make sure that your dress lives on and is used by another bride when you donate it. There are many organizations that are ready to accept used wedding dresses. They may donate it to a bride who needs one for her wedding day. Or they may sell or auction it and use the proceeds for a worthy cause. Either way, you will contribute to a good cause. You may feel this is the right thing to do.

If you are unsure of whom to contact for this, take a look at this article on the Babble website.  Their suggestions include organizations that not only cater to needy brides, but also those that turns donated wedding dresses into beautiful burial grounds for infants who passed away. Take a look and we are sure you will find the choice that appeals to your ethics.

Transform it into a christening gown

If there is a baby on the way, or even if you intend to have children someday, you can save your gown and convert it into a christening dress. Just like your wedding, your child’s christening is a momentous occasion in your life. This is an amazing way to give your wedding dress a new purpose. With the help of a good seamstress, you can have your wedding dress transformed into a grand christening gown for your little bundle of joy.

There is another good aspect to this idea. Unlike when you hold on to your dress hoping your future daughter or daughter-in-law will choose the dress, you can take the uncertainty out of the equation in this case. After all, you have the freedom to make decisions for your baby. So, you can most definitely dress your child up in a converted wedding dress and make it part of a happy life occasion.

Use the fabric in customized lingerie

There are better chances of you using your wedding dress again this way. Companies like Impish Lee specialize in this type of work. Book a consultation with them to discuss your options for the garment so close to your heart. They will help you decide on a style that works best for you and suggest how to transform your beloved dress into the chosen design in the most efficient manner.

You can also use the extra fabric and embellishments like trim, lace or ribbons in something entirely unique and new. Once the blueprint is ready, their experts will complete the task of bringing the design to life.

Use the fabric in stunning throw cushions

Here is a great idea to keep your wedding dress within sight all the time. Throw pillows are a popular décor accessory. You can use them anywhere in the home, from the bedroom to the living room and even the patio. Your wedding dress has beautiful fabric that can be designed into throw pillows. The netting and inner layers can also be used as the filling.

The best part about this idea is that you can do this project yourself. It is relatively simple and you can easily complete it within a few days. Take a look at the amazing pictures on this website, and you will have no doubts about what you have to make with your wedding dress.

With the embellishments and ample fabric that goes into most wedding dresses, you will have plenty of material to get creative. Moreover, do it right and you could even make them family heirlooms to pass on to your children. Or gift them to your loved ones as a special gesture of thanks. You can also use the same idea to make beautiful pillows instead of cushions. If you do not have the time or aren’t confident in taking up the job yourself, get it done by a professional. We are certain you will love the results.

Make a pretty patchwork quilt

If you loved the feel and look of your wedding gown, keep it close to you forever by having it made into a patchwork quilt. This is a project where you will have to invest more time and effort. You should also have a good idea of what you are doing, if you have to succeed at it. Fortunately there are professionals like Mary Manson who specialize in projects like these.

You can use your wedding dress immediately after the wedding, or keep it till later to have this done. You can even add your wedding photo, initials, invitation or other details into the quilt by having it printed onto the fabric. If your wedding dress was a ball gown or heavily layered style, you could get up to two quilts from it. With this you gain a valuable décor piece that has a sentimental value attached to it. Don’t you think the idea is wonderful?

If a quilt doesn’t catch your fancy, you can do something on a smaller scale. A tote bag or clutch are such options. You just have to give it some thought and the ideas will keep coming.

So, which of these options will you choose for your wedding dress?

For more interesting ideas and valuable wedding advice and fashion updates for the modern bride, keep visiting us here on the Best for Bride blog.