The moment it sinks in that you’re REALLY engaged, your shopping cart is basically one big, rolling magnet for all sorts of bridal magazines. It’s pretty much inevitable. Even though you can find most everything online now, newly engaged brides want to go buy those glossy books and peruse their pages. They waited long enough for the privilege!
One of the biggest focuses of bridal magazines is the beloved wedding gown (probably because those are their biggest advertisers). And while you’re flipping through the pages, drooling over the wedding dresses, you’ll probably notice that the women modeling them seem to be one size – perfect. Do not be discouraged.
Guess what? They aren’t perfect, I promise. Brides come in all different shapes and sizes AND so do wedding gowns.
As a bride, you’re the most beautiful detail of the wedding, so you want to make sure you choose a gown that fits your body like a glove and flatters your best assets! Whether you’re petite, plus-sized, busty, or lean and straight, you do have strong assets that you’ll want to emphasize in your dress so that you can look your very best as you say “I do.”
Keep in mind that because we’re all unique, you may not identify with just one body-type category. It may be helpful to take bits and pieces from the styles of dresses that are recommended for all of the body types you identify with to find one that is just right for you.
Your goal may be to elongate your petite body. Trumpet, sheath and modified A-line gowns are all great choices because they don’t overwhelm, but instead compliment how tiny you are. You may want to consider choosing an empire waistline that will create the illusion of long legs, making you appear taller. It’s also a good idea to try and keep details small and vertical. Horizontal details tend to shorten and sometimes widen your frame (which you never want). Avoid overwhelming your small figure with big, poufy, ball gowns, or dresses that have large, overpowering details.
Your goal may be to show off your curves or to create an illusion of a smaller frame. Either way, there are plenty of choices! If you’re looking to show off those womanly curves, a Basque waistline is an excellent choice, so are trumpet or mermaid-style gowns because they hug your curves. If your goal is to look more slender, an empire waistline is always a great choice because it creates a lengthening effect, which gives the illusion of a longer torso and balances your body. Be sure to get the right foundation garments for underneath so nothing is unflattering from any angle. A great way to minimize your waistline is to choose a gown that has a vertical design in the center of your abdomen, hence drawing the eye inward. Another way to trim the waistline is to add a dark colored or sparkly sash. Adding a sash will create a distinct waistline and make you appear thinner.
The key to finding the perfect dress for a busty bride is the neckline. First, you’ve got to decide whether you want to reveal or conceal. If you want to conceal, a square neckline is very flattering on almost everyone and isn’t too revealing. You may even get away without having to wear a bra without straps. Going strapless can be rather tricky for obvious reasons. You might spend your wedding trying to dance the night away but find yourself holding up your dress instead. If a sweetheart neckline appeals to you, try adding straps and a fuller skirt for balance. Likewise, pairing a scoop neckline with a peplum or full skirt can nearly achieve wedding gown perfection! If you do choose to show off “the girls,” a deep plunge v-neckline can be too risqué, but if done right, with a more subtle dip, it can work. Designer gowns should have the bras built into them to fit your form exactly, or your shop should recommend what kind of foundation garment will hold everything up where you want it.
Lean and Straight Brides
Your goal as a lean, straight bride may very well be to create the illusion of something you lack – curves. Or you may want to emphasize your natural long, slender shape. Luckily, there are several styles of gowns to choose from because floor-length dresses were made with your model-like stature in mind. To form the illusion of curves, you’ll want to choose a full peplum skirt or an over-the-top ball gown. Either of these will act as curvy hips, plus it won’t overwhelm your tall figure. To emphasize your natural sleek, model-esque body, choose a sheath or a column gown. Both are great for showing off your natural sleekness because they are form-fitting, follow your body’s natural line and don’t flare out. You may even consider a gown with a slit to show off those long legs!
There are countless dresses to choose from and it can be quite overwhelming to even begin the dress shopping process, especially when you’ve been drooling over the gowns shown in bridal magazines. To reduce stress, try to shop with an idea of what you’re looking for and what will compliment your body best. Also, if you’ve completely fallen in love with a style of a dress you’ve seen in a magazine, take a picture to the bridal shop with you. BUT, remember to keep an open mind while you shop. The sales clerks at bridal boutiques often have an eye for the look you’re trying to achieve. You may be quite surprised with what you’ll actually like when you see yourself in the mirror.
No matter what your body type is and no matter what style of gown you choose to go with, you will reach wedding gown perfection and you’ll be the most beautiful detail of the entire wedding once you’ve found it. Have fun shopping!
Chelsey Commins, Intern at Weddings in Vieques