Wedding Dresses

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The Wedding Dress Search

I spent about 3 years trying to find my perfect wedding dress.

Before I started I suppose I had an idea in my mind that I wanted to wear a traditional wedding dress rather than one that looked as if it had come straight off a catwalk, with its cutting edge design, and with a price tag to match.

I visited bridal fayres and looked through countless wedding magazines and bridal shops. This was great as it gave me an idea of the many different styles and textures of dress that were available. It also gave me an opportunity to discuss my bridal dress ideas with the shop owners, who, on the whole were extremely helpful.

Below is a rough guide to the basic wedding dress shapes that you need to become accustomed with in order to make that all important decision of which wedding dress to wear.



Read others and tell us about your wedding dress!

Wedding Dress Shapes / Silhouettes

There are six basic wedding dress silhouette categories:

A-Line

An A-Line or Princess Shape dress has fitted vertical seams running from the shoulders down to the flared shirt, creating an “A” shape.

The A-Line shape can be created from a variety of fabrics including lace, satin and chiffon.

Best for: brides with small waists and those wanting to hide broad hips and large thighs.

Empire

A high waistline and seam just underneath the bust.

Best for: small busted brides and creating height for petite brides.

Ball Gown

Traditional wedding dress with a fitted bodice and a floor-length skirt. Usually worn in a more formal setting such as a church.

Best for: brides with slim waistlines, and great for hiding full hips.

Sheath

Straight –line, fitted dress from the shoulders to the ankles.

Best for: tall slim brides.

Mermaid

A narrow fitted dress designed to show off a brides curves, with the bottom flaring out like that of a mermaid.

Best for: tall slim brides, and creating height for petite brides.

Strapless

Wedding dress without any straps.

Best for: curvaceous brides wanting to draw particular attention to their face and arms.

Armed with this type of information you will eliminate the pressure you might feel if a shop assistant tries to get you to try on a dress that you don’t feel confident that you will look good in.

Once you have decided on which style of dress is most flattering for you, you need to take the other important factors into consideration

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Budget

Wedding dresses can start from under two hundred pounds and go up to the thousands. It all depends on what you can afford to spend.

Small Budget -

Buy from a shop

  • If your budget is rather small than you can find some very reasonably priced ‘off the peg’ dresses on the high street. Shops like BHS, Debenhams, Monsoons, Oasis and Jigsaw do a wide selection of styles from the classic to contemporary.
  • If you are between sizes always buy the larger size, as it will be much easier for you to have the dress taken in to fit you if you loose weight, rather than taken out as a result of you gaining weight.
  • The advantage of buying from a shop is that you can take it away with you straight away, provided they have your size in stock. If they don’t have your size in stock it would be wise to get them to agree in writing when it is due to arrive. Also check that the shop from which you buy is able to do alterations, and agree in writing what the cost will be.

Second-hand dress or rent-a-dress.

  • There is currently a huge market out there in the sale of second-hand dresses. If you buy from a shop you will have the opportunity to try it on. Ask the shop if they do alternations and again get the cost agreed in writing. If you choose to buy on the internet try and buy one where you can view a picture of the dress, even if you can view the dress you should air on the side of caution if they are private sales.
  • Try and ensure you know what condition the dress is in before you buy it. If you choose to rent a dress it is unlikely that the dress will fit you perfectly and you will not have the opportunity to have it altered. Also check that you can take out insurance with the shop in case the dress gets damaged during the course of the wedding day.

Wear a family heirloom.

  • This option will be sure to please your mother immensely and if needs be you can have it remodeled and altered to update the style and fit.

Have the wedding dress made for you.

  • If you have the dress made for you it will be unique and be a perfect fit. But be prepared to find your own fabric (although dressmakers can often purchase the fabrics cheaper than yourself, so its always worth asking if they can buy the materials) and style for the dress.
  • Most of the cost will be taken up in the time it takes to make the dress and the alternations that need to be made. Get the dressmaker to agree to the costs in making the dress and alterations in writing. You should expect the dress to take between six to eight months from start to finish. Try and find a dressmaker who is prepared to offer a free, no obligation consultation. In that first meeting it would be very useful if you knew what you wanted, because remember, time is money.
  • You also need to consider whether the dressmaker will come to your home and if so will she be charging you for her travel time. If you have to travel to her, try and ensure that it’s not too far as you will have to make numerous visits for your fittings.

Money no object

  • If you’re lucky enough to have a large budget to play with then the world is your oyster. Why not pick yourself a designer label from the likes of Alfred Angelo, Christiana Conture, Mori Lee, Ronald Joyce and Vera Wang to name but a few.

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Handy Tips

Once you’ve chosen your dress get someone to take a photograph of you in it. You can use the photography to help you choose your shoes and accessories to compliment the dress.

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Wedding Dress - What's in the colour?

If you asked most Westerners what colour you associate with weddings 9 times out of 10 they will probably say white and ivory.

If you were asked what do you associate the colour black with many suggest death, mourning and depression.

If we take a step back in time even the Egyptians too associated the colour black with death and afterlife, as Osiris the King of netherworld and Anubis the god of embalming were both depicted with black faces.

However the colour was also associated with fertility and resurrection, as much of the agriculture was dependant on the rich dark silt deposited on the river banks of the Nile.

And it would seem fashion designers are keen to experience with black in their wedding collections. This season has sprung up a spectacular range of black numbers in the disguise of bridesmaid dresses. In true they are so versatile they could be worn again for a special occasion. You see that’s the beauty of black dresses, because there so neutral like white, it too could be paired alongside any other colour if you so wished.

So if you are looking for a bridesmaid dress or wedding dress, spare a thought for the classic black dress.

What was your Wedding Dress like?

Let us know what your wedding dress was like, so that we can place details here and maybe give inspiration to others!

"I bought my dress last November and my wedding wasn't even booked then!! It was the strangest thing. My fiance's auntie has a bridal shop in Cornwall. Well I went to visit with his mum ( I live in Portsmouth, so quite a trek) and asked if I could try some dresses, you know to get some ideas for when I ' actually went shopping ' and after a few tryouts they pulled out this dress and when I put it on i got a lump in my throat and when - that's my dress!!!

My future mother-in-law was really apprehensive about because she thought it was too soon - but I just knew. It's still in Cornwall but I have some pics which I look at nearly everyday and I still get butterflies!!! - By the way I have got a date, church and venue now so it's all good! " Leah Turley

"My Mum knew she wasn't going to go for a classic white princess dress. It was a shock to everyone except me because I helped to pick that she walked down the aisle in red! It was a gorgeous red strapless dress with hand embroiderd Swarovski crystals going in a small, long isosceles tringle. She looked a lovely vision in red. By the way my mum isn't old because I'm only 11." Clodagh Gribben

"I always knew in my head what my wedding dress would look like. Ever since i was a little girl. U know the drill. fairytail princess sort of thing! i saw this dress in the window and nearly died when i seen it it was amazing. Everything i had always dreampt of. untill i tried it on. it was horrible. it made me look like a munchkin from wizard of oz. lol. any way after 3 shops and 40 dresses. i found one. its more than i could ever emagined and cant wait till the wedding. " Catherine Smith

"I was very lucky when I searched for my Wedding Dress - I saw one in a catalogue and said that if it suited me that was the one! Everyone agreed that it looked gorgeous and really suited me. I went for a 'Galadriel' style - I had always said I didn't want just ivory, so I ended up with sculpted neckline, my the bodice half was ivory with beautiful medieval looking black embroidery, the skirt half was long and flowing ivory, with matching ivory train, and I was able to pair it with some beautiful dangly, elegant black earrings and matching necklace (which coincidentally my fiance had bought me for a birthday present a year or so before!!" Enigma

"My wedding is in less than three months and I found my dress a year ago. I didn't know what I was looking for and happened to be at a wedding fayre where a local wedding shop was having a sale.

A black and light ivory dress caught my eye... It was only the second dress that I tried on and I fell in love with it. All the other girls there, trying on their ivory and white dresses just stopped and stared and the shop owner made me walk around and around the room in the dress. My friend burst into tears and said that she couldn't wait for my H2B to see me in it on the day!

When I went to try the dress again the following day with my Mum, I was amazed to find that they had a matching veil, with the same black design on it. It's a Maggie Sottero dress and I paid £499. It was originally just over £1000. I never thought I'd have black in my wedding dress, but I can't wait to wear it now!!" Anthea

"I found my dress in a wondeful unusual shop near Gleneagles in Scotland. The dress was not quite my dream dress however the owner of the shop re designed it for me to my exact specifications. My fiance was blown away as i arrived wearing it on horse back in the cold November wind. I couldnt have dreamed of the more perfect dress or a more perfect day!!!!" Joyce McMeekin

"My wedding dress was actually from a lingerie shop (in the bridal section!), it was supposed to be a wedding night gown, but looked stunning and covered everything, with inbuilt bodice support. It was ivory satin, with bead, sequin and embroided detial on the body. Everybody from my (now) husband to grandad to boss approved!" Roxy

"My wedding dress was the 3 I tried on (only because I knew I liked it best and saved it til after I'd tried the others on) It's a Jenny Packham, called Alice. It's not a traditional dress in the sense that it doesn't have a boned bodice and full skirt, but being 5'10" and slim I preferred a more simple shape (also have small bust which I personally don't like in a strapless dress). I utterly adore it, I feel like a movie star on the red carpet! It's elegant and although modern, has an old school feel about it.

My wedding is in September this year and I am so excited to wear it. I think my husband to be will love it to as it plays up my best bits while still allows me to feel like myself (only better!) I think that is very important, to feel comfortable in it and wonderful at the same time. It was rather expensive but my mum wanted to buy me it as her contribution to my wedding. And managed to buy a pair of silver Gina shoes half price!" Cate Muir

"I have bought my wedding dress from ebay.......a bridal shop.....it is a beauty well worth the £40.00 i paid for the fairy style dress full laced back etc....have a look...well worth it." Wendy Lane

"My dress was a 1950's style ivory tea length dress with about an inch of visible netting at the bottom. I knew when I initially went dress shopping that I wanted a shorter dress as we got married in the Carribean so wanted something cool - boy am I glad I did!!" Zoe @ Kraftikards

"When i started looking for my dress i kept saying i know exactly what i wanted!! I'd had the image in my head for years. I went to a wedding shop and there was my ideal dress!! In the SALE! I couldn't believe the price tag - was £999 Now £250.

I was so excited i tried it on it looked fantastic i was so happy. Then.... to the corner of my eye i saw another dress, i though oohhh lets just try that one on!! It looked WOW!! That's all i could say, WOW! The dress i had dreamed about for ages was in one hand and this other dress was in my other hand.... I was so confused!! I tried them both on again. My friend couldn't say anything she didn't know which one to say the shop assistant didn't know what to say!! While this was all going on i forgot to check the price of the one i had just spotted!! £799 mmmmmm..... big difference in price!!

I decided to leave the dresses and go away and think about it. Couple days later returned by myself to look again still couldn't make my mind up..... At home i was thinking about it all the time the thing is thou the dress I had dreamt about for ages made me look so pretty and cute! I had already chose the bridesmaid dresses and there dresses made them look elegant.... did i wanna look just cute next to them! It was desicion time now.....

So i returned back to the shop.....the Sale dress had been sold...... I was so happy as i couldn't make a desicion anymore it was made for me!! In the end i knew the right choice was made for me... I feel great, stunning fantastic in my dress, which i think is better than cute and pretty!!" Natasha Foster

"My wedding is less than 6 months time. The only dress I like is a fairytail gown wish corsetted bodice and full skirt, organza overlay swags on the skirt and long medi-eval off shoulder sleeves and hand applique leaves and flowers. It is unfortunately £2,000 so I am making my own similar one instead as I am talented in corset/dress making" Kitty

"I found my wedding dress in an Oxfam shop. It is Amanda Wyatt and absolutely beautiful. It is classic and simple at the front but with a really long, exquisite train at the back! And it fits me perfectly... for just £60! It must be fate! Also, found the matching bridesmaids dresses in TK Maxx at only £30 each! It's costing loads more for the men to hire their suits than it was to buy the brides and bridesmaids' dresses! Can't complain though!!!" Nikki

"My dress was a royal blue velvet long sleeve top with a princess line cut to the waist and the skirt part was 100% white silk full skirt with a small train. It was beautiful, I felt like a princess and my husbands jaw dropped when I got out of the car!" Claire Newall

"I went to the wedding fayre at the NEC Birmingham this weekend. It was fabulous, with everything you could want under one roof. I tried on a few dresses, but came across an Ian Stuart number that was half price. I tried it on and fell in love with it and bought it there and then. Since the weekend I have had second thoughts and after looking at the photos my friend took of me I feel it's not as I might have imagined.

My fiance and I have been looking through wedding magisines and on Sunday he expressed how much he disliked a dress that was virtually identical to mine! I don't know what to do. I haven't had the dress altered at the shop yet and wonder if I could get a credit note for another dress at the same shop. Otherwise I might have to sell it on ebay but I'm afraid I won't make back what I paid. Please can you offer me some advice as this is really spoiling the whole experience for me." Ann-Marie

"I didn't want to spend a fortune on a wedding dress and came across Oxfam Bridal (they have 11 stores across the country). Not only are the dresses much cheaper, but the money you pay goes to charity. Perfect! I bought a Stephanie Allin dress from the Chippenham branch (new with tags on) for £120. As their website says "Over 95 per cent of the dresses sold are brand new, and originate from catwalk shows and high-end wedding retailers." Katrina

"After 12 years of being with my partner I have always had a fairytale type dress in mind. Something that would make me look like a princess without the massive price tag. I looked for ages but the first dress I tried was the one.. it was £1,000 down to £550 then once I got it on the lady said it had gone down to £246.. I was so happy. It's a boob tube type with crystals and sequins all over with a tulle type skirt with crystals on. With a wavy finish rather than a dead straight hem. With a chapel length trail.. it sparkles and cant wait to wear it in sept 07." Maria Newson

"My wedding is not for 2 years yet. I have been looking in magazines for my perfect dress since we announced the engagement. The one I wanted was about £895, way over my price limit. To my suprise while buying shoes in TK Max I spotted a very similar dress - same style, just without straps. It was my dress. I looked at the price tag it was only £30.00, so I have been able to buy it in two sizes. That way if I gain weight I can wear the bigger one and if I loose weight I can have the smaller one altered. This will still keep me within budget. The one I don't wear I will sell on ebay brand new with tags." Debra Lacey

"Mine was a fitted Maggie Sottero Dress with a lace overlay. It was lovely, should have had it took in a bit more than I did!" Debbie Dickman

"I couldn't believe the prices of wedding dresses in general, and flatly refused to buy a dress that didn't fit and then pay the shop a fee to adjust it; you wouldn't do it with any other clothing would you?! So, I started the mamouth hunt of going round the warehouse sales;fun to begin with but then it got tiring and I thought I was never going to find anything that actually fitted. During a particularly frustrating moment I flung on a size 8 expecting it to be way to small, and found it fitted perfectly other than being a bit long.

Moral of the story: Always try on a range of sizes (and styles) I was told I was a 10-12......." P Woodland

"My wedding dress is gorgeous. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. it has a cathedral length train with sequins and pearls all the way down the back with a little rose that sits in the middle. I altered the dress myself to save on money, it did have lace around the top with lace arms. but I removed that as I didn't think it complemented me so well. I transformed it into a bustier in less than 2 hours with no expense spared!." Dawn

"My Wedding Dress was an ivory bodice with a full skirt overlaid with organza, detailing in silver and white." Beth, Bury St Edmunds