Finding Your Wedding Gown

Readers who have been following me for several years know that at this time of year wedding gowns are not only on my mind but also on the minds of many women who’ve become engaged over the holidays.

As I started writing this article, the words sounded all too familiar, so I looked back through A News Cafe.com archives and sure enough, I have written many articles on this subject.

With that in mind, I would like to recap some of the (I must say) good advice I have given brides over the years.

Finding a wedding gown is probably the most stressful shopping trip you will ever make. There are so many “should’s,” “could’s,” and “can’t’s.” For instance, “should” you look for the gown that you have had in your mind since you were a little girl? Consider what you wore when you were a child: are your tastes still the same? “Should” you try the gown that your mother or grandmother has always pictured you wearing, remembering that their ideas about wedding gowns are from completely different eras?

“Could” you instead wear something daring, revealing, bringing out your inner “biker chick?” How about a short dress with lots of leg showing or a strapless neckline showing enough cleavage to make the minister blush? Yes, you “could” do those things but again, “should” you?

And then there are the “can’ts”: do you really want a huge formal gown, encrusted in crystals that costs as much a new car? Or would you rather spend that money on a honeymoon?  Do you have a time constraint and possibly can’t get your dream dress in time? Most wedding gowns have to be ordered about 6 months ahead. Factories will only produce a run when they have a minimum number or orders.

Keep in mind your budget, the venue, the sensibilities of your family and your own values. For some good advice on where to begin your search, please read one of my first articles for anewscafe: https://anewscafe.com/2009/03/03/barbara-stone-picking-a-dress/

I cover where to start, how to choose a silhouette, on-line shopping vs. an actual bridal shop, and of course, alterations and custom gowns. Even though the article was written in 2009, the information still generally applies. However, the average cost of a gown is more like $1,000 now and the cost of alterations averages about $300. My opinion of shopping for a gown on-line still very much applies except that the alterations costs for the cheap “custom-made-in- China” gowns are generally higher than a gown that has been fitted by a professional bridal shop.

For brides on a strict budget, you might want to check out:https://anewscafe.com/2012/03/23/barbara-stone-finding-a-wedding-dress-to-fit-your-budget/

Again, the cost of wedding gowns has increased since 2012; otherwise the information still applies. I especially love working on vintage dresses which have been passed down through generations. You can not only save money by repurposing a gown but it will be a unique dress that no one else will ever have.

Last year I wrote an extensive piece on wedding gown alterations and what to expect:   https://anewscafe.com/2014/03/21/wedding-gown-alterations-faqs/ Do not assume you will not need alterations. Every bride needs some work done to make the gown fit her, and if the gown has a train, you will at least need a bustle. You do not want to drag the train around the reception hall all day and they are generally too heavy to carry. And if you are petite, plus-sized, anything but a B cup, or are wearing flats, you WILL need alterations so include that cost in your budget.

Finally, I don’t recommend planning a wedding quickly, but I also understand there are circumstances beyond our control. Finding a last minute gown is difficult enough, but I recommend you look for samples, dresses that don’t have to be ordered, or a shop that has in-house stock.

You might want to check out the article on budget dresses above for ideas of where to get a dress (not necessarily a wedding gown but a really great dress for your wedding). For you last-minute brides here are some tips about alterations:  https://anewscafe.com/2012/12/04/tips-for-last-minute-brides/

I have enjoyed this little trip through the archives of A News Cafe.com, and I hope this is helpful for you brides out there!

Barbara Stone
Barbara Stone is the owner of Barbara Stone Designs, a full-service tailoring and dressmaking business at 5200 Churn Creek Road, Suite P, Redding, CA, 96002. She can be reached at (530) 222-1340 or bstonedesigns@sbcglobal.net.
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