Weddings are, of course, about much more than clothes, but what you choose to wear does help to set the whole tone for your wedding day.Most people’s accounts of a wedding include a detailed description of the bride’s dress, what her mother wore and the choice of bridesmaids’ dresses. Nowadays, the groom does note scape attention either, and increasingly the suits and styles chosen by the groom, best man and other male attendants attract just as much notice as the outfits worn by the bridal party.For most brides, popping out to the shops a few days before the wedding to sort out what you want to wear will simply not be an option. You aren’t going to be able to find your perfect dress hanging on a rack waiting for you. If you are having a dress specially made or altered or customised, time must be allowed.The same goes for the groom. While hiring a wedding suit is now quite the norm, to get exactly what you want in the right size and with matching outfits for the rest of the gents in the bridal party means booking your dress hire well in advance.
THE BRIDE’S DRESS
Your wedding day is the one occasion when you are going to be the centre of attention. Every bride wants to look her best and most brides begin thinking about a wedding dress very soon after the engagement. You will never get the chance to dress up like this again, so make the most of it. Choosing should be fun. Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush into buying. You could begin by looking through bride magazines. They will quickly give you an idea of the styles that are around and any trends. Think about the type of ceremony you are planning and what would be appropriate. Or perhaps you have always had a dream image of the dress you want. Cut out pictures of anything you especially like and keep them in your wedding file. An early ‘just looking’ trip is a good idea, and take your mother or best friend with you when you start trying on dresses.
● Long dresses, often in white or off-white, are most appropriate for church or traditional weddings.
● There are no rules for civil weddings – you could choose a long dress, but a stylish suit would not be out of place.
● If your wedding is in summer or late spring, light fabrics look best and would be the most comfortable to wear.
● If you are marrying in winter or autumn, choose heavier material and think about a matching jacket or cloak.
WHERE TO BUY
An average wedding dress costs around £700 though it is possible to spend far less, while a bespoke designer dress will cost considerably more. Bespoke is the equivalent of couture, with everything handmade throughout the whole process. This is different from ‘made to measure’ or ‘made to order’, where existing patterns are used.
SPECIALIST WEDDING SHOPS AND DEPARTMENT STORES
They carry a wide variety of styles at a range of prices and you can often buy all the accessories from the same place. Some designers are now designing for high street stores – Jasper Conran, for instance, at Debenhams. It is sensible to telephone first as you may need an appointment if you want to try something on. Most stores will be able to fit the dress and make any essential alterations, but this can take up to eight weeks before the dress is ready. Bride magazines carry advertisements for retailers, designers and couture suppliers, and wedding websites are another good source of addresses.
DO start looking early.
DO check the sales – there are sometimes great bargains to be found.
A one-off designer dress would be very costly but would ensure your dress was unique. Another less expensive option would be to find a style you like and ask a dressmaker to make it for you. Butterick and Vogue patterns include some from design houses such as Givenchy and Donna Karan.
DO find an experienced dressmaker or one who is highly recommended. If you are very confident or skilled, you could make the dress yourself but . . .
DO remember that you will be very busy in the run-up to your wedding.
DO try making up the dress in a cheap fabric first, if you decide to make it yourself.
DO ask a friend or relative who is also a dressmaker to help you with the final fitting, as it is almost impossible to achieve a perfect fit alone.
DO allow yourself plenty of time.
HIRING AND SECOND-HAND DRESSES
If you are not planning to keep your dress after the wedding, hiring could be a good option. It may mean that you can wear a stunning dress without paying a fortune. You will still need to allow plenty of time and should book a dress at least twelve weeks before the wedding day.
DO ask for a written agreement that the dress you have chosen will be available on the right date and that it will have been returned by the previous wearer and cleaned
DO make sure that the dress will be available beforehand to check accessories.
DO arrange for your chief bridesmaid to return the dress after the ceremony. image source
Another option is a second-hand dress agency. It may be possible to find a designer dress (worn once) at a very reasonable price. The advantage of buying over hiring is that the dress can be altered to your own specifications and can be adapted specially for you.
By looking through magazines and in bridal departments, you will soon have an idea of current style trends or you may favour a classic design. White is still popular for wedding dresses, but millennium year saw a rush of silver dresses, and pale gold became very popular. You will already have an idea of the colours and styles that suit you best but it is always worth trying something different. Some dresses that appear quite ordinary on the hanger can look sensational on. DO consider what the back of your dress looks like and think about the details, because this is the view that most people will see during the ceremony. DO pay attention to detail. Well-chosen accessories can transform the look of the simplest dress and make your outfit outstanding.
PRESERVING YOUR WEDDING DRESS
Whether you bought your wedding dress or had it made exclusively
for you, it is special and many brides want to preserve their dresses
as a memento of their wedding day.
Brides used to rely on careful wrapping and packing their dress
between layers of tissue paper, but the most effective method of
preserving a dress now is to have it professionally vacuum-packed.
The process takes about two weeks and costs roughly £65, but it
should ensure that your dress remains in perfect condition
Wedding veils gained popularity in Britain in the 19th century and originally covered the bride’s face as she entered the church. They have become popular again as they can be
very flattering. They look romantic and complete the image. There are now many styles to choose from and some are subtly trimmed – with tiny crystals to catch the light, delicate flower petals, embroidery and even feathers. Newer shapes include rectangular, square and pointed veils.
● Silk tulle or net drapes softly and is very light.
● Lace looks traditional. Antique lace veils can still be found and are very soft, although they often need a tiara to hold them in place as they can be heavy.
● Synthetic net can give a fuller
shape, but it is often slippery and hard to hold in place.
● If you are wearing a period wedding dress, it is best to choose a veil dating from the same era. Veils can be worn to any length and can have more than one layer. They can frame the face, be piled high over a headdress or bunched and ruched at the back of the head. Wear your wedding dress when choosing a veil to help you find the perfect style.
Having found the right dress, the veil, the headdress, now is the time to decide on your hairstyle. DO make sure your hair is in good condition. DO have it cut and recoloured if necessary two to three weeks before the wedding to allow it to settle down. When choosing a style for the day: Consider your dress and what hairstyle would best complement it.
● Try out different styles with your headdress and veil
● Ensure the style looks good from every angle, including the back, which is what guests will be looking at during the ceremony
● Think about how it will look in photographs
● Remember that your hair needs to look good all day – you don’t want to have to keep repairing or repinning your style
● Try out any new style with your hairstylist before the wedding You don’t have to change your hair – you may feel happiest with a perfected version of your normal style For more information on wedding hair.
Underwear should be bought after you have chosen your dress. Wedding lingerie, in particular, should fit well, look beautiful and make you feel sexy. Your wedding day is the time to splash out on something special. Bride magazines and wedding websites all carry advertisements for stockists. You could also try La Perla, Agent Provocateur, and Rigby and Peller.
Shoes, like all accessories, should not be bought until you know what style and colour dress you will be wearing. It is a good idea to start looking as soon as you have chosen the dress, though, because you will need to know the height of the heels before you can finalise the length of the dress. When you order your dress, ask for a swatch of the material to take with you when looking for shoes to match colour and texture. There is a wider range of shoes for weddings than ever before, both from specialist shops and retailers like Emma Hope and LK Bennett. It is not difficult to find both plain and embroidered silk shoes in white and a rainbow of other colours, sandals and slingbacks with pearls, ribbons, flowers and diamanté, and every height of heel. If you have searched everywhere and still can’t find the perfect colour match, it is possible to have shoes professionally dyed. This can be particularly useful for bridesmaids’ shoes. Some retailers offer this service themselves and you should allow about three weeks. The cost is around £40 for shoes and £30 for bags.
DO remember the time of year. Strappy sandals could leave you freezing and wet in winter months.
DO make sure shoes are comfortable. You will be wearing them for several hours.
DO wear shoes before the day to break them in. DON’T mark them or damage them before the day. They should be comfy, but they shouldn’t look old. image source
MAKE-UP AND MANICURES
It is worth making an appointment to see a professional make-up consultant before your wedding. They will be able to give you tips on how to apply make-up and what best suits you – as well as offering advice on make-up for photographs and how to define your features. You probably don’t want a dramatic new look – just a perfected version of your natural style. Book an appointment with your best friend or chief bridesmaid. Make a day of it and have fun. Department-store beauty counters are a good start. Fees charged are often redeemable against any products bought and you may even find that wedding make-overs are free. Ask for a chart of all the products used and quiz the consultant for professional tips. DON’T try anything new on the morning of your wedding – always experiment beforehand and ask a good friend for an honest opinion. DON’T wear lipstick that clashes with your bridesmaids’. DON’T use very pale make-up and lipstick – it does not look great in photos. DO make natural-coloured lips look fuller by adding a touch of paler colour in the middle. DO ask your chief bridesmaid or mother to carry a mini make-up case of essentials for you on the day. DO apply foundation with a damp sponge and finish with translucent powder. DO think about the mascara and eyeliner you wear – are you likely to cry? If so, it might be wise to pick waterproof brands. source image
It is worth considering a visit to a beauty salon before the wedding to have eyebrows plucked, eyelashes tinted and legs waxed. All of these should be done at least four days before the wedding and slightly longer if you have very sensitive skin.The bride’s hands are on display at a wedding. They feature in many wedding photos from signing the register to cutting the cake, and everyone will want to take a look at the ring. A professional manicure at your favouri te salon the day before the wedding is one way to ensure you’re looking good. You could treat yourself to a pedicure at the same time.GOING-AWAY OUT FITT here are no rules for what you should choose, though most bride so pt for something quite stylish. If you are going away on honey moon immediately after the reception, you should find some thing suitable for travelling and bear in mind the temperature of your destination. One solution may be to find something with a jacket that you can take off later. You could also take along extra layers to add if you are cold while travel or sitting on a plane.
THE BRIDESMAIDS’ DRESSES
When searching for bridesmaids’ dresses, it is worth visiting many of the same stockists you tried for wedding dresses. Obviously the styles you choose will depend on the type of dress you are wearing and the look you are hoping to achieve. You may have a very definite idea of the colour you want, particularly if you have an overall colour theme. Whether you are having only adult bridesmaids, or a mixture of small children and adults, not all the dresses need to be the same, and it is often better if dresses are chosen to flatter bridesmaids’ individual figures. It is a good idea to have some feature which gives a sense of uniformity– image source — but it should be possible to draw the group together with accessories– for instance, the same posies, bags, jewellery, shoes or sashes.If you are on a budget, it is worth checking high street stores for pretty dresses. With hair ornaments, bouquets, shoes and other accessories you can persona lise the outfits so no one would guess where they came from.DO have a meeting with bridesmaids to discuss ideas and the overall look.DO make it clear whether you are happy for the bridesmaids to choose their own outfits or if you want to oversee the selection.DO make it clear whether or not you are paying for the dresses – if you are, you should definitely have the final say.DON’T force your bridesmaids to wear something you would not wear yourself.
THE BRIDE’S MOTHER
As the bride’s mother you are one of the most important members of the wedding party after the bride, and what you wear will receive a lot of attention. It is no longer necessary to go for a classic suit and fashion plays a big part in the choice of outfit. The best option is to pick something that develops your normal style and suits your particular colouring and figure. As with any outfit, accessories – shoes, bags, scarves, jewellery – are always important and can really complete the outfit. Hats are not essential, but if you enjoy wearing them there are more styles and shades now than ever to choose from. DO let the groom’s mother know what you are wearing. It could save the embarrassment of matching too well or clashing horribly — image source —
On average, British grooms spend less than half the amount spent by the bride on a wedding outfit. It is, however, just as important for him to look good on the day and over the past few years there has been an increasing focus on men’s fashion.The choice of wedding attire is huge and modern grooms can choose from morning suits, frock coats, Nehru jackets, tuxedos, smart lounge suits and even kilts, in a range of colours and styles. It is best to discuss possible styles with the bride. Without knowing exactly what the bride and bridesmaids will be wearing, it may still be possible to coordinate colours by choosing a tie, cummerbund or waistcoat, for instance, to match dresses or flowers.