Choosing Your Wedding Dress – 4 Main Factors to Consider

Bride and groom holding hand

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A seemingly simple question instantly transformed you into the lovely bride you are now, and you’ve got the ring to prove it wasn’t all a dream! Just as you get ready to set sail into Happily Ever After, another important question begs an answer: What will you wear?

Sure, you’ve been mooning over that inspiration board for a while, complete with flawless looks from all over the internet. Sure, the models look exquisite in almost any dress – but will it work for you?

Choosing a wedding dress can be extremely nerve-wracking with the endless possibilities out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Narrow down your choices with this guide to choosing your wedding dress.

1- What Silhouette is Best for Your Body?

If you take a step back from the racks lined with gorgeous wedding dresses, you’ll notice there are actually 6 basic shapes that they come in. Picking a silhouette requires an understanding of your body type, as you’ll want to highlight your best features as much as possible. Here’s a guide to the different silhouettes you’ll come across and what they can do for you:

1- Ballgown: Easy on the Hips

Ballgown wedding dress bride

Quintessential ballgown wedding dress by Mila Bridal. See it here.

The ballgown silhouette is perhaps the most classic dress shape and is associated with royalty and fairytales. The magic of the ballgown silhouette is in the contrast between the fitted bodice and full, voluminous skirt. The balance works wonders for pear-shaped and hourglass figures. Ladies with more angular features, who want to create an illusion of curves, will also find this as a flattering silhouette.

2- A-Line: The Universally-Flattering Shape

Bride wearing a-line dress
a-line white wedding dress worn by bride

Gorgeous A-line dress by Lady Kristin & Co. See it here.

An A-line dress also has a cinched torso and skirt that flares out from the waist just wide enough to create an A shape on the body. It’s not as dramatic as the Ballgown but works just the same in balancing out curves and highlighting a fitted torso, a favor which most body types will appreciate. A shorter variation of an A-line dress comes in a mid-length or tea-length dress. Try out this length for a modern twist to this classy crowd-pleaser or stick with the floor length for a Kate Middleton look.

3- Empire: For a Relaxed, Elongated Look

Empire wedding dress bride wearing
Bride wearing empire wedding dress

Empire wedding dress by Vanilla WFG. See it here.

The waistline of an Empire dress sits just below the bust, while the skirt flows straight down with little volume. While the bust is accentuated, the streamlined skirt elongates the body, perfect for petite brides. Since this shape does not compress the torso, expecting brides often choose this silhouette for more breathing room too.   

4- Mermaid: Turn Heads with Dramatic Curves

Girl wearing mermaid wedding dress
Mermaid wedding dress

Check the price here

This silhouette was made to accentuate curves which slimmer, taller brides can take advantage of. It is normally very fitted throughout the upper body to the hips, flaring out around the knees, creating a dramatic hourglass shape. Since the silhouette is a statement in itself, you can choose to tone down the drama with softer materials like satin or lace or go all out with layers of tulle or ruffles!

5- Serpentine: Hitting the Right Curves

Bride wearing white trumpet wedding dress

Trumpet wedding dress by Milamira Bridal. See it here.

Sometimes also called Trumpet silhouette, this is a less daring version of the Mermaid silhouette, which flares gradually from the hips until right above the knees. The fitted bodice and soft flare give medium build and curvy brides a flattering yet understated hourglass shape. 

6- Sheath / Column: Somewhere in Between

Bride wearing column style dress

Column wedding dress by Wedding Beautiful Day. See it here.

Another popular choice for petite and pear-shaped brides, a Sheath or Column silhouette is somewhere between the A-line and Serpentine. It’s not too fitted or too flared on any part of the body, but carefully outlines the upper to mid-section ever so slightly before the skirt flows straight down like a column. This silhouette balances out a heavy bottom-section creating a sleek frame.

2- Is It Within Your Budget?

Calculator to budget wedding dress

You’re getting closer and closer to finding THE ONE. But there’s another catch – the price tag. Maybe your wedding dress was not something you planned to skimp on as it’s one of the most important dresses you’ll ever wear. It will be immortalized in photos that you and your family will look back on, and so the wedding dress is definitely a splurge item for most brides’ wedding budget – but to what extent?

A good way to put your purchases into perspective is to imagine its equivalent in terms of other elements of the wedding. For instance, the difference in price between a custom designer dress and an off-the-rack version could mean a fireworks display to kick off the party, a live band to serenade you throughout the night, or an extra hour of Open Bar for your guests to enjoy.

Once you see the value that can be added to your event, you might be surprised at how willing you will be to make compromises in your dress choice. Go through your choices carefully and find the best deal instead of jumping at the first dress you fall in love with.

3- What Color Suits Your Skin Tone?

With the silhouette and price tag all saying “pick me!”, you try on the dress and something feels off. Maybe it’s the lighting in the store or maybe you’re having a bad hair day? It might be the color of the dress throwing you off.

These days, white is not the only color favored by brides, and growing trends point to having more variation within light or pastel colors or colored underlays against white lace or tulle. It may seem like a small difference in shade is not a big deal, but the tone of your dress against your skin plays a big role in making you glow on your wedding day.

1- Fair Skin: Don’t let stark white wash you out

Fair skinned bride wearing salmon color dress

White on white has a tendency look bland and washed out in photographs especially during a daytime event. Pick an off-white dress or those with creamy undertones for some contrast. Luckily, ivory and champagne colored wedding dresses are all the rage for a dreamy, romantic look.

2- Yellow Undertones: Beautiful in White

Asian bride in white dress holding flowers

For brides with yellow undertones to their skin, particularly noticeable among Asians, bright white complements and evens out the complexion. You’ll have your pick of the traditional whites for a polished, classic look.

3- Tan to Dark Skin: Feel free to play with the shades

Dark skin bride in white dress

Dark skin tone will look good against bright white, cream, or pink shades. In fact, almost all shades will work with dark skin as it brings out all the little details of the dress from the neckline to the intricate beading or embroidery.

4- Is It Appropriate for the Venue and Weather?

When you travel, you consider many factors when packing – the weather at the destination, the activities you’ll be doing, and so on. You might draw out a rough itinerary too to make sure you’ll have all you need from sunscreen and swimwear for a beach trip to snow boots and gloves on a ski trip. The same goes with picking a dress for your wedding – you cannot ignore the external factors like weather and venue just so you can wear the dress of your childhood dreams. Awareness regarding these factors will definitely help you stay stress-free on your special day:

The Venue: Do’s and Don’ts

Bride with wedding dress
  • DO consider the destination/venue. If you’re getting married in a tropical destination, skip the big ballgown dress and long train. Go for something more flowy and comfortable. You wouldn’t want to sweat through your wedding vows or drag your train across the soil.
    • DON’T ignore traditions in the destination or guidelines set by the venue. Make sure you are respectful of any rules in the destination/ venue you choose to avoid unnecessary headache on your special day.
    • DO be aware of Church guidelines on dressing for a Catholic ceremony. Some churches can be strict about keeping wedding attire modest. Luckily, there are many ways you can improvise – from adding removable straps/ sleeves, to wearing a bolero or cover-up for the ceremony then transforming into a second look for the reception. This might be the case for other religious venues too so always double check to avoid disaster.

The Weather: Do’s and Don’ts

Couple in foggy location
  • DO dress according to the season. This is your chance to play with themes – a rustic theme for a warm summer day will open up a lot of boho chic dress choices for you! Meanwhile, you are free to layer on the drama with laced sleeves and a ballgown dress for a winter occasion!
    • DO be prepared for rain in tropical destinations. Even during the summer, tropical destinations can experience some rain. Have a back-up pair of shoes in case the grass gets muddy and make sure your dress can be bustled to allow for more freedom in movement.
    • DON’T ignore your own comfort in exchange for achieving a certain look. Your discomfort will show and will leave you regretting your outfit choice.

There you go, ladies! We hope these advice will steer you in the right direction in choosing your wedding dress! Once you’ve found the one, our last advise is don’t confuse yourself by continuing to browse through more dresses! Own your dress, love it, and glow in it on your wedding day! 🙂

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