10 Wedding Day Tips

1. How do I ensure that my dress will look its best on the Big Day?

Two words: Handle carefully.

  • Delay picking it up from the shop as long as possible. (Forty-eight hours before showtime is ideal.) Accept in a garment bag, go straight home, and immediately take it our and hang it from the highest possible point, so the train and hemline  don’t touch the floor.
  • Traveling? Return the dress to the garment bag and repeat the process when you arrive. When flying, ask if you can carry it onboard―or you’ll risk tying the knot in your tracksuit.
  • Should anything happen to stain or wrinkle the dress, don’t take matters into your own hands. Even a dab can leave water marks, and ironing a fabric like tulle can transform it into a burnt, crispy mess. Call your bridal salon or nearest cleaner for help.

2. Which white will work for my skin tone?

With more than 200 shades of white to choose from, the only way to know which one looks best on you is trial and error. Contrary to popular belief, few wedding dresses come in pure white―which is a good thing, because pure white washes out all but the richest and deepest skin tones. Most choose a gown in the ivory family that flatters their skin tone. Keep  these suggestions in mind:

  • If you’re fair-skinned, look for ivory shades containing yellow undertones.
  • If you have a pinker complexion, choose creamy undertones.
  • If you have olive, yellow-based, or dark skin, select champagne or off-white shades.

When you think you’ve found the right shade for you, confirm with the salesperson that the color of the sample gown you tried on hasn’t been altered by wear and tear.

3. How do I make sense of all the different fabrics out there?

You can find descriptions of common fabrics at fabric.com, but your best bet is to get your hands on the real thing, either at a bridal salon or a fabric store. Fabrics have individual strengths and weaknesses, depending on your priorities.

  • Some materials, like silk duchesse satin, are best for providing support and structure, while gauzier, transparent fabrics,  like organza and tulle, are better for achieving a romantic, ethereal effect. (It never hurts to ask if you can order your dream gown in a different fabric.)
  • Want to save money? Check out rayon blends, which have the look of silk without the expense.
  • To get a sense of how a fabric will behave over the course of your wedding, bunch it up tightly in your hand. If it’s wrinkled  after a minute or so, imagine what it will look like by midnight.

4. Is it possible to get an inexpensive dress that doesn’t look cheap?

No one need know that you got a great deal on your wedding dress. The single most important factor when it comes to clothing is the fit: If a gown is perfectly fitted to your body, it will look like it was made for you by a Parisian couturier, no matter what it cost. So, if you’re on a tight dress budget, plan to put a significant portion (perhaps half) toward the services of an expert seamstress. Additionally, look closely telltale low-quality work: Does the beading look flimsy? Are the seams shoddily finished? If you spot a flaw that can’t be corrected easily, move on to the next mannequin.

5. Are there any pretty alternatives to traditional wedding dresses?

Yes. If you prefer the clothing you see in regular stores to what’s in bridal salons, then shop there for your wedding-day attire. Some popular options:

  • A skirt suit in a light color, a sophisticated look that flatters most body types. (Make sure that the cut is very feminine, so you look like a bride, not a CEO.)
  • A two-piece skirt and top combination, especially if it is made from a silky fabric or has beading.
  • Baby-doll and tube-style dresses in any color are cute and playful for more casual affairs.
  • When in doubt, a stunning black number never fails.

6. How can I incorporate parts of a family gown into my dress?

Odds are, you probably don’t want to wear your great-grandmother’s dress down the aisle as is. But, luckily, there are other ways to bask in the sentimental value of an inherited gown. Examples:

  • If the basic structure appeals to you, have a seamstress shorten or lengthen the dress, removing or adding features as you see fit.
  • Harvest lace from an old gown to create your veil or an overlay, or have the lace made into a rosette on your dress. The material can also be turned into the base for your bouquet, used for a sash that you can wear around your waist, or appliquéd onto the bodice of your gown.
  • If the styles are too different to blend, consider taking both dresses to a quilt maker after the wedding and asking her to combine them into an heirloom that you can pass down.

7. What do I need to know about undergarments?

So much attention is paid to the outside of the dress, it’s easy to forget about the crucial infrastructure.

  • Ideally, look for a gown with a built-in corset, which makes for the best fit. (If yours doesn’t have one, ask whether you should have a corset put in, or consider an alternative like Spanx or some other type of controlling undergarment).
  • Make sure underpinnings are as close to your skin tone as possible so they won’t suddenly become visible in certain lighting.
  • Try on undergarments with your gown and examine yourself in the mirror from every angle. Better yet, have a trusted helper take photos for you to examine. You may glance at your rear end for only a few moments but it’s what everyone will see during  most of the ceremony.

8. What’s the word on trains: How long is too long?

Almost anything goes―just remember that you’re the one who’s going to be wearing it. Choices range from no train to a full-tilt royal train, which extends back for more than nine feet and is probably best suited to brides with a title before their names. To make a dramatic entrance without the assistance of a small army, opt for a four-foot chapel-length train. (Detailed illustrations at weddingsolutions.com). Ask your dress retailer if the train is (a) detachable (so you can ditch it after the ceremony),  or (b) needs to be bustled at the base of the bodice. If it needs bustling, view the dress bustled since that’s how you’ll be spending the majority of your time.

9. Is it OK to wear white for a second marriage?

Absolutely. No need as a second-time-arounder to tiptoe down the aisle in a color you don’t want. It’s your wedding day, and if you want to celebrate by wearing a white ball gown,  do it. Many brides view a second wedding as a welcome opportunity to step outside the box – almost like a license to break the rules: You may be happier opting for a stunning ready-to-wear ensemble or may finally have the guts for a scarlet, backless evening gown. As long as it looks bridal that is, special enough to make you stand out from your guests.

10. What attire should the groom wear?

Whatever you two can agree to. I recommend that the groom needs is to distinguish himself from the groomsmen. Here are three classics:

  • A tuxedo: A penguin suit is still the gold standard for formal late-afternoon and evening weddings. Tie options include the classic bow tie, the wider ascot, and a standard necktie, which feels the most modern.
  • A morning suit: With a cutaway jacket and matching striped trousers, this ensemble fits a formal daytime wedding.
  • Standard business suits in black, gray, brown, or taupe are appropriate for almost any semiformal affair.
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