Making sure your dress fits
Having photographed weddings since 2001, I’ve seen one or two dress snafus. I had a few issues with my dress, so I thought I could be of some service to those of you in the market right now. We’ll start with the styles that currently seem the most popular at the moment.
1. Strapless dresses should fit, but you must be able to breath.
A lot of people think that a strapless dress is held on at the top. Nope! Wedding dresses are usually pretty heavy, so unless you want to have the girls pop out during your bouquet toss (seen it), be sure your dress is well fitted in the sides. This doesn’t mean you can’t breath, but a well fitted dress throughout the bodice will stay up with minimal adjusting through out the day (you know what I’m talking about. That little pull and shimmy as you keep the girls tucked safely away is not the most attractive bridal activity).
I had a strapless dress, and it was too tight in the top. Totally my fault for not making a bigger deal at my final dress fitting (she loosened it a bit, but not enough). My dress issue involved double boob. The bodice fit like a glove, but the top band was just too tight. The sides would have kept it up just fine. Because the top band was too tight, I had too much boobage (the first and last time that EVER happened) leaving me with a bit of flab poking out over the top. It’s not hugely noticeable to anyone else, but it’s like there’s a giant neon arrow pointing it out to me (probably because double boob is a personal pet peeve). I should’ve unzipped about an inch, but didn’t think of it until about 4 months later. A well fitted strapless dress should stay up even if the top band is totally loose.
So, to summarize: Strapless dresses should be well fitted in the sides and not too tight in the top.
2. Spaghetti Straps should not be the thing holding up your dress.
Like I said, wedding dresses are often very heavy. A spaghetti strap dress should fit just like a strapless dress, tight in the sides because that’s what’s holding it up. The spaghetti straps are just there to make you feel more secure or because they look pretty. If the straps are holding up your dress, you will probably find them digging into your shoulders and leaving unattractive red marks like a bra strap that’s too tight. Even skinny girls can wind up with bulgy looking shoulder bits on either side. The straps should fit tight enough that you aren’t always pulling them up, but there shouldn’t be any pressure on them.
3. Ball gowns need to be balanced.
If you have an awesome curvy figure with a full set up top, a ball gown will look fabulous! But if you’re a skinny, flat chested girl, perhaps a huge, tulle, ball gown isn’t the best fit for you. Be aware that you can look like a broom if the top is fitted and the bottom flares out into a huge, beautiful skirt. I know I did in the ones I tried on. If you are in love with a ball gown, balance the top with bigger hair or a full veil. If you don’t have my problems, don’t worry about the big hair. The ball gown will show off that amazing hourglass figure.
4. Sheaths are for the brave.
I looked terrible in a sheath. Despite being a skinny, flat chested girl, I have hips, and both the sheaths and mermaids made me look like a paint brush (skinny, huge, skinny). I love sheath dresses, just be sure to get one that fits well and isn’t too tight around any of those “tight spots” (you know what I’m talking about).
5. Heavy vs Light-weight dresses.
Are you having a formal, seated-dinner reception with little dancing and lots of sitting? Layers of satin will look amazing. On the other hand, I had a bride this year who knew she wanted to dance the night away, so she found the lightest dress I have ever seen. It was beautiful silk and very her. She was able to dance all night with her friends without getting tired. Don’t be surprised by the weight of your wedding dress. Walk around in the dress you’re thinking of buying to get an idea of how much movement you can handle before you get worn out. If you want to dance all night but always dreamed of layers of satin and silk, think about changing into a lighter party dress for the reception.
If you’ve already made that purchase and want some more dress-time to get a feel for it, I strongly recommend a bridal portrait for a low-stress trial run. You can test the weight for standing extended periods of time (don’t forget you must make it all the way through your ceremony) and see how hot or cold you get. You may need to arrange for a fan or purchase a cute jacket. A bridal portrait also gives you a chance to check your makeup and jewelry or to see if your hair balances the look.
I know I’ve missed quite a few dress styles, but this is a blog, so I can always add more! If you’re looking for advice on any style of dress, I’ve probably seen someone in one and can share what I know. Just leave a comment. My best advice for dress shopping is take someone whose opinion you trust, who has a similar style or understands your style, and who will tell it like it is. Tell them what you’re looking for (something grand and formal or a light-weight dress so you can really boogie down) and make them pinky-swear they will give you honest (but not mean) opinions. You will look at pictures of yourself in this dress forever, so be sure you love it!