Bridal Bliss or Complete Catastrophe??
Abigail’s Collection is a wedding dress shop where the passionate belief is that every bride deserves to enjoy their wedding dress shopping experience. There are many different styles on offer out there and the search to find ‘the one’ can often be a little overwhelming. This page is designed to give brides some basic advice on what to expect and how to make the most of this special and unique shopping experience!
Before you can realistically start shopping for the dress of your dreams you need to have booked a venue for your wedding and set a budget for the dress. In addition to your personality and individual style, the time of year in which you are getting married and the kind of venue and wedding day that you are planning are factors that will influence your choice of dress.
Deciding who to take with you when you are shopping for a wedding dress is important too. Whomever you invite ensure that they trustworthy, that you value their opinion and that they are someone who will genuinely enjoy the experience without becoming bored or impatient.
DO NOT be tempted to invite a large group to help you chose your dress, more often than not this can become tricky. The more people there are the more (usually varied) opinions you will receive and this is likely to confuse you, in our experience one or maybe two people works really well. If you are a person naturally inclined to ask for other people’s views on your clothes you must remember that it is about how you think you look and feel in the dress, and this is really the most important thing. If you like the idea of looking for your dress alone and don’t feel that you want anyone else with you, just go for it! Be inspired have fun and enjoy, alternatively you might want to shortlist a few dresses and then enlist a trusted friend or relative to help with the final decision.
In general, most Brides start looking about 12-24 months before the big day. You can start at anytime but you must be aware that most made to order dresses will take an average of approx. 8 months to arrive at the bridal shop and bespoke couture dresses depend on the designer’s workload. In addition you also need to allow time for alterations which is a further number of appointments with a Seamstress. On that basis it’s sensible to have made your final decision at approximately 12 months before your wedding date.
Feedback from some Brides tells us that wedding dress shopping can be a nerve racking and that sometimes (sadly) it can be a slightly intimidating experience. You need to try to relax and find a shop that makes you feel welcome, one that seems professional and helpful. A good bridal shop will want you to feel comfortable and the assistant will have a genuine interest in you and your special day! Abigail’s Collection prides itself on an appropriate attitude and approach towards its customers. It’s all about you, your day and your dress and in simple terms that is exactly as it should be.
During your appointment try on lots of different styles on and take the opportunity to be daring. Try on dresses that you don’t necessarily love the look of on the hanger especially if the Consultant is suggesting it and even ones whose style you have not considered or think you cannot wear. You may be surprised because wedding dresses can look very different on their hangers and often they do not come to life until they are tried on. Some Brides really do find that the dress of their dreams is the dress that they least liked on the hanger. Before an appointment you may think you have a strong idea about the kind of style that you are looking for but do not be surprised if this radically changes, often it does.
Things to ask yourself when you’re trying on dresses…
- Does it suit the type of wedding, venue and theme that I am planning?
- How do I feel in this dress?
- Is it me?
- Do I feel confident?
- Can I envisage walking down the aisle in this dress?
If you feel like you simply don’t want to take a dress off and keep comparing other styles to one in particular chances are it’s the dress for you.
There are seven basic cuts of a wedding dress which are as follows; Ball gown (sometimes called a waisted or Princess cut wedding dress), A-line, straight/column, empire cut, bias cut, drop waisted and mermaid (or fishtail). Different bridal gowns suit different shape bodies and within each shape or cut of dress there are a multitude of styles made from various fabrics too. Different fabric options include – satin, organza, silk, taffeta, lace and chiffon.
Ball gown – Ball gown cut wedding dresses are sometimes called Princess cut wedding dresses. They are full skirted and often suitable for a bride after a traditional bridal look. The bodice is usually fitted and combined with a full skirt from the waist this style will flatter and suit a range of figures. Although unfairly nick named ‘meringue’ it’s a fabulous style ideal for those who dream of a big dress and want wow factor! Shorter brides have to be careful with fuller bridal styles such as ballgown or princess cut wedding dresses, if not careful this shape can make a bride look shorter.
A-line – This is perhaps the most common of wedding dress styles. Again the bodice is often fitted and the amount of flare in the skirt can vary according to the amount of integral netting and optional use of an additional separate underskirt. This is another versatile and flattering shape to suit most figures with a skirt style that will skim beautifully off the hips. A-symmetrical detail on or above the waistline will flatter further creating emphasis on the waist. This is another classic style but less puffy looking than a ballgown or a waisted gown.
Straight or column – A fitted style which is more flattering on a slimmer figure. Perfect for a modern wedding day theme and great for a civil ceremony, a second wedding or a mature bride. Straight and column cut dresses have to be selected carefully depending on the shape of a bride. They are not the easiest shape of dress to wear and are not always as flattering as other cuts.
Fishtail – There can be some confusion around the fishtail cut wedding dress, both mermaid and trumpet wedding dresses are sometimes called fishtails too. The difference between the two is the point at which the skirt flares. Mermaid cut dresses are figure hugging and fitted with a skirt that flares lower at the bottom, it really is ‘mermaid’ style by definition and is sometimes bias cut. Both mermaid and trumpet cut bridal dresses will accentuate curves particularly the hips. A true fishtail gown is one which has a triangular panel at the centre back seam (at the bottom of the skirt) which delicately fans out to form the train. These dresses are an elegant option and are often more suitable for the slimmer figure but a fuller figured, curvy hourglass shaped bride can carry off this look if the dress is cleverly cut and if she has body confidence.
Empire Line – Perfect if you want to hide a larger tummy or bigger hips but want to avoid a fuller ball gown or A-line style skirt. The waist basically starts from underneath the bust and drops away. In a floaty fabric option this style creates a feminine look and is less structured in style.
Bias Cut – A bias cut dress is one that is ‘cut on the bias’. The pattern pieces are placed on the cross grain rather than the straight grain lines of the fabric. It started off big in the 1930′s in Hollywood and designers took advantage of this and made it into a real trend. Fit wise a bias cut gown will cling to the hips and midriff and fall closely to the body sometimes like a second skin. Bias cut dresses are the hardest cut to wear leaving not too much to the imagination in terms of figure. Often cut in silk, they suit a very slender Bride and are very elegant and graceful in terms of style.
Drop waisted– Just as the name suggests a dropped waist wedding has a lower than normal waist line. Instead of having the skirt attached at the natural waist (which is in line with the belly button) a dropped waisted bridal gown has the skirt attached more in line with the hips.
These are an optional extra. They’re an additional garment worn under a wedding dress and consist of an elastic waist and combinations of hoops and tulle netting, some bridal shops will offer these for you to try with dresses however at some shops you may need to ask. These underskirts can radically change the lines of a wedding dress and take an A-line from slender to a fuller looking skirt, they are also great with ball gown style skirts and can help to create a dramatic look as well as preventing the skirt fabric from folding inward and losing sight of detail that may be included in the design.
Always ask to try on veils, tiaras and hair accessories with your dresses, again sometimes these will be offered and often they can make a real difference to the overall look and help you to decide what kind of image you want to create.
It’s simple, stop looking! Some brides will instinctively know when they have found ‘the one’ the moment it is tried on. Other Bride’s may need a while to reflect on their favourites and will then realise. ‘The one’ makes a bride feel fabulous and you won’t want to take it off. DON’T be tempted to try on more dresses after you have ordered your dress as you will risk finding another dress that you also like and simply end up confused!
Some Brides worry that if they haven’t had that ‘moment’ when they burst into floods of tears and emotionally connect with their dress publicly whilst proclaiming ‘this is it, this is it’ that it means that it isn’t ‘the one’. Media often hypes up ‘the moment’ that you find your dress but brides respond in different ways and it isn’t always with a big show of tears so don’t pile pressure on yourself and look for a big grand moment, it may be that way for you or it may not. Also it might help to know that sometimes brides can become a little insecure about their choice of dress at some point or as the day gets nearer and wonder if they have made the right decision. The important thing is that providing you originally took your time with your selection, have tried on various different cuts and styles and felt absolutely amazing in that dress and (probably most importantly) you made the final decision, then worry no more! You have found ‘the one’ for you and no doubt you will dazzle the Groom and all of your guests as you make a grand entrance on your big day.
Good luck and happy wedding dress shopping!
The Abigail’s Collection consultants are expertly trained and there to help you in a professional but friendly way. For a private appointment to browse and try on from our absolutely gorgeous collection please contact us. If you have any questions not answered in the above please do not hesitate to contact us.