|Monique LHuillier's Poppy|
This is the other search for the 'One'. It is strangely relegated to a fond vagueness for many brides once they have stepped over the lintel into becoming a bride, recalled with a soft smile - which I now understand as a one of a blend of relief and knowing. But when you are knee-deep in mousseline, lace and corseted to the nines with a shop assistant cooing over your reflection, it certainly does not seem the most pleasant or fun way to while away a Saturday afternoon. In fact, it can descend into a dull agony, especially if, like me, you are trying to straddle the fine line between a high-fashion number and more romantic wedding sensibilities.
|Elie Saab for Pronovias Laertes|
Go forth, and hunt that dress out!
- Create a dream wedding dress moodboard of images of elements you like from not only bridal magazines, but high fashion publications, portraits of your silverscreen icons, details from postcards and anything else that inspires you.
- Research designers to establish who creates dresses that fit what you think of as 'your' style, but be prepared for the one you choose possibly being a wild card.
- Begin looking at dresses at about a year - ten months before your wedding, and allow at least six months for gowns that take longer to craft or are imported.
- A big warning - being new to all this I had no idea that the better bridal shops in London and other destination bridal shops across the country are usually fully booked at weekends for anything up to three months in advance. A Saturday appointment is like gold-dust. If you do the maths, this means that if you cannot get an appointment to even see a dress for three months, and it will then take six months to make the dress from this date, you are realistically looking at nine months, and risking not giving yourself enough time to compare dresses to do a full shop.
- It sounds simple, but ensure you have clean hair and wear it down if it's long. This gives more opportunity to play around with how a dress can be styled, scooping your hair up on your head with your hands or allowing it to soften a more polished dress with a little bit of undone beauty.
- Allow yourself ample time to get around your appointments. As a rule of thumb, three appointments in a day is plenty. Even the hardiest of brides will struggle to cope with stretching arms above their head, wobbling into piles of silk and being hoicked, pinned and pulled for up to four hours.
- Build in a coffee and lunch break - preferably with that essential cocktail or glass of wine to loosen you up.
- Think carefully about your ceremony venue and the season you are getting married in (goosebumps never look good), and if you are marrying in a church or synagogue, any guidelines your denomination may have around bare shoulders, for example.
- Whilst there are no rules, look for a dress that 'matches' up to the size, mood and character of the place in which you'll get married. An airy meringue with lots of bosom that takes out half the guests as you sweep up the aisle of a tiny church might be perfect for your reception party, but it will be hard, hot work come the later hours of the evening, too.
- Are you a dancer? If you want to prance around all evening in the arms of your new husband, you need a dress you can move in: fishtails gowns that hug the knees, narrow sheath dresses and voluminous dresses can all prove tricky. Larger dresses that have a crinoline or hoop that makes the skirt stand away from your legs are perfect for dancing, and trains can usually be bustled up with a discreet ribbon tie on the inside of the skirt to reduce the trip-hazard.
- Alternatively, have a silver or ivory sparkling, feather trimmed mini-dress ready for the evening's party
- Sometimes the thunderbolt does not strike, but try walking as if making your way up the aisle and the way the dress makes you feel, hugging or floating about you will suddenly make something click.
- Don't judge a dress or a designer by the over-posed posturings of the models wearing them in the campaign shots - and do try a dress if a shop assistant has a hunch it might work - be as open-minded as possible as sometimes it helps to firm up what you are envisaging.
- If you are worried by falling in love with a simpler, more demure dress that seems to lack wow-factor, look to putting punch and personality in with a statement accessory or detail, such as crimson shoes, a glittering handbeaded embellishment or piles of exquisite vintage paste necklaces that glint around your neck. Some designers (Ian Stuart, Johanna Hehir, Phillpa Lepley) will happily look to tweak and add details to suit your wishes.
|Vera Wang Gemma|
|Vivienne Westwood Carrie|