A Guide to Buying a Wedding Dress

Whether you’ve been dreaming of your wedding dress since you were five or just found out your fiancĂ© wants to marry you, finding the perfect gown can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, we’re here to help. From understanding the lingo to knowing how and where to shop, our guide to buying a wedding dress will help you navigate the process from start to finish.

The skirt

A wedding gown’s skirt is what everyone notices. It’s the widest part of the dress and can be as long or short as you want it to be. Skirts are made of either silk, satin or chiffon and can be embellished with beading, lace, embroidery and more. The length of the skirt depends on what type of wedding you’re planning and your personal style. For example, a short frock with an intricate hemline is appropriate for a formal celebration while a longer gown with a trailing train works well for a traditional wedding.

The waistline

A bride’s waist is the center of her silhouette and defines how she looks. A dress can be slim or fuller at the waist, which is also known as the “waistline break.” A fuller waistline is more traditional while a slimmer waistline is more contemporary. A slimmer waistline breaks the hips and torso into proportions that are flattering for many body types.

The neckline

The wedding dress neckline is what frames your face and upper body. It can be high, like a bateau, jewel or one-shoulder neckline or lower, such as a portrait, sweetheart or V-neck. A higher neckline shows off more of the shoulders and chest, while a lower neckline can reveal a little more cleavage.


The type of material your wedding dress is made from will make a big difference in its appearance and feel. Lace, for example, is a timeless and elegant option that adds texture and dimension to a gown. In addition, beads and sequins add glamour and a touch of sparkle.


A touch of bling can instantly elevate your wedding dress. Beading, lace and embroidery are classic embellishments that can be used to decorate the bodice, sleeves or even the entire dress. Other adornments, such as feathers and stones, can be used to add a pop of color and create a more dramatic look.

If you’re planning on purchasing your dress at a bridal store, call ahead to see what types of dresses they have in stock. Many bridal stores don’t display dresses in the way you would at a regular retail store, and you’ll need to schedule an appointment so that a consultant can assist you. This allows the staff to provide personalized attention and help you find a dress that’s right for you. It’s also a good idea to call ahead and ask what the studio or salon’s return policy is. This will save you time and avoid any unwanted stress if the gown doesn’t turn out to be what you were hoping for.

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