The wedding dress is perhaps the most highly-anticipated piece of any bride’s ensemble. It can also be one of the most emotional. “As a symbol of singlehood, it can bring with it an awareness that you are surrendering your identity as a woman to another,” says psychotherapist and wedding planner Alicia DeMarco. Despite this, the gown can also be a powerful tool for stepping into a relationship more fully and walking the wavering tightrope of togetherness and separateness.
That’s why it’s so important to find a style that is a clear expression of your personality, and which suits the environment in which you plan to get married. An ornate gown with tons of embellishments might look stunning in a ballroom, but would completely miss the mark at a beachfront ceremony, for example.
The silhouette of the gown is a common place to start, but there are many other elements to consider as well. Many brides are familiar with terms like ‘ball gown’ and ‘mermaid,’ but some may not be aware that there are actually three main dress silhouettes – sheath, column and slip. Sheath dresses are streamlined and simple, made of fluid fabrics that move with your body. Column dresses have a natural waistline and are more structured, often in heavier fabrics like taffeta or organza. Slip dresses are minimalist gowns that fall loosely over the body and tend to be more form fitting.
Neckline depth is another key element to think about. Some brides want a more sexy plunging neckline, while others prefer a higher, more conservative style. You can also add a bit of drama to your gown by adding lace, beading or embroidery.
Color is another big consideration. White became the default choice for wedding dresses in Europe and European-dominant countries around the middle of the nineteenth century, with women’s magazines like Godey’s Lady’s Book declaring that “[it] is a well-established principle that a bride should wear white.” But prior to this, most brides wore whatever color they liked best – gold or blue, or even black in some cases.
The most modern wedding dress trends of 2023 include everything from floral appliques to pastel blue hues, which pair beautifully with the natural colors in spring and summer. Another trend that’s been picking up momentum is the use of color in train designs, from cascading tulle layers to carefully constructed blush blossoms.
Most bridal stores suggest that brides try on between four and seven gowns to find The One. However, there is no hard and fast rule and some brides may have an immediate reaction to a dress that they don’t initially love. In fact, it can take anywhere from five to eight months for your dress to be made once you’ve settled on a design, so you should try on at least two or three before committing to one. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, don’t hesitate to ask your stylist for help — they are trained to know what silhouettes will work with your figure and what styles will complement your personal style.