The Perfect Wedding Dress
The very worst thing you can do when shopping for a wedding dress is see one you love and set your heart on it.
If you are to look your best on your big day, you must first know what suits you, and you should have a firm picture of this in your head before you start looking at dresses.
Probably the best place to start is with the over all shape of the dress, its silhouette. What works for you will depend on your height, your frame and your shape. The neckline, sleeves, fabric and colour you choose are also important.
Choose a dress that is 'right' for you and it will both flatter and enhance your good points and cleverly disguise those parts you would prefer were not noticed. Ignore what the mirror tells you about your shape and the opposite will be the case.
Dress to Suit Your Shape
When you go shopping for a dress take an honest friend along with you, someone who tells it like it is. If a dress you try on makes you look like a meringue or a Christmas tree fairy, you want someone who will tell you so, honestly, not try to be 'nice'.
First you need to discover your body shape, then look at what wedding dress shape is best for you. However no matter what your basic body shape is, if you are very small or a larger build, there are certain basic principles you should follow.
Tips for Petite Brides
If you are shorter, say less than 5'4", and are also small framed there is a risk you will disappear in the wrong dress - so choose carefully! Take note of the guidelines for your shape, but also keep the following in mind.
Off-shoulder and strapless styles are good on small brides and an A line dress with not too full a skirt is an especially great shape, as you can see in the image on the left.
Petit brides can wear ball gown styles, but be very careful to keep it simple and don't over decorate or you are in danger of entering meringue territory! Ballerina style dresses can make you look like a child, so be very careful.
Mermaid styles work better than straight or bias cut dresses, which have a tendency to make you look too insignificant, not what you want on your big day.
Tips for Larger Brides
The truth is that if you are over size 16 your choice of off the peg dresses is not going to be as extensive as it should be, so consider having your dress made so that you have full control over it. Use the tips below to pick a style to flatter your best points and camouflage the less perfect bits.
Pick a good quality and very beautiful fabric, with simple trimmings and keep fussiness to a minimum. Avoid beading or ruching or any detail around the waist - instead decorate the neckline and/or hemline. Buttons at the back that extend in a vertical line to below the waist can look great and add length.
Don't necessarily avoid a fitted bodice, combined with V front waist and a medium to narrow A line skirt it can be very flattering. Draped styles can look good but keep the draping on the diagonal, especially avoid any details that are horizontal. Avoid empress line dresses and full or gathered skirts.
A wide scooped or square neckline with short or no sleeves looks very good on larger brides, while thin strapped or strapless gowns rarely work. If you want longer sleeves, keep them light or transparent and not too close fitting.