Picking your Wedding Gown

photo courtesy of Nicole's Boutique / Fizelwink Photography

photo courtesy of Nicole's Boutique / Fizelwink Photography

After you and your fiance' have set a wedding date, one of the first things you'll want to shop for is your wedding dress. Decide on the type of wedding you want: will it be formal or informal? Then establish a budget. Include everything from your headpiece to accessories.

When to start looking

Wedding dresses are custom ordered for the most part, and this process takes time to complete. Most stores recommend that you order your dress six months before your wedding. Certainly, no less than sixteen weeks to insure time for delivery and alterations.Bridesmaids' dresses are also specially ordered. Therefore, as soon as you've decided on your own dress, you and your attendants should go shopping.When you shop for your dress, never shop alone. Ask your mother or a good friend to come along for advice. Inform the bridal consultant of your plans: formality of wedding, style preferences, budget, weddings date, date the dress is needed.

Matching style to figure

The following suggestions will help identify the best style for you. Find one that flatters your figure and does not accentuate problem areas.Short and slender. A high-rise waistline, high neckline, perhaps sleeveless with long gloves, chapel-length train, floor-length veil (all super-feminine, give taller appearance.)If you are petite with curves; Blouson bodice over fitted slip, a long, narrow sleeve. Avoid billowy looks. Select a natural, boat neck, or high neckline. Gathered or slightly dirndl waist with soft ribbon accents add length; avoid flounced skirts. Try a delicate floral wreath.Tall and thin. Dropped waist looks terrific. Takes away that long, leggy look. Bare off-the-shoulder styles are sexy and feminine. If you like, wear ruffles or billowy sleeves. Veils and hats are striking additions.Plus size. Choose simple lines and avoid too much lace and beading. Look for vertical lines such as the princess cut, soft bodice, natural or high necklines. Avoid very puffed sleeves but try the dolman. Again, choose a simple headpiece such as a floral wreath or chapel veil.

Trains

The three basic wedding dress trains are:  the sweep length which barely touches the floor; the chapel length which trails on the floor about four feet out from the dress; and the cathedral length which trails six feet out from the dress (or more if you're royalty!)