wedding planner blog

The Perfect Dress – From Shopping to Your Final Fitting

wedding dress

Finding the perfect wedding dress is one mission every bride looks forward to. Whilst the experience itself is one of the many highlights of the wedding planning process, the sheer choice available on the bridal wear market and the thought of stepping into the unknown can make it rather stressful. Our ultimate wedding gown guide is here to help with advice on choosing a shape that suits, a fabric and colour that complements, and deciphering whether made to measure, couture or off the peg is right for you.

Finding a shape that suits

Getting shape savvy in the run up to your bridal boutique appointment is important, after all seeing gown after gown can often confuse the situation.

The ball gown
For every bride who wants to be a princess on their wedding day, the ball gown is certainly the perfect place to start. The ball gown teams a fitted bodice with a full voluminous skirt to create that va-va-voom on your wedding day. This style of wedding dress is a popular choice for more traditional and formal weddings. The 2016 bridal collection by Oscar de la Renta contains a selection of examples of why the ball gown still reigns supreme on the bridal wear scene.

The column
At the other end of the spectrum, the column gown is a simple shape that provides maximum impact and glamour for brides that want to portray an elegant and classic look on their wedding day. The column shape is typically associated with the popular Grecian look, as the fitted bodice and straight skirt create a soft and floaty look that any Greek goddess would be envious of. Designer Jenny Packham’s 2015 bridal campaign was awash with Grecian silhouettes in varying shapes, styles and shades of white.

The empire line
The empire line wedding dress is made to flatter. This shape incorporates a higher waistline that cuts just under the bust usually with embroidery detail or a satin ribbon waist band. The silhouette is finished with a flowing skirt, which so lovingly skims over hips and tummy for a graceful and flattering look.

The fishtail
The fishtail wedding gown, also known as the mermaid or trumpet dress, is a popular choice amongst brides of today. The fitted nature of the gown creates an extremely feminine silhouette, accentuating your curves in all the right places. With a fitted bodice and fishtail-shaped skirt that starts either just below or just above the knee, this cut is surprisingly flattering for a variety of body shapes, emphasising the enviable curves of the hourglass figure, whilst creating curves for women with straighter frames and less definition between their bust, waist and hips.

The dropped hem fishtail is one look that is particularly prominent for spring 2016, with this stunning shape featuring heavily in the upcoming collection of one of our favourite high-end designers, Vera Wang.

Achieving the perfect finish with fabric

As well as having to make decisions about how the dress fits and complements your body shape, selecting a fabric that makes you feel as fabulous as you should feel on your wedding day is equally important. There are numerous fabrics available, all of which range in popularity and cost.

Lace is perhaps the most popular material for wedding gowns as its open weave nature makes it versatile. This fabric can either be used as part of a dress or an entire dress can be made of lace if correctly lined.
Silk is another popular wedding dress fabric and one of the most expensive. Its smooth, soft and all natural texture makes it comfortable to wear as well as giving brides that luxurious look and feel. Silk can be used as the primary fabric of a wedding dress or in conjunction with other fabrics, such as charmeuse, chiffon, organza, satin and tulle, to create a number of beautiful designs in various shapes.

The shiny nature of satin is unmistakable, but this traditional material is undergoing a revival in the wedding gown market. Duchess satin is a particularly popular choice for couture wedding gowns. Thanks to the material being made from 100% silk, duchess satin does not have the same high lustre as polyester satin, instead the finish is elegant, luxurious and high end.

Which shade of white is right?

For as long as we can remember wedding dresses have been white and ivory in colour, but more vibrant wedding dresses in bright colours such as aquamarine, fuchsia, red and Cadbury’s purple have started to feature up and down catwalks at bridal fashion events around the world. Remember, it takes a confident bride to pull off this growing trend and perhaps choosing a gown in a metallic colour or more muted tone such as taupe, baby pink or vintage blue will be a comfortable compromise allowing you to be different yet not dramatically so.

Whilst there are numerous wedding dress designs now available in every colour of the rainbow, most brides still opt for traditional white or ivory so choosing the right shade of white is extremely important.

Unbeknown to many, there are actually some significant differences between eggshell, diamond white, off-white, cream, ecru and other whites, a fact that is often only picked up when you see the various shades of white on a colour swatch. Choosing between white, ivory and other shades, such as cream and champagne, is all a matter of personal taste and your individual complexion, hair colour and eye colour.

Ivory and antique white use a tint of yellow or cream to create a warmer tone to complement fairer skin tones, whilst women with a medium to dark skin tone look radiant in diamond white and bright white.

Off the peg, made to measure or couture?

As well as considering the shape, material and colour that is the perfect match for you, another question dominates the thought process of many brides-to-be while shopping for a wedding gown. Whether you want to go for off the peg, made to measure or couture is entirely up to you, but knowing the difference between each will help you make the best decision.

As the name suggests, off the peg wedding dresses can be purchased from a bridal boutique in a range of standard sizes. Often referred to as ready-made gowns, an off the peg dress is a great way to save money, however you may have to pay for extra fittings to achieve the desired look and feel. A made to measure wedding gown on the other hand is crafted to your exact measurements. However, unlike couture, which is a ‘one of a kind’ creation designed and made just for you, made to measure gowns are based on a design that is generally available to all.

Leading boutiques such as Browns Bride in London and The Bride in St Albans offer made to measure gowns by world famous designers and recommend a lead time from decision to dress of at least six months.

What happens next?

You may think that once you’ve found your wedding gown, you simply wait to wear it on your big day. However once you’ve chosen a gown, there are a number of to-dos to tick off your list in the run up to your wedding date.

The majority of bridal boutiques will require you to pay a deposit, particularly for made to measure and couture creations, whilst the remaining fee is due at an agreed date before your wedding day. For couture gowns the designer you have chosen may make a toile. A toile is an early version of the finished garment, made from a cheaper material, which is used to test a pattern and perfect the design. The dress is then made from the toile design and fitted over a series of sessions.

Before you attend your very first fitting you must make some decisions about how you will accessorise your gown and what underwear you’ll be wearing on your big day. This will shape exactly how your gown will be altered to fit and also give you a clearer picture of the whole ensemble.

Make sure all of your accessories, such as jewellery, headwear and shawl, are purchased and bring them to your first fitting. The same applies to your underwear and footwear; you’ll be surprised by how much difference a change in heel height or bra will make to the overall shape and feel of your gown. The number of fittings needed depends entirely on your dress choice and requirements, however, the final fitting typically will take place one to two weeks before your big day. Once the final fitting has taken place and any necessary alterations have been made, your wedding gown will be ready to collect.

At Orange Blossom, we’re all about giving our brides (and grooms alike) the information they need to make decisions including choosing their wedding gown with confidence. Our Pinterest page is full of wedding gown boards and more, browse for pinspiration here.


Marriages and Civil Partnerships in the UK

Whilst we are experts in planning a wedding that not just meets but exceeds your expectations, without the legal bit, a wedding, well, isn’t a wedding! Just like any legality in the UK, the jargon that goes hand-in-hand with legislation can be rather confusing. Whilst a Wedding Planner cannot take these legal steps on your behalf, we do want to ensure you have the facts you need to make your big day official.

Giving notice

The first step that must be completed to get married or form a civil partnership in England and Wales is to give notice at your local register office. At least 28 days’ notice must be given and during this time the notice showing your intention to marry will be displayed publicly in your register office.

For couples planning to marry or form a civil partnership abroad, notice must be given in the country where you intend to marry in accordance with local law. You will also need to enquire with the overseas authority to find out whether you will need a certificate of no impediment.

To give notice simply contact your local register office to make an appointment, please note you can only give notice if you have resided within the registration district for at least 7 days.

Your appointment with the Registrar

Your appointment will be used to confirm your name, age and nationality and both of you must attend. Your register office will accept a valid passport, birth certificate, national identity card, certificate of registration, certificate of naturalisation, biometric residence permit or travel document as proof. You will also need to provide proof of address, so take along your driving licence or a recent utility, bank, council tax or mortgage statement.

If you have been married or widowed then you should also attend your appointment with a decree absolute or the death certificate of your former partner. If you or your partner is a foreign national, i.e. from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland, or are subject to immigration control, a valid visa will be required to give notice and to officiate the ceremony at a later date.

Please note that there is a notice fee of £35 per person that must be paid at your appointment. Additional charges may apply if one of you is a foreign national.

What happens next?

Once you have given notice of at least 28 days, you must marry or register your civil partnership within one year in England and Wales.

The notice period can be reduced to 15 days if you or your partner is a resident outside of the UK, you want to give notice and get married or form a partnership in one visit on or after 2nd March 2015, or you have already made arrangements for your ceremony before 2nd March 2015.

Organising a religious ceremony

For couples looking to have their ceremony at a church, chapel or other registered religious building, it is important to remember that you will have to give notice in the same way couples wishing to have a non-religious ceremony do with the exception of those wishing to get married in an Anglican church if the couple are British citizens or from the European Economic Area or Switzerland. The Anglican Church is an association which includes the Church of England.

Marriage as a same sex couple

In England and Wales, same sex couples can form a civil partnership, get married or convert a civil partnership into a marriage. As with heterosexual couples, a same sex couple must give at least 28 days’ notice at their local register office. Same sex couples cannot get married in an Anglican Church, however they can get married in other religious venues as long as the premises is registered for same sex marriages and the religious organisation in charge permits this.

During the ceremony

The legalities also define the ceremony itself, whether you are entering into a marriage or civil partnership. By law, formal vows must be exchanged during a wedding ceremony, whilst any other wording you want to include should be discussed in advance with the officiant. There is no legal requirement for the exchange of vows during a civil partnership ceremony, so choosing to include vows is entirely up to the couple. You are allowed to include readings, songs or music in a civil ceremony, however these cannot be religious.

At least two witnesses are required at weddings and civil partnership ceremonies. To complete the ceremony, you, your partner and your two witnesses must sign the marriage register or civil partnership document.

The cost of registering a UK marriage or civil partnership is £45 if you have the ceremony at a register office and may cost more at other venues. Authorised officials performing religious ceremonies, including ministers and priests, are able to register marriages.

A marriage or civil partnership certificate costs £4 on the day or £10 thereafter. It is advisable to get more than one as you will need certified copies to prove your marital status in the future.

Whether you intend to have a civil or religious ceremony, and regardless of whether you are a heterosexual or homosexual couple, getting the legalities right is vital to the success of your big day. To find out more about the legalities please contact your local register office. For any other advice or assistance with planning your wedding celebrations, please get in touch with Orange Blossom.

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