The Wedding Gown

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The Entourage

When searching for the perfect gown, choose one trusted person to take with you. The more people you bring along, the more opinions you’ll have to sift through. Take someone who will tell the absolute truth about how a dress looks on you.

Your trust should extend to the bridal shop clerk, too. Many of these people have spent years helping brides find the right dress. They know which styles will flatter which figure types. If a clerk suggests a style different from what you had in mind, try it on anyway! You may be surprised at how other styles flatter your figure.

The Fit

You may have the most beautiful dress in the world, but if it doesn’t fit, ultimately you will be unhappy with your choice.

A bride goes through at least two fittings, with a final try-on a few days before the wedding. Alterations to a purchased gown are inevitable. Don’t be offended by the dress size your fitter ends up assigning you. Wedding gown sizes are typically two sizes larger than ready-to-wear sizes. Additionally, every gown manufacturer uses a fit model and bases all their gowns on this woman’s measurements, graduating them up or down for various sizes.

Your measurements will be compared to the manufacturer’s size charts. Since wedding gowns have very narrow seams, there is no room to let it out to a larger size. Therefore the fitter will order the gown that fits your largest measurement best.

During your two or more fittings, the gown will be altered to fit your smaller measurements. The ultimate fit of the gown depends on the accuracy of the fitter’s measurements, so be sure you bring the undergarments and shoes you plan to wear with your dress.

The Cost

To save money, many brides have turned to discount bridal suppliers. Although the initial price of the gown may seem like a bargain, the cost of alterations could make a significant dent in those savings. “Those brides who think they can order a gown through a discount operation and get it tailored at a local dress shop are in for an unpleasant surprise,” says one bridal shop owner. “Altering today’s wedding gowns is very, very specialized work. It takes years of experience.” And it can be expensive. The cost of alterations varies greatly, depending on the dress’s fit, age, fabric, lace and beadwork.

Also keep in mind that when a gown is ordered through a discount bridal supplier, there is often no recourse if a problem arises. Working with a reputable retailer that has years of experience in the industry and a solid relationship with manufacturers assures that you will receive the right dress, on time, fitting beautifully.

Typically, when a bride orders her gown from a retail store, she can expect to put down fifty percent of its retail price. The same is true for a custom-made dress.

The Care

After the wedding, the last thing on your mind will be getting your gown cleaned. But taking the time to preserve your gown as soon as possible will ensure its pristine condition. If you can’t see to it immediately, ask a bridesmaid or relative to do it for you.

Before taking the gown to the dry cleaner, check it carefully for stains. If possible, note the type and location of each stain. This will help your dry cleaner eradicate them more easily.

To Box or Not to Box?

No storage system is completely safe or will completely prevent age discoloration of fabric. A professionally boxed gown is sealed in an airtight picture-window box in acid-free tissue, preserved for future generations. If you decide not to box your dress, store it flat to prevent fabric stress from a hanger. Stuff the sleeves and bodice with acid-free tissue, and line the skirt with the same tissue. Wrap the dress carefully in unbleached cotton or linen. Boxed or unboxed, make sure your freshly cleaned dress is in a dark, dry place.