A wedding dress is as personal and intimate to each bride as her vows – what works for one body shape and skin tone can look awful on another – hence why it often takes soon-to-be brides on average of about six months to find her perfect dress. One of the reasons it can be so stressful is the emphasis that most societies place on looking perfect and being the star of your own fairy tale. But try your best to think of it as fun – you get to buy a new dress, wear it in front of your closest friends and family, and marry the person of your dreams – hurrah! Read on for our top tips on how to find your dress: whether you’re going full on conventional princess or quirky and laid back.
One of the common things all of our experts told us is that it’s often the case that brides walk in to the shop with a picture of an A-line dress, but walk out with a mermaid cut; or a bride obsessed with having a full princess skirt will walk out with a slinky sheath silhouette.
So that means rule number one is: keep an open mind. Most women actually don’t end up choosing the Big Day Dress they’ve always thought of as their “dream dress”. Wedding dresses are such a different animal to what we normally wear, with their inner lining which pushes and pulls in all the right places: they’re geared to creating a flattering silhouette.
With that in mind, don’t rule out the kind of thing you’d normally avoid in the shop, and, says Mara Urshel, co-owner of Kleinfeld Bridal shop in New York City, “Try on everything the consultant brings you, even if it doesn’t look like ‘you’.”
Lebanese couture and bridal designer Rani Zakhem agrees: “Always choose a gown that is most reflective of your character and charm,” he advises. “Never choose something that will overshadow your beauty. A wedding gown is supposed to make you shine!” Great advice: so, how do we do that?
“The silhouette is crucial and very important in bringing out the beautiful curves of your body,” he explains. “It’s very important to choose a fit and cut that sit on your body effortlessly.”
Turkish fashion and couture designer Rasit Bagzibagli agrees: “Weddings are special occasions, and the wedding dress is obviously a centerpiece of the day,” he says. “It’s essential to get the right fit and to create visual appeal. I want brides to benefit from the self-confidence that comes with an incredibly elegant dress that fits like a glove.”
As for specific body types, says the Turkish designer, “An A-line dress embraces curves, while mermaid-cut creations cater for the tall and slim figure.”
Most brides tend to play jewellery safe, buying classic pieces. And while that’s always a sure bet, the matchy-matchy sets of yesteryear are out. One thing we’re seeing more and more of is bride’s going for statement jewellery. “A wedding is the perfect time for brides to step outside the box and move away from more traditional looks. The concept of “more is more” is becoming increasingly popular,” says Caroline Gaspard, owner of haute joaillerie brand Akillis. “Statement earrings were one of the most consistent trends we saw going down the runway this year at Bridal Fashion Week 2017. Hoops, chandelier and long-hanging earrings draw attention to the bride’s face and enhance the beauty of her overall look,” she says.
La Femme recommends going literal with your pieces by donning Akillis’s heartbeat earrings – because if your soon-to-be spouse doesn’t make your heart beat faster, what are you doing walking down the aisle?
CEO of local Dubai jewellery brand Dubai Rocks Fergus Appleton’s advice is highly practical: look at your wedding jewellery as a lifetime investment: something you can wear repeatedly. Above, he’s given his energy-saving tips on choosing the best jewellery for you.
That’s something all of our experts agreed on: if you don’t feel 180% comfortable, no matter how fashionable or breath-taking the gown is, it’s probably not the one to opt for.
“The most important thing to remember for any bride is to be happy and comfortable in what you’re wearing and to feel truly special,” Syrian bridal and couture designer Rami Al Ali chimes in. “I recommend giving yourself enough time to digest the thought/emotional process of the design: from the original stages of sketches to the final fitting [of a bespoke dress],” he advises. “A wedding dress isn’t like purchasing an evening dress – it’s a very important dress and a lot of emotion goes into creating it.”
1 Select your wedding dress first
“The wedding dress plays the leading role in your wedding day style, so it’s important to decide upon a style, prior to purchasing your wedding jewellery. For example, a plunging neckline will leave you with different opportunities to a high one.”
2 Keep it simple and understated
“Remember that ultimately, you are the star of the show; so select items that keep you as the main attraction.”
3 Remember your natural beauty
“Consider your assets when selecting colours and styles. For example, blue gemstones work well with blues eyes, and different metals work well with different colour skin tones.”
4 Be true to yourself
“Above everything, you need to be true to yourself and your style – if a particular design or style doesn’t feel right, no matter how well it matches the dress, then it’s not for you.”
And if you’re going for the ‘something blue’ tradition, La Femme is crazy over Dubai Rocks’ aquamarine earrings and pendant – though the brand’s sapphire engagement ring with rounded side diamonds is ethereally beautiful.
Rebecca Tay, editorial director for TheOutnet.com, specialises in unconventional looks and thinking “outside the dress”.
“Don’t be afraid to look beyond the wedding boutique,” she advises. “Most designers will include a few white dresses in their SS collections – keep your eyes open to these and you’ll find that most of them will be a more modern take on traditional bridal looks.
“But that said,” she adds, “Who said you have to wear a dress? A white jumpsuit or tuxedo is a flattering look – and one that’s easier to dance in!” If you’re looking to go ultra-modern, says Rebecca, the long gown is out. “While a gown is lovely for a traditional wedding, an above-the-knee or mid-calf dress feels more unconventional and modern.”
La Femme tip: don’t abandon your signature style – if boyish is your thing, rock androgyny down the aisle. If sky-high heels are your go-to, find the highest pair you can and strut on, girl, strut on.
Head & heels
the make-up: Most make-up artists advise going classic for the ceremony: no matter the trends of the day, you want your wedding photos to reflect classic beauty.
“You’ll probably want to stick to the best version of your traditional beauty look for the ceremony,” says Rebecca. “But”, she adds, “Go bolder for dinner and dancing – think a striking plum lip, for instance, or smokier eyes.”
For those of you opting to do your own make-up, Rea Ann Silva, has some tips: for creating a natural glow, says Rea, “Highlighter is a great way to brighten darker skin tones. Choose a cream or liquid formula for deeper skin tones, as it is easier to blend and more natural looking than powders,” she explains.
“For paler skin tones, if you want to create a healthy glow,” Rea says, “Use a beauty blender pro to bounce your favourite cream or powder bronzer onto the areas of the face the sun would naturally hit (the top of the forehead, cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose and chin). Using a matte powder formula is the best bet for a first-time bronzer user.”
the shoes: Aruna Seth made headlines worldwide when Pippa Middleton stepped out in her shoes at Britain’s Royal Wedding – listen to her! “When choosing shoes for the big day, a few things brides need to take into consideration are: the colour of your dress, the wedding theme colours – for example, is there a pop of fuchsia?” she asks.
Also, Aruna Seth clients rarely ask for shoes over 110mm, which is the highest height she recommends for feeling comfortable walking down the aisle. So while Louboutins may be on your list for the big day, Aruna advises going for comfort first and then choosing your best style.
As for shoe trends this season, the designer says: “Peep toes will always be more popular than sandals with our clients for any season.”