Friday, July 5, 2013

How to Choose Your Wedding Gown Part 1


He popped that question, you said "Yes", next minute you can't wait to dash out to the bridal salon.

Girls, admit it, I have been there. The first thing that occupies our mind right after engagement is not the guest list, nor the venue, but The Dress!

(For brides-to-be in Singapore or around the region, eg. Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan etc, substitute the dress with bridal package. The main decision will still lay with the bridal gown, but with additional consideration of pre-wedding photography package.)

Spring 2014 collections are out! Don't we all want to get into dress-shopping mode now?
Flowers motives are all in range again (Top left: Monique Lhuillier.  Top right:  Oscar de la Renta) and models are sent down the runway with bridal umbrella (Bottom left: Reem Acra) and hats (Bottom right: Pronovias)

Before you head out to all the bridal salons you know, or stroll down Tanjong Pagar Road if you are in Singapore, stop yourself, and ask whether you have answers to these questions?
  • Have you fixed your date and time of your celebration? 
  • Have you reserved your venue? 
  • Have you had a budget for your bridal ensemble?
The numerous wedding magazine, reality TV, romance novel or even chick-flicks would make us believe that finding The Dress is like finding The One. Blushing brides-to-be walked into a posh-looking salon, wedding dress consultant brought up a couple of dresses, you tried out one of them and suddenly the world stops, your heart races, your mum starts tearing, and Viola! you found your dress.

If that's the way you found your dress, BEFORE having the three big questions settled (and there are still numerous small ones), you are in for trouble and better start praying that the dress you choose somehow fits the bill.

It is not by chance that Kate Hudson (right) wears a much grander dress than Anne Hathaway (left) in the Bride Wars - where latter ends up just as a bridesmaid.  Lots of deliberation went into choosing The Dress instead of just geting one that makes your heart flutters. 
Have you fixed your date and time of your celebration? 
If you are based in Singapore, good for you. You don't need to worry about the chill in winter. For those who are more fortunate or unfortunate (depends on which point of view) who stay in temperate climates, the seasons of your wedding is going to determine the fabrics of your dress.Wearing a chiffon dress or even a tulle dress in the middle of winter is going to make you looks out of place, regardless how goddess-like you look in that dress. And the chill is going to make you freeze and it is going to show in the photos. On the other hand, wearing velvet or heavy satin in the middle of summer or tropical countries like Singapore is going to make you and your carefully-applied make up melt.

Even you are getting married in the middle of winter, fret not. Fur-lined gown (left) like the one from Reem Acra 2014 or a fur bolero (right) like the one from Monique Lhuillier 2014 will keep you warm and in-line with the season.

The time of the celebration is also important. If you are having an evening celebration, get something beaded or crystal-laced, use fabrics with luxurious shine. Or else you will seem under dressed-even you are clad in USD$12,000 Vera Wang Eliza. On the other hand, your bead-encrusted Zuhair Murad gown will makes you looks over-dressed for wedding lunch celebration. Plus, no one will able to see the bling under the bright sunlight which you paid so much for it.

Left: Vera Wang Eliza, one of my favourite from her collection. Right: Zuhair Murad 2011 collections.

Have you reserved your venue? 
Like real-estate, location plays more important role in determining the style of your dress then you would like to admit. Dreamy tulle gown is not going to give you the spotlight you need for ballroom celebration of 300 people. You need shiny satin, crystal, rhinestones... anything that scream bling. You might find it over the top when trying them in the bridal salon, but your photograph will convince you it is a good choice.

If you are getting married at some place less formal such as a colonial bungalow, wineyard, museum or art gallery, tone down your dress accordingly. You don' need to go all bare and ditch the satin, crystal and rhinestone altogether. Mix and match, give and take: If you are wearing satin, pick one with lace embellishment instead of crystal embellishment; if your dress is made up of chiffon, play it up with beaded collars or beaded belt to give the glam it deserves.

Glam or Casual Chic? Your wedding locations matters as much as your personality.
Left: Elie Saab, Right: Amanda Wakaley 2014 

If you are having a beach wedding, stay away from train. I once saw a picture of a bride marrying on the beach wearing satin gown with 3 feet long train. It looks out of the place. And sea water, sand and god-knows-what on the beach will irreversibly destroy your dress. Definitely not how you want your dress to end up. Go for long cathedral veil to create the omph instead.

Regardless where you choose, the keyword is reserved. Plan will change if you haven't reserved your venue. It might not be available, or you bump into somewhere better. Now you need to change your dress, which might have been ordered. Fixed your venue first, then find your dress. The good thing is, you can automatically rule out all the unsuitable ones. Trust me, you will still have more than enough to try on.

Have you had a budget for your bridal ensemble?

Before even getting into budget for bridal ensemble, have you even established a total budget for your wedding and discussed it with your fiancĂ© or whoever is funding it? A wedding doesn't come cheap these days. The average wedding in US costs USD26,000, while in Singapore is around SGD$30,000 to SGD$50,000 depending whether you want to calculate the red packet as "profit" (see here and here).

The wedding industry machinery is well-oiled to go after your money (You NEED this hand-made letter-pressed wedding invitation to IMPRESSED your guests and shows that you CARE...which only goes down to every guest's trash bin, sounds familiar?). I am not saying that you shouldn't go for exotic flower arrangements and embossed invitation, but make sure you have your budget and stick with it. Or else, there are always more tempting "must-haves" in the wedding industry to make you spend the money that you would rather put it into house down payment or renovations.

Your dream wedding gown, at what price? Elie Saab at Paris Couture Week Fall 2013
Back to budget for bridal ensemble, and pay attention to the word "ensemble". Ensemble means your shoes, your veil, your headpiece, underwear etc. These doesn't come cheap, although Martha Stewart Wedding advices allocation around 10-15% of your total ensemble budget towards accessories, you might still be in for a price shock when you really start shopping.

I can personally vault for this. The veil I fall in love with at Designer Bridal Room comes at a jaw-dropping RM2000 price-tag. Yes, it is made of silk illusion, that drapes so elegantly and dreamy when I tried on it and it is totally different from the nylon tulle veil that crumples and completely lacks of substance. But, my god, what a price for a piece of fabric. And if you are into Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo, remember to budget that in!

Okay, I think that's pretty much to chew on for now, especially if you haven't had answers to all three questions, there are a lot of stuff to discuss and decide for you. Next up, we will talk about how to choose a wedding gown based on your body shape, age and for second time marriage.

PS:I got most of these advices from the book "Quest for the Dress: Finding Your Dream Gown Without Losing Your Sanity, Friends or Groom". Unlike typical pictures-filled wedding gown coffee table book, this book is filled of gems from bridal gown designer of 30 over years, Nancy Di Fabbio. 

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  1. White snow : it is a radiant white but without that bluish hue, the color of snow. It is the most similar to pure white, although it is still a not very popular color. Undoubtedly, brides with dark skin tone, bet on this white!

  2. Crude / broken white: this is the tone of white that more brides use, in fact, almost 90% of them choose it for their design. It is the natural color of silk before subjecting it to dyes. An off white that favors very much, especially, brides with complexion neither very clear nor very dark.