How to Pick a Wedding Dress

I’m not at the stage in my life where I am picking out a wedding dress. That will one day come. So in the mean time I am helping all my friends pick out their dresses for that special day. They have a huge range of tastes and it has brought up a lot of good things to condsider when you pick a wedding dress.
I’m not a wedding expert, in fact the idea of having to get into that dress makes me dizzy. So the fact that when I started looking at dresses I knew nothing has made me start the learning curve from the very beginning. I will be adding to this as I learn new things, and there’s always more to learn.

Your Personality

The first thing to take into account is your personality. What do you want to wear? That isn’t always an easy question. So start by deciding what you don’t want to wear. Maybe you don’t want to wear white, or you don’t want beading and embellishments….see we’re getting there. Once you know what you don’t like you can start to narrow down what you do like. Be true to yourself, even if tradition says you should wear a certain thing or a certain way, remember this is your big day, not your friends, your mothers or societies. So wear only what you want to wear.
If you are true to yourself you will feel good about the choices you made when you look back at the wedding years later.


If you’re being true to yourself, then by this point you know if you want a theme wedding or not. Theme weddings aren’t for everyone. Or the families think it’s a really bad idea. So maybe you decide you don’t want to do the theme, but you want some element of that theme there. Your dress can certainly reflect this.
If you have decided on a theme you probably know a lot about it. Is there historical value to the dress? Is it a certain trend that might not be in style? You may need to find a seamstress to make your dress. Make sure you research it (assuming you need to) and then guide the seamstress on the dress, be picky about it, we’re talking accuracy here. But you may not need accuracy for your theme, either way do have fun with it.


If you are having a destination wedding, you may need something different from the typical bridal gown. Find out what the weather should be like around the time of your wedding, at the location. You’ll need to plan accordingly. If it is a humid environment you will want something light and breezy, perhaps a cotton or light fabric. If it’s a cold environment (I don’t know anyone who has done this) then look for something with a warmer material and lots of layers. You might like that trendy cape look with the big hood.
You may not be able to find dresses suited for your destination where ever you live. It’s time to take the searching on line. Or get a local seamstress to create something for you, go shopping for the fabric together, that way you have her knowledge of materials and what you like.
Browsing online can really help, even if you have no intention of shopping on line. It gives you ideas, and you might find that perfect dress that you want your local seamstress to make for you. Then she will have a picture to work from.


The weather is a crucial thing to think about. You need to look at forecasts. The weather seems to get more spontaneous (at least where I live, where one day it’s +20 C and the next day it’s -10 C and snowing. While your region may not be the most predictable, there are certain months when you can expect certain weather patterns. You will want to think about what the weather should be like, in the month you’ve chose. Is there likely to be a drastic change? How about a minor change, like rain? Is your wedding indoors or out? You may need a back up plan if it is outdoors.
Don’t spend too much time worry about this, just pick a dress that is suited to the weather you should be having. Have umbrellas (or mitts) at the ready if you anticipate the possibility of a weather change. And if it does change on you, don’t feel like it ruined your wedding. It’s just a surprise, and life is full of them!


Obviously if you have an allergy to a type of material, you won’t be wearing it to your wedding. Chose a fabric that you like, that feels comfortable. Make sure it is appropriate for the weather and location. If you end up with a fabric that you rarely wear or have never worn, find something in the same fabric and wear around the house! You’ll usually know in the first day if you will have an allergic reaction to it, best to find out now rather then on your wedding day.

Shopping Online

So far the easiest shopping is online. Not necessarily buying online, that brings a whole new ball park with the measurements and not being able to see the dress in person. But shopping online can be a calm way to dress shop. There are far less brides to elbow…maybe just yourself. For me that is a huge help, I get panicky with a bunch of brides running around a small store, dresses flying off the racks, lots of yelling, you get the idea.
So being able to look online, especially when I’m not sure what I like has been a huge help. I just save all the pictures of the dresses I do like and in time eliminate them if I don’t like them any more. Although it is really good to remember which designer created which dress, that way you can always go back to it online or even possibly order it through a bridal shop.
Looking online has also been a huge time saver, especially for my friends who want a particular type of dress, renaissance for example. Lots out there but if you can find an example it is much better, you will probably need a seamstress anyways.


Color is a huge factor to some brides and for some it’s the easiest thing ever. The tradition of course is white, but you are seeing more and more off-white, ivory or cream dresses, some people just don’t like white or don’t look good in it. For some traditional values get in the way, they may not believe in the traditions or believe a lot in them. The idea of white was purity, or virginity. It’s up to you if you want to follow that or not. Wearing a color doesn’t have to be a statement about your values, you might just like white.
More and more we are seeing dresses that are full of color, or even just a touch of color to a white dress. There is no limit to the colors you can wear. Some of the more popular are red, black, green and some pinks. But like I said, it’s limitless! What if you found a dress you really like, but it’s in the wrong color and you can’t imagine what it would be like in a different color, the color you want.
First check to make sure the dress is even available in that color. Then if you know photoshop (or another photo editing program) or know someone who does, try a color replacement with the brush tool and this should give you an idea of what it might look like. I did this for my one friend who wanted a renaissance/medieval wedding gown. She had picture of the perfect dress, but not the right colors. So I changed it to a variation of purples, and let her see what she liked best. I think this really helped her to decide on her overall color scheme for the wedding as well.
That’s another point about color, does it match the colors for the wedding? You might pick the colors around the dress, but if you havn’t try to make sure the colors don’t clash, unless that’s what you want.

Weight Gain

Most of us don’t plan our weight gain, sometimes it just happens, you’ll be stressed about the wedding and you might never notice until you get in your dress. The type of dress that is best for this possibility are the kind that lace up in the back. This way you can make them looser or tighter (if your the lucky kind who looses weight). If your dream dress doesn’t have this option, when you are getting alterations done, instruct them to leave enough fabric on the inside so it can be re-altered if need be.

Prom Dresses

Why have I put prom dresses in the wedding section? Simple Prom dresses are generally cheaper then wedding dresses, some do come in white. If you are on a budget, or looking for a different color or style/fabric, this might be your best bet. Also don’t rule out evening gowns or other fancy dresses. I have found a lot of prom dresses that I would definitely consider wearing to my wedding.

How Do You Do the Dress Up

Consider how the dress is done up. Do you have a small bladder and would have a very difficult time getting it up or off? Are there a million buttons or a lace do up? This isn’t really a huge issue but you may want to think about it ahead of time. That way when you do have to go to the bathroom, or it’s just time to take the dress off, you’ll know the best way to get it off without damaging it.

The Train

Some women love the traditional long train. If you do and you get a dress with one, make sure there is a way of gathering it up at the back and holding it together, you don’t want to be tripping over it all the time. Also consider how long you want your train to be. But for those who don’t like them and view them as more of a safety hazard, there are plenty of options out there without trains. If you find a dress you just love, but has a train, see if your seamstress can effectively take it off and make it look like it was never there.

The Veil

There are plenty of styles of veils to chose from. Some pin in the back, under the hair. Some are more traditional and sit on top of the head, or clip over a bun. Some veils use decorative clips or tiaras to help them in place. Some are the full out covers your face kind, which isn’t as popular any more.
Remember that you don’t have to have a veil, this is a personal choice. Even if you want a veil, consider the dress you have chosen, will it look good with it? Will it look like it even belongs? Try the veils on when you’ve decided on a gown and see how it looks, you might be surprised. And if you don’t like veils, just for the fun of it, since you are under no obligation to buy, try a few and see how it looks (best done with a buddy who can make it fun).

The Jewelry

Jewelry can be a huge part of an outfit, or a very small part. It depends on what you want to draw the focus to, if your dress is plainer, then jewelry might be the way to dress it up and make it look really fancy. If your dress is embellished and sparkly, then you might not want to add more to it. Generally Jewelry comes after picking the gown.
If you like being one-of-a-kind you can get some really unique things (hand made) on Etsy. There are all sorts of things, including beautiful hand made flowers for the hair, which should last you forever (unless you break them). They also have original bouquets that don’t die. Take a look around, you might find the perfect thing. And if you do see something but you might like something changed, like color, email the seller, they are usually happy to make something just for you.

Bras and Such

Your bra might be very important, depending on how much support you need. I can’t give you definite answers about bras here, but look at the shape of your gown, is it strapless, what’s the color? Then either go to a bra shop or a specialty store and see what they can do for you. You might want it fancy, you might not, depends on your feelings about the wedding night. The idea is to not see your bra during the wedding, so a black bra under a white dress might not be the best idea.

Tapes and Glues

If you have a style of dress that maybe has a little gap or isnt’ laying quite flat, consider clothing tape or glue (make sure it is specifically for clothing, I don’t want to see your super glued to your dress).

Pit Stains

This usually isn’t a problem, but if you do have this problem, make sure you have a good deodorant and antipirsparent, do test it out first. It would be a shame to wreck your dress due to sweat or bad antipirsparent. If sweating is a huge issue for you and you really don’t know what to do. Consider going to your doctor.
Some doctors, can or will recommend someone, who can do botox injections under the arms (or other areas you sweat a lot) this will minimize the sweating for a period of time (I am not a doctor and make no recommendations but you can look into it). And to be on the safe side, don’t do it right before the wedding, you might want to do it twice, the first time will be to know it will work.