As professional wedding photographers we travel all over the UK and Europe and see dozens of wedding dress, on dozens of brides, each with their own unique style and shape.
So what do you need to consider when buying your dream wedding dress?
1. Who is the wedding dress for?
This is a real issue when choosing your perfect wedding dress. Many girls grow up with a Princess Dress and a Princess Wedding in their mind. They may vary that idea from Beauty & The Beast and call it ‘Vintage’, but the underlying idea remains. It’s the Bride’s big day, therefore the wedding dress is for the bride.
One of my favourite wedding photographs which Keith gets from the back of the ceremony is when the bride walks in and the groom turns around and sees her in all her glory for the first time. In that one wedding photograph you know which brides have chosen for themselves and which have chosen for their groom!
Brides magazine did a survey in which they asked 2000 grooms about their ideal wedding dress. The editor said she was amazed because its was not the figure hugging, boobs popping wedding dress they expected.
Before you buy ask your guy what he likes, you may be surprised.
2. Iconic 'verses' Fashionable
There are many reasons why some wedding dresses are iconic and other are well, just wedding dresses. And its not who wore them which makes them iconic.
An iconic design has stood the test of time. The fundamentals of the design keep reappearing. Iconic is not that millions of brides have replicated a wedding dress styles. Its that those styles are timeless and no one has been able to improve on them.
For example the wedding dress worn by Kate Middleton. If you pay close attention to the design, the neckline, the bodice, the lace detailing. You can’t help notice Its actually not a million miles away from the style of wedding dress Grace Kelly wore in 1956 when she married Prince Rainer.
Likewise the wedding shirt suit with plunging neckline owes its existence to Bianca Jagger. Whilst the figure hugging wedding dress began back in the 1940’s worn by the actress Gene Tierney.
If you look closely at their iconic design nearly all have lace detailing, some have lace sleeves, others capped sleeves. They work on the principle that less is more. They work because they leave the onlooker with a desire that only her groom will fulfill.
3. Cover up 'verses' reveal all
There is no diplomatic way of saying this, if there was I am certain bridal shop owners would have found a way, but they haven’t!
Don’t get drawn into the prevailing fashion of bodice (boob-tube) wedding dresses where you have nothing covering arms and back.
I need to be honest here girls, as a wedding photographer and hopefully one day bride myself. This style of wedding dress is the most prolific at the moment and yet suites very, very few brides. Usually those with a body fat index below 15%.
The issue is that this corseted style of wedding dress where you lace up the back as tight as you can in order to hold the dress in place causes any spare flesh to be pushed upwards and outwards.
We not talking oversized brides. You can actually be the right weight for your size but look overweight by the time the dress has finished pulling you in and pushing you up. There are many dress styles better suited than these to creating a great cleavage.
Every year brides ask us to slim down their arms, or push in their back fat in post production. Surely it would have been better to have chosen the right wedding dress for their wedding day rather than reveal all.
Remember is you are asking your wedding photographer to slim arms and loose back fat, that’s what your guests are seeing all day!
If you are not happy for your arms to be seen on your wedding photographs as they really are, then you may have chosen the wrong wedding dress.
Please remember wedding dress shops rarely tell you that you have made the wrong choice because they want to sell the dress.
Again look at the iconic wedding dresses, almost all of them have beautiful lace necklines and sleeves or they have capped sleeve.
4. Do I need a hoop?
There is a law in wedding photography and it goes like this – ‘The closure you are, the more in love you appear’. For wedding photograph proximity matters more than for other types of photography. Having a gap between the bride and groom sends out visual messages of not really being interested in one another. Now keep this in mind as you read on.
Another TV program I love is Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, I know how sad this looks, but this show is hilarious. If you would like the complete opposite to a romantic wedding, then these are the dresses for you.
We photographed a bride who had a dress similar to those you see in the show. First of all the groom could only get in arms reach. When we did manage to get him close, as he moved in so the back of the dress moved upwards and outwards making the whole intimate photography almost impossible.
Here’s the things, you can have a big dress where the size of the dress goes out from behind in a train rather than out at the front. Again Kate Middleton had a large dress however the front of the dress was quite flat leaving room for her groom to actually get to her.
Big dresses need something to hold them off your legs so you can walk. Usually that something is a hooped underskirt. Without the hoop you would struggle to move. The problem with a hoop is its literally a piece of steel or plastic which sits on you like a bell. Therefore push one end and the other end will move away from you.
There is an alternative, which is netting. The great thing about netting is that it moves where you touch and no where else. So you can have a big dress and you can still get close to your groom for your wedding photography.
Likewise netting allows you to have a dress where the bulk of it is behind you because you can have the underskirt layered for a train, leaving you free up-front to hug your man.
5. Match Your Shape
You already have the perfect body shape, now all you need is the wedding dress which matches that shape. Gok Wan has done so much for appreciating our body shape and realizing that the shape we are if just great, what we have to do is match our shape to the right dress.
Know what your dress shape is, whether that’s pear or hourglass make sure you know your shape and then only try on dress which match that shape and you won’t be disappointed.
Here’s a Gok video that will bring a tear to your eye. Here he helps a bride find the right wedding dress and here’s the video of the finished wedding dress.
Know you body shape and match it to the right shaped dress and you will look a million dollars on your wedding day and in your wedding photography.