All Dressed Up and Someplace to Go
He asked, you said yes, now what? “The bridal dress is your first stop after the ring,” says Shannon Shadle, manager at The Amber Rose Bridal in Williamsport. “Normally the dress is the big thing.” Indeed. With an average price tag of $1,200 to $1,500 (and, certainly, the option of spending way more or somewhat less; Shannon agrees that budget is a critical consideration, but notes that “we, of course, have a sale rack”), finding The Dress is a huge deal on the bridal bliss scale. Where to begin?
Regardless of where you are shopping, “appointments are preferred,” concur Shannon and Tiffany Brungart, a consultant at Amber Rose. Surprisingly, they say, it normally takes only about an hour for a bride to really narrow down her choices, but a girl on a mission can toss a lot of tulle and lace off and on in sixty minutes. “You know after you’ve tried on a few what is working,” says Shannon. Tiffany adds that “trying on too many can be confusing,” so, if you have the time, it might be less stressful to stagger your searches rather than to opt for one marathon day of looking at dresses.
Brides should also be mindful of the fact that “bridal runs small,” Shannon says. That means if you’ve been working out and/or dieting in anticipation of slipping into a size four or six, and the tag on the dress you love says eight or ten, remember it’s all semantics. ere is no need to starve yourself into a smaller size based on an arbitrary number on a dress label.
It is helpful, Shannon continues, if brides try to be open-minded and try all styles. A lot of girls come in with the idea of wanting a fitted dress and leave with a ball gown style, and vice-versa.
“You still pull a tted gown, and let her make the call, but you might also suggest something you think would work,” Shannon says.
You might presume finding a dress you can walk in, or one that will allow you to dance or sit down for your wedding supper would be something of a primary consideration, but, meh, not always so much.
“Some people want comfort and some don’t care,” Tiffany says, recalling that brides have told her they don’t intend to sit down all day anyway. Bring on the corset and the laces, right? Actually, purchasing special undergarments for the wedding dress is often not necessary these days, as many dresses have the appropriate built-in foundations. At Amber Rose, “we do their fittings and alterations,” she says, so they can address the need then if something special or additional is required to make the dress fit properly.
Neither time of year nor venues seem to be much of an issue for brides making dress decisions for themselves and/or their bridesmaids, say Shannon and Tiffany. Regarding summer v. winter, it’s an individual choice, of course, but the professionals at Amber Rose say the days of “seasonal bridal dresses” are gone. As for bridesmaids’ attire, brides these days often choose a designer and a color, then let the bridesmaids pick out their own dresses. For brides, ivory is the most popular color, with champagne trending, says Shannon.
“We’ve sold, maybe, five white gowns in the past two years,” she notes. Black, says Tiffany, is kind of big right now for mothers and bridesmaids; pastels are always popular, too. Veils and trains are, of course, another part of what makes the perfect bridal dress ensemble.
“People are doing more with headbands and different things,” says Tiffany.
So what about the guys, that other half of the bridal party? For the groom and groomsmen, “color is the thing,” Tiffany says. Tails (on tuxes) are out, so the choices remaining are: suspenders or none, bow tie or straight tie, shirt type, and the jacket. Venue plays more of a part with tuxedo choice, says Tiffany, as it influences the “jacket” or “no jacket” option.
One new twist on bridal attire is wedding suits for women. There are a variety of classy-looking tux-like suits that might be a super-unique choice for a super-unique bride. Brides might also put some thought into what they’ll wear as a going-away outfit, depending, of course, on their mode of travel and whether the newlyweds are leaving directly from the reception.
Then there is the question of what to do with the wedding dress after the fact. Traditionally a bride might pack it away in tissue paper and mothballs, or fold it up and place it at the bottom of her hope chest. Today’s brides, however, might have a “trash the dress” day just for fun; one woman wore her dress to Knoebels, rode the rides, and had a blast posting the photos. Others might cut up their gowns to make christening dresses for their children, or use their dresses for a costume.
“It’s not so much keeping the dress for the kids anymore,” says Tiffany.