A Dress for Every Occasion
There are 3 crucial elements to a girl's fantasy wedding: The Ring. The Man. And... The Dress.
This is not a day to skimp on looking your absolute best and this dress symbolizes a whole lot more than white/purity/innocence traditions like it used to. Designers have been crafting the most elegant, glamorous, and frivolous wedding gowns for centuries because there is a need for it. Women splurge for the most perfect wedding gown for their transition from single-hood to married life. Haute Couture gowns are a statement piece. Some gowns are big, some are tailored. Some are lace, some are satin. Some have rhinestones, some just have layers of tulle. Every gown is different - just like every bride.
A girl's wedding dress embodies her style, her personality, the formality of their wedding, and will be forever immortalized in breathtaking photos. This dress will be worn one time, on arguably the most important day of a girl's life. And even though it needs to be perfect, it's not the only dress to be concerned with (or slightly obsess over!).
As I am planning my wedding and nitpicking every single, teensy, weensy, minute detail, I am finding that I am more hung up on all the other dresses for every occasion leading up to the big day. Let me explain...
I went dress shopping for my wedding gown 2 months after I got engaged. I took my mom, sister, matron of honor, and my grandmother. I walked into the boutique with my game face on, ready to find the perfect dress. Dress, after dress, after dress... nothing was quite standing out as a favorite. Not that I was expecting that "OH WOW" moment with tears - I don't get emotional over dresses, but nothing was talking to me. I was satisfied. Thank goodness for back-to-back appointments, because I used almost 3 hours trying to find a dress. After trying on 35 or more dresses, I ended up falling in love with the very first dress I tried on. It was elegant, chic, & simple (and on sale). After glamming it up with the veil and accessories, I rang the bell and "Said Yes to The Dress." Easy peasy...
Right? No. There are major (and heavily photographed) events leading up to the Big Day. All of those occasions and parties require certain attire, too. There can't just be one important dress and the rest forgotten about: I want every outfit to be special. This is the one time in my life I feel like I can be picky and a tad superficial (plus, I still am holding a tiny bit of a grudge against never going to high school Prom and getting fancy dresses...petty, I know).
So what other dresses are important?
1. Bridal Shower
This is usually the first big event leading up to your wedding. It is also typically a nicer event, where a knee length dress or maxi dress is appropriate. Short sexy cocktail dresses may not be your best bet for a luncheon or tea-party type shower. There are people from all sides of the family, friends you may not have seen in years, and everyone will be taking pictures. Photos are not as forgiving as seeing an outfit in real life amiright? So make this an outfit you are comfortable in and won't be adjusting all day. (The camera adds 10 pounds? Yes). This is not the time for that cute off-the-shoulder, chiffon sundress you've been dying to wear, or heels that give you blisters after 20 minutes. And be mindful of your guests - if your grandmother will be there, make sure you aren't wearing a dress that is too short or low-cut. You don't want people looking down your dress while you open gifts. Not ladylike or feminine.
My shower is in September (THIS MONTH! WOO!). And in Maryland, the weather can be hot or cold. Figuring out the perfect outfit for this event took a lot of effort. I didn't want to wear something that was too summery but I didn't want to break out a fall outfit yet, either. Something neutral and feminine was my best bet. The season of your shower can determine your outfit choice, and it should.
The key is to find a compromise between comfort and style. You can find both, I promise!
I opted for a Taupe, matte sequin dress from Express. This dress has thin spaghetti straps, a loose fitting skirt, and empire waist. Not too tight, not too short, and will photograph well. I'm pairing the dress with nude heels and a black, nude, and gold clutch for a clean, chic, finished look.
2. Bachelorette Party
For the last fling before the ring, this is where you can break out the fun *party-girl outfit. A night out with your best girls, celebrating your upcoming nuptials, and dancing the night away means your outfit can definitely be a little more outgoing and fun. You are not going out to flirt with and attract men anymore (the hard part is over!), but you can still feel confident, sexy, and attractive at your bachelorette party! A tight cocktail dress or something that is a little low-cut and more revealing than usual can be fun, as long as you won't be too busy adjusting your outfit all night!
Chances are, you're older and a bit wiser than you were at 19 (when you would walk to frat parties, in the snow, wearing a mini dress, and 5" heels...) so don't feel like you have to be uncomfortable or freeze. You're getting married, not going to a frat formal. Thankfully, jumpsuits are in style, high-neck halters are fashionable, and maxi dresses are chic. Wear what will make you feel your best.
There are a ton of online boutiques that offer gorgeous white/ivory/blush "going out" dresses that are still stylish and chic and timeless! My favorite sites to peruse are Lulus, Tobi, and Venus. Find a dress that you could wear again - especially if it's expensive. There's no shame in that. Also, think about what you may be doing and what you'll be comfortable wearing. Nice dinner and drinks calls for a nicer outfit than if you are going clubbing. A jumpsuit or romper isn't the easiest for bathroom breaks if you plan on going bar-hopping and dancing (although they are super adorable). Just coordinate with your maid/matron-of-honor so you can pick the perfect outfit.
*Party-girl does not mean slutty or skin-baring - just more fun than daily attire
3. The Rehearsal and Dinner
The final night as a single woman is the perfect occasion for a new outfit - plus, it's a super important event! The rehearsal will be your first-and-only run through to perfect your ceremony. But not only that, it's also most likely the time you'll bring your centerpieces, decorations, and anything extra to the venue with you. Get set up as much as possible so your wedding day can be all about pampering and becoming a Mrs.
Because you'll be walking and coordinating and decorating, this outfit is truly built for comfort. Comfort does not mean jeans and an old t-shirt, because there will be photos. The rehearsal and dinner tend to be a nicer event, so a casual dress and booties or flats are appropriate. Or, use this time to have a test run in your wedding shoes! Practicing a walk down the aisle in your heels will make you feel more confident on your Big Day.
Depending on where you choose to have your rehearsal dinner may also affect your choice of attire - if you have your dinner at a local, casual restaurant, a more casual dress is appropriate. But a nicer dinner at a downtown establishment may require a more polished look. It all comes down to comfort for you, the bride.
For my wedding, being in January, I chose an off-the-shoulder beige sweater dress and will pair it with gold accessories and taupe booties during the day. For the rehearsal and dinner, I will change into a burgundy closed-toe kitten heel that matches my wedding colors. The dress is super soft and cozy and can be dressed up or down - something I will certainly wear again! Our rehearsal is at one of our favorite Baltimore taverns that has great food and a laid-back atmosphere. We have a private upstairs room where we can focus on our bridal part, family, and friends.
As easy as it is to stress over getting the perfect dress, it's not just about one dress. It's about all the events leading up to the Big Day and all the celebrations that lead to you marrying the perfect man. Go for comfort, then style, and you'll exude confidence and glow all day!