As a bride, one of the most exciting stages of your wedding planning is finding your fated wedding gown. Since dress shopping is not only exciting but inevitably trying, Team MAE wanted to bring you some strategic tips and tricks to make the dress hunt as stress-free and magical as possible!
First things first, start the process informed. According to The Knot, the average cost of a U.S. wedding in 2015 was $32,641, with the cost of a traditional wedding dress approximately $1,500. In Chicago (as to be expected in major city markets), the average cost of a wedding in 2015 was $61,265. With these numbers, brides can look at spending about 6-10% of their wedding budget on their dress. That total comes out to approximately $3,500+ on attire alone including alterations, shoes and accessories.
Since planning is our forte at MAE, we love a good timeline and so should you! Here is what to expect:
9-12 Months: Solid research has brought great savings and dress finding fortune to our brides at MAE. During this time we suggest purchasing a few bridal magazines as an excellent starting point. Flipping through will help give you a sense of what you like and don’t along with provide you an initial platform. If you are a paperless princess and opt for online shopping, checkout The Knot's dress finder section for an excellent listing of silhouettes and designers that you can search by filter. Pinterest is a great spot too for pinning gown inspiration that you can bring with you to your dress appointments. Be sure to make your board Top Secret!
6-9 Months: During this timeframe you should be closing in on making your final selection. It is advised to make your selection no later than 7 months prior to your wedding date. However, if you go down the road of custom couture you will certainly need to allocate more time. When you do find that fabulous frock be prepared to place at least 50% down.
3-6 Months: Shop for three essentials during this time so you are prepared when you head into your first fitting around the 3 month mark: nude undergarments, accessories and shoes! Hemming your dress properly goes hand-in-hand with having your heels on during your appointment. Alternation costs typically range $200 to upwards of $1,000 depending on your alterations shop, fabric type and timing.
2-8 Weeks: Remaining fittings occur during this time frame and they are geared toward tweaking your dress just right. Be sure to have your alterations shop include a final dress steam for you. Also it's a good practice to take a video of correctly bustling your dress. Send the video to your planner or your Maid/Matron of Honor so you can really break it down on the dance floor!
MAE's Tip: Timeline is an important juncture to chat about getting things tight and right before your big day! We’d like to stress that healthy working out and eating methods should be part of your everyday lifestyle, not squeezed in just before your wedding. Lauren Conrad, in partnership with the Tone It Up girls Karena and Katrina, provide an excellent toning guide for brides-to-be. Our personal favorite workout at MAE is Shred415! They even offer an excellent program for bride & groom's to-be called "Shred to Wed" a 3 month training series. Shred’s HIIT Training (High Intensity Interval Training) combines both cardio and strength training in a dynamic setting. A fabulous way to have fun and see the results you are looking for in record time!
It’s time to take a walk on the wild side and book those dress appointments! As you may know, Team MAE always follows “The Law of At Least Three.” Do some homework and start by finding three bridal shops that carry your favorite designers, but do your due diligence to ensure that the dress of your dreams is within your budget. Don’t be afraid to ask your wedding planner for assistance in locating the perfect dress. While your wedding planner will serve as your right hand, wedding dress consultants and boutiques are the experts in knowing the bridal market through and through. The standard appointment lasts 60 - 90 minutes, so it’s important to use your time wisely with selecting a few of your favorite silhouettes. The stylist assisting during your appointment is on hand to pick a few options that work well with your overall vision, wedding location and body type. Be sure to let him or her do their magic!
“I do not dress my brides in any gown she cannot afford,” says wedding dress consultant Caroline Shaw of The Wedding Dresser. We could not agree with Caroline more. While it may be fun to put on that Oscar De La Renta gown, you will inevitably fall in love with the design but not the price tag and will leave heartbroken. With Caroline’s lifelong eye for design, fabric, dress construction and detail she is a local Chicago favorite and has dressed hundreds of happy brides. For more information on her services please visit The Wedding Dresser.
MAE's Tip: Have fun with your appointments! Pop some champagne and enjoy your personal fashion show! While you may want to include your whole posse, it’s best to keep your total crew between three and five people. Be sure to make it clear if you want photos taken, or if you would rather keep the memory between the group. We also recommend researching bridal boutiques for upcoming trunk shows. Trunk shows are a fabulous way to see new bridal collections, receive discounts and potentially meet your favorite designer!
With so many options for silhouettes these days, it can become a hassle to find the perfect one (Click the image gallery above for a few of our favorites!) Luckily, Team MAE covers the common silhouettes brides will encounter on the hunt for the perfect dress.
A-Line: The skirt basically creates the letter A. The skirt flares out from the waist but is not as full as a ball gown. This silhouette is universally flattering and will look beautiful on any bride.
Ball gown: How do you become Cinderella? With a ball gown. A standard ball gown has a fitted bodice with the trademarked full skirt. This silhouette is also known to be figure flattering for almost every bride.
Empire Waist: An empire waistline comes up to the end of the bustline and creates a long column dress similar to the sheath. The dress is perfect for petite brides as it appears to elongate the body.
Mermaid: A mermaid cut accentuates your curves while flaring out beneath the knees. Hourglass brides who like a little drama will love this type of dress!
Trumpet: This dress is similar to the mermaid as it hugs your curves but flares out at the knees. The two can be hard to distinguish but it’s all about where the flare begins. The trumpet is easier to move around if you are a dancing queen bride as the flare begins at the knees and not lower.
Sheath: Also known as the column silhouette, a sheath dress skims the body from the neckline to the hem. This dress is great for tall or petite brides.
Still unsure of what silhouette to pick? Essense Designs created a cute quiz to help brides find their perfect bridal style. No studying necessary! My bridal style is Classic Prep. What’s your’s?
MAE’s Tip: Having an open mind is essential to your dress appointment. While you may have had your heart set on a glamorous sheath, that bodacious ball gown might end up being your perfect fit. Allowing your consultant to step in with suggestions is the moment when an appointment can go from a basic “Aww” to an overwhelming “WOW!”
The final piece to this puzzle is your accessories, with the number one rule being to not overdo it! While you may be tempted to put on every shiny bauble catching your eye, please note jewelry should enhance, not upstage.
Start by choosing metals that match or complement your dress color. Gone are the days of standard white - There is stark white, natural white, ivory, champagne, blush, even light blue, pink and black these days! Consider platinum or pearl accessories with true white shades. Natural white works best with most metals as it is more of an “off-white” than stark white. The trendsetter bride will wear rose gold and even mixed metals to embellish her look. Ivory dresses call for gold metals that will bring out warmer tones of the dress.
Headpieces are a great way to enhance your look and also transition between special moments throughout the day. There are several headpiece options available to brides ranging from the traditional veil to a fragrant flower that can be an add-on with your floral designer. Be sure to work with your hair stylist ahead of time to perfectly coordinate your total look if you are selecting a headpiece. In addition to style, make sure that the metal you choose for your headpiece matches the overall metal selection of your accessories. Click here for a great article from Vogue regarding hair adornments. If you decide to walk down the aisle of traditional romance with a veil, be sure to match your veil style and length to your dress length and fabric.
MAE’s Tip: A statement piece that is sometimes overlooked is the bolero. The bolero comes in many forms such as a shawl, wrap and jacket. It’s one of the less expensive ways to gracefully transition your dress. If you want a pop of lace from your waist to your neckline you can easily add a cute topper from BHLDN. Use your bolero for modesty, a pop of fun fabric, wedding and photo transitions plus temperature control.
All brides are celebrated here at MAE, both in terms of national and international backgrounds. We are currently loving World Bride Magazine, a premier publication for multicultural weddings. Please see click on the image gallery above for a collection of some of our favorite bridal looks across the globe!
To see how Marquette Avenue Events can help you find the wedding dress of your dreams and, most importantly, help you plan your Big Day, please visit us at www.marquetteavenueevents.com or call us at 312-585-7265.