Recent discourse seems to call for giving up on finding The One, but we’ll beg to differ if you’re talking about the one you’re wearing to say your vows. No matter where you’re at with your love life right now; chances are you’ve expended some seconds of your lifetime dreaming up that gown that’ll take you down the aisle. But it doesn’t take a bride-to-be to tell you that when you’re actually getting down to searching for your perfect wedding dress—the stress becomes ten-fold. This is of course amplified by the bewildering fact that most of the information we actually have for finding the dress of our dreams, is strangely obscured from us. Advice comes packaged in the form of random musings of our girlfriends or older sisters who’ve been through the grind themselves, and no one really knows what they should be doing first before approaching the menacing task.
In hopes to alleviate the frenzy that’s bound to hit anyone who’s in the running to say “I do”, we’ve decided to get some of the tedious work done for you; with a comprehensive what-to-do list before you go about hunting down that perfect frock to be deemed befitting of—what some might proffer to be—the biggest day of your life. And to make sure we’re sending you forth on a foolproof journey, we rallied Ming Bridges of Rentadella, who’s recently just held her own destination wedding in Spain, to chime in with some of her own personal tips and experiences. Without further ado, here’s Vogue Singapore’s guide on searching for the one dress.
Have a vision in mind
More often than not, most bride-to-bes would already have some idea to what they see themselves in for the big day. But it’s important to go further than that with your research; from the style and silhouette of your dress to the sometimes-overlooked details such as the neckline and train type, it’s best to have a visual idea of what a wedding dress means to you.
From Bridges’s experience, “the best place to start is from what you like, because most of the time, most brides won’t actually go for what they think they look the best in, they’ll go for something that looks most similar to their vision of what a wedding dress is,” So looking online for inspiration is always a good place to start. Find out what dresses you’re drawn to, which designers you’re leaning towards and the types of styles you’ll be open to experimenting with for your body type.
Wedding dress silhouettes
It’s the ultimate foundation of a gown, for it determines the way it falls and clings to your body. And though there may be many other styles to explore, bridal gowns typically fall into a few shape categories: the ball gown, sheath, A-line, trumpet, mermaid, column, slip and tea-length.
For more classic looks that pair well with a train, one might look to the A-line, mermaid or ball gown styles—and you can narrow it down further depending on which parts of your body you prefer accentuating. For those that prefer more minimal, chic options, the slip, sheath and column are perhaps what you might be looking for; they’re simple in their make and afford you the beauty of a wedding dress without the need for a long, defining train. Tea-length options on the other hand might be perfect for brides looking to fill the room with a tad of old-school, vintage charm, or who simply want their dresses to offer timeless wear during their lifetime.
Wedding dress trains
Whilst we’ve moved far away from the idea of a traditional white frock, there’s still a plenty of wedding dress elements that still reign superior for the altar. The train—the cloth that extends from the waist for dramatic effect—is one such example. When it comes to differentiating the different train types, it really boils down to the lengths; in ascending order, there are sweep, court, chapel, cathedral and monarch trains.
For those who prefer less of the fuss, a sweep train is the practical choice, especially if you foresee yourself doing a lot of movement, whilst chapel, cathedral and monarch train lengths are essentially about how long you want your train to be. There are also detachable watteau train types, which refer to an attachment that starts from the shoulders instead of the waist, giving your dress a detail akin to a cape.
Wedding dress veils
The types of veils can also be categorised by length. However, there are the more modern types of veils such as the bird cage veil that is usually just a net or lace hair piece that extends just over the eyes and nose. This contemporary option gives a more flirty chic feel to your look—perfect for brides looking for something simpler and fun.
Other longer wedding veils include those that end at the shoulders, elbows, back of knees and some even falling to the floor. If you’re hoping for a more classic ‘bride-reveal’ moment during your wedding day, the blusher veil is also what you’re looking for; it falls over your face and is easy enough for the groom to pull back for that romantic reveal. A key thing to also start thinking of early is how you’ll want your hair to be styled on the day itself. This will help your bridal stylist advise you on what veil style to pick.
One piece of important advice from Bridges? Give yourself enough lead time. Designers can usually take up to 10 months to complete made-to-order dresses, so giving yourself as much time as possible is ideal. Whilst there is still a chance you might be able to get your dream dress on a tighter schedule, be prepared to pay an additional express service fee if it falls too close to your wedding date.
And if you’re looking to rent your dress instead, it’s of note that the studios and boutiques often rent out dresses by the month—so you should try and book them as early as possible. After all, there’s really no harm embarking on your wedding dress shopping early on.
Plan it out (but don’t be afraid to experiment)
For sure, Bridges’s key advice is to approach the entire process with some knowledge or idea of what you feel personally drawn to. Doing research on the designers with dresses you like is definitely a plus and will be useful when you’re looking at the many studios available to choose from. Since some designers only choose one studio per country to display their pieces at, knowing exactly where these boutiques at will narrow down your choices instantly, ridding you of the decision dilemma that comes with the process.
However, once you’re at a studio, don’t shy away from dress designs and be open to trying different options. You really never know what style truly works on you and who knows? Your dream dress could currently be hiding on the shelves—waiting to be discovered.
Know your budget
It’s a practical concern that you’ve probably thought of but it’s an important one, nonetheless. Many of the boutiques usually ask you regarding your budget before allowing you to try the varying dress styles by different designer—so doing your research about the price range of the dresses and designers you already want to try is crucial here.
Knowing your budget also helps you determine how many outfits you can arrange for realistically. If you’re planning to have a different one for your tea ceremony or different march-ins, then remember to include these additional outfit options into your roster before splitting your budget out.
There are also some studios with decisive pricing here in Singapore, where the boutiques might offer you a promotion price or added benefits should you be able to confirm your selected dress on the day of your fitting itself. For many, this may prove to be a difficult task due to the immediacy required for such a big decision at hand.
Bridges’s pro-tip to working your way around this conundrum is to perhaps try out the dress you had in mind when you go overseas for a personal trip—at the overseas boutiques where the designers are retailing it at. Remember: each designer usually only has one studio or boutique they retail their dresses at in every country, so this way you can try the dress and mull over it properly before making a final decision. You could also get the better package deal this way.
Look the part
Whilst most studios will recommend for you not to have any make-up on during your fitting slots, Bridges strongly advises to at least apply some concealer and mascara, just so the entire look doesn’t feel too jarring when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror. It also helps to do up your hair in the style that is close to your envisioned wedding day hair-do.
Wearing nude undergarments, nipple stickers and even bringing along some heels are also pro-tips that are easy to overlook, but essential to make sure you’re getting as close to the vision of your big day as possible.
Don’t ask for (too much) advice
Contrary to one’s belief, sending out your photos and videos of your dress fittings to that one Whatsapp group may not be the best idea—especially if they all end up negatively commenting on a dress that you had personally found yourself drawn to, or liking a dress that you didn’t see yourself wearing in the first place. Instead, if you really need to ask for advice, consider only bringing one person to your fittings—be it your mom or best friend—so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by everyone’s opinions.
“Trust your gut,” Bridges advises. The important thing is to be satisfied with your final choice; it shouldn’t just be something you look good in, it should be something that undeniably makes you feel like you’re a bride. It’s your wedding dress—and only you can truly know where your heart lies with this one.