In planning my wedding, I’ve realized that I’m a no-fuss bride. Many women say that, and maybe it needs a near-disaster before I turn fully-fledged bridezilla, but so far, I don’t want ruffles and lace. I’ve been poring over bridal magazines, and where other brides fawn and ooh and aah, I think, “Umm… okaay?” I felt so un-bridey, and thought maybe when I tried on “the gown”, I’ll get goosebumps and cry like what they do on Say Yes to the Dress.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a girly-girl on occasions. I love dressing up for weddings and special occasions, but I will not pour myself into an uncomfortable dress and wear layers of makeup. I’m a functional girly-girl. A semi-tomboy, if you may. A woman who’s willing to walk (comfortably… yeah, I just bragged!!) in 4-inch heels, while at the same time will cringe at a red lip. I think it’s pretty, and the ladies who rock it are gorgeous, but my inner tomboy screams from deep within, “Noooooo! Too much reeeeeeed!” So my femininity has its limits… but I digress…
I’ve had two dress fittings now, one in Sandton, and another here in Harare. I might have another one in a few weeks, just to show my mom and sister the type of dress that I’ve chosen. On both occasions, I kid you not, while my friends and cousins were oohing and aahing (another lady wanted to take pictures! Of me!!), these thoughts were running through my mind:
“Wow, these dresses are heavy!!!”
“Oh my gosh! How do I walk in this?”
“What if I need to go to the bathroom? Who’ll help me out of this?”
“Mmmm…. I wonder if they have cake…No? Aw, man!!!”
I did find a dress (I got a slight chill and I sniffled a bit), which I thought was real pretty, light and user-friendly. In the midst of all the poufiness and trying to find my footing in layers of fabric, big hoops and tight bodices, I came up with some tips for choosing a wedding gown. From a semi-tomboy. Cause they are necessary to think about.
1. Find a dress that suits your figure.
Watching Say Yes to the Dress and trying on dresses myself made me realize that the only way you can be sure what really looks good on you is trying it on. The typical school of thought that the A-line dress looks good on everyone was disproved by me! I have a short torso and long legs, and wearing an A-line dress made my torso look shorter! I looked squashed and unbalanced, like those cartoons when they’re hit by a boulder. Some dresses that may look great on your friends or in magazines may not look good on you; it’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with you, it just means you’ll look spectacular in something else.
2. Keep an open mind when trying on dresses
Sometimes even when you have an idea of what might look good on you, try on all the styles; you may be surprised. If you think that glitter and jewels are not for you , you could be surprised to see that glitter and jewels look amazing on you. I’m not a frou-frou girl, but I decided to try on a dress with a ball-gown silhouette with layers and layers of tulle. And I had to wear a hoop. Cue tomboy scream. I looked amazing in it, and if I wasn’t function over romance, I would have gone for that dress. The bridal boutiques I’ve been to so far charge a nominal fee for trying on dresses. One, $1 for each dress another, $5 for 5 dresses. That is more than enough for figuring out which style works for you.
3. Speak wedding gown speak!
Find out everything you can about the dress you try on. What is the silhouette? What is the neckline? What fabric is it? What are all the decorations on it? That way, if you find the type of dress you like, you won’t have a problem describing what you want if you need to look for it in another place.
4. When you find your style, hold on to it and don’t let go!
There is no need for you to try on 30 dresses before you know which dress you want. When you see that the A-line, for example, is the silhouette that works for you, the next step after being open-minded is being narrow-minded. You have your silhouette, now all the other dresses you’ll try on will be in that family, but different when it comes to the embellishments. Sleeves? No sleeves? Flowers? Ruching? Whatever, as long as you know it’s in the A-line family. If you think of dress fitting like that, you’ll have your dress in no time.
5. Test-drive the dress you like
Many wedding gowns are not user-friendly, worse for the average Zimbabwean bride. This is where I believe you need to choose function over the romantic fantasy of the wedding dress. When you think you’ve found the dress, try it out. Walk around in it. Walk in it wearing high heels (that’s another tip: go to the bridal boutique with heels that are about the same height as the ones you’ll wear on your wedding). Sit down in it. Dance in it. Kneel in it, if you think your relatives will expect you to kneel when serving cake. Do everything you think you’ll do in it, except kiss the groom.. he’s not supposed to see the dress yet! Spend as much time as you can in that dress, cause you will be in that dress for the whole day. Give yourself a taste of what you’ll be experiencing on your wedding. If those few minutes are unpleasant, find another dress. The worst thing at a wedding is an uncomfortable bride, cause it comes out as not enjoying yourself.
6. If you have found “the dress” go for it!
If you’ve done all these things (or none of these things), and have zeroed in on the dress, say yes! There is no “better dress” than the one the bride loves and is comfortable in. If you, the bride, love it, then take it. No one else is going to wear it for the whole day, so it all boils down to what gives you goosebumps and tears. And if none of those feelings happen for you, a small smile and a nod of approval will suffice.
Any other tips for those who’ll be going to choose a wedding dress? Let us hear from you!