Last month I had the pleasure of celebrating my 10-year wedding anniversary. I still look back on my wedding day as one of the best days of my life, along with the birth of my two sons ;). It was a beautiful day, celebrating marrying my best friend together with our favourite friends & family from around the world. It was also the day where I wore the most beautiful dress I’ve ever owned (and will ever own in my wardrobe!).
As celebrity Fashion Stylist Rachel Zoe once said “You don’t have to be famous to live out your own red carpet moment”. Your wedding day is the biggest red carpet moment of your life. Over the years, I have helped many brides-to-be find their perfect wedding dress, so I thought it’s time to impart my own tips on finding “the dress” for your big day.
Finding your ‘perfect wedding dress’ can sometimes be a daunting task, and can feel as hard as finding your ‘perfect man’ 😉 Each bride has their own unique story of how they found their perfect wedding dress. I searched around the world to find my dress. I first tried wedding dresses accompanied by my mother and sisters in Adelaide (Australia) and went on to visit wedding shops around the world while I was travelling with work (at the time I was based in London), and finally found my dress at a gorgeous wedding dress shop in 5th Avenue in New York. During my search, I had tried every wedding dress style imaginable, but I knew I had found ‘the one’ when I tried on this intricate beaded dress by couture wedding dress designer Ysa Makino. I loved its embroidered bodice and appliqué roses along its full body skirt. I immediately fell in love with the dress as soon as I tried it on, I literally felt like a princess, and spent the next few hours in the shop admiring the dress and did not want to take it off! My dress travelled the world with me and helped me get some nice upgrades on flights as a carried it across the continents (UK, Asia) and on to Australia where my husband & I got married. We were married in Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens, in the rose gardens, the roses motif along the dress’s full skirt were perfectly fitting to the beautiful surrounds.
Above: My husband & I on our wedding day, at Botanic Gardens in Adelaide. Me in my Ysa Makino couture dress and my husband wore a suit by Paul Smith.
Each of my sisters also found their unique & beautiful wedding dresses that reflected their own individual styles. My sister Clarice found her stunning lace wedding dress with gold embroidered phoenix and a silk red underlay, designed by her favourite Japanese – Australian designer Akira Isogawa, while she was visiting an exhibition at a museum in Melbourne. Once she saw the dress at the exhibition she knew it was meant to be, and searched everywhere to get her hands on it, and she looked stunning on her wedding day.
Above: My beautiful sister Clarice in her Akira Isogawa wedding dress on her wedding day
My sister Janice, who was recently married last year, was in search for a ‘modern bride dress’. She had her mind set on having a two-piece wedding dress where the wedding dress skirt/ train could be removed for the after-party. Whilst shopping in London (where she is based), she found a beautiful sheer lace skirt with a ruffle train by London designer Erdem. Janice combined the look with a stunning silk-layered wedding dress with intricate silver embroidery, by Australian Japanese designer Akira Isogawa.
Her dress looked stunning among the backdrop of the colourful surrounds of the Palace Estoi in Portugal where she was married. She was the most stunning bride in the magical surrounds of the Palace grounds. It was truly a fairytale wedding.
Above: My beautiful sister in her wedding dress by Akira Isogawa and wedding skirt by Erdem. She wore custom-made orchid earrings by Anton Heunis. Photos by our good friend and wedding photographer, Kevin Khaw. The dress perfectly complemented the backdrop of the dreamy surroundings of the Portuguese Palace.
My sister had started her wedding dress search in London, where she found the sheer ruffled wedding skirt from Erdem. Whilst she was visiting Australia, I made an appointment to take her to the beautiful bridal store at David Jones in Sydney, where she tried some dreamy dresses by Oscar de La Renta, Carolina Herrera, Monique Lhuillier, Lanvin and Alexander McQueen, before she found the gorgeous wedding dress by Akira Isogawa, which perfectly complemented the Erdem skirt.
Above: David Jones bridal store in Elizabeth Street (still one of the most beautiful bridal stores I’ve been to), my sister Janice on the search for her wedding dress.
You don’t have to travel the world to find your perfect wedding dress, but with the help of the Internet and social media (e.g. Instagram and pinterest) it’s easier to find ideas for the different styles you may like. Here are some of my key tips when looking for your wedding dress:
- Look at wedding dress styles that will suit your body shape. E.g. if you are pelite, chose styles that will elongate you, if you are curvy/ full-figured, chose styles that will accentuate your assets tastefully (e.g. V-neck or cowl necklines) and dresses that balance out your proportions (e.g. A-line or trumpet skirt dresses), if you are more athletic and have strong shoulders, strapless or off the shoulder dresses will show off your shoulders. Make sure the dress suits you – it has to be a dress you feel reflects you and your personality and that you will feel comfortable and confident in!
- Find a dress that will suit your wedding venue – only start wedding dress shopping once you know where you’re getting married. Don’t do a Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City, where she ‘upgraded’ her wedding to accommodate for her big wedding dress by Vivienne Westwood;) Choose a wedding dress suits your wedding venue (both aesthetically and practically), whether a church, open gardens, the beach or a castle. The weather and climate of the wedding surrounds are very important factors to consider, therefore chose the dress with the right suiting fabric (e.g. a lighter dress that’s not to heavy on a warmer spring or summer wedding, and consider how you will keep warmer on a cooler autumn wedding with a stylish shrug or shawl or sleeved wedding dress). You want to be comfortable on your big day.
- Know your budget – it’s good to have a set budget for your dress before you go shopping (not the other way around), so you can try dresses that are within your price range and don’t end up disappointed. If you do end up finding a dress that is outside of your price range, don’t fret, chances are you may be able find a similar dress (or the same dress) online somewhere else.
- Don’t be afraid to try different styles – in reference to point 1, it’s good to have an idea of the styles of dresses that will suit your body but don’t be afraid to play around with different styles.
- Go with your gut instinct – sometimes you may shop with friends and family who may have very differing opinions on the dresses you try, but just like your husband-to-be, if you love it then it’s meant to be!
- Make sure you find a good tailor – all wedding dresses, whether off the rack or made to measure need to be altered to suit you and your body shape. Make sure you chose a well established tailor, and that he/ she completely understands what you want altered. When doing last-minute fittings, be sure to practice your wedding walk and some dance moves with the shoes you plan to wear for your wedding day. You want to make sure the dress allows you to walk comfortably all day and move comfortably for your first dance.
- Be sure to alter the dress to suit you, don’t alter yourself to suit the dress! Many brides-to-be have grand plans to go on crazy diets pre-wedding, don’t be a ‘disappearing bride’ – your hubby-to-be fell in love with you just the way you are, so embrace your body & body shape, and chose the right dress to suit you & enhances your best assets.
- Chose the right accessories to enhance your wedding dress – whether you chose to wear a veil or not, the right jewellery and hair accessories can greatly enhance your look, so it’s also good to try different accessories to complete your look for your big day, from head to toe.
Above: Bridal perfection – from head-to-toe: the long veil, hand-crafted orchid earrings to those killer Alexander McQueen heels. My sister chose all the perfect accessories to complement her unique look, even down to the lace fan to keep her cool under the hot Portuguese sun.
The silk dress and sheer lace Erdem skirt were the perfect choice for the hot summer’s wedding day.
And to those of you who say ‘you only wear your wedding dress once’, there are some of us who find a good excuse to wear our dresses again. My husband and I wore our wedding attire two years ago in celebration of our anniversary, our good friend and wedding photographer Kevin Khaw took some beautiful family shots with our son, on the location of our original wedding venue and the result was some of our best family shots (I like these photos with my son even more than those of my wedding day).
Above: My husband & I wearing our wedding attire again for some family photos with my son, photos by Kevin Khaw.
So now, my beautiful dress that makes me feel like a princess is nicely stored in my wardrobe until the next time I get to put it on again, perhaps for a second round of family shots with my second son. 😉
For those of you searching for your perfect dress for your big day, all the best!
And for those of you who have already been married, please share your wedding dress shopping moments!
For the romantics out there, Happy Valentine’s Day. With love, from J’adorais.