Q: When I envision the perfect wedding dress, I just don't see white. Dare I boldly break with tradition?
"There's nothing that says you have to wear white", says Tasha Bracken, owner of Simple Details in Newton. So let your Technicolor dreams run wild! Well, sort of. If you're having a traditional wedding in a church, you might not want to completely break the mold (and give poor granny a heart attack). Stick with "a variation of white, like champagne, lavender or light pink", says Bracken, or play with colorful accents in smaller details like buttons and bows. "Vera Wang has a whole line of dresses that have a dark purple sash". That said, if a floor length crimson gown is just screaming your name, go for it. "Do what the perfect thing is for you", says Fleur Pang, owner of A Warm Reception in Duxbury. "Because, after all, it's your wedding".
Q: I am a fashion designer and my friend wants me to design her wedding dress, which I am happy to do. The problem is, she wants this horrible poufy confection that would embarrass me were anyone to find out I created it. What should I do?
Hey, even Vera Wang makes poufy confections. In other words, some brides don't mind-heck, even desire-looking like a Jet-Puffed Marshmallow. So while you may consider yourself Project Runway material, this is one case where you'll have to shelve your cutting-edge style for your friend's sticky-sweet dreams. "That really is a honor", says Danielle Cameron, founder of Details Within Wedding Consulting in Merrimac. "You have to do it and treat it as a honor". And whatever you do, "Don't whisper, 'Well, I did it, but I really hate it' ", she says. That said, attempting a little Jedi mind trick magic might save the day. "I would try to come up with a happy medium. You can say something without insulting her or saying, 'I don't like this style' ", says Linnea Tangorra, owner of Tangorra Wedding Planning in Newburyport. "I would find other photos of wedding dresses and say, 'I think this style would fit you really well, would really fit your body shape and work with the theme of the wedding' ". But if she's dead-set against it, Tangorra suggests a compromise such as designing another dress for the bride to change into or just doing part of her look, like the veil.
Q: When picking a dress, where do you start - your style or your silhouette?
It helps if you bring along photos of dresses you like, because that helps the shop define your taste and style. But your venue is the most important factor, so I advise brides not to shop until they know where they're getting married. The venue will determine the date, the time of the day, and the formality of your wedding. It'll also be the background for all your pictures, so you'll want to pick a gown color and details that complement the setting. There are also practical issues. If you'll be walking on grass or sand, your dress should be hemmed to a different length than if you'll be in a hotel all day.
Q: What if your dream dress looks terrible on your body?
Oh, it happens. A bride with no waist will come in wishing for a fitted mermaid gown, and I have to let her try one on. Usually she'll see why it doesn't work and be willing to try different silhouettes; but if she's dead set on a style, there are always ways to make it work. You can balance a bigger bottom with a deeper neckline, or create curves with diagonal pleats. It's not always easy, but it's possible.
Q: Not everyone has $8,000 to drop on a wedding gown. Where can a budget-constrained bride scrimp so that no one will notice?
The price depends on the complexity of the pattern, the number and types of fabrics used, and the details of the dress, such as beading. Typically, the simpler the shape and the less lace and beadwork involved, the lower the price will be. But sometimes the price is less meaningful, especially with the more expensive gowns. Off the rack, you'll see a huge difference in quality between a $700 gown and a $3,500 one. But between $3,500 and $7,000? The difference is the label.
Q: What underwear goes best under a wedding gown?
On top, the right support depends on the dress. For a sleeveless gown or a plunging back, I'd sew bra cups directly into the dress, so nothing slides around or peeks out. For panties, Victoria's Secret has seamless ones that are great; avoid anything with elastic, and go a size bigger than you normally wear so there's no pinching or lumps. If you need extra control, Spanx are good. Whatever you choose, buy them in a nude shade. And have all your wedding-day undergarments with you at every fitting, so you can see how they look.
Q: How do you go to the bathroom when you're wearing 30 layers of tulle?
Forget having your maid of honor hold your dress over your head in the bathroom stall. Here's the civilized way to do it: buy a pretty slip and hang it in the bathroom. When you need to go, step out of your gown, hang it up, and put on the slip. Do your business, freshen your makeup, have a glass of water, and relax for a few minutes. Then put the dress on and go back to the party.
Q: Does it bother you when brides trash their wedding gowns?
Oh, God. Some people destroy their dresses! But I don't mind. I love it when a bride comes back carrying a dress that looks like it's been through a battlefield, and when she tells me, "I had so much fun wearing this!". When the dress is in bad shape, you just know she had a blast.