As you may have noticed, today’s post is a little different than the workwear style posts you’re used to seeing on Memorandum. In the last year and a half, this blog has focused on offering style inspiration for working women across all industries, and make no mistake, this will continue to be the central focus of Memorandum and the vast majority of posts. However, over the past almost two years, I’ve gotten countless emails from many of you asking for advice on other aspects of your busy lives, and I thought it was high time I started responding to these requests. When and how do you fit a workout into the work week? Where do you travel during those sacred days off? How did you find the right wedding dress for you?
Undoubtedly, working women are much more than just their work. You go out, you workout, you get married, you travel, and much more. So at the request of many of you, I’m going to start including content from time to time that speaks to these other aspects of a working gal’s lifestyle. I’m so grateful for all the emails and comments that you’ve sent thus far; please keep them coming and let me know what you’re interested in hearing about!
For now, let’s take a look at Wedding Memo, Episode One: Finding the Right Wedding Dress…
Most of my best friends are not married yet, so when I got engaged in November, I was utterly clueless about the entire process. Also, unlike some of my wedding-obsessed girlfriends, I didn’t have twenty pinterest boards with every last detail of my future nuptials planned out. I was starting at square one, and needed all the help I could get. I’m excited to say that I’ve now finally found my dress, and although I won’t be divulging any details of my own wedding gown in advance of our August wedding, I thought I’d share a few tips that I learned during the search that I think might be useful for others beginning the process.
In conjunction with my wedding dress tips below, I’m also sharing some snaps today from the amazing experience my best friend and I had at Nordstrom’s Wedding Suite. While every city has lots of amazing bridal boutiques, Nordstrom Wedding Suites are located all over the US, so worthwhile to mention for many of you that are wondering where to start and live in all corners of the country. To be completely honest, when a girlfriend of mine suggested I make an appointment at Nordstrom, I was completely surprised and very hesitant to do it. While you know I’m a huge Nordstrom fan, a big department store was definitely not what I envisioned as the ideal place to look for a wedding dress. Nevertheless, on her recommendation, my best friend and I made an appointment and were blown away. Although it is situated in a large department store, the Wedding Suite is completely set apart and the experience is as personalized and intimate as any experience I have had in stand-alone boutiques. Also, unlike their regular merchandise, the selection in-store far surpasses what they have online, and the bridal consultants that I worked with could not have been nicer, or more knowledgeable. As you can probably tell from the pictures, we had tons of fun.
Dress by Amsale
Dress by Rosa Clara
…and then I discovered POCKETS in this Rosa Clará dress…
Photography by Melanie Riccardi
I also have to preface the below tips with the mention that I have read tons of similar lists in wedding magazines and books on what you need to know before wedding dress shopping. I’d recommend taking a look through these types of resources before you start looking. However, below, I wanted to share the tips that were most helpful to me that I didn’t see anywhere online or in magazines, but rather received from friends or learned on my own…
1) TRY ON DRESSES THAT YOU HATE
At the first few appointments, force yourself to try on dresses that you otherwise think you would never choose. If you think you’re set on a mermaid-style silhouette, try those on, but also try on some a-line dresses to compare. Same goes for necklines. Have your heart set on strapless? Try a few that aren’t. This process will either (a) help solidify your preconceived preferences as good ones, or (b) make you realize that something you never thought of—perhaps a fit-and-flare silhouette or v-neck, for example—is actually much more flattering for your body type. You can’t rely on how a dress looks on a model in wedding magazines to give you a realistic idea of how it will look on you. I’m so glad I forced myself to try on lots of different styles at the outset, because the dress that I chose in the end is completely different than the dress I visualized going in.
2) REMEMBER THE VENUE
In addition to staying true to your personal style, think about the venue you’re getting married in. If you don’t have a venue yet, don’t buy a dress yet! The venue and theme (if you have one) of your wedding can dramatically impact your dress choice. For example, a large, heavily embellished ball gown-style dress might look out of place at an intimate garden wedding. Similarly, a simple boho-style dress might look out of place in a grand ballroom. Ideally and within reason, everything should meld together.
3) KEEP YOUR POSSE SMALL
I’m always mystified by reality TV shows that feature brides coming into a bridal shop with a posse of 18 opinionated friends and family members. From my experience, I recommend keeping the group down to as few as possible. For me, this was just my mom and my best friend—two people that know me and my style best, and also whose opinion I really trust. When there are too many cooks in the kitchen with lots of opinions and widely varying tastes, the experience can be super stressful.
4) MAKE SURE YOU CAN MOVE
A lot of things look amazing when you’re standing still in front of a mirror. However, think about the type of wedding you expect to have. For example, my fiancé and I love to dance, so I need a dress that I can move comfortably in. This is something to keep in mind with regards to your leg movement, but also your arm movement. If there’s a sleeve that prevents you from comfortably lifting your arms when you’re dancing (or hugging people in a receiving line), you might want to rethink. Also, and particularly for dresses that are fitted through the body (i.e. tight through your bum and/or thighs), make sure that you can sit comfortably for long periods of time. Then, make sure that when you stand up, the material isn’t riddled with deep crease lines or gapping around the stomach/hips area from being stretched while seated for an extended period of time.
5) PAY ATTENTION TO LINING AND UNDERGARMENTS
Think about what undergarments you’re going to need to look great and feel comfortable. In the same vein, pay attention to the lining of the dresses you’re considering. I received great advice from a girlfriend who recently got married and didn’t realize until she was a few hours into her wedding day that the lining of her gown’s skirt was incredibly itchy and hot. Make sure you think not only about how the dress looks after you’ve had it on for five minutes in an air conditioned bridal salon, but also how it might feel after you’ve been in it for hours—sitting, standing, reaching, dancing.
6) THINK ABOUT HEEL HEIGHT
Before placing an order, make sure you keep in mind what type of shoes you hope to wear. If you have your heart set on a four-inch pair of Manolos, make sure your dress can accommodate the extra height. This should always be discussed with you at the bridal salon before placing an order, but it’s good to keep it in mind. Additionally, it’s important to think not only about the perfect shoes you want to wear in photos and the ceremony, but also about the shoes that you’ll want to spend the entire evening in. If you have your heart set on a pair of super high heels, but can’t spend 8+ hours in them, you might want to rethink your strategy, or have a more comfortable pair to switch into for dancing. If this is the case, you should keep in mind how that effects your dress length. If you switch from four-inch heels to flats, you’re going to potentially have an extra four inches of dress dragging on the floor that could be a major tripping hazard. And unless you’re Sandra Bullock, you just don’t come back from that.
Did I miss anything major? Let me know in the comments : )
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This post was produced in partnership with Nordstrom.