Zip Code

Selecting A Gown With Comfort In Mind January 18, 2018

Many brides-to-be visit bridal shops with specific goals in mind regarding the style of their wedding gowns. Some women arrive equipped with magazine tear-outs or pull up ideas on their mobile phones. Others may have an entire scrapbook filled with various ideas they've been compiling for years. Obviously, much consideration is given to wedding gowns. The cost and silhouette of the dress may garner the bulk of that consideration, but brides might want to spend more time considering comfort.

Depending on the time of day the wedding takes place, a bride can spend 12 hours or more in her wedding gown on her wedding day. However, when shopping for their gowns, brides may prioritize beauty over comfort, even though it's entirely possible to find a gown that's both stunning and comfortable. When staff and friends or family who have come along to offer advice start to gush over wedding gowns, brides-to-be may feel pressured to downplay any discomfort they feel.

To make sure brides look flawless and elegant but are still comfortable in their wedding gowns, they should consider the following tips:

· Know what to highlight. Brides should try on gowns that play up their best features. If a bride has shapely legs, she may want to consider a dramatic gown with a slit to show them off. Certain gowns can enhance the decollete or show off an hourglass shape. Remember, many gowns can be modified so that brides feel secure and confident. Sleeves can be added or fabric placed to cover up any perceived flaws. Confidence and pride are important parts of the comfort factor.

· Get sized correctly. Bridal gown sizes do not coincide with regular clothing sizes. Depending on the manufacturer, brides may have to select gowns that are several sizes larger than they would normally wear. This should not be a cause for alarm. Brides should go by their measurements. Attempting to squeeze into a dress that is too small will only lead to discomfort on the wedding day.

· Purchase the right undergarments. Improperly fitting bras, shapewear, and other undergarments can lead to discomfort as well. Some seamstresses can sew in supportive cups to remove the need for a separate bra. Brides can explore various options to reduce the visibility of certain accoutrements.

· Move around in the gown. Brides should not just stand in front of the mirror and smile when trying on gowns. They should put the dress to the test. Brides should try sitting, bending, and even a little dancing to make sure the dress is comfortable to move around in.

· Try different options. The gown that brides have in mind may not be the one they ultimately go home with. Explore different styles and materials. Choose cooler, breezier fabrics and lightweight gowns, like crêpe, georgette, or organza, for summer weddings. Heavier fabrics, such as brocade, may be more comfortable in the winter.


A Sense Of Place January 24, 2017

Destination weddings have become popular for a variety of reasons, but not all couples can jet off to an exotic locale for their nuptials. Sometimes budget and logistical restraints make a destination wedding unfeasible. But couples who are still dreaming of a picturesque wedding at an exciting destination need not despair; they can bring the "destination" home. There are plenty of ways for a wedding celebration to incorporate inspiration drawn from a faraway place, whether it's a favorite vacation spot, the location of the planned honeymoon trip, or simply somewhere the couple dreams of visiting. Here are a few examples of how brides and grooms can translate a sense of place into the decorations, attire, cuisine, entertainment, and other elements of their special day.


A wedding that draws inspiration from the Hawaiian Islands' legendary beaches, lush vegetation, and well-known tiki culture will offer a fun, comfortable vibe.

Flowers - Select tropical flowers such as orchids, birds of paradise, or hibiscus for the bouquets of the bride and bridesmaids. Skipping the bouquets and having each member of the wedding party wear a floral lei would also be particularly appropriate, since leis are traditionally given in Hawaii in honor of important events - including weddings.

Decorations - For centerpieces, opt for tropical flowers or potted mini palm trees or embrace island kitsch and decorate tables with vintage hula dancer dashboard dolls. Turn a surfboard into a functional decoration by affixing photos or table assignments to it like a bulletin board. Or, turn a surfboard into an innovative guest book alternative by inviting guests to write their warm wishes for the couple directly onto the board with a permanent marker. If your wedding is outdoors, play up the tropical ambiance by ringing the space with tiki torches.

Food and beverages - One sip of a mai tai will transport attendees straight to the Aloha State. Guava and pineapple juice make for tasty nonalcoholic options. A pig roast will play up the luau feel of the reception, and pineapples, mangoes, papayas, and other tropical fruit can be incorporated into the menu. Coconut and Kona coffee flavors will also make guests feel like they're dining in a tropical paradise. For dessert, opt for pineapple upsidedown cake or white chocolate macadamia nut cake. Another option would be eschewing the cake in favor of a Hawaiian shave ice stand, where guests can enjoy an icy treat with their choice of tropical flavors.


A festive fiesta with Mexican-inspired details will ensure that members of the wedding party and guests have a great time while celebrating the happy couple.

Decorations - Cheery fiesta decor will set the stage for the celebration. Beautiful picado tissue paper banners can be liberally strung around the reception space, and colorful folk art pieces can be incorporated into centerpieces. In honor of Mexico's strong tradition of observing Day of the Dead, couples may even consider honoring the dearly departed members of their families through a traditional Dia de los Muertos altar, complete with photos, flowers, and food offerings.

Food and beverages - The popular cuisine of Mexico provides couples with numerous options for wedding day fare. Set up a taco bar where guests can create their own tacos from a choice of beef, chicken, or beans, as well as a variety of toppings. Or hire a food truck that serves tacos and other Mexican-style food items to be on-site. For beverages, offer guests margaritas and Mexican brands of beer. Consider providing a dessert buffet offering tres leches cake, churros with chocolate sauce, and - of course - Mexican wedding cookies.

Entertainment - Couples can hire a real mariachi band to play at the reception. Guests will love dancing to mariachi standards, as well as a modern love song or two, performed mariachi-style. Piñatas make for another fun form of reception entertainment. Since piñatas are available in a variety of styles and colors, couples can go with classic shiny star-shaped orbs or find a piñata that showcases their love of a particular sport or animal. Allow the children in attendance to get the first whack before letting the adults join in the fun. The bride and groom can even give guests a mini piñata as a wedding favor.

Swiss Alps

Couples can play up the beauty of a winter wedding and give themselves and their guests a mountaintop experience by embracing a Swiss Alps theme.

Attire - To help the bride's and bridesmaids' dresses to stand up to the winter chill, top them with a faux fur or knit wraps. Stylish coats or sporty parkas will also keep wedding party members toasty and warm in chilly weather. If you'll be taking photos outdoors, outfit the members of your wedding party in matching scarves and mittens to ward off winter chills.

Decorations - Deck out your reception venue to look like a posh Alpine ski chalet by incorporating cozy, rustic elements. A fireplace with a crackling fire will set the ambiance, and vintage snow sports gear such as skis, snowshoes, toboggans, and ice skates can be used as decorations. Add a sense of warmth to the room by using woolen blankets instead of tablecloths or runners. Purchased or DIY snow globes featuring winter scenes make for charming centerpieces. Other decorative ideas include displaying a collection of Swiss cowbells or even an authentic alphorn.

Food and beverages - Whether as the main meal or an appetizer, you can't go wrong with classic cheese fondue. Consider offering the Berner platte (the Bernese platter), a regional specialty that consists of an assortment of meats and sausages, along with juniper-flavored sauerkraut, potatoes, and dried beans. A main course could be Alplermagronen, or "herdsman's macaroni," made from cheese, potatoes, onions, macaroni, and milk or cream. Help revelers stay cozy and warm by offering mulled wine and hot chocolate. Speaking of chocolate, the Swiss are known for theirs, so be sure to play up that ingredient when dessert time arrives by serving Swiss chocolate mousse in addition to an array of decadent pastries. A wedding favor that sends guests home with a few pieces of Swiss chocolate is also sure to be popular.


Borrowing from Japan's ancient traditions will create a truly lovely and elegant fête.

Attire - The bride and bridesmaids can incorporate the Japanese theme into pre-wedding preparations by donning kimono-style robes featuring bright, floral patterns while styling their hair and makeup. Kimono-style design elements and silk accents can be incorporated into the wedding attire, as well.

Decorations - Go heavy on the cherry blossoms, incorporating them into the bridal bouquets and reception centerpieces. Scores of paper cranes made with beautiful paper also make for charming decorations, whether sitting on tables or strung up and hung in garland form. Paper lanterns, Japanese-style fans, and oil-paper umbrellas can also be used as decorative elements, and miniature versions can make a unique and memorable wedding favor for guests.

Food and beverages - The traditional Japanese tea ceremony is highly revered in Japanese culture, so providing guests with a selection of teas (hot or iced) is a natural choice. So too is serving sushi, though be sure to include rolls featuring all-cooked ingredients or separate Japanese noodle dishes for guests with less adventurous palates. A Kobe beef dish is another option for those who dislike sushi. Other popular Japanese imports that can be served include sake cocktails and mochi, daifuku, and other sweets.


Quite A Sight In White January 24, 2017

Many brides walk down the aisle in white gowns, which have long been considered the most traditional choice. Wearing white can be a frightening prospect to some brides, who fear that white clearly shows every blemish or stain. Protecting a white dress so it looks pristine on the wedding day takes a little effort, but such efforts are well worth it.

Before The Wedding

When trying on gowns, brides-to-be should make sure their hands are clean and they are not wearing any makeup. They may want to wear a thin pair of gloves so any oils from their hands are not transferred to the gown. Anyone who helps the bride-to-be in and out of the gown should also make sure their hands are clean or covered.

The bride-to-be should try on the gown sparingly before the wedding, ideally only for fittings. When she is not trying on the gown, she should store it in a protective garment bag until it needs to be steamed just prior to the wedding. Some seamstresses or tailors will hold onto the gown until the final alterations are done and then steam out any wrinkles prior to delivery.

Wedding Day

On the day of the wedding, resist the urge to handle the gown early in the day. The gown should be the last thing the bride puts on during wedding day preparations.

Wait until just before departing for the service to get fully dressed in the gown. Again, the bride should make sure her hands and the hands of her helpers are clean. The bride should ask for help so that the dress can be placed gingerly over her head so no makeup gets on the gown. Some brides may find it helpful to make lipstick application their last step in getting ready, as bright lipstick on a white gown can be especially difficult to conceal.

Pack an emergency stain-fighting kit to bring along to the ceremony and reception. This way, should a minor stain occur, it can be treated right away. The bride should use the kit sparingly because she may not know exactly how a cleaning product will react with the gown's fabric, and overuse may make the stain worse. If possible, test the product on a small swatch of gown fabric prior to use.

After The Wedding

Use caution when removing the gown, and then promptly repackage it into its garment bag. After the wedding, take the gown to a professional dry cleaner to have it cleaned and preserved. Then the gown can be used by future generations or simply saved as a keepsake.


The Story of My Dress August 1, 2016

The story behind recent bride Ami's feathered wedding gown is as unique as the dress itself. When Ami married her husband, Chaz, in her parents' backyard in Palmyra, Pa., on Aug. 15, 2015, she walked down the aisle in a dress with a story that was 10 years in the making. Here, Ami shares the tale of how she found her special gown:

I spotted my wedding gown while shopping for prom dresses when I was 18 years old. My mother and I had visited Renaissance Bridal in York, Pa., to try on dresses for my senior prom. While I was waiting for a fitting room, I was browsing through the wedding gown section and spotted a Jovani gown with a feathered skirt. I remember thinking that it was incredible and showing it to my mother. I commented that I would be wearing a dress made of feathers on my wedding day. I memorized the designer and dress style number of that feathered dress and headed into a dressing room to try on prom dresses. I may have only been 18 at the time, but that dress made a lasting impression on me.

I became engaged 10 years later. Chaz proposed to me on a Monday evening. The following day, I did a quick search on the Internet for "Jovani 5858" - the designer and dress number of that feathered wedding gown that I had coveted 10 years earlier. I scrolled through page after page of photos of the dress - each one stating that the dress was no longer available. Then, an eBay listing appeared in the search results. I was surprised to see that the dress was my size, only worn once as a prom gown, and was listed for $200 or best offer. I, without hesitation, made the seller an offer of $150. Within minutes the seller had responded that my offer had been accepted. On Thursday morning, my wedding gown was delivered to my mailbox. I am so thankful and so surprised that I remembered the designer and style number for the past 10 years! This gown definitely spoke to me when I saw it the first time and then brought me to tears when I tried it on for the first time.

This dress is incredibly unique. The opalescent bead work, the intricate lace details, and the skirt full of feathers greatly appealed to me. I enjoy things that are slightly offbeat, and this dress is beautifully different from other wedding gowns I have seen.

Not every bride has had a dress in mind for 10 years, however. Ami offered a couple tips for brides-to-be who are embarking on a search for their own ideal dress:

Know your own personal style. Make a list of what you like and what you don't like. Also, envision what you want yourself to look like on your wedding day. I knew that I wanted something less traditional and very original. This dress fit my personal style so well, and I felt so beautiful while wearing it.

Don't show your future spouse your gown! I'm not very good at containing my excitement about things and had asked Chaz if he wanted to see my wedding gown at least a dozen times before our wedding day. Each time I asked, he said, "No. I want it to be a surprise." I am so thankful that I didn't show him this dress. His facial expression when he first saw me walking toward him while wearing a gown of feathers was priceless.

Photos by With Love & Embers


13 Tips for Finding That Perfect Dress August 1, 2016

1.-Look at magazines, blogs, and designers' websites to get an idea of what kinds of dresses you are drawn to and bring photos to your first appointment. You can also consider creating a secret board on Pinterest so that you can easily show your salesperson your vision.

2.-On the flip side, remember that many brides end up choosing a dress that wasn't even on their radar initially, so keep an open mind. A style that might not flatter you in normal dresses could look great as a wedding gown because of the layers and lining. And a dress that does not stand out on the hanger might look amazing once you put it on.

3.-Consider your wedding style and venue. Ballroom gowns might not be the smartest choice for a beach or farm setting. Envision your wedding setting and choose a dress to complement that atmosphere.

4.-Keep in mind the time of year of your wedding. When trying on gowns in the winter for an outdoor summer wedding, remember that it could be very, very hot. (And vice versa for trying on gowns in the summertime for a winter wedding.)

5.-If possible, schedule an appointment for during the week or early in the morning, when stores are typically not as busy.

6.-Wear the right undergarments to try on dresses so that you know what the dress will look like when you wear it on your big day.

7.-Bring helpers or don't - shop however you feel comfortable. If you ordinarily shop with a lot of people and like to get a lot of additional opinions, consider sticking to that rule for wedding dress shopping. If you prefer shopping alone, however, go solo or take one or two trusted friends or family members along. Don't feel like you need a large audience.

8.-Don't put too much pressure on yourself to have a magical dress-buying experience or to find the perfect option right away. Sometimes the process can take time. Try not to rush, even if you may feel like you're on a tight deadline.

9.-Limit your appointment length to two or three hours per shopping trip. Anything beyond that may result in brides forgetting what they have tried on and becoming overwhelmed with options. Trying on too many dresses can lead to confusion.

10.-Take pictures of the gowns you try on so that you can ruminate on your options later, if need be.

11.-Sit down in the dress when you try it on and be sure to move around a bit as well. Sure, you're probably not going to be doing push-ups and squats in the gown, but you do need to make sure the fit will be comfortable for the big day, whether you're sitting, standing, or dancing.

12.-Try not to get fixated on a size. Wedding gown sizes often run differently than street clothes. Trying on a dress that fits you comfortably is better than saying you want a smaller size because you plan on losing weight.

13.-If you've set a strict budget for the dress, remember to include extra costs. Remember to factor in the costs of alterations and tax and delivery, plus shoes, a veil and hair accessories, and jewelry.


Dress-Shopping Tips For Brides With Curves August 1, 2016

For brides-to-be, finding the right gown is one element of wedding planning that calls for patience and persistence. Trial and error is often part of the process as women look for the perfect wedding gown. Brides-to-be who have a specific style in mind may find that their dream gown doesn't always live up to expectations, while another style of dress they never imagined wearing turns out to be a stunner.

Another challenge women may face when gown shopping is that many wedding gowns are styled and geared toward women with slender figures, making the process of selecting a gown for a curvier bride a bit more difficult. But any bride, regardless of size or figure, can find the ideal dress, especially when she keeps the following tips in mind.

--Do not get discouraged. Sample sizes fit a select few. Bridal shops carry a range of dresses but may only stock one or two sample dresses. For economy, these samples are a median size that is intended to fit as many shoppers as possible. Such gowns are usually in the neighborhood of a size 10. Most women, whether petite or plus-size, will not fit into the sample.

--Visit large retail chains, but do not discount local shops. Popular wedding dress chains may have a wider selection of sample dresses in larger sizes. Department stores as well as designers who specialize in plus-size gowns also make good resources.

--Call bridal stores in advance to schedule visits. Time is precious, so brides-to-be should call bridal shops prior to visiting and explain what they are looking for in a gown. This will ensure they aren't wasting time driving to stores that cannot provide what they want.

--Select the right fabrics. Heavier fabrics like taffeta, silk dupioni and satin may conceal better than others and can be ruched to camouflage certain areas.

--Use salespeople as a resource. The right salesperson can make wedding shopping much easier and far more pleasant. A bride-to-be should not rest until she finds someone who is excited to work with her and will give his or her honest opinion and recommendations.

--Dresses can be altered. Every bride needs some alterations made to her dress to achieve the perfect fit. A dress is unlikely to meet all of a bride's needs right off the rack, so gown shoppers should find a good seamstress who can alter a dress. Sleeves can be put on, dresses can be shortened, support can be added, and many customizations can be done to a gown post-production.

--Find a flattering shape. Brides may want to choose a gown with a full skirt or an A-line skirt with an empire or a dropped-waist seam that will elongate their midriff and flow away from their hips.

--Don't get stuck on size. Sizes vary widely depending on the manufacturer. Wedding gowns tend to be labeled with couture sizes, which are much smaller than street sizes. A good salesperson should have a reasonable conversion chart or will choose sizes based on your measurements alone. Ignore the size on the tag and go for the gown that fits.

--Never settle for less. Whether it's a gown that's not flattering or a salesperson who is rude, the bride-to-be should not settle for anything less than a great gown and attentive service. Bridal stores compete for business, so if a given shop does not meet a bride's expectations, she should not hesitate to work with a rival store.


"Green" Can Be The New Color In Wedding Wear August 1, 2016

Weddings are full of traditions. While some couples may be focused on the time-honored tradition of something old and something new as well as something borrowed and something blue, others may be seeing weddings in an entirely different - and environmentally-friendly - hue: green.

"Green" weddings are on the rise, and couples can embrace various strategies to make their big days more eco-friendly.

· Explore eco-couture designers. Brides need not compromise their eco-conscious ideals for gorgeous designs. Many established and up-and-coming bridal gown designers rely on sustainable materials and practices to craft beautiful gowns. Brides-to-be may not have to look far for a dress that matches their commitment to the environment.

· Consider a vintage gown. Wearing a vintage gown is recycling at its best. Not only will the bride still have her chance to look amazing, but she can breathe new life into a classic wedding dress. Family members can be the first people to seek out when looking for a vintage gown, as one never knows what an aunt or grandmother has in a keepsake chest in the attic. In addition to helping brides save money, wearing a vintage gown can give the person lending the dress a feeling of pride and inclusion in the festivities.

· Guys can don classic attire, too. Grooms-to-be also can embrace vintage attire, or they can borrow a suit or wear a shirt or sentimental item, such as an embroidered handkerchief, from their father or another male relative. If there are few options, renting is certainly a green idea, as a rented tux will be more environmentally friendly than purchasing a tuxedo that may get little use after the wedding.

· Choose sustainable fabrics. Certain fabrics are derived from eco-friendly resources, such as sustainably grown fiber crops or recycled materials. Organic cotton or linen are options, as are many other sustainable textiles. Individuals can purchase fabric and have a tailor or seamstress craft a custom wedding gown or suit, if desired.

· Wear something already in the closet. Couples opting for a casual or civil wedding may have more options with regard to their wedding attire. If the wedding is a less-formal affair, the couple can consider wearing clothes they already own. Such attire is perfectly acceptable, and they won't be ordering new dress clothes and having them shipped that way.

Couples interested in keeping weddings in line with their eco-friendly lifestyles can start with the clothing they wear on their special days.


Don't Stress The Dress! January 7, 2015

Planning a wedding can be a stressful undertaking. Couples want their big day to be as perfect as possible, and for a bride-to-be, the linchpin is often her wedding dress. The venue could be breathtaking, the meal delicious, and the music divine, but if a woman doesn't feel beautiful in her dress, her enjoyment and memories of her big day may be compromised.

While the day of the ceremony is the ultimate reward, the act of selecting the right gown can be one of the most exciting moments of the wedding planning process. Shopping for a dress, however, is not a task that should be tackled without preparation. While the idea of discovering the perfect dress by sheer luck may seem highly romantic and is at least plausible, odds are if a bride simply wings it, she may end the day more defeated than delighted. Prepping in advance, rather than rushing straight to the racks, will help to ensure your search stays fruitful and satisfying.

Start With a Plan

Many brides-to-be have spent nearly their entire lives dreaming about their wedding day. Sure, the identity of the man at the end of the aisle was unknown at the time, but it is not uncommon for a woman to have determined specific ideals about her big day when she was young. Perhaps you have known since you were in elementary school that you wanted a strapless gown with crystal beading on the bodice or a voluminous affair with numerous petticoats and a cathedral train. In most cases, though, a woman may simply have known that she wanted to look gorgeous and left the details to be determined.

Regardless, it is best to research styles before heading to the shops. Decide at once if certain designs clash with your preferred style. If you have always despised turtlenecks, eliminate any options with a high-necked collar. If high heels are your personal nemesis, nix the long, elaborate train and opt for a hem that just skims the toes or select a tea-length gown that will allow you to display a bedazzled pair of ballet flats or jeweled flip-flops. If you already know that you want a vintage or country theme, do not spend time fawning over a dress that clashes with the overall atmosphere. Keep in mind that what looks amazing in a magazine spread may not suit your frame or your aesthetic.

Gauge Your Budget

Weddings are not cheap, and a wedding dress is often an elaborate expense. Calculate your wardrobe budget before heading to the boutiques. If you have always desired a couture look, start saving in advance. Be sure not to tap into funds already designated for other aspects of the wedding. It is one thing to look gorgeous, but it is another entirely to look great at the expense of drab surroundings and awful food. Sure, a high-fashion gown may ensure you look wonderful in wedding photographs, but do you want to have to give up a honeymoon to fund it?

When you do head out to the shops, inform the sales assistant up front of your price range. Factor in ahead of time all the additional costs of accessories and extras, such as shoes, a veil, decorative hair ornaments, jewelry, and more. These items, when added together, may be a considerable expense, and the total should already be accounted for in your calculations. Be firm when relaying that you do not wish to see dresses outside of your budget. Designers are well aware that brides come from a variety of circumstances and tailor their offerings accordingly. Beautiful gowns are available with a multitude of price tags; have faith that you will find one you love in your budget.

Contemplate Accessories

It is best to consider accessories before shopping. Maybe you are planning to incorporate your grandmother's handmade veil or want to look at gowns with a detachable bustle, overlay, or train that will provide two distinct looks for ceremony and reception. Perhaps you want a strapless gown, but you also desire a decorative shawl or bolero jacket. Do not waste time trying on dresses that do not fit your requirements. It is certainly OK to try on a few samples that differ from your preference (you may adore something once it's on), but don't spend hours struggling in and out of varied gowns hoping for inspiration.

Another element to keep in mind is whether your attendants will require accessories, such as wraps or coordinating handbags. Knowing beforehand what extras each outfit will require will help you to determine cost and if you can purchase all accessories at one location.

Do Your Homework

Gather a listing of all the shops you wish to visit in advance. Go online or call ahead to confirm hours and whether or not an appointment is required. Determine if the business offers an on-site tailor or seamstress for alterations or dyeing services in the event that shoes need to be specially prepared to color-coordinate. Check the boutique's website to see if they offer more than dresses. Do they offer custom designs? Perhaps they have a separate men's wear department or an elaborate selection of jewelry to complement their inventory.

Another consideration to keep in mind when interacting with bridal sales staff is their expertise in the field. Feel free to ask attendants questions about current styles or in-season color choices. It's their job to be aware of popular trends, and they should be well-skilled in helping you select a style that best suits your body type and preference. Also, since dress selection is typically one of the first elements addressed on a bride's checklist, do not hesitate to ask sales staff if they can recommend local vendors for other aspects not yet finalized for your event. Being in the business and constantly dealing with wedding parties, they may have information regarding other professionals including florists, bands, caterers, or transportation companies.

Bring Props

Every woman knows that an outfit will look different with all "the trimmings." For something as important as a wedding gown, it is best to leave as little as possible to the imagination. When you go shopping, bring shoes of the approximate height as the ones you intend to wear. Wear supportive undergarments or a corset and bring a strapless bra from home if you plan to try on off-the-shoulder styles. If you intend to wear your hair up, do so on the day you look at gowns. There's no need to schedule an appointment with a stylist, but a general upsweep will help provide a basic appreciation of the way each silhouette will appear. Also, consider shopping with no or minimal makeup so as not to soil or stain the dresses.

Select a Shopping Crew

It is absolutely expected that a bride will want the opinions of others while shopping. Feel free to bring along your mother, as well as your sisters or best friends, but don't go overboard. Only invite those individuals whose opinions you truly value. Too many viewpoints may only lead to confusion and possible anxiety. Bring a camera or phone capable of taking high-quality shots of the options you especially like. Be sure to take front and back views of the ensemble. Remember, this is your day. Be prepared to stick up for your choices, and don't let one of your wing team talk you out of something (within reason) that you feel truly beautiful in.

Stick to a Time Frame

Dress shopping can be exhausting. It can often be emotional and draining. Even if you do find the dress of your dreams, you may feel done in at day's end. You may not find your ideal match on day one. Set aside a predetermined length of time to shop and be sure to stay within your allotted time frame. Too long of a day will tap out both yourself and your shopping partners, and individuals may become bored or irritable. Consider making a reservation for dinner afterward, as all involved will most likely be hungry and need to unwind. Having the opportunity to relax will also give you ample opportunity to discuss all of the varied options of the day.


Something Old October 22, 2013

Everyone knows the recommendation that a bride should have "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue" as she heads down the aisle, but, lately, many brides are lingering over the "something old" part. Vintage style has made a major comeback recently, due in part to a number of popular historically set movies and television shows. As "Downton Abbey," Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," "Grace of Monaco," "Broadwalk Empire," and other period pieces have conquered pop culture, the vintage trend has exploded in the wedding industry, with couples pulling inspiration from the beautiful style elements showcased in these hit television and film projects.

"The vintage trend is HOT right now for the 2014 wedding season," exclaims Melissa McClain of Melissa McClain Photography, Harrisburg.

Sabrina J. Drouillard, IEWP, owner/coordinator of Decora Wedding and Event Planning, Mountville, agrees, explaining, "From the invites to the dress and decor, brides are loving this trend! If you are incorporating this into your wedding, you will have so many options."

Couples looking to include vintage elements in their wedding attire and decor must first decide what "vintage" means to them. Wedding elements can invoke a specific time period (for example, the Roaring '20s) or leave a more general old-timey or classic impression. "There are many views on what 'vintage' looks like these days, but I always think of lace, subtle colors, old books and dainty flowers," suggests Nicola Herring, owner of Nicola Herring Photography, Lancaster. "There are many ways to incorporate these things, even in a do-it-yourself wedding."

In addition to drawing inspiration from the vintage-inspired costumes and set design of movies and television shows set in decades past, brides and grooms can go online for ideas. "Pinterest is a great brainstorming tool for ideas, so pin everything that appeals to you, and your ideas will come together," recommends Herring.

A major way the vintage trend is being incorporated into wedding style is through the attire of the bridal party, especially the bride. Whether she is wearing a dress that has been passed down in her family, attire purchased from a vintage store, or a new dress that has a vintage look, the bride can channel classic style with her gown. Popular vintage twists for bridal gowns include lace, beading, crystals, off-white or ivory hues, and other romantic elements.

When it comes to jewelry, brides are favoring art deco, estate-inspired silhouettes and often choosing one or two standout accessories for a more minimalistic and classical look. Simple, elegant pieces are distinctive without being overwhelming and can be worn alone or layered. Wearing heirloom jewelry is a great way for brides to go vintage and honor members of their family at the same time. For her other accessories, a bride can turn to retro-style pumps, a tiara or a birdcage veil to continue the vintage theme.

The bride is not the only one who can have fun with incorporating vintage elements into her attire, however. "The Great Gatsy," "Downton Abbey," and other film and television period pieces supply plenty of inspiration for the groom's attire, as well as that of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. The bride and her bridesmaids can also incorporate the vintage trend via their hair and makeup choices (finger wave hairdos, red lips, subtle cat's eye eyeliner, etc.). But remember to be careful that you don't take the vintage elements too far; you want the bridal party to look classic, not costumey.

Another key way that couples can incorporate vintage style into their wedding day celebrations is through their choice of ceremony and reception venues. If you want your event to have a vintage vibe, starting with a venue that has inherent vintage charm will reduce the amount of effort you have to put into dressing it up. "Historic settings are a logical choice for vintage weddings, since their unique surroundings provide ample photographic opportunities that just can't be replicated in most other venues," explains Arlene Stewart, chairman of marketing and advertising for The Iris Club, Lancaster.

But no matter what venue you choose, it can be decked out to fit with your vintage theme through some creativity. Visit vintage and antique stores, as well as thrift shops, to see what catches your eye, whether it's an antique handkerchief, mismatched china teacups, old books, or pieces from retro board games. Chances are you'll be able to incorporate whatever vintage items you love into the wedding decor.

"Be cautious!" Drouillard advises. "Just because it says 'vintage,' that doesn't mean that it is!" If you desire bonafide vintage items, research the authenticity of the antiques before you make your purchases.

"Old glassware, such as mason jars and wine bottles, are a really popular (way to incorporate vintage style)," comments Emily Wilcox of Emily Grace Photography, Elizabethtown. McClain adds, "Couples (are) incorporating lace and burlap elements, Scrabble letters, and subtle yet delicate flower arrangements." McClain recommends, "If going vintage, consider shying away from common DIY projects featured on inspirational sites and customize your decor items for a more personal touch."

Think outside the box: everything from antique keys to vintage bicycles to old suitcases and furniture can be used as decorations. What is even better is when the wedding decor incorporates vintage items that hold special significance to the couple - such as a grandmother's china, a grandfather's military trunk, antique clocks passed through the generations or old family photos of the couple's ancestors.

"For couples on a budget, consider renting key decor pieces from vintage rental stores near you," suggests McClain. "If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, rent a few larger pieces of vintage furniture for a great post-dinner lounge area for guests to relax and mingle. (You can also) change out standard seating and tables for handcrafted items and think about (offering) old-school lawn games for guests to play during cocktail hour," she recommends.

And don't forget about the music. A band playing Dixieland hits and jazz standards will give the whole party a vintage vibe in a fun and memorable way. (If you can't find a band in your local area or price range, you can achieve a similar effect by having your disc jockey spin vintage tunes.)

Another way retro elements can be incorporated into the reception is by serving food and beverages with a vintage influence. Also, you can add to the theme through transportation choices such as horse-drawn carriages or classic cars.

"Be sure to carry your vintage theme throughout - from the design of your bouquet, to the style of your gown, to your place cards and invitations - for a fully developed theme. All in all, make it your own!" McClain encourages.

Brides and grooms who are interested in the vintage trend have many options - whether they want the vintage theme to infiltrate every element of their big day or just want to include a few subtle touches. "What makes the vintage trend so great is that it can be as subtle as wearing your grandmother's wedding ring on your big day (or as flashy as using) an eye-catching classic car as the bride and groom's gateway vehicle," explains Wilcox.

Couples looking to go vintage on their big day have many options to help them achieve the classic, glamorous style they desire.

Special thanks to:

Melissa McClain Photography

119 Aster Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17112


Decora Wedding and Event Planning

416 Huntington Drive, Mountville, PA 17554


Nicola Herring Photography

519 E. King St., Lancaster, PA 17602 (mailing address only)


The Iris Club

323 N. Duke St., Lancaster PA 17602


Emily Grace Photography

120 Heisey Ave., Elizabethtown, PA 17022



A Tip from a Pro - Local Vendors September 4, 2013

"Shop local. You will be surprised!"

Jim DeFilippis, coordinator at Eicher Arts Center, Ephrata


A Tip from Pros - Consultants September 4, 2013

"Trust your consultant for help. They are trained to help."

Mary Ann Hoober & Alissa Hoober-Smay, owners of The Bridal Emporium, Elizabethtown


Wedding Dress Silhouettes to Flatter Every Figure August 29, 2013

Few wardrobe decisions are scrutinized as much as a bride-to-be's choice of wedding gown. Knowing this, brides often spend months, if not years, shopping for the right gown. After all, a bride wants to look like the best version of herself on the big day. Finding the perfect gown that flatters the future bride's figure while stunning her guests and soon-to-be husband can be a challenge, but understanding what gown silhouettes are available and which ones flatter certain body types will help the process. Here is a look of some of the common types of gown silhouettes and which body types they suit best:

Ball Gown

A ball gown dress is truly a classic style, evoking images of fairy tale princesses. With a fitted bodice and full skirt that flairs at the waist, this silhouette usually works for all body types. Women with a pear shape might especially gravitate toward this style, because the full skirt, typically poofed-up by crinoline, hides the hips and thighs. The ball gown style may not be ideal for petite women, as the full skirt may overwhelm their figures.


Another silhouette that is considered appropriate for many body types is the A-line gown. A-line cut dresses should be the go-to style for anyone who does not wish to wear a gown that is form-fitting at the hips. The cut of the dress will fit to the waist and gradually fan out from the hips to form the outline of an uppercase "A." When in doubt, A-line gowns are classic and sensible and a favorite among brides.


Women who prefer something a little more form-fitting may select a trumpet silhouette. This style of dress is fitted through the body and flares out at mid-thigh level. Women with taut stomachs and hourglass figures can benefit from this style of gown, but those who do not want a gown with a tight fit at the hips and thighs will want to select something else.


A bit more fitted than the trumpet, this silhouette stays close to the body from the chest down to the knee. The skirt then flares out slightly at the knee. Tall, thin women generally look best in this type of gown.

Modified A-line

A balance between a traditional A-line and a more fitted gown, the modified A-line does not flare out as much as traditional A-line styles. But it does flare out enough from the waist to hide areas around the hips and thighs. This silhouette is another good choice for women with a range of figures.

Tea Length

Brides who do not want a gown that reaches the floor can opt for a tea-length dress, on which the skirt generally falls between the knee and the ankle.


Lean brides who want simplicity in their gowns can opt for a sheath silhouette. The narrow shape of the gown from the neckline to the hem will definitely accentuate the body shape. Therefore, women who are shy may want to select a different option. Petite women who may be overwhelmed by more fabric can usually wear a sheath gown with success.

Although a bride may have a certain wedding gown style in mind, it is always a good idea for her to try on a number of different silhouettes to find the one that is most flattering, especially because many gowns do have "hanger appeal." Bridal salon employees are usually well-versed in finding flattering gowns for different body types and can prove invaluable during the dress selection process.


Wedding Dress for Success: Stay True to Your Personal Style August 28, 2013

For most brides-to-be, the choice of a dress is among the first and most important decisions in planning a wedding. With thousands of choices in every price range, finding the perfect wedding dress can be a difficult and time-consuming process. By making some decisions before setting foot in a store, however, the search will be both easier and a whole lot more enjoyable.

First things first

Start by knowing your limits. To avoid disappointment down the line, determine the maximum amount that you can spend on a dress -- and don't forget to include all the little extras, such as undergarments, shoes, jewelry, veil, and/or hair ornaments. Next, take an inventory of your personal style. If you know that you're not comfortable in strapless or sleeveless dresses, for example, you can immediately eliminate these options. The trick is to rule out a few style options before hitting the stores and then be open to all other options.

Depending on the store and the alterations needed, brides should order their dresses seven months to a year in advance.

Firm, yet flexible

There will be no shortage of opinions -- from mothers, sisters, friends, and others -- about your choice of a wedding dress, but the decision, ultimately, is the bride's alone. A great strategy is to be open to suggestions about dresses to try on, but reserve the right to choose the look that feels right to you. With so many potential options, you might want to consider bringing along a camera and taking photos of yourself in the dresses that could be "contenders."

Elizabeth Wertz, owner of Classic Weddings Ltd. in Lititz, recommends bringing your mother and one friend - "not a posse." She also notes that one of the biggest mistakes a bride can make is not choosing what she likes and listening to other opinions too much.

Alexis Wilson, sales manager at Cocoa Couture in Hershey, says to bring your mother, along with any other people whose opinions you truly value. She recommends picking a gown that makes you feel happy, beautiful, and confident.

Go for a flattering fit

Remember: Your goal is to find a dress that flatters your body and expresses your personal style -- not to fit into a particular size. If you look ghostly in white, feel free to choose a creamier shade or a dress that has decorative accents of a different color near your neck, shoulders and face. Similarly, there's no rule that a wedding dress has to be floor-length. If you're planning a daytime or more casual wedding, you might want to consider a tea-length dress (one that falls a few inches above the ankle) or go even shorter.

Similarly, don't get too caught up with current trends. Wertz notes that mermaid and trumpet styles are popular now but that you should buy what looks best on you.

Wilson agrees. She notes that anything that looks like the "Pippa dress" is very popular and that ruffles are a huge trend, but to be careful because trends go out of style. "You don't want to look at your wedding pictures 20 years from now and know that your dress has some quality that represents the current bridal fashions of 2012."

Comfort is key

Style and fit may be the two most important factors in choosing a wedding dress, but comfort should be a close third. Ask yourself if you will be comfortable in a particular dress given the setting in which your wedding will take place. For instance, if you've always dreamed of an outdoor wedding, you may want forgo a dress with a long, trailing train that could trip you up on your walk to or down the aisle. Even if you're planning an indoor event, having a dress and shoes that are as comfortable as they are beautiful will greatly increase your odds of enjoying your special day to the fullest.

Details, details, details

Every bridal boutique is different. Be aware that the accessories, services, gown lines, sample sizes, and bridal party attire available will vary from store to store.

For example, Cocoa Couture carries some undergarments, but the bride-to-be should bring a strapless bra to her appointments. The store also carries shoes, veils, hair accessories, jewelry, sashes and belts, bridesmaids' dresses, children's dresses, and a large selection of mothers' dresses. Bridesmaids' and mothers' dresses should be ordered at least 14 weeks in advance, but don't forget to leave time for alterations.

Most sample sizes at Cocoa Couture are 10 and 12, but plus-size samples are also available. Cocoa Couture does not employ seamstresses to alter gowns, but the staff is happy to recommend some, as customer service is a priority. The store does, however, have an in-house designer to help brides create the dress of their dreams.

Classic Weddings Ltd. carries sample sizes 4 to 30 and offers in-house alterations. The shop carries shoes, veils, headpieces, jewelry, garters, and pillows, as well as bridesmaids', children's, and mothers' dresses. Wertz recommends ordering dresses for the wedding party at least four to five months in advance.

Having 21 years of experience in the industry, Wertz also recommends that brides shop locally owned businesses first; they often have better prices and service. She also advises against ordering from websites that offer extremely cheap dresses, as what is pictured is often not what you get. Selection, service, and experience are three features that distinguish her shop.

Special thanks to:

Classic Weddings Ltd.

214 Skyview Lane

Lititz, PA 17543


Cocoa Couture

575 E. Chocolate Ave.

Hershey, PA 17033



Going Green On Your Big Day: August 23, 2013

Couples about to tie the knot can make their weddings even more special by making the festivities eco-friendly.

Environmentally friendly ideals are now permeating all aspects of daily living, and couples who already do their best to reduce, reuse, and recycle may want to employ those same values on their wedding day. The growing interest in eco-conscious weddings not only benefits the planet, but also allows couples to set their weddings apart, as eco-friendly aspects can help create unique memories.

Eco-conscious couples can go green in a number of ways before, during, and after their wedding. The carbon footprint of a wedding can be reduced simply by scaling back and avoiding over-consumption. However, there are also easy ways to include green practices in a wedding without compromising on style or statement. Couples won't have to jeopardize their ideals or tastes to achieve a wedding that is both green and beautiful.


One of the easiest ways for a bride and groom to go green while planning their wedding involves the wedding invitations, as couples have many options for eco-friendly invitations. Though many etiquette experts frown on abandoning paper invitations for digital ones, many couples are doing just that. Those who still prefer paper can go green by having their invitations printed on recycled paper or tree-free paper.

Couples can also reduce their other wedding stationary needs by skipping the extra inserts inside of the invitation, such as directions and registry cards. Instead, couples can direct guests to a personal wedding Web page. Many wedding websites offer couples the chance to create their own personal Web page with information about themselves and the wedding ceremony and reception. Couples can post directions, hotel information, and other details that would otherwise be disseminated with the paper invitations. Collecting all of this information on a Web page reduces paper consumption and makes it easier for a couple's guests to find all the pertinent details regarding the big day.

Wedding Attire and Jewelry:

Another way to reduce a wedding's carbon footprint is to reuse and recycle wedding attire and jewelry. A couple's journey to their wedding day typically begins with the marriage proposal and an engagement ring, and even this time-honored tradition can be done in an eco-friendly way. Couples can go green by purchasing vintage or antique engagement rings and wedding bands. Couples can also shop from jewelers that use recycled stones and metals. For a more personal approach, family heirloom jewelry can be used.

Eco-conscious brides can also embrace history when selecting their wedding attire if the bride's mother, grandmother, or other relative has offered her wedding gown. Reusing a wedding dress that has been re-fitted will save the bride money, in addition to conserving the energy that would be needed to construct an entirely new gown. Furthermore, the sentimental gesture of wearing a gown passed down through the generations will be appreciated by the bride's family members and is one way for her to include them in her wedding. Brides can also reuse veils, jewelry, shoes, and other accessories.

Brides who do not have heirloom dresses and accessories to incorporate into their wedding attire can still take an eco-friendly walk down the aisle. In vintage stores, brides can find many styles of dresses and accessories. Additionally, a number of websites match up brides with others looking to swap gently-used items at low or no cost. Brides can also purchase a new gown that is made from sustainable materials. Many top designers now make gowns produced from such materials, leaving brides with a variety of green options.


Brides can also incorporate environmentally friendly products into their wedding day beauty regiment by asking their hairdressers and makeup artists to use all-natural beauty products instead of conventional cosmetics, which may contain toxic chemicals. Brides can also patronize an eco-friendly salon, which are growing in popularity.


Eco-friendly wedding options can also extend to the ceremony and reception venues. One of the most affordable and environmentally friendly ways to get married is to simply elope or have a small ceremony. After all, there's no rule that says couples have to invite 300 of their not-so-close friends to the wedding. Opting for more intimate affairs allows couples to save on cost and to help the environment.

For those who do want a larger wedding, keep the event close to home. Couples can wed in a family member's large backyard or in a nearby park to avoid using large, indoor reception halls. Moving the ceremony and party outside can alleviate some environmental impact related to energy usage.

Couples may also look into catering halls that offer packages that include other elements of the wedding, such as flowers, cake, linens, music, and more. These convenient packages may be more affordable and will save the couple the time and gas they would have used driving around to visit different vendors.

Instead of rice, which can be damaging to wildlife, guests may be supplied with bubbles, birdseed, sprinkles, biodegradable confetti, or flower petals to throw at the happy couple after the ceremony.


Flowers add significant aesthetic appeal to a wedding, and couples can make them even more appealing by choosing local flowers that are in season. Local and seasonal flowers do not need to be transported as far as their exotic and out-of-season counterparts.

When shopping for a florist, eco-conscious couples should look for one who specializes in organic flowers, which are never sprayed with potentially harmful pesticides or fungicides. In addition to organic and seasonal flowers, green options include bouquets made of sustainable succulent plants and centerpieces full of organic fruits and wildflowers.


Suggestions abound for couples interested in hosting a green reception. Hosting a wedding at or near home gives couples the opportunity to shop around for locally produced, organic foods. Couples may also wish to consider skipping the all-you-can-eat buffet and serving a more traditional meal to reduce the amount of wasted food.

Instead of formal escort cards indicating firm seating arrangements, couples can save paper by allowing guests to choose their own seats from mix-matched options, such as long, communal benches and comfy sofas.

To save money on decorations, couples may decorate with items they already own. Centerpieces and other displays can incorporate the couple's favorite books, photographs, souvenirs, collectibles, and other special items, adding a personal touch to the event's decor. Brides and grooms can also make or purchase banners, garlands, signs, and other decorations that are made from old maps, handkerchiefs, books, and other recycled items.

Another way to make the reception more eco-friendly is to choose a charitable party favor. Instead of giving a party favor that will end up collecting dust on a shelf or sitting in a landfill, couples can give guests organic products or make a donation to a charitable organization in the guests' names.


A major way to reduce the carbon footprint of a wedding is to reduce the transportation-related energy consumption. Carbon emissions can be reduced and fuel can be saved by reducing guests' need to travel far for a wedding and by employing transportation options that can accommodate several people at once, such as a limousine for the wedding party or a party bus to transport guests.


Couples can opt for open registries that enable guests to give everything from eco-friendly housewares to charitable donations or cash for down payments on a home. When giving money, guests do not risk giving the bride and groom something that may be returned or discarded.


A couple's dedication to being environmentally friendly can even extend to the selection of a honeymoon destination. Couples can choose from a number of eco-conscious hotels and resorts or elect to honeymoon close to home.


Wedding Dress 101 August 23, 2013

For most brides-to-be, the choice of a dress is among the first and most important decisions they make when planning a wedding. With thousands of choices available in every price range, finding the perfect wedding dress can be a difficult and time-consuming process. However, brides can make their search much easier by following a few guidelines.

Set Some Parameters

Start by knowing your limits and making some important decisions before setting foot in a store. To avoid disappointment down the line, determine the maximum amount that you can spend on a dress -- and don't forget to include all the little extras, such as undergarments, shoes, jewelry, a veil, and/or hair ornaments. Next, take an inventory of your personal style. If you know that you're not comfortable in strapless or sleeveless dresses, for example, immediately eliminate these options. The trick is to rule out a few style options before hitting the magazines or stores and then be open to all other options.

Get Started Early

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time for the dress-buying process. "Start your planning early, making sure to start your search for your wedding gown at least six to nine months prior to your big day," recommend Mary Ann Hoober and Alissa Hoober-Smay, co-owners of The Bridal Emporium in Elizabethtown. "This allows for your gown to be ordered and allows six to eight weeks for alterations to be done, so they will be completed a few weeks prior to your wedding day," they explain.

Try It On

When visiting a bridal salon to try on gowns, brides should follow a few guidelines that can make the process go more smoothly and potentially reduce the amount of time it takes to find the perfect gown.

Wear a supportive, well-constructed strapless bra or corset in your correct size. If you will be wearing a petticoat, also have the right size available. Go without face makeup when trying on gowns so they remain clean. Try to wear your hair similar to the style you have in mind for your wedding.

Brides should also note that the size of the wedding gown you will wear is typically one to two sizes larger than your day-to-day clothes. Proper measurements can be matched to designers' size charts.

To Thine Own Self Be True

There will be no shortage of opinions -- from mothers, sisters, friends, and store personnel -- about your choice of a wedding dress, but the decision, ultimately, is the bride's alone. A great strategy is to be open to suggestions about dresses to try on, but to reserve the right to choose the look that feels right to you. It may also be best to limit the number of people who go shopping with you to one or two trusted friends or family members, as an entourage can be confusing.

"When you are going to a bridal store to try on gowns, bring those who will be a good support to you," Hoober and Hoober-Smay suggest. "Remember, you value the opinions of your family and closest friends, but ultimately you must choose the gown you love, the gown that makes you feel beautiful, and the gown that reflects who you are."

With so many potential options, you might want to consider bringing along a camera and taking photos of yourself in the dresses that could be contenders.

Find The Dress That Fits You (And Your Wedding)

Remember that your goal is to find a dress that flatters your body and expresses your personal style -- not to fit into a particular size. If you look ghostly in white, feel free to choose a creamier shade or a dress that has decorative accents of a different color near your neck, shoulders, and face. Similarly, there's no rule that a wedding dress has to be floor-length. If you're planning a daytime or more casual wedding, you might want to consider a tea-length dress (one that falls a few inches above the ankle) or go even shorter, if the look is flattering on you.

How well a gown fits goes a long way toward the bride's appearance. Brides should work with their bridal store to have necessary alterations done on the gown or hire a seamstress to tailor a vintage dress or one purchased from a vendor that does not offer in-house alternations.

"When looking for a wedding gown, don't limit your search to gowns in only your size," advises Gail Mendenhall, owner of Country Threads By Gail in Manheim. "In most instances, gowns can be altered down or up sizes," she explains, adding, "Don't rule out a gown you love because it's not quite your size."

If you have the option, however, of ordering a dress in various sizes, Hoober and Hoober-Smay recommend ordering the size that fits you now, even if you plan to lose some weight before the wedding. "It is much easier to take your gown to a smaller size if you reach your goal," they explain, than it is to take it out or make it bigger. Following the same principle, it is better to order a slightly larger gown and leave room for alterations if you are between sizes.

Don't Sacrifice Comfort

Style and fit may be the two most important factors in choosing a wedding dress, but comfort should be a close third. Ask yourself if you will be comfortable in a particular dress, given the setting in which your wedding will take place. For instance, if you've always dreamed of an outdoor wedding, you may want forego a dress with a long, trailing train that could trip you up on your walk down the aisle. Even if you're planning an indoor event, having a dress and shoes that are as comfortable as they are beautiful will greatly increase your odds of enjoying your special day to the fullest.

Consider Something Borrowed

Some brides-to-be are lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to wear the wedding dress of a family member or friend. While some may view a hand-me-down gown with a degree of skepticism due to fears of its style being seen as out-of-date, it is important to remember that heirloom dresses can be altered and turned into something that fits the new bride's style and physique. Recycling a dress is an especially agreeable option for those looking to cut costs or to incorporate family history into their big day.

There are, however, several important factors to take into account when considering a vintage or hand-me-down gown. Try on the gown and see if the necessary alterations are possible. Remember, it's much easier to take fabric away from a gown than to match it and add fabric to the gown. Do not plan on crash dieting to fit in the gown, as you may end up stuck with an ill-fitting dress. Decide if the shape of the dress is flattering on you. If a gown has good "bones" to it, there's a chance that a talented tailor can turn it into something that will enhance your body type, while a gown in a style that you never would have considered may be much more difficult and costly to transform. Check the condition of the dress. A gown that has been professionally preserved is more likely to look as good as new.

Also, remember your budget, because while hand-me-down wedding dresses may be free initially, costs may accumulate depending on the extent of the alterations needed. Get an estimate from a seamstress to determine if it will be financially smart to go with the used gown. Additionally, a bride may want to pass up a passed-down dress if she's selecting it purely for economic reasons and not because she really loves it. In this case, it might be a better idea to scout for bargain-priced options, rather than wearing a dress you're not thrilled with.

Special thanks to:

The Bridal Boutique, 20 Market Square, Manheim, PA 17545; 717-665-7900;;

The Bridal Emporium, 40 S. Market St., Elizabethtown, PA 17022; 717-367-4446;;

Country Threads by Gail, 194 Doe Run Road, Manheim, PA 17545; 717-665-3711;

View More