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Your wedding dress: how do you know when you found the one?

Buying a wedding dress is one of the most emotional purchases a woman will ever make in her entire life.  We all envision that moment when you put on a wedding dress, look in the mirror, and hear angelic voices serenade down upon you as you realize that this is THE dress. We all envision that moment where everyone is crying as you say ‘yes’ to your dress.
 

This inevitably puts a lot of pressure on the bride to get it ‘right’. Just like with your spouse, you never want to settle, but you also have to be open to knowing that not all brides get that weepy moment…and that’s ok. If you are expecting that moment and will not say yes to any dress until that happens to you, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
 

So we decided to go to the experts and asked local bridal gown shop owners for their insights into helping you find THE ONE.
 

RELATED: WHO SHOULD HELP YOU SAY ‘YES’ TO YOUR WEDDING DRESS?

 

To find THE dress, keep an open mind and trust your consultant

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Before even stepping foot into a bridal shop, brides will do research online or look in magazines, pulling pages or saving photos to Pinterest of gowns they like. In each of these clippings, there’s something about that particular dress that catches the eye of the bride – either the silhouette, the detailing, the designer’s name.
 

Often times the biggest disappointment comes when the bride tries on the dress she loved in the magazine or online and it doesn’t look the same on her. While it’s great to come in with ideas, as it helps to narrow down the focus, it’s also important that you shop with an open mind, for such an occasion.
 

Tina Pomarico, owner of Lady Gray Bridal in Beacon says when a bride comes in “They tell us what they are looking for. We’ll pull out what it is that they’ve asked for.” However, she says, as the women start trying on the dresses they came in thinking they wanted, and start sharing what they like or don’t like about the dress, that’s when you need to start trusting your consultant.”
 

At that point, Pomarico will usually say “’You know, I have something that I really think would work beautifully for you, would you be willing to try?’” She says, the brides-to-be usually all agree “…Because they trust in our expertise and all that we offer. So they’ll put something on and be pleasantly surprised and think ‘Wow! I didn’t really think this would be the silhouette I would really choose.’”
 

Your consultant is also helping you by empowering you to make the decision on your own, by ironically, saying nothing at all. Laura Howard, store manager of Chamonix Bride in Rhinebeck says consultants try to say as little as possible when the bride is on the floor in front of the mirror and in front of her entourage. She says “We don’t ever say ‘Oh, I love that on you!’, ‘I love this detail.’ We just let them kind of figure it out and we can tell if they need guidance. We say ‘Well this one has the lace that you were looking for’ or ‘What don’t you like? What aren’t you loving?’ …and we just have that dialogue to help them figure out themselves.”
 

Here’s a tip. If you have a dress on and the longer you have it on, the longer you find ‘issues’ with it, it’s not your dress. Take it off and move on. If, on the other hand, you have your dress on and the longer you have it on, you are just finding more and more things you love about it, chances are, that’s a good sign it’s a keeper.
 

To find THE dress, don’t try on anything that’s outside your budget

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

I can’t stress this enough that it’s so, so, so important that you do research on what you like and the price point you’re comfortable with, and that you go into the dress shopping appointment with that budget in mind, and that you NEVER go over budget. Why? Because it’s almost guaranteed that the minute you start trying on gowns that are out of your price range, you are going to fall in love with one that you can’t afford.
 

If budget is no issue, then, by all means, go for it. But for many brides, a budget is extremely important. Now, that being said, it’s also a misconception to think that lesser priced gowns are poorly made. The average wedding gown will cost anywhere between $1,200 and $3,500. In that range, you can find beautifully made, beautifully detailed dresses with all the bells and whistles you can think of.
 

But, be wary of the too-good-to-be-true-find-of-the-century dress deal that you find online. Never buy your gown online. Always go to a reputable salon to make sure you are getting what you pay for.

 

RELATED: LEARN HOW TO SAVE HUNDREDS ON YOUR WEDDING DRESS

 

To find THE dress, trust your gut and don’t wait for the waterworks

 

Finding THE dress is a remarkable experience. Pomarico says “It’s really great when you see that moment when they actually try THE dress. You know, when they put that gown on and that emotion comes through, that’s not something you can make up. And after 34 years…I still get the goosebumps.”
 

However, the biggest factor many brides use to determine if they’ve found THE one is whether or not they cry, or their mom cries, or their whole entourage and consultants cry. The reality is most brides DON’T cry!
 

You might be asking yourself “Well, if I don’t cry, how will I know it’s the one?” Pomarico says “You will know. It’s an emotion I cannot describe. But when you experience it, you’ll know.”
 

“Sometimes you get that very emotional bride,” says Pomarico, “And she’s crying and so is her mom, and then we get those who… don’t get that flood of emotion, but we can still tell. They have that look in their eye and that look on their face, and they stand there and they say ‘I don’t want to take this off.’”
 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Howard sees the same thing in her store. “We have people that are crying, then I’m crying, mom’s crying. Then we have girls that are just focused and analyzing. Nine times out of 10 you can tell immediately. They (the bride) stand up straighter, their posture is better, they’re playing with it, they’re sitting down, they’re giving it a full test drive.”

 

Betsy Wise, stylist at Lambs Hill Bridal Boutique in Beacon and owner of Betsy Wise Bridal also in Beacon says everyone is different. “You can tell when someone feels really great, you can see it on their face,” she says. Not everyone has the experience you see on tv. She says “people do find the dress and cry, but that’s not everybody’s experience, and I think it makes people (brides) feel insecure like, ‘Oh I’m not doing it right! I didn’t cry! I didn’t have that experience!’ Everyone is different, and everyone is going to find their right dress in their own way.”
 

Guess what… I was a bride who didn’t cry. Not one tear, but I knew, deep down, it was the one. I didn’t want to take it off. The longer I had it on and started twirling in it, and dancing in it and picking up on all the details and nuances, I knew it was the one and didn’t want to try any more dresses on.
 

So, if you’ve found your dress already, what advice do you have for brides who are still looking?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

 

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Bridal Gowns

Who should help you say ‘yes’ to your wedding dress?

Shopping for your wedding dress, hands down, is one of the most thrilling aspects of wedding planning. Your dress is so much more than a garment. Your life literally changes in that gown.

 

If you’ve ever spent a night binge watching “Say Yes to the Dress”, you’ve probably seen the excitement that comes when a bride comes in itching to try on all the beautiful gowns. You also know how quickly that excitement can turn to disappointment when the opinions of her entourage crush her dreams as the gown she loves quickly turns into a gown she wants to burn.

 

Bridal Gowns

Photo Credit: WCHV

There is an enormous amount of pressure for brides to find THE dress, self-inflicted pressure to make sure everything about it is perfect because brides know when that music starts playing on their wedding day, all eyes are on her. Let’s face it, with the amount of choices, and new trends coming every season, it can get overwhelming.

 

Dress shopping can be especially hard for women who normally have a hard time making
decisions or who want to make everyone happy. That’s why, when it comes to saying yes to your dress, NEVER follow the rule of the more the merrier. In fact, the less people you bring with you on your shopping trip the better. Top designers and local shop owners agree. Taking more people with you to your appointment adds stress to what should be a fun event.

 

Why is a small group better when dress shopping?

 

Smaller is better for one reason. Clarity. “Less is better.” Antonetta Forzano, Owner of SpecialOccasions & Bridal by Antonetta in Fishkill says “…if you bring too many people, everybody has ideas and they may not have your idea.”

 

wedding gown

Photo Credit: Cynthia Starr Photography

Have you ever heard of the expression analysis paralysis? When you bring more people to the appointment, they all add their opinions and analysis of the dress which confuses the bride and leads her to decision paralysis. She can’t make a move because everyone else’s thoughts are running through her mind…except her own.

 

We spoke to Martin Thornburg, head designer for David Tutera and Mon Cheri Bridal and head merchandiser for Mon Cheri Bridal, who say “Go with some ONE. Not some TWO. You don’t need all that, it can be a very daunting and very exhausting chore to look for dresses…” He goes on to say that “A lot of times brides are led by a girlfriend, and that’s very nice but the issue is a lot of times it becomes more about what the girlfriend wants rather than what the bride wants”

 

“I say to try not to bring more than three people, three people who’s opinions you really trust…Betsy Wise, stylist at Lambs Hill Bridal Boutique in Beacon says. “The more people you have, the more opinions you have, the more confused it gets, it’s upsetting if you find something you love and your aunt hates it. It just adds extra stress to something that should be a really enjoyable fun experience.”

 

Who should you bring to your first bridal gown appointment?

 

Your entourage is not only about quantity but quality. Tina Pomarico, owner of Lady Gray Bridal in Beacon, says “Typically, a lot of girls like to bring their mom. I do find today that they do come with an entourage…but I think those that are most close to them are the people that they should bring.”

 

wedding dress

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

“I think also to bring people that support you…” says Laura Howard, store manager of
Chamonix Bride in Rhinebeck. “Try not to bring people that knock you down. Because at the end of the day, it’s the bride’s decision.”

 

Emily Glass DeGasperis, Owner of Blush Bridal Boutique in Kingston, says “We recommend
that you limit your party to three or less during your visit at Blush…we have found that the opinions of a trusted few always make for an easier decision for you (the bride).

 

What happens if the entourage confuses the bride or the entourage and bride can’t agree on a wedding dress?

 

First, Thornburg suggests that when you go dress shopping, have an open mind “…I would want to be open to suggestions of your consultant,” he says “that is what they are there for, and if you are going to a reputable company or a reputable salon, keep an open mind, you want to try on the different silhouttes, you might be surprised.”

 

wedding dress

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Once you find the silhouette you like and there is still no compromise or agreement from the group, Charlotte Guernsey, owner of Lambs Hill Bridal Boutique in Beacon says “you have to follow your heart. You have to feel comfortable and confident in your dress. At the end of the day it’s their (the bride’s) wedding and they have to feel beautiful. So it is hard especially if a family member is paying for the dress, they want that person to be happy as well.”

 

If you really love a dress, and those around you don’t, first, make sure you are spending your money wisely by looking at the quality of the gown and point out the benefits of the dress to the group. Then, ask the consultant to start adding the bling…the veil, jewelry, headpieces,have them pull your hair up, so you and those you are with can see the full picture. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding. You have to wear it, you need to like the way you look and feel in
it, and those around you need to understand that.

 

Howard says “it would be so nice to have a million people say ‘you know what, that’s your gown’, but it doesn’t matter, it’s up to them (the bride) entirely.”

 

We’d like to know about your dress shopping experience. Who did you bring? Did they all agree? Were there conflicting ideas and if so, how did you eventually end up choosing your dress?

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What you need to look for in a quality bridal gown

Purchasing a wedding dress is unlike any dress purchase you will ever make. Besides the symbolic importance of the dress, it will, most likely, be the most expensive piece of clothing you will ever wear in your entire life. Because of that, you need to make sure you take the necessary steps to ensure that the gown you are buying is of top-notch quality.

 

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Unless you find a great sale or buy a sample dress off the rack, bridal gowns typically start, on average, around the $800-$1,000 mark and go up from there. Depending on the details, custom work and embellishments, gowns can cost as much as $10,000 or more! Believe it or not, I have actually seen wedding gowns as much as $40,000 made with poundage of crystals and gold thread.

 

However, on average, you can find absolutely amazing quality gowns under $3000. Designers know many brides are on a budget, and they want to make quality available for all brides, no matter your budget. Now, while you might think $1,000 is still quite high, think of this: When you go to a bridal salon, you are trying on a sample to see if you like the gown’s shape, silhouette, feel, etc. Once you choose the dress of your dreams, your bridal consultant takes your measurements. Why? Because your dress is made custom for you, exactly to your size and shape.

 

Bridal gowns are not mass-produced and unlike ready-to-wear clothes, you can’t go to a rack, find your size and check out. Because they are custom-made, you need to give the designers plenty of time to craft your gown and get it to your shop in time for your fittings. So, the money you are spending on that dress not only equals the quality of the materials and embellishments, but also the man hours it takes to make your gown. If you are spending that much money, you want the best. We asked local gown expert, and owner of Lady Gray Bridal in Beacon, Tina Pomarico, what you should be looking for in a quality gown. In this video, you’ll learn what to look for to make sure you are buying an exceptional gown

 

 

We also asked the design experts at New York International Bridal Week this past fall, who already shared with you what bridal gown trends you’ll see in 2017, what you should be looking for in a quality gown and they all agree on two things: fabric and fit.

 

Fabric

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

 

Martin Thornburg, head designer for David Tutera and Mon Cheri and head merchandiser for Mon Cheri Bridal, says, “Number one is to look for fabric. You want something constructed out of good fabric. It doesn’t have to be silk. There are very beautiful fabrics that are high-quality polyester or woven fabrics.” This is why trying on dresses is very important?

 

As mentioned in the video, take a look at the inside lining fabrics, as well as the types of embellishments, beading or appliques on the gown. That all builds value. And if the value is there, then you know that the amount you spend on a dress is well worth it.

 

Kang Chun “KC” Lin, creative director for Enzoani Bridal Division, says, “There is a lot of dedication and time spent during the production process to choose the best fabrics, create the lace patterns, and put all the pieces together by hand. There is much more than meets the eye with a quality gown.” In couture gowns, for example, the price goes up because, in almost all cases, beading is all done by hand.

 

Fit

 

The only way you will be able to tell if a gown fits you well, or is made properly, is by trying them on and not basing your choice on looks alone. Wen Wu, CEO of House of Wu, suggests doing a bit of research first on the different brands of gowns, because each brand brings with it different levels of quality. He says, “You need to go to the store and feel and touch the dress and to see the inside construction. It’s very, very crucial. You know, you can’t buy a dress on the look, from a picture on the Internet because construction is where it makes the dress fit you or not. A picture can be very deceiving.”

 

Charlotte Pratt, Marketing & PR Associate for Casablanca Bridal, says, “You can just tell, as you try on a gown, there is a huge difference in the support and infrastructure of some gowns as compared to others.” She says specific Items that help with support are boning (stays), corsets, and hook and eye closures.

 

You are going to be wearing your gown all day, for hours and hours, dancing in it, sitting in it, eating in it, etc. You need to make sure that you are not only comfortable, but that it fits you correctly and doesn’t pull, tug or shift during the day. “For us, the inner construction is very important,” Lin says, “because even though the gowns feel lightweight and comfortable and are very flattering on your figure, there is a lot of work going on inside to give it the right support and shape.”

 

As you can see, a bridal gown needs to not only be beautiful on the outside but the inside as well. So we’d like to know, what did you learn about gowns as you were trying them on? What kind of gown are you looking for or did you end up with? Have you tried on gowns and noticed a difference in the quality or construction from brand to brand?

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What top bridal gown trends will you see in 2017?

This past October, I had the privilege of attending New York international Bridal Week (NYIBW) held at Pier 94 in New York City. For those unfamiliar with this event, it’s a bi-annual industry marketplace showcasing top names in wedding gown and bridal fashion from all over the world. Similar to corporate trade shows you might be familiar with, this event allows designers to showcase their upcoming collections while giving buyers of retail stores the opportunity to touch, feel, become educated on the fabric and embellishments used, see what the different design options are for each gown (meaning can straps or sleeves be added to a gown, can different bodices be swapped with different skirts, etc.), and, most importantly, purchase gowns to sell in their stores.

 

Designers and their representatives are there to answer any questions buyers may have regarding the dresses, as well as give buyers the opportunity to see the gowns “in action” during fashion shows held throughout the day. These events are only open to industry insiders.

 

We spoke with representatives and designers of the industry’s hottest and most sought-after brands, and want to share the trends you can expect to see in your local bridal shops this year.

 

Versatility and Customization

 

Photo Credit: Enzoani

Badgley Mischka and Enzoani will be bringing you something unique in that their lines will offer separate pieces you can mix and match to create your perfect look. Very similar to ready-to-wear, you can choose the bodice and gown to meet your exact vision. Kang Chun “KC” Lin, Creative Director for Enzoani Bridal Division, says, “The dresses are lighter; there are more color options like champagne and blush; and you can customize your look with pieces like bodysuits and removable skirts. It’s all about giving our brides everything they need to make their dreams come to life.”

 

Photo Credit: Badgley Mischka

Skirts are also going to play a different role. A brand representative for Badgley Mischka Bridal Division, said, “Going on the same page of separates is gowns that come with overskirts.  The overskirts for this season are larger volume, usually with ruffles, and when taken off reveal a sexier beaded mermaid gown underneath.” In addition to skirts, other customizations include gowns that have removable capes and jackets.

Look from convertible looks from Candace Wu, designer of Candace Wu Couture, as well. Convertible looks are great for making it seem like you are getting two gowns in one.

 

Soft, Feminine and Comfortable

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

Girls, we’ve all done it before. How many of you suffer through wearing something uncomfortable because whatever you are wearing looks amazing? On your wedding day though, you really want to take comfort into consideration as it’s a long day full of photos and dancing. Saundra Farr, US National Director of Augusta Jones, said their line for this year expect to see lighter fabrics, alternatives to the traditional lace and structured looks. Think more bohemian style with 1970s inspiration. Farr says, “Brides are looking for lighter fabrics, they’re looking for alternatives to lace, so a lot of structured looks, definitely boho bohemian looks so some of the 70s flares. … They still do like lace, but little cap sleeves, straps, some sort of alternative to strapless as well has been very popular, too.”

 

Photo Credit: Sam Aronov

From Casablanca Bridal, you’ll see comfort showing through in many different ways. Charlotte Pratt, Marketing & PR Associate for Casablanca Bridal, says, “One of the things we’re seeing a lot of, obviously with the rise of social media, brides want to capture their whole day on their cell phone. … So you’ll see this season and beyond, a lot of our gowns are starting to have pockets in them and the reason why you’re seeing that is because brides want to have pockets to keep their cell phone.” Their gowns for 2017 are also going to be very clean and modern. Pratt says, “Fall 2017 is clean modernism, so Casablanca has traditionally been very elaborate and beaded. That is still a huge signature and part of who we are; but we also are moving more toward designs that are a little more simple, like satin fabrics with maybe minimal beading at the waist or the neckline, but very clean, modern and fresh looking.”

 

“Brides are looking for comfort,” says Martin Thornburg, the head designer for David Tutera and Mon Cheri and head merchandiser for Mon Cheri Bridal. “They want to have a good time, so comfort is a really big fashion trend. Even though you might not think of it as such, it is.”

 

The Classics with a Twist

 

Let’s face it: Trends come and go, but some gown styles and fabrics always seem to withstand the test of time. If you are looking for lace or classic ballgowns, you might want to look at the Christina Wu brands. “Lace is still a very big trend, and I can also see brides wanting more glitz and bigger ballgowns, and that’s a little bit different than (what we’ve seen) the last few years,” says Wen Wu, CEO of House of Wu.

 

Photo Credit: Kat Irlin

Sam Pappas, co-designer for Amaline Vitale Bridal, says the most important thing about trends and more classic gowns is that

 

that you need to feel like yourself in the gown and “you want to look back 20 years from now and still be in love with the dress.”

 

For a bit of a twist from the classic look, designer Tadashi Shoji says to be on the lookout for off-the-shoulder looks as a variation of the more traditional strapless gowns.

 

What about Bridesmaids?

 

If you are a bride who already has a dress and are in the market for gowns for your bridal party, Vivian Diamond, owner and designer with the Dessy Group, says brides should always keep the bridal party in mind. Bridesmaids want to “feel really pretty and special too,” Diamond says, “because she’s walking down an aisle and being viewed prior to the bride, so she’s really a precursor to the bride coming down the aisle…”. What she sees happening sometimes is brides fear taking over. “So many brides are a little fearful of bridal party looking too good.” However, she thinks quite the opposite. “I think it’s a statement, it makes you look better as the bride. It makes you look really good if your bridesmaids look beautiful because they’re smiling and happy”. She says it gives everyone a very good sense of the effort put into your wedding.

 

Bridesmaid Trends

Photo Credit: Dessy Group

Following the trends of what you read earlier, Diamond says, “Chiffon I still a very, very strong trend”, as well as more romantic fabrics such as crepe and tulle. Additionally, you are going to see sleeker and sophisticated party looking dresses, as well as varying lengths. The trend of brides wanting longer dresses for their bridal party versus shorter dresses always flip-flops, but both styles are available.

 

 

 

Which of these gown trends excites you the most? What does your dress look like?

 

Make sure you check out part 2 of this series where we give you tips on how you can prepare for your first bridal gown appointment.

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