The Wedding Gown:
Even if you are not planning a temple wedding, members of the church are often expected to select a modest gown, one that could be worn with temple garments.
(That leaves out strapless, halter, spaghetti straps… or, in other words, every wedding dress that isn’t manufactured by an LDS company!)
Pick your wedding gown first and then worry about the bridesmaids. Start as early as possible as it can take three to four months to get your gown. There’s no
time to lose! If you don’t have three to four months, you’ll have to call around first and see who can get you a gown faster. If you are from Utah or a predominantly
LDS community, there may be many bridal options for those with short engagements. If not, your choices will be more limited. You might ask around and see if
anyone in the ward has a dress you could borrow or buy. (Try to think of someone close to your size so you won’t need major alterations).
What can I expect to pay for my wedding dress?
You will want to love your dress. Take your time selecting just the right one. Keep in mind that you are only going to wear it once, so try to keep the cost down.
You don’t have to pay $3,000 for a wedding dress. Dresses under $500 are considered budget dresses. $500-$1,500 are considered inexpensive and the
dress you are most going to dream about will be in the $1,500 to $3,000 range. I’m not even going to talk about dresses over $3,000 – those are the ones the
celebrities start looking at and can go up into the hundreds of thousands (Melania Trump’s was $200,000), so don’t even go there.
Watch for sales. David’s Bridal has $99 dresses from time to time (see their web site: davidsbridal.com). They offer sleeve choices on most of their dresses.
However even their sleeve choices need extra alterations (they are all sheer so you would have to pay extra to have them lined (but if you are only paying $99
for the dress, you can afford the extra alteration). Other bridal stores often have inventory sales where you can find a great bargain (usually late April to May
and late September to October): or sample sales (which are great if you are a size 6, 8, or 10).
It wouldn’t hurt to ask your local bridal shop if they rent bridal gowns (after all, you’re only going to wear it once). If you can’t find one try Gowns by Pamela in Orem, UT 801-224-4335, Rexburg/Idaho Falls, ID 208-390-5427, Tucson, AZ 520-722-0050 (or go on-line to gownsbypamela.com)
Sizing of wedding dresses
Word to the wise: Just because you wear a size 6 doesn’t mean you will wear a size 6 in a wedding gown. Most dresses run small. If you wear a size 6,
you may have to order a size 8 or even a 10 in a wedding dress.
Where should I look ?
Finding the dress can be as daunting as finding the guy! If you want to see every bridal gown out there, go to weddingchannel.com or theknot.com… but be aware
that you are not likely to find any bargains there. You may, however, find the dress of your dreams and be able to find it for less at one of the following websites:
You can find some quick-delivery discount bridal gowns at houseofbrides.com. Ebay.com is also an excellent source for inexpensive wedding gowns (they offer both
new and used dresses). The problem with finding a dress on-line is two-fold: they typically only have one size and you don’t get to try it on. If you see one you like,
try to find it in a local store and try it on there – but even then, if it is a used dress, it was probably altered. Check with the seller to be sure you can return it if it
doesn’t fit. *Another negative: if you are not buying from a bridal shop, it can prove very difficult to alter the dress to fit our modest standards. Without working
with the dress’s manufacturer—or a chosen retailer—you may not be able to obtain extra fabric for sleeves or neckline adjustments. You can improvise with other
materials, but it will not be an exact match.
A better alternative may be to have your dress made. If you find the dress of your dreams online, print a picture and take it to a local seamstress (someone who
specializes in wedding gowns). Be sure to explain the sleeve and coverage requirements that garments pose. Not only can you get a designer dress for a fraction
of the cost, it will be custom made to accommodate your modesty needs and flatter your figure. One caveat: your locally made wedding dress will not be an exact
replica of the dress you selected. The fabric may be different as well as the beading, lace, or detailing. A three thousand dollar dress cannot be duplicated for three
hundred, no matter how good the seamstress.
Where can I find a temple-worthy gown?
The problem with searching most web sites and bridal stores is that there is very little there for LDS brides to choose from. The bulk of their gowns are strapless
and/or not within our modest guidelines. You’ll be very frustrated. Save yourself the time and stress and go directly to places who specialize in gowns for LDS
brides. For the best LDS selection, (and also affordably priced) go to: askginka.com/religions/mormon.htm , bellagowns.com, or search the web.
Important Note: It will makes things go better for you if you have some idea of what you want when you go shopping. Try on different neckline styles,
waistlines, and skirt shapes to see what style looks best on you (your neckline will be framing your face and that should be one of the most important
considerations in choosing your dress). Check out the dresses on-line, print out the styles you like and bring pictures with you!
If you find a dress you love, but it doesn’t meet our standards, ask if the bodice could be altered. Here are some popular neckline choices:
Sweetheart Square V-neck
Don’t let a pushy sales person talk you into a dress. Don’t feel pressured to buy a dress right now. Think about it – but not too long: Most dresses aren’t sold
“off the rack,” you have to order them and they take a long time (trust me). Then there will be a fitting, and maybe one more fitting, and then a final fitting.
When hemming your dress, try to keep it just off the floor. If your dress touches the floor, your hem will be so black you won’t be able to clean it for another
wearing (a second reception or lending it to another bride).
Once you have selected the dress, then select a veil, shoes, jewelry, etc.
(you might want to select a pair of comfortable shoes for the reception)
You can get some of the cost of your dress back after your wedding by selling it on eBay or by donating it to charity (Deseret Industries for instance) and taking
a tax deduction.
Another charity worth looking into is “Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation.” You can donate your gown to them (or purchase a gown for incredible
savings). Check them out at: Makingmemories.org
See LOTS of PHOTOS of wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses and real bridal parties at asimpleldswedding.com/Dresses.html
Whether or not your bridesmaids are endowed, they are expected to be modestly attired at the temple. It is inappropriate for a bridal party to take photos in front
of the temple in strapless or sleeveless gowns. If they are non- members and want to wear a strapless dress, they can do so if they wear a sweater, bolero, or
jacket for the ceremony and photos. They can remove it for the reception if they so desire. However, don’t feel as though you must sacrifice your standards to
accommodate their preferences. If you don’t want your bridesmaids to be immodestly dressed, it may be best to choose a dress with sleeves. This way, no one
will be able to remove the jacket during the party. Ultimately, you are the bride and it is your choice.
If you are asking your bridesmaids to buy their own dress, be sensitive to the financial constraints of the girls in question. I have known girls to decline being in a
wedding party because they couldn't afford to keep buying expensive dresses that they would never wear again. One way to accommodate your bridal party is to
follow a popular current trend –varying dresses within a specific color palette. Give each girl a small swatch of the color for her dress - then let her choose the style
and cut that will best flatter her. You can suggest a dress you have in mind (say, for example, "if you are looking for ideas, I love the [pink empire waist dress at
Ann Taylor Loft]. I'll send everybody the e-mail link and then you can decide what you want to do.") Some may opt for the dress you chose. Others may sew their
own. As long as the color matches (take a group of girls in tea length teal dresses for example), no one will mistake the identity of the bridal party.
Because bridesmaids come in a variety of heights, shapes, and sizes, few dresses look good on every girl in the bridal party. More often than not, only one ends up
looking like the dress was made for her while the others look frumpy or mismatched with their dresses. By allowing each girl to pick her own dress, you can be
assured that each girl will look her best for the pictures and be more likely to wear her bridesmaid dress again.
As you begin your wedding planning, you will notice that anything following the word
“bride,” “bridal,” or “wedding” is at least twice as expensive as comparable items in
the same category. A wedding cake is ten times more expensive than the same
birthday cake at a local bakery, and dresses are no exception! I once saw an incredible
white designer dress (with sleeves, no less!) in a Neiman-Marcus catalogue for under
three hundred dollars. If that dress had been designated a “wedding dress” by the same
designer, it would have cost thousands! Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and
seek dresses in non-wedding venues.
You can find appropriate wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses on-line at: askginka.com/religions/mormon.htm
Don’t feel confined to bridal shops when looking for your bridesmaid dresses. Dresses can be found in some surprising places. I saw some darling dresses at Target
for only $25! Check Marshalls as well. Check websites for your favorite stores: anthropologie.com , bananarepublic.com, jcrew.com, anntaylor.com etc. to see if
they have dresses you could use.
Sometimes your wedding color choices will depend upon what dresses you are able to find so don’t get too attached to your original color scheme. Don’t rule out
black or white. Black used to be considered a funeral color and totally inappropriate for weddings. Now it is very trendy (and who doesn’t already own a flattering
black dress? This could solve the problem of bridesmaids who can’t afford to buy a dress). White is following right behind. The cutting-edge fashion shows are
showing all white weddings – with bridesmaids in white lace or billowy fabrics. Some have satin sashes in pastels or brights. The bridesmaid’s bouquets can even be
white tied with the sash colors or flowers in the sash colors.
If you have a bridesmaid that continues to balk about having to buy a dress, tell her she can buy her dress in lieu of a wedding gift for you – or you could offer to buy
the dress for her.
What to do with the dresses after the wedding?
Most bridesmaids never wear their dress again. The dress gets stuck in the back of the closet and stays there for years. Why not donate it to someone who would
love to have it? There are organizations that collect bridesmaid’s dresses to give to young women who can’t afford a prom dress. Go to glassslipperproject.org
or fairygodmothersinc.com There could be a young woman in your own stake that could use a prom dress. Ask your stake relief society president.
If you are having a formal wedding, tuxedos are in order. For anything else, you might consider another option. Check with the groomsmen and see if they are willing
to spend a little more but get something out of it. Why not buy matching suits? A nice dark (navy or dark charcoal) pinstripe suit is always appropriate for any
occasion. Instead of spending $100 to rent a tux, spend $200 and you’ll have a new suit to wear. Shoes don’t have to match, but they should be the same color.
In either event, the sooner you get started the better. If you are renting, you need to get everyone’s measurements, shoe sizes, etc. If you are purchasing, you need
time to allow for alterations. Groomsmen’s vests and ties traditionally match the bridesmaids while the groom usually wears a different coordinating color (or gray).