Although we know a lot, about a lot, when it comes to the wedding planning process, sometimes we get questions that we find ourselves referring to trusted vendors for answers. Finding a wedding gown is one of those aspects. We decided to ask Tara Gondek, the owner of the lovely Bateau Bridal Boutique in Anchorage, to give us the skinny on some common wedding dress questions. Here's what she shared with us:
Q: How can I find the right style for my body type?
A: When looking for the right style of gown for your body think about what is currently in your wardrobe. What type of dresses do you have that you feel your best in. It is important to remember that gowns often look completely different on the hanger than they do on, so try many different styles because you may be pleasantly surprised. That is where working with an experienced bridal consultant can be helpful as they can point you in the direction of specific styles that look best for your body type or after seeing a bride try on several gowns they can often make recommendations. Brides often have an idea of their dream gown but often end up selecting one they thought they would never wear and guess what that is okay! You want to feel good in your wedding dress and accentuate your best features.
Q: What should I be looking for in a dress and what marks good quality?
A: Trying on bridal gowns especially for the first time a bride can often overlook the quality of the gown. The biggest thing to be aware of is comfort, what is the inside of the gown lined with, does the material feel itchy or rough when on and if going for a lace gown does it look uniform and smooth (not stiff, frayed or scratchy). If you are uncomfortable in the gown just wearing it for a few minutes you will most likely not be comfortable wearing it all day. Wedding gowns can range in a variety of prices, which means you will often pay more for quality as the fabrics used and production time are a factor in price. However there are many amazing designers out there that make gowns under $3000 and are a dream to wear on your big day.
Q: When should I schedule a fitting and how many fittings should I have?
A: It is recommended that a bride start the dress process about nine months before the wedding day. It doesn't mean you have to order your dress nine months in advance but it is good to give yourself time to really figure out what type of gown you really like. If you can avoid it you really don't want to feel rushed or pressured to make a decision and it is good to give yourself time to think on your purchase. It is best to order your gown about six months in advance as you need to have time for alterations and not be picking up your gown a couple days before your wedding. Many designers take about sixteen to twenty weeks with some being longer if you are requesting customizations. You most likely will need two fitting at the tailor, the initial visit and then if any minor changes need to be made that can be done at the second fitting. The most important thing to remember is to have your shoes so that the dress can be tailored to the right height.
Q: How do I properly budget for my wedding dress?
A: Many experts suggest setting aside about 10% of your wedding budget for your gown. The average spent on a wedding dress is somewhere between $1500 - $2000. Many boutiques will allow you to put 50% down to order the gown and then pay the remainder once the gown arrives. If you are a bride on a budget there are many options for finding a less expensive gown such as sample sales, off the rack gowns (gowns sold as is), or consignment. Brides often are tempted to buy online, but that can be risky as there are many fraudulent websites out there claiming to make designer gowns for less. It also makes a big difference being able to try on a gown before your purchase it because the majority of the time a gown cannot be returned.
Q: Why do gowns cost what they do?
A: It can be hard to imagine spending $2000 or more on a wedding gown, however there are many reasons why wedding gowns cost what they do. The material is a huge factor, what the gown is lined with, the lace, silk, etc. all plays a factor into cost. If you try on a wedding gown and it is itchy or uncomfortable just in that short amount of time it could be bothersome on your wedding day. Another factor can be where the gown is made, if gowns are made where higher wages are paid such as the United States or Canada gowns of course will cost more. There are many amazing designers out there that actually personally oversee production and often help put the gowns together. One benefit when working with smaller boutique they often have personal relationships with designers and if a bride needs special accommodations such as split sizing they can be handled easier than dealing with a huge manufacturer.
Q: What should I expect when setting up my dress consultation?
A: A bride should expect to have a relaxing and enjoyable experience. You should be given at least an hour to try on gowns. Many boutiques will allow you to select a maximum of 8 to 10 gowns as this gives a bride a chance to try on several different styles and time to try on her favorites again within the allotted appointment time. A bride should expect to work one-on-one with a consultant who will help them select the best gowns for their body shape and assist them with trying them on. If a boutique is by appointment you will want to schedule your appointment at least one to two weeks in advance as they can book up quickly especially during the busy bridal season (January - March).
Q: Can you offer any advice on how to accessorize:
A: With accessories you can really bring out your personality and it is a chance to be creative. If you have a dress with a lot going on you may only need earrings and a veil if you decide to wear one. If you have a simpler dress you may decide you want to really have fun and go all out with accessories. If you are person who usually wears a lot of jewelry it may make sense do to the same on your wedding day, but if you don't in your every day life don't feel like you have to just because it seems like you should. If you don't ever wear necklace you probably won't want to wear one on your wedding day. Sometimes less is more too, you don't want to many pieces clashing and taking away from you as the bride.
About our author: Tara Gondek opened Bateau Bridal Boutique in November of 2013. Her vision was to provide Alaska brides with the boutique feel that they often travel to the lower 48 in search of. They are a "by appointment" only boutique committed to making each bride feel special and doted on during each consultation. They offer a variety of sizes and price points and a wonderful selection of accessories. Tara travels to fashion week in NYC each Spring and prides herself in working personally with all of their designers.