by Robbin Montero
Ask to see only those gowns in your price range to spare you from overspending.

            Sleek and sophisticated, fluffy and romantic, contemporary or traditional—other than her choice in a groom, the bride’s wedding dress says more about her than any other decision made about her wedding.

            Will your wedding be a formal church ceremony or an informal outdoor garden wedding? Will it take place on a balmy summer afternoon or on a crisp autumn evening? The dress you choose should suit the formality, time of day and season of your event. 


Reality-based dream look

            Though bridal magazines are a good source for up-to-date gown ideas, many exquisite gowns shown on svelte posed models look completely different on real people. For most brides, their wedding gowns are the finest and most elegant garments they will ever don. Making a fashion statement may be important, but as they must wear the gown for many hours on the wedding day, it is important to keep comfort and convenience in mind. You want to dance at your reception without a worry.


Salon appointments

            Start your quest about nine to twelve months prior to the wedding. Some salons require appointments while others assign a consultant after you arrive. Weekends are busy shopping times, so weekday shopping will be more leisurely and allow you more one-on-one time with a consultant.

            Since you’ll try on expensive gowns, be as freshly groomed as you will be on your wedding day, wearing your best undergarments. Wear a strapless bra and shoes in a similar heel height to those you will wear during the wedding to get a better idea how the fabrics, cut and style of each gown works on you. I strongly urge you to avoid crowding an entourage into the salon, but do bring a good friend (or two) or family member for counsel and objectivity.

            Discuss your preferences, requirements and budget constraints candidly with the consultant. The consultant will ask about the type and style of your wedding, and details that help her assess the features and formality of the gown. Her job is to identify a gown that harmonizes with your personality and which is most flattering to your figure, while discouraging  problematic selections, such as heavy satin for an outdoor summer wedding.

            Gown prices range from the low hundreds to several thousands, depending on the designer. End-of-season shoppers and those who choose designer look-alikes can save. Ask to see only those gowns in your price range to spare you from overspending.

            Before ordering your dress, read the contract carefully to be sure the specifications of the dress are listed and all terms of the sale are included. Deposits are typically fifty percent of full price and non-refundable. Alterations are not usually included in the price of the gown, so avoid costly major changes and get necessary alterations estimates in advance.


Take care of yourself

            Regardless of what I say, many brides will diet to be as thin as possible for a form-fitted gown. I suggest that you be realistic about your body type. Sure, give up desserts, but don’t compromise your heath and don’t have the dress so tightly corseted that you faint before the wedding. About two to four months after it is ordered, the salon will inform you when your dress arrives for a final fitting to make sure the dress is properly and comfortably fitted to make you look your best.

            Perhaps, as a child, you dreamed of gracefully floating down the aisle in silk and lace, a vision to behold. Well, your dream is about to become reality, so shop early and wisely for your wedding gown.

 “Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding.  Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.” 

©2009 Robbin Montero


This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero’s expressed written permission.

Robbin Montero is a wedding coordinator and special events planner in Northern California.

©2006 Robbin Montero
This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero's expressed written permission.