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Wedding dresses tend to be pretty classic but the truth is, the trends and styles do change from year to year. So what's du jour for 2011? We checked in with Tanya Prosser, owner of and event specialist with Hamilton-based A Fairytale Occasion, to find out more about what's on trend in wedding dresses this year.
Wedding dress trends 2011
"Sweep length trains again this season were the rage and tulle as well as organza made every designer's repertoire," says Prosser. "White and ivory are still the biggest colour choices for brides, asymmetrical cuts are once again very popular this season and embellishments are in abundance," she says. According to Prosser, this year designers are abandoning ornate details like heavy beading and embroidery in favour of more subtle details like pockets, flowers and jeweled belts.
Wedding dresses: Length
While the traditional wedding dress is floor length with a sweeping train, Prosser says other lengths are making an appearance this year, too. "Floor length gowns still ranked very high on the designer runways," she says. "But we are seeing a push towards tea length gowns as well as the "mini" gown for receptions and informal weddings."
Prosser says this is a hot wedding trend; more and more brides are opting for a classic gown for the ceremony but want something more comfortable for the reception. To meet this need, Prosser says there's been an emergence of the convertible or zip-off dress. "The dress literally zips off into an above knee length for the reception."
Wedding dresses: Cuts
There are so many different cuts of gown to choose from. How do you decide which one's best for you? Prosser breaks it down:
A-line cut gowns flatter most figures and they disguise "problem" areas effectively.
Empire cut gowns are a fantastic style. Cut under the bust with a long skirt, the empire cut gown is perfect for petite brides as it creates the illusion of height.
Mermaid cut gowns are for women who are very proportional. They hug the waist and hips and show each 'imperfection' if there are any!
Princess cut gowns are universally the most flattering gowns. Seamless waistlines with three vertical front panels make all body types look taller and slimmer.
Ball gown cut gowns are classic and figure-flattering for all body types with a more fitted bodice and a long full length skirt.
Wedding dresses: Fabrics
Next consideration? Fabric. But there are advantages and disadvantages to various choices.
"Silk is the most luxurious bridal fabric available," says Prosser. "Silk is very breathable making it cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. But it's also the most expensive fabric, she says, and it wrinkles easily and is more difficult to keep clean.
Page 1 of 2 – Learn more about wedding dress fabrics, plus five tips for when you're shopping for the dress of your dreams.
Silk satin is the most common fabric used for wedding dresses. "It has a very rich, soft finish and is a great base fabric for elaborately embellished gowns," says Prosser. But she says the fabric can be unforgiving, hugging every curve and bulge and that it can't be dyed pure white.
"Chiffon has a wonderful 'drapability' and is very cost effective," says Prosser. "Chiffon is usually used over top of satin. It's great for hiding areas you would like to have hidden. It's a very lightweight, soft and sheer fabric available in a plethora of colours."
"Lightweight and durable, taffeta comes in many colours," says Prosser. "It's less expensive than silk or satin and is warm enough for winter and cool enough for summer." But, she notes, some brides do not like the noise that taffeta makes when it moves. It's also not as lustrous as satin or silk, she says.
5 tips for wedding dress shopping
Prosser offers up these tips to help make the process easy and enjoyable.
1. Start shopping early. Generally wedding dresses should be ordered 6 months prior to the wedding to allow enough time for the dress to be made and imported and enough time for any alterations to be made. Do not panic if you do not have 6 months, you can still find the gown of your dreams, you may just have to factor into your budget rush charges.
2. Have an open mind! Usually women have their dream bridal gown picked out without ever actually trying a bridal gown on. Body types generally determine the most flattering gown styles. Your bridal consultant may show you dresses cuts that you would never choose yourself – try some of them on as one may just be "the one". Do not overindulge by trying on dresses that are out of your budget. Why fall in love with a dress you cannot afford? Be honest with yourself and the consultant to fall in love with something you have budgeted for.
3. Bring shoes that are the same height as the ones you envision yourself wearing for your big day. Also wear or bring the undergarment styles you plan on wearing under your gown as these are all components of how your dress will look and feel.
4. Do not be alarmed that the size of your bridal gown is two or more sizes larger than your regular clothing size. Bridal attire is made smaller than street clothing. The bridal consultant will measure you properly to go off the designer fitting charts to determine your correct bridal attire size!
5. Only bring one or two close friends or mom when trying on gowns. If you bring your entire entourage, a lot of confusion usually erupts – too many people offering too many different opinions. It is time for those close friends or mom to be brutally honest about how you appear in the dress. Relax and have some fun. Take some pictures, make sure you eat and stay hydrated throughout the process. For most women, wedding dress shopping is a once in a lifetime event, so aim to keep it memorable and fun.
Ready to start shopping? Browse a collection of our top ten favourite wedding dresses.
Plan the most beautiful wedding you can imagine with expert tips and helpful advice from our special wedding planning guide.
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Natalie Bahadur is the Senior Editor of styleathome.com and is a regular contributor to CanadianLiving.com.