What’s more important to you right now: the outside of your wedding dress, or the inside?
Whether you’re a perfectly proportioned beauty or a curvy girl like me, your wedding dress has a very important job to do – it has to make you look your best all through your wedding day. Maybe that’s showing off all your best bits, perhaps it’s hiding some little insecurities. And yes, fabric and embellishments and finish and straps and sparkly bits are what we fall in love with when it comes to wedding dresses. But there’s more. And it’s what’s inside a dress that will make you feel amazing on your wedding day.
I had the loveliest chat with Rebecca from Birmingham bridal boutique TDR Bridal the other day, and learned about a million things about what’s inside a wedding dress, from boning to seams and how it all works to hold your dress in place and to make you feel incredible every second of your wedding day. Grab a cuppa – I want to share Rebecca’s passion and knowledge about wedding dress structure with you, and we’ll be here a few minutes!
What’s inside your wedding dress?
Rebecca explained how much expertise and experience goes into crafting a wedding dress. You’d only really see this if you turned your dress inside out twice: because it’s the other side of the lining of the dress where the magic happens. The thought and expertise is all there: all the clever craftsmanship you’d never have known about.
A wedding dress can be beautiful on the outside, but to be worn it has to do its job – it has to be more than a beautiful dress on a hanger, it has to be perfect for you as the beautiful bride wearing it. This is why a designer dress is worth every single penny you pay – and Rebecca told me Morilee wedding dresses excel when it comes to structure and beauty.
A designer wedding dress will basically have boning to hold the dress in place and prevent any bunching up of fabric or sagging. It’s the way the boning is constructed which makes all the difference: what it’s made of (usually plastic, but it has to have the perfect balance of strength and flexibility), where it’s placed and of course whether it’s comfortable for you!
This is why the seams and linings are so important too. A designer has to use the right linings and fabrics to keep the boning in place. Imagine a strapless dress with no boning in the bodice. It might be comfy, but will give no support: the dress will flop. A well constructed and well fitted strapless wedding dress won’t.
Imagine wearing an everyday summer dress: you put it on over your favourite bra and pants, it looks pretty and off you go. Through the day you’ll sit and stand, and the dress will bunch up a bit as you sit; over lunch it will crease and after a few hours it will flop.
An ordinary, unstructured dress will look entirely different as your posture changes: hunch your shoulders a little and the front will ruche up, and as the dress gets warm while you’re wearing it the fabric will stretch and sag around your boobs and bum.
On an ordinary summer’s day that’s fine – it’s comfortable! But when it’s your wedding day, you’ll want your dress to look as stunning for your golden hour portraits and the first dance as it did when you had those first photos taken with your bridesmaids in the morning. This is why the structure of a wedding dress is so important: it takes care of all of this for you, all day long!
What does the structure of a wedding dress do, to make you shine inside?
I feel as though I’m writing a technical blog post about wedding dresses – but that’s absolutely not what buying your dress should be about. All of the boning and structure is for one thing: to make you feel incredible in your dress.
Rebecca told me it’s a wonderful thing to watch brides coming into the boutique and finding their dress. She said brides often have a subconscious image of themselves in a wedding dress, which they’re not aware of. And the moment they try a certain dress, something falls into place, takes them by surprise – it’s almost a revelation.
Plenty of brides often aren’t expecting to find ‘the one’ when they’re dress shopping. If this is you, you’re not alone, I promise. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience in another boutique, or you’ve tried on loads of dresses and you’re feeling a little disheartened. But Rebecca told me at TDR Bridal she’s seen countless brides try a dress, fall in love with it and just know. And it’s wonderful to watch – all of the staff feel the same (and if you cry happy tears, you might just set them off too!)
Finding the perfect wedding dress for you is about more than just the dress. It’s like your marriage – it’s more than just a piece of paper, right? It’s a representation of you and the person you’re marrying, of your lifelong promise to each other. And just as you wouldn’t compromise in your choice of partner, don’t ever feel you should compromise in your choice of wedding dress. It’s an emotional purchase – and the experience of buying a wedding dress should be as amazing as the dress itself.
On your day, when you’re wearing your dress you’re going to feel on top of the world from morning until night. Nothing will dull the way you glow with love and happiness as you say your ‘I dos’, as you hug your guests, as you take to the dance floor and shine. And your perfectly structured wedding dress will shine with you; fitting your figure, moving as you move and staying beautiful all day long.
Why alterations are essential
There’s a little more to buying your perfect wedding dress than simply trying one on, ordering it in your size and slipping into it on your wedding day. Alterations are an essential part of buying a wedding dress. Please – don’t skip this part, and remember to budget for it too.
We’re all different shapes and sizes: being a size 14 doesn’t mean you’re identical to all the other 14s out there. I’ve seen many a dress which is too loose or tight on the bust – and plenty more which are perfectly fitted and look beautiful.
At TDR there are three highly skilled, specialist seamstresses with years on experience in wedding dress alterations. They can add or remove material, sleeves, straps, insert lace up backs, add extra detail, you name it, they can do it! Most importantly, they’ll ensure your dress fits perfectly – and their understanding of that inside inside out structure of your wedding dress is key to their skill. Altering a wedding dress is highly skilled and specialist work – it’s not like hemming! Alterations have to allow for the boning and everything around it; and once complete, the inner lining has to be altered neatly from inside so it’s perfectly smooth, with no lumps or bumps and looks pristine.
Alterations start from £200 or so, and should be a part of your wedding dress budget from day one. TDR Bridal stocks Morilee dresses starting from £750, and they’re a leader in fit and construction – and with specialist skilled seamstresses in house, they are well worth the investment.
A word of warning: high street dresses aren’t the same
More and more of us are buying wedding dresses from massive high street chains now – and we’d like to add a little word of warning to those of you who are considering this. Often these dresses are beautiful on the outside, but have little or no internal structure. Buying off the peg means your dress could potentially have been tried on by hundreds of brides before you – and with each try it becomes a little more stretched and distorted. Major high street chains will ship dresses from store to store around the country to fill gaps in stock, meaning your dress might have been around the block a good few times before your wedding day…
In contrast, when you buy from a boutique, they order in your very own dress which will be made from new, and tailored to fit your measurements. Wedding dresses are designed to be worn once, and you’ll know that a designer dress is 100% yours and has been worn by you and only you.
It’s a little like buying an Etch a Sketch because you can’t afford an iPad.
The experience of buying your wedding dress
I’ve heard a few things about the big high street chains: that the ‘experience’ was rushed, sweaty and crowded, and that it felt really impersonal. I’ve also heard from quite a number of brides we’ve featured on the blog recently that they ended up buying two dresses, because their first just didn’t feel like it was ‘their’ dress (and reading between the lines, I believe they’ve bought an off the peg dress and changed their minds near to the wedding day).
Lovelies, choosing your wedding dress can be the most wonderful adventure. Please visit TDR Bridal’s website and read the reviews on their facebook page from their amazing brides. There are so many heartwarming stories about these ladies online, and I truly believe it’s because they care so much. Rebecca is absolutely lovely: down to earth, genuine, kind and with a heart of gold. She doesn’t hire salespeople to sell wedding dresses, but people who lead with their hearts and can empower women.
At TDR Bridal, you will be welcomed and looked after. You’ll be treated kindly and with genuine care. Buying a wedding dress can be daunting: it’s a huge purchase, a new experience and for those of us with insecurities about our body shape, it can even be a little scary. TDR understand all of that – it’s why brides will travel for miles to come and see them, and its why they’ve won multiple awards over recent years.
We believe that your journey towards one of the most magical days of your life should be filled with fun, excitement, laughter, wonder, amazement, and joy and that’s what we set out to do, every day, for every bride.