How to choose the perfect wedding dress #LindaGetsMarried

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With her wedding only a few months away, BONA editor, Linda Mali, is sharing what she’s learning on the road to the altar.

For her first blog she gave us her thoughts on what to think about before saying yes when he pops the question and then last week she tackled the tricky subject of choosing bridesmaids

This week she talks about the big one; picking your wedding dress! Let us know what you think about her advice and keep an eye out for her next blog soon. 

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I will be honest, I’ve always held a secret desire to spend Saturday mornings in bridal stores with my girlfriends, sipping champagne and trying on big, poofy dresses. This was years before there was ever any hope of a wedding! While it can be quite fun trying on dresses, it’s also very daunting. Here’s how I persevered until I found the one:

1.Make the circle smaller

Wedding dress shopping is an entertaining pastime for spectators; and while you would like your mom, sisters, soon-to-be mother-in-law and all your bridesmaids to come along, I suggest keeping your entourage small. Everyone will have an opinion and you’re bound to get confused and lose sight of what YOU want. On my trips, I took my sister and maid of honour. I would have liked to have my mother round off the group, but distance made this impossible. Sometimes I went alone, which was a bit miserable. But, I certainly was clearer about what I liked and didn’t like. Listen to spectator opinion, but let your gut’s voice speak louder than all the others.

2. How it works

Bridal stores work on an appointment basis, so call at least a week in advance to book your consultation. Gone are the days of waltzing in and trying on as many dresses as you like. These days, a booking fee of around R250 secures your appointment (and ensures you’re a legit customer and not a whimsical woman with dreams and no ring. Consultations last about an hour and a half, with some stores placing a cap on how many dresses you can try on. Be prepared to try on many dresses, but don’t cram it all into one day. Try to have days in between and allow the dresses you tried on to settle in your memory. Take pictures and think about how each dress makes you look; but, more importantly, how it makes you feel. You need to make a connection with a dress and it should make you feel like an enhanced version of yourself, and not someone you don’t recognise.

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3. Time of year matters

Wedding dress shops are not immune to economic ups and downs, so you need to keep your ear to the ground for sale season, which usually falls in December/January, before price hikes that take effect at the end of January. Whether you’re hiring or buying, you could get a hefty discount at this time of the year.

4. Have an idea of what silhouette suits your figure

We’ve all attended our fair share of formal events over the years, and have developed a sense of what dress shapes do us no favours at all. For me, the mermaid or trumpet dress is a big no-no. My hips and bust do not need a dress to accentuate them any further (thanks mom!) and bottom flare makes it hard not to walk like a penguin. Going in, I knew I wanted something with an A-line skirt, that wasn’t poofy and with a sweetheart neckline.

4. But never say never!

Having said that, try not to limit yourself based on what you think your tastes are. Wedding dresses are a whole different ball game. What normally doesn’t work on regular evening gowns could be a wow factor in a wedding dress. I walked in thinking I didn’t want any bling or lace on my dress, and, having suffered the eyesore of one too many boob tube dresses where the boobs were a nipple away from popping out, did not want a boob tube either. It turns out that “the one” was actually everything I said I never wanted – a big, poofy boob tube with a subtle amount of bling. So try on different patterns and fabrics, even if it’s just to confirm what you already know. However, be warned, wedding gowns have a way of pleasantly surprising you….