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How brides found their dream gowns

  • Philadelphia Daily News
  • Published Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, at 9:58 p.m.

I wanted to know how my fellow brides found their ideal dresses so I conferred with 30 brides who visited the same stores I did, learning where they found their gowns, what their experiences were like and why they picked the dresses they did.

Here’s how they found "the one."

Tip 1: Look for a designer who matches your style.

Designers have personal styles or trademarks that make their designs uniquely them. And a gown should be unique to the bride and her style. Beka Rendall, owner of Styled Creative, of Philadelphia, has planned numerous memorable weddings for brides everywhere. Beka knew that Monique Lhullier was the designer for her: "I find her effortlessly elegant. It’s so me and can’t wait to wear the dress again for my five-year vow renewals."

Tip 2: If the dress is almost perfect but not quite there, alter it.

On your big day you will look perfect and your gown should feel perfect. TV producer Amanda Keith actually redesigned parts of her dress and it came out even more beautiful than it was to begin with. For her Jamaican beach wedding she found an Allure gown that was almost what she wanted, so she bought it and opted to get rid of the straps to create a beautiful sweetheart neckline that showed off her beautiful decollete. It created the look and beach feel she was dreaming of.

Tip 3: Your wedding dress should match the vibe of your wedding.

You want to keep the look of your wedding congruent with what you’re wearing, so I highly recommend steering clear of a giant satin ball gown on a beach (unless you want to melt). Helen Hoffman was the perfect example of when to wear a Queen Elizabeth-inspired satin ball gown with an eight-foot train. For her Stotesbury Mansion wedding she wanted something just as regal and old world as the room. The gorgeous backdrop and beautiful gown created the ideal feel for her stately reception.

Tip 4: Find a bridal gown consultant that meshes with you.

A bridal consultant can make or break your experience finding your gown, so much so that Katie England, a teacher in Radnor, Pa., went specifically to the Bridal Garden to work with Kyemah Williams: “I loved Kyemah’s honesty and willingness to find me what would make me happy. I thought I was a laid-back bride, yet having a very formal wedding made finding the perfect dress a bit of a challenge until Kyemah came along.”

Any bride will tell you a bad bridal consultant can make even the best of stores a terrible experience, so when calling a store don’t be afraid to ask for an appointment with whomever is considered its top bridal consultant. I’ve had some nightmare experiences in shops with consultants who were too busy or distracted to be helpful.

Tip 5: You may have to look outside your hometown for that special dress.

Some have even ventured to New York City for that dream dress. Briana Alcorn of Paoli, Pa., and Barette Widell, soloist for the Pennsylvania Ballet, went to Kleinfeld’s to "Say Yes" to their dresses. If you have to venture to New York, the best places to go to include Kleinfeld’s, Mark Ingram Atelier, RK Bridal for off-the-rack amazing deals and Gabriella of NYC for gorgeous accessories.

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