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Zebulon, NC Wedding Apparel, Finding a Wedding Gown, Bridesmaids Dresses, Groom Apparel

Zebulon, NC Wedding Guide

Wedding Apparel
Bridal Gowns, Formals & Accessories; Department Stores; Womens' Dresses; Fashion & Apparel Designers; Dressmakers; Tuxedos; Mens' Formal Wear; Mens' Clothing; Wedding Tailors; Alterations; Cleaners-Alterations

Choosing the attire for the wedding party will be one of the most important decisions in planning and it will have a huge impact on the overall look and feel of the wedding.  This process will be stressful at times but like all wedding planning, this should also be fun.  Try to relax and keep an open mind.  You will want to look back and remember it to be a good experience, not one you’ll want to forget.

Attire for the bride and groom will set the style for the remaining wedding party and comfort should remain a strong priority.  The actual wedding day will be a long one and you’ll want to make it as comfortable as possible. Keep this in mind as you try on apparel. Walk around, sit, dance and imagine eating in the clothes. Choosing attire that is both comfortable to wear as well as elegant will help you enjoy the day and remember it fondly.

Finding the Perfect Wedding Gown
Bridal Gowns, Formals & Accessories; Department Stores; Womens' Dresses; Fashion Designers; Dressmakers

If you’ve been dreaming of this day since you were a little girl, chances are you know what the wedding gown should look like. Countless times you have seen your princess self walking down the isle toward prince charming. The trick now is to find that dress. There will be hundreds, even thousands, of dresses to choose from but most likely you already have a style in mind.

Maybe your mind is a blank canvas and you're preparing yourself for the search of a lifetime. Either way, undoubtedly this will be the most expensive item of clothing you will purchase and it is this gown that will establish the style of attire for the remaining wedding party. Take the time to enjoy the experience and don't let the number of choices overwhelm you. Before long, the perfect dress will be yours.

Where Do You Start?
Bridal Gowns, Formals & Accessories; Department Stores; Womens' Dresses; Fashion Designers; Dressmakers

This is where the fun really begins.  One of the greatest and most memorable experiences will be choosing your dress.  Try not to get too overwhelmed and remember to always keep an open mind.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to find that ultimate perfect dress or be in a rush to choose one too soon.  Prepare yourself to try on a number of dresses before finding the right one, but rest assured, you'll know when you've found it.  As you begin, keep these ideas in mind to stay focused in finding the dress of your dreams.

First Get Some Ideas
Styles have probably changed since the vision you dreamed of when you were a little girl. Chances are you want to check out the latest designs the bridal industry has to offer.  If you need suggestions, bridal magazines are a great place to start.  Take a look through several magazines and cut out the styles and dresses you like the most.  Do the same investigation online and determine what dress styles you think looks good on you.  While there are many dresses to choose from, make sure the dress is flattering on your body type.  Familiarizing yourself with different styles and fabric choices that are right for you can save a lot of time in the bridal shop and avoid unnecessary headaches.  Take the clippings and dress styles into the store and discuss them with the salesperson.  This demonstrates you have done your homework and the salesperson most likely will be willing to work harder for you.  Bridal gowns have their own unique vocabulary:  tea length, A-line, sheath, sweep, cathedral, bishop sleeves, charmeuse, etc.  Spend time familiarizing yourself with the terminology and which elements look better on you. This will enhance the overall shopping experience and make it easier to find the right dress.

Record the Experience
Document the experience in a notebook and if possible, a digital camera.  You will try on a number of dresses and you may not remember exactly how every one looked.  Keep a record to jog your memory and if possible, take a digital picture of you in the dress.  This is a great way to catalog and evaluate the full experience before making a final decision.  Call the shop in advance to see if they allow digital pictures.  They may not permit it for fear you will take the dress to a seamstress and have it replicated.  Often times talking with the salesperson and reassuring them it is only for personal use will ease their concerns.

Keep the Opinions Minimal
When you try on dresses, take only one or two people with you.  You know what they say about too many cooks.  This is one instance where that phrase applies, as well.  Too many opinions can become overly frustrating and you may get swayed in a direction you did not want to go.  Limit the number of people you take and remember that ultimately, the decision is yours.  Invite only those who will support your decision and not overly force their own into the process.

Sizing it Up
Each designer develops and uses their own sizing chart resulting in no clear standards for wedding dress sizes.  Designer sizes run small so expect to try on a dress that is one to two sizes higher than you normally wear. 

Most bridal shops only carry a few sizes of each dress, typically 8-12, so in some cases you will try on dresses that won’t fit perfectly.  If you find a potential keeper, ask the shop to order it in your size. Many shops will be accommodating and allow you to try on the dress in the right size prior to purchasing.

Take the Day Off
We mean literally!  Most bridal shops are crazy busy on the weekend and weeknights, and leaving shopping to only those times may get frustrating.  Dedicated sales attention will be limited and with a decision as important as this one, you'll want their full—undivided attention.  Going in on a weekday will help make this possible.

Look Your Best
When try on dresses, the look of the dress can be significantly affected by the way you look at the time.  Even a gorgeous gown may look less attractive if your hair is a mess and you’re wearing grungy gym shoes.  Make sure to look your best.  You may want to wear your hair similar to how it will look the day of the wedding.  This will ensure you can envision how everything will work together on the big day.  Wear underwear and shoes that are similar to what you plan to wear and you will find that your experience is more real and have an easier time making a decision.

Make-up however should be limited when trying on the gowns as foundation, blush, and lip stick can easily be transferred to the dress.

Keep it Real
When ordering the size of the wedding gown, make sure that you keep it real.  Order it in the size that you are at the time you tried it on.  While you have the best of intentions to lose additional weight before the wedding, purchasing the dress in the size you are now eliminates the chance that it may not fit when it arrives.  It is easier to take the dress in than to let it out.  If you do lose additional weight, the resizing can be done during alterations.  Be aware that once the gown is purchased you will not be able to return it.  Therefore, make sure to take the safe road and order at the size you are when you purchase.

Variety is Good
Be sure to try on a number of different dresses and styles.  While you may have a strong opinion about a specific style beforehand, make sure you try on a variety of different styles.  You might be amazed at how something you thought would never look good actually works.  Have fun experimenting with different gowns and look at a variety of possibilities.  The more you try on, the more content you will be when you’ve found the perfect gown.

Go With Your Gut
As you try on a variety of dresses, listen to your gut.  You will know if the dress is right for you. Trust your own instinct.  If you are having doubts or second guessing whether a dress is right, it probably isn’t.  You’ll know when you've found the right dress.  If you want to make sure, take a night to think about it. Sleep on it and if its still feels right the next morning, then you've found the one.

Start Shopping Early
Bridal Gowns, Formals & Accessories; Department Stores; Womens' Dresses; Fashion Designers; Dressmakers

Like choosing a location, there are crucial requirements that compel you to begin shopping early.  Since most wedding gowns are custom made, an average of six months is required from the time of purchase to the actual delivery of the wedding dress.  At least two to three fittings are required after it arrives, so the ideal amount of time to start shopping is 10 to 12 months prior to the wedding.

If the big day is less than 10-12 months away, don’t panic. You will still be able to find a dress.  Some designers can be rushed but you will have to be flexible.  Sales people at the bridal shops will work to help get the dress you want in time for the wedding.

A quick purchase can be made by buying a dress off the rack, but keep in mind that alterations will still need to be done.  Even with an off the rack purchase, a good two to three months can be required.  The earlier you start, the better.  After all, this is the garment that will set the stage for all remaining attire in the wedding.

Also, if you plan to take bridal portraits prior to the wedding, the dress will need to be done a month or so before the actual wedding date.  Let the bridal shop know immediately if this is something you desire so they can work it into the alteration schedule.  After the sitting you will want to return the dress back to the shop for its final cleaning and pressing. This additional time should also be included in the schedule.

Selecting the wedding dress is one of the most important wedding planning decisions and beginning the process early can eliminate excessive stress. A lot of time and consideration will go into this decision and so avoid rushing the experience. Begin early to provide adequate time to shop around and feel good about your final decision.

Choosing a Style

A wedding dress sets the stage for the look of the overall wedding party as well as the tone and style of the wedding.  Consider the formality and seasonality of the wedding.  You might want to avoid a long train if you get married on the beach or a strapless gown if the wedding takes place in December.  Depending on the formality and style of wedding gown, the remaining wedding party attire should reflect that same style.

Also consider the type of fabric it is made of  based on the style and timing of the wedding.  Silk is ideal for spring and summer months but should be avoided during winter months.  Brocade is perfect for winter months but will leave you sweltering in the summer.

The location of the ceremony is also important. Depending on where it is being held, some styles of dresses are considered inappropriate.  Talk with your officiant to see if there are any requirements you will need to conform with, prior to selecting a dress.

Where to Shop
Bridal Gowns, Formals & Accessories; Department Stores; Womens' Dresses; Fashion and Apparel Designers; Dressmakers; Wedding Tailors; Alterations; Cleaners-Alterations

Most wedding gown shopping starts with a bridal shop.  These shops provide a one stop experience and cater to the bride in service and variety.  They carry a large amount of designers and gown styles to choose from.  Most shops also offer the accessories to go along with the dress including shoes, underwear, jewelry, and veils.  They even carry a wide variety of bridesmaid dresses, mother of the bride dresses and sometimes formalwear.   Schedule an appointment to make the most of your experience but limit yourself to no more than two bridal shops in the same day.  Here, too much of one thing can be a real negative.  Too many visits in one day can leave you overwhelmed and tired, resulting in an impulse decision just to be done.  Try to avoid any rash decisions by keeping yourself as fresh as possible.

Upon arriving at the shop, you will be assigned a salesperson who will work with you throughout the entire experience.  Initially, they help to find the right style of dress, and then help you try on a variety for consideration. Make sure you feel comfortable with your salesperson. They should be someone you can work with, and who listens to what you want.  Take their advice and try on everything they suggest. While it is your day and your decision, often times a dress you rule out on the hanger can look stunning when it has found its bride. 

Gowns can also be found in department stores, discount outlets and national bridal chainsDepartment stores have a limited selection in store and a greater variety available via catalog.  This could limit the number of dresses you try on, but it may also provide a quality gown at a good price.  Alterations are generally available, but make sure to ask before making the final decision. 

At a discount outlet, you are on your own to search through the dresses available and try them on.  In order to keep costs low, you do the work.  Make sure to take a couple of people with you, most wedding dresses require more than two hands to try on.  Most often if you find a dress, you will buy it off the rack and take it home that day.  It will also be up to you to arrange any alterations. 

At a national bridal chain, selection is more limited and service is similar to a department store.  They offer some help and assistance but be expected to do most of the work.  Most likely you buy the dress off the rack, but they do offer alterations.  If you need a dress in a shorter period of time, this is a good option.

Another option for securing a wedding gown is to rent one.  Rental shops are good for brides who are not sentimental about keeping the dress after the wedding, or those on a tighter budget.  Selection is limited to dresses they have at the time, and most  likely you will wear a dress that has already been worn.  There is a possibility the shop can order a new dress so you are the first to wear it, so make sure you ask.

If a new custom made gown is what you have your heart set on but the price is out of reach, another alternative is to hire a seamstress.  A good seamstress can recreate any gown or blend elements from multiple dresses. Plan ahead to ensure the seamstress has enough time to make the dress along with a few alterations.

Staying Within Your Budget

A variety of factors influence the overall cost of a wedding gown and pricing ranges from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.  With such a wide range, a dress can be found to fit any budget. Before you begin shopping, determine exactly how much budget can be spent on the wedding dress.  If shopping at a bridal shop, share the budget with the salesperson so they keep you looking at dresses within the desired price range.

Remember to include budget for accessories along with the dress.  Don’t determine the budget and spend it all on the dress, forgetting that budget is also needed for shoes, veils, undergarments, and jewelry.

Below are a few options to consider in order to keep the budget in check.

Check for Sample Sales
Once or twice a year, bridal shops hold sample sales offering designer gowns at significantly discounted prices.  Call your local bridal shop for the date of their next sample sale.  If you are lucky, you may find a great dress at an exceptional price.  Sizing will be limited as the shop is selling their samples and they could be a bit dirty.  If you find something that works, a good cleaning will bring the dress back to its original self.

Look at a Bridal Outlet
Outlets typically stock a number of dresses from a wide variety of last season or lesser known designers.  You can find a great dress, at a great price, but you’ll need to be patient.  Prepare to sort through a number of duds to find the dress for you.

Keep it Simple
While ornate lacing and intricate bead work makes a dress stand out, it also increases the cost.  Stay focused to find a dress that is elegant but simple.  This can save you in the long run.  Also keep track of the cost of accessories, these can start to add up very quickly.

Consider a Rental
If holding on to the dress after the wedding is not a must, this could be a viable option.  Renting your dress can be a good low cost alternative.  Be prepared to have a limited selection and they may be older styles.

Search in Cyberspace
If renting a dress is an option but you can’t find enough options in local stores, consider looking online.  A number of wedding gowns, both new and used, can be found online.  Perhaps a bride wore it once and is now selling it on eBay, or a bridal shop is offering a sample at a significantly discounted price.  The downside to this option is you won’t be able to view the dress beforehand and many purchases are “as is”.  Check to see if a return policy is available before you buy.

Talk to Mom
Consider looking at the dress your mom wore down the aisle to save some money, or perhaps you liked the dress of a good friend, cousin or aunt, and they will either sell it or lend it to you.  This could be another low cost alternative.

Preserving Your Gown
Bridal Gown Preservation

After the wedding, if you plan to keep your wedding gown it will need to be cleaned and preserved.  Timing is critical as the longer you wait, the harder it will be to remove certain stains and overall wear.  Make sure to preserve the gown within the first 6 months after the wedding.

Begin the process by finding dry cleaner in your area that specializes in this procedure.  Talk to them about the cleaners and solvents they use and if they are gentle enough for a wedding gown.  As part of the procedure, the dress should be stuffed and packed with acid-free tissue to eliminate wrinkles.  The gown should then be wrapped and placed neatly into a large cardboard box.

Avoid hanging the dress for long-term storage and make sure air is allowed to pass through the box.  Don’t seal the box completely.  Extreme temperatures could affect the preservation, so avoid placing it in hot or cold areas.  It will be okay to open it up and look at it over time.  Only handle the dress with white cotton gloves to keep body oils from staining the dress. Wrap it up and neatly fold it back in the box before re-storing.  In a closet or under the bed are ideal storage places.

Depending on the size, embellishments and fabric of the dress, expect to spend anywhere from $100-500 to have it preserved.  To save this cost, you can do it yourself but make sure the dress is properly dry cleaned first.

Bridesmaids Dresses
Bridal Gowns, Formals & Accessories; Department Stores; Womens' Dresses; Fashion & Apparel Designers; Dressmakers

It used to be an unwritten rule that bridesmaids needed to wear the same dress, the same shoes, the same jewelry and all have the same hairstyle.  As a result, many women have closets full of dresses they will never where again and a number of haunting memories of how they looked in those dresses.  Today, things are different and more brides are moving away from making their bridesmaids look the same, thus ensuring their bridesmaids look the best they can.

In contemplating the choices, seek the opinion of your bridesmaids. If they feel good in what they are wearing, they will more thoroughly enjoy the day. Remember the commitment you are asking them to make and take the time and effort to ensure everyone involved looks great and remembers the day fondly.

The Options Are Endless
Bridal Gowns, Formals & Accessories; Department Stores; Womens' Dresses; Fashion & Apparel Designers; Dressmakers

A variety of elements can be incorporated into your bridesmaids' attire allowing them to show individuality, but still stay true to the style and color scheme of the wedding.

Play with Color
Stay true to the style of the wedding by choosing a dress color found within your chosen color palette.  However, you are not limited to just one.  Play with shades of color to enhance the look of the wedding party, as well as complement any skin color issues.  One bridesmaid may look better in a darker tone than another and vice versa.  If the tone of the wedding is a more playful, place bridesmaids in different colors within the wedding palette.  Three could be in midnight blue dresses while the other three are in ivory.  The options are vast and mixing things up can create a more memorable experience for everyone.

Play with Design
There is only one rule regarding the style, design and formality of bridesmaids' dresses and that is they should never overpower the wedding gown.  However, the idea that the dresses need to be the same fabric and same cut is no longer the standard.  Many manufactures are now offering a variety of styles available in the same fabrics or different fabrics, the same color or complementary shades.  Bridesmaids don’t come in the same shape and color, so why should their dresses?  Again, mixing and matching the style of the dress will allow you to complement any body shape. A strapless cocktail length dress doesn't flatter everyone and it may be uncomfortable if they are forced to wear one.  Manufactures now offer separates, which allow the top of dress to be different and accent the body shape of the bridesmaid.  Allowing bridesmaids to choose what feels comfortable for them will strengthen the overall experience and let them feel and look the best they can.

Play with Flowers
If a look is already established and you prefer the bridesmaids in the same dress and color, another way to add originality is to play with flower arrangements.  Play with color here by choosing different shades of the same flowers and mixing up the arrangements of each bridesmaid’s bouquet.  Using the same ribbon on each of the bouquets will allow you to tie them all together.

Incorporating a variety of color, design and texture into the wedding attire can create a dynamic and striking look to the overall wedding. Investigate a number of options and take advantage of the choices now available. Review bridal magazines, bridal shop catalogs, and websites for inspiration. Learn from what others have done before and get inspired by the options to create your own perfect look. Selecting a combination of different options will ensure the wedding party looks incredible and the style is very unique.

Consider Their Commitment

When making decisions regarding the bridesmaids, remember to think of them and the respect they are showing in accepting the honor to be a significant part of your day.  This is your day and it will ultimately be up to you to determine the style, color and overall look of the bridesmaids.  Allowing them to individually look good and feel comfortable will make the day special and memorable.

Also remember the financial commitment they are making on your behalf. Work to keep the overall cost affordable.  Consider the financial position of each of the bridesmaids and make sure they are comfortable with the amount.  If your heart is set on a higher priced dress, offer to cover a portion of the cost. If you know some of them are struggling with the financial commitment, offer to pick up their accessories, shoes or jewelry. Respecting their position will avoid a possible uncomfortable situation and allow everyone to enjoy the day freely.

Ask for Their Help
Bridal Gowns, Formals & Accessories; Department Stores; Womens' Dresses; Fashion & Apparel Designers; Dressmakers

Strengthen the overall experience by offering your bridesmaids a part in choosing their attire.  You determine the offering in terms of color choices and/or the style of dresses, and let them select the look that is best for them.  If shoes are less significant to you, invite them to help determine which ones they wear. Suggest that each bridesmaid select her own jewelry. This will provide an opportunity for each of them to accessorize their own look and create a personal element to their apparel.

Too many choices and too many opinions can get out of hand, so limiting choices to two or three options will minimize problems.  Respecting their opinion and providing them with choices will make them more excited about the experience and they will look forward to being a significant part of your wedding. Remember how important it is for you to look your best. Ensuring them the same courtesy will strengthen their experience and your friendship, as well.

Groom's Attire - Formalwear
Tuxedos; Wedding Tuxedos; Mens' Formal Wear; Department Stores; Mens' Clothing; Wedding Tailors; Alterations; Cleaners-Alterations

The overall look of the groom is determined by the look of the bride.  How formal or casual the look of groom and groomsmen is determined by the formality of the bridal gown.  You should also consider the time of day the wedding will be held, as this will determine the depth of details a suit or tuxedo will include.

The Suit or Tuxedo
If the wedding is more formal, a wedding suit or tuxedo is the best look for the groom.  A variety of looks, formality and colors are available depending on the wedding.  The traditional standard black tuxedo continues to be the dominant choice of most grooms, as it is a timeless look and never goes out of style.

Style Matters
Planning the attire for the men in party is significantly simplified by using a tuxedo shop. However, they do have some decisions to make that will affect the overall look.  The shape and style of the jacket and pants influence how well the tuxedo fits and ultimately lays on an individual.  Choose the style that is most flattering for your groom.  Below are a few style guidelines to aid in your decision.  Also consult with the salesperson, as they can help choose the style that best fits your groom’s body form.  Again, have him take the time to actually try on a few different looks to determine what style complements the most.

Tuxedos come in three basic styles with the primary differences being the lapel and jacket closure. 

Notched Lapel:  The most common style is a notched lapel with a single-breasted close.  A notched lapel or step collar creates a step effect as the collar is sewn in at an angle. 

Shawl Collar:  An alternative collar which is also popular.  This collar is completely rounded and has one continuous curve with no break.

Peaked Lapel:  The last style is the peaked lapel which has a broader bottom collar that points up and out, and more traditionally appears on a double-breasted jacket.

Double-breasted Jacket:   The style of this jacket has overlapping lapels and buttons that run down both sides of the jacket.  The functioning set of buttons holds the jacket in place.  This style is most flattering on those who are tall and thin.  For those who are more husky or shorter this is not a flattering look and should be avoided.

Single-breasted Jacket:  The style of this jacket has lapels that meet in the front and are secured with either one, two or three buttons, depending on the style.   The two and three button jackets are best suited for those with a slimmer and shorter frame or those who are tall and thin.  If your frame is huskier and/or shorter, stick with either a single or two button jacket.

Pants:  There are also two standard types of pants—tuxedo pants and pleated pants.  The traditional tuxedo pant is most flattering on those with a larger/broader frame.  The pleated pants look most flattering on those with a slimmer frame. 

Cummerbund or Vest:  The look is finalize with either a cummerbund or a vest.  The cummerbund used to be the tuxedo standard, but lately more people are turning to the vest as cummerbunds have a tendency to ride up in the waist.  More grooms are now opting for a full-backed vest which allows them to remove their coat and still retain the formal look.

Purchase or Rent?
A wedding suit or tuxedo can either be purchased or rented.  If you purchase your groom’s suit, you will save money in the long run as he will get multiple uses out of it.  However, it can be a costly purchase and require more time to acquire than you prefer at this busy time.  Higher end department stores offer a variety of styles and have a quality staff to help make the choice that is right for your groom.

Renting tuxedos, especially if you have a large wedding party, is the best and easiest option. Like a bridal shop, this is the groom's one stop shop.  Along with the tuxedos themselves, the groom and his party can be outfitted with all of the necessary accessories to complement the overall look.  Locate a formal wear shop near you to start the process.  They will take all the measurements and allow you to review the latest styles.  Try on a variety to determine the look that is right for your groom and his party.  The shop will also need the measurements of all groomsmen, which can be taken in the store for those who are local.  For any distant groomsmen arriving around the actual wedding, a tuxedo measurement form can be completed at any formalwear store near them and then faxed to the local store.

Once the tuxedos arrive, everyone in the party should try them on to make sure they fit.   Have them count the cuff links and don’t forget to try on the shoes.  Ensuring they try everything on beforehand will eliminate any last minute emergencies.  Don’t forget to tell them to wear black socks.  You might want to have a few extra pairs on hand, just in case someone forgets.

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