Pro TipFinding Your Dream Dress
by Betsy Robinson — Betsy Robinson's Bridal Collection
When it comes to shopping for your wedding gown, there are literally dozens of factors to keep in mind. From identifying and sticking to your budget, to finding a dress that is seasonally and formally appropriate for your wedding, to understanding which shapes, cuts, and features look best on your body…the list of considerations can be overwhelming. By the time you actually identify a few dresses that meet all the criteria, the most important factor can become obscured: whether or not a gown speaks to you. You want to feel like a superstar version of yourself on your wedding day, which is why finding a wedding gown that not only fits your dimensions and your budget, but also your personality, is critical. Luckily wedding gown expert Betsy Robinson has tips for how to approach gown shopping so that you’re sure to walk away with a dress that is both fashion-forward and true to your style.
“When it’s time for you to shop for your wedding gown, there are three main elements to making it a memorable experience that results in the purchase of your dream dress,” shares Robinson. “The first is to be honest about your budget—not only does it make it easier on your sales consultant, it also helps you avoid time spent worrying over tough choices. The second is to have an open mind! Good salespeople know their inventory, how it fits, and things you may never have thought of.”
2021 Wedding Gown Trends
Speaking of things you may never have thought of, dress trends are always evolving, which is why it pays to visit a bridal salon with experienced consultants who can show you new, fresh-off-the-runway styles. Here are Betsy’s tips for upcoming wedding gown trends that might help inform your shopping:
- Traditional Shapes: “Fitted and A-line gowns still seem to be the most popular shapes as we move forward into 2021,” says Betsy. A-line gowns offer slightly more movement, while fitted styles like fit-and-flare or mermaid are tighter through the hips.
- Statement Sleeves: Betsy calls beautiful statement sleeves the “big change” for 2021. Look for sleeves “on a more traditional gown or a gown that is contemporary with little embellishment. We are also seeing this on the more informal boho gowns.”
- Bows & Low Backs: “Interesting bows are making a comeback,” says Betsy when describing how the rear view of a gown can make a real style impact. “Also, brides love the low backs.”
- Train Revival: “Dramatic trains are trending, and the designers have been doing a fabulous job of updating them for today’s bride,” says Betsy. Interested in hopping on the train, um, train? Check out our guide to train styles below.
Types of Wedding Gown Trains
Want to get on the train trend, but not sure where to start? Whether you want to look like an actual princess or keep your train slightly more manageable, we’ve outlined the types and dimensions of every train style to help you choose the right caboose. (Sorry, we had to!)
For serious drama, opt for this mega-train. Also known as the Royal Train, it channels maximum princess vibes. Length: 12+ feet from the waist
Slightly less dramatic, but still plenty of statement. It belongs on formal gowns, at formal affairs. Length: 6.5 feet – 7.5 feet from the waist
A miniature version of the Cathedral, the Semi-Cathedral train is slightly shorter yet still formal. Length: 4.5 feet – 5.5 feet from the waist
Imagine the difference between an actual chapel and a cathedral. A medium-length train, the Chapel can be formal or semi-formal. Length: 3.5 feet – 4.5 feet from the waist
We’re into short(er) territory now. This narrow train trails on the floor behind the dress, extending about a foot longer than the Sweep train. Length: 2 feet from where the fabric meets the floor
Also called a “brush” train, this is a more subtle look. The second shortest train, it extends a foot or less and in some cases doesn’t even fully reach the floor. Length: Just barely sweeps the floor
Rather than trailing from the waist, the Watteau attaches to the gown at the shoulders and falls loosely to the hem, creating a cape effect. Full circle back around to drama! Length: To the hem of the gown
With these up-and-coming trends (not to mention all this train knowledge) tucked into your back pocket, go forth and confidently make a few appointments at your local bridal salon. Go with an open mind and a few trusted companions, and try on the gowns that call to you. Remember to be upfront about your budget with your sales consultant, and trust your consultant to make suggestions on your behalf—she or he is a professional with a lot of expertise in matching gowns to brides. You might be surprised at how different a dress can look on your body rather than on the hanger.
And when it comes to making a final decision? Listen to Betsy’s third and “most important” piece of advice about wedding dress shopping: “Make yourself happy. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Everything about your wedding day should make you smile from the inside out.”