The Top Six Wedding Gown Disasters

NEWS UPDATE: July 2014

Thousands and thousands of brides have been left with no gown and no money because of the bankruptcy of the nation's largest Internet discount bridal services. .

These companies filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy on July 18, 2005.
     * Bridal Connection, Ltd., Case No.05-26175-DK,
     * Perfect Fit Tuxedo, Inc., Case No. 05-26177-DK,
     * Martin's Bridal & Formal Shop, Inc., Case No. 05-26179-DK,
     * Discount Bridal Service, Inc., Case No. 05-26182-DK.

See District of Maryland U.S. Bankruptcy Court for more details. (You can do a quick search for each of the above cases on this site).

Internet Disasters
What happens when you order a gown over the Internet? Rather than give our opinion, we are simply going to suggest you look at these three links for some extremely important advice about buying a gown for one of the most important days in your life.

    • Advice from famous wedding gown manufacturers. Information right from the source.
    • Advice from Wedding Trends magazine, a nationally-known editorial about Internet scams.

Dry Cleaner Disasters
NEVER, take your gown to the dry cleaner before the wedding. Even the best dry cleaners occasionally melt faux pearls or dissolve real ones. If your gown has no crystals, pearls, or other decorative details on the bodice, having it dry-cleaned is much safer. We have never understood why anyone would dry-clean their gown before the wedding. Why would you want to clean a brand-new gown anyway? Nevertheless, about twice a year we hear from a stricken bride who has had her gown ruined by a dry cleaner. The fact that the dry cleaner has offered to pay for repair or replacement isn't much consolation, since there often isn't time before the wedding.

Accessory Disasters
Failure to accessorize properly. This is actually a group of mistakes that all fall under one category. Even the most beautiful gown in the world isn't going to make you look like much if you go walking down the aisle without the proper accessories. Items like a veil, tiara, and jewelry will complement your gown and make it really stand out. The whole idea is that it's all about you, not the gown. The gown is designed to make you look like a Princess for a day, but even the most spectacular gown won't do it by itself. At the very least, you should consider a veil.

For years, veils were unpopular because the tulle that was used was too stiff and "poofy". In the last couple of years, manufacturers have developed new kinds of tulle that drapes well and looks fabulous when worn properly. If you have decided against a veil, by all means go to your nearest bridal salon and try one on. You will be amazed at what it will do for your gown and for your whole look.

While you are in the shop, try on a tiara with your gown. Tiaras have come into fashion and are more elegant and classy than they have ever been. There are literally hundreds of beautiful styles to choose from. Choose a style that picks up and matches or complements the decorative detail in the bodice of your gown. If you have small crystals or pearls, you can find a tiara to match. The tiara will finish off the whole outfit by tying together the veil, your hairstyle, and the gown. It will accent where the veil begins and complement your hairstyle. Be sure to get your tiara to your hairdresser in time to plan out your hairstyle.

Look at the selection of bridal jewelry that is available today. even a single pearl on a thin chain will fill in the blank space between the top of your gown and your chin.

Check out gloves. The proper gloves should end just above your elbow, which makes your arms look long and thin. Avoid gloves that end higher up the arm because it has the opposite effect by drawing too much attention to the upper part of your arm, which is the least flattering part of most people's arms. Gloves are available in white, off-white (sometimes called "diamond white"), and ivory.

A few other mistakes that people make:
* Putting the tiara on at the wrong angle. A tiara should never be worn at the front of the head, parallel to the floor, unless you want to look like a beauty pageant contestant. Check the photos of wedding tiaras closely for the proper fit.

* Wrong undergarments, not wearing the proper bra. Your bra should be a long line corset style bra. You could also have the bra cups sewn into your gown but never, never go braless or wear a regular bra.

* Sometimes people are on a tight budget so they don't get a proper hem in the gown. It is unlikely that the hem will be the correct length for you when you get the gown, since there is no way the manufacturer will know what shoes you will be wearing or exactly how the gown hangs on you. Nothing looks worse or is more dangerous than a gown that is just a tiny bit too long. Ask around or get a family member to do the hem. If you trip on a step, it won't be pretty.

Wedding Hall Disasters
These four mistakes are very common:

* Mismatching the gown to the church or hall. Where you are getting married has as much to do with the style of gown as how much you can spend. A cathedral length train is appropriate for cathedrals or large, formal halls. Remember that it must be bustled after the ceremony, so choose a gown that looks well bustled as well as trailing. The Chapel length gown extends about a yard from the waist and also must be bustled. This is still a fairly formal gown that is really only appropriate in a formal hall. For a less formal look, the Sweep is a slightly elongated section that trails only a foot or so behind you. This is a perfect choice for the bride who wants a bit of tradition without the fuss of a full train. Detachable trains are a favorite option and are a good choice if you don't have a totally different dress for the reception.

* Wearing a long train without an attendent to help you manage it. With any long train or veil you are going to need a "handler", someone to follow you around and constantly attend to your train by holding it up as you move around and arranging it for the photographer or folding it when you are seated. This is usually the maid of honor, but it can also be your wedding consultant or a family member. Just remind them that it is a full-time job--they must be at your side constantly or you can't go anywhere. Their most important job is to fluff your gown, veil, and train just before you begin the walk down the aisle. Another option is to bustle the train or tie a loop to it that you can put over your wrist. If you don't have a handler, the pictures of you walking in and out of the church will not be the wonderful photos you imagined.

* For outdoor weddings, beware of high heels in soft grass. A long train will drag on the ground and look ridiculous.

* This may be the biggest disaster of all: having an outdoor wedding without backup rain protection. We have seen so many outdoor weddings totally ruined by a sudden shower that it is safe to offer the following advice: Never, never, never, have an outdoor wedding without renting a large enough tent to cover the entire celebration. Wedding gowns were not designed to get wet, and you cannot imagine how badly a gown will look with even a little sprinkling of water on it. Also, have enough umbrellas on hand to chaperone guests from their car to the tent. Sure, tents are expensive. Who said it was less expensive to have an outdoor wedding? Only if you like to take chances!

Gown Shopping Disasters
This is another category that comes in a group.

First, never, ever take the whole family with you when you shop for your gown. Some brides think that it's very modern to be un-traditional and they will take their fiance with them to the bridal salon. They reason that he should like the gown too and should help pick it out. After all, this is the twenty-first century, right? And who wants to be traditional? The only problem is, he won't like anything you try on. Men have absolutely no ability to visualize what the gown will look like when it is properly fitted and accessorized. You will probably be wearing a sample gown with clamps in the back to make it sort of fit. Save yourself the heartache and leave him home. Trust us, when he sees you walking down the aisle in the gown of your choice he will fall in love with you all over again.

The second worst person to take with you is (can you guess?) your sister! You sister may have shared your clothes since she was little, but in almost every instance in our shop, it's the sister who hates the gown that everyone else loves.

The most important person to take with you is your mother. But don't worry that she will love a totally different gown than the one you pick. This is actually quite rare. What usually happens is, when you are trying on gowns there will be one that just looks absolutely fabulous on your body type. This will almost never be the gown in the magazine ad that you bought to the store. Sure it looks great on the model, but do you have her figure? There will be one style of gown out there that suits your chest, waist, arms, height, and all the rest of you perfectly, making you look like an absolute princess. When you have that gown on, both of you will love it. In point of fact, we will make a rule here--never shop for a gown without your mother, if she is available. You will be going to a lot of bridal shops and spending quite a few hours looking, so unless you really enjoy the torture of hearing everyone else's uninformed opinion, leave them all home. Only take one other person and you will accomplish more in the shortest time.

Shop early. Nine to 12 months before your wedding is best because even after your gown arrives it will need to be altered (sometimes several times) before it fits perfectly. This is normal as gowns are made to fit a "fit model" who has what is considered a perfect figure. Also, don't shop on weekends--go to the salon on a week day and you will get more attention and better service. On weekends our shop often has a waiting line for the bridesmaids' dressing room. We have private rooms just for bridal, but they fill up quickly and we have to take appointments. On a weekday you can nearly always get in. If you wait until only a few months before your wedding, your gown choices are going to be very limited.