Wedding dress etiquette
Even couples who plan to give up most of the old-fashioned wedding traditions - such as bouquet throwing, not seeing before the ceremony, or the "to have and keep" vows - will probably still get their wedding fashion from generations of weddings where the bride wears a white dress and the groom a kind of tuxedo or suit. Still, even if a bride is sure that she wants a white wedding dress, there are many options to consider for her big day, which can be overwhelming when you go into a bridal shop for the first time.
Although a bride undoubtedly has the right to wear any dress she wants to wear on her wedding day (or wear no dress at all and opt for something like a trouser suit) if she plans to stick to tradition, it is a good idea to refresh the etiquette for time of day and dress codes at the venue. Do you feel lost which wedding dress best suits your ceremony and reception? Here are some wedding dress labelling rules you should follow when you start shopping.
First determine who pays and stick to a budget.
Before even researching what level of formality you need in your wedding dress, you should first determine who will pay for it and what budget is appropriate. Traditionally, the bride's family pays for the wedding dress, but today many couples pay the bill for their own weddings. Whether your parents pay in full for the dress or you share the cost, you should set a budget and do your best not to go over it.
Do you have a wedding ceremony during the day or in the evening?
When it comes to the etiquette of the wedding dress, timing is everything. Traditionally, if your wedding takes place before 18:00, your wedding is considered a day's ceremony. Daytime ceremonies are usually less formal than a wedding that begins after 18:00, which is considered an evening event.
For daytime ceremonies, the rules of what a bride should "wear" are looser. It wouldn't be unusual to see a bride wear a shorter, more casual dress with a birdcage veil (or no veil at all) at a breakfast or brunch wedding, but that doesn't mean they're not allowed to wear a ball gown with a dome veil. On the other hand, if you stick to the traditional etiquette of the wedding dress and your wedding takes place in the evening, your dress is expected to be more formal than a daytime celebration - which means a long dress and a full veil.
The type of venue also comes into play
Just as the time of day influences the type of wedding dress you choose, so does the type of venue. If, for example, you are getting married in an upscale ballroom, your dress should match the level of formality at that particular location. But if you're planning a tropical wedding, you wouldn't expect a bride to pull a dress with a long train down the sandpit. Choosing your venue before buying your wedding dress will go a long way to give you some contextual clues about the style and design of the item.
Creating Accommodation for Places of Worship
If you are planning to get married in a church, you should definitely check whether there are restrictions on certain clothing characteristics. Many places of worship require brides to cover their shoulders (and definitely not have dipping necklines or exposed backs), so you may need to be prepared with a scarf or coverup. You should also follow all rules regarding hair coverage for the ceremony and procure all necessary accessories for the occasion.
Definitions of Casual, Semi-Formal and Formal Wedding Dresses
Even taking into account the above considerations, it can be difficult to limit the choice of clothing. To help you (and find something suitable for the venue, time of day and overall atmosphere of your wedding), here are definitions of casual, semi-formal and formal dresses to keep in mind when shopping.
Casual: A casual dress for a bride can take on many different looks, but the separation of casual and semi-formal and formal usually depends on fabric and length. Casual dresses are typically shorter (think of tea or even knee length) and can be available in a variety of fabrics such as cotton, polyester or any other fabric common in a normal department store or clothing store.
Semi-Formal: The distinction between semi-formal and formal is completely subjective, but semi-formal dresses usually do not require wearing a long veil. Semi-formal dresses are usually long or floor-length and are offered in a variety of silhouettes such as A-line, mermaid and scabbard. They may contain some pearls or lace, but nothing too exaggerated.
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