One of the most famous and classic wedding dress silhouettes is the ball gown. Princess Diana wore a ball gown wedding dress, so it really is made for princesses. A ball gown wedding dress features a fitted bodice paired with a wide and full skirt. In some cases, it can seem like the bride is floating within a soft cloud of rustling fabric. To create such a dramatic look, many ball gown wedding dresses use layers of tulle or crinolines, a type of stiff underskirt.
As you begin wedding dress shopping, there are seemingly endless styles: billowy ball gowns, strapless mermaids, long-sleeved illusion dresses, spaghetti-strap sheaths. The list goes on and on. To find inspiration, browse wedding dresses by cut, see what real brides wore, and view the latest looks from Bridal Fashion Week (which happens every April and October). Start trying things on 10 to 12 months before your big day so you can order by the six- to eight-month deadline most salons require. If you don’t have that much lead time, you may still be able to get a made-to-order gown; some can be produced in as few as four weeks. Just be ready to pay for the convenience: It’s usually an additional 10 to 15 percent, not including rush alteration fees.
If you plan on wearing a veil, first consider the venue: “A long cathedral veil is beautiful for a traditional religious ceremony, but it could be distracting on a windy beach,” Risatti says. Depending on your preference and budget, you can buy off the rack, order from a bridal designer, or have one made by a veil specialist. (A high-end salon can give you names.) Wait until you’ve chosen the gown to start shopping so that you pick the right length and shade of white; get a swatch from your dress to match it exactly. Custom can take up to six months. In all other cases, just buy it in time for hair and makeup trials.
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