Making your dream dress a reality |

Making your dream dress a reality

Brooke Bates

Average amount spent on wedding gown: $500-$1000

Average number of dresses tried on before purchase: 10-12

Number of colors available for trim: 44

Most requested designer: Maggie Sottero

Wedding gown sizes usually run smaller than usual. If you’re a size 8, ask for a 10 or 12.

– Ask if the store offers services like pressing and alteration. If not, ask them to recommend a seamstress who specializes in gowns.

– Check the store’s history. Bridal stores come and go, said Jan Mount of Amanda’s Bridal and Tux in Arvada. If the store closes between ordering and receiving your dress, you may be out of luck.

– The Web is a good starting point, but beware of buying online, Mount said. The Internet doesn’t offer pressing or alteration services, and if the dress arrives damaged, you might not be able to return it.

– Soft, light fabrics like tulle, chiffon and lace

– Tea-length dresses that fall between knee and calf

– Sleeveless, strapless dresses

– Color trim

If you’re shooting for a shotgun wedding in the Vail Valley, don’t expect to find a dress quick and close to home. A few stores are sprinkled in Grand Junction and Colorado Springs, but the bulk of bridal boutiques is in Denver.

“We get a lot of customers from Summit, Steamboat and even Wyoming,” said Jan Mount, owner of Amanda’s Bridal and Tux in Denver. “We’re a destination. Brides plan weekends to go dress-shopping in Denver.”

Wedding dresses begin as dreams.

Some girls start planning their weddings when they’re 5 years old, and the dress is no exception. The average woman will walk into a bridal boutique with either a dream from childhood or a glossy page from a magazine to direct her to the right place on the rack, said Angie Vasquez of Shaffer’s Ultimate Bridal in Denver.

“Girls fall in love with the image of what they want to look like when they get married,” she said.

Sometimes the dress that’s perfect in dreams doesn’t work as well in form. Body size and shape play an important role in the decision.

Shorter, petite women are overpowered by full skirts, but can elongate themselves with A-line dresses with no visible waistline. Taller women can better pull off ball gowns with fitted waists and full skirts, said Jan Mount, owner of Amanda’s Bridal and Tux in Arvada.

Women should keep an open mind about their options and take suggestions from the consultant, Mount said.

On the rare occasion that women come into the boutique with no style in mind, they should start with one dress from each basic style ” sheath, trumpeter, A-line and ballgown ” said Michelle Wilson of The Bridal Collection in Denver.

With a style preference decided, details become a part of the progress. Fabric quality, waistline and neckline can create variations of a single style.

The easiest way to punch up your gown is to add a splash of color, Mount said. She said ruby, emerald, plum, lavender, gold and even black are showing up on trim, beadwork and sashes to contrast the traditional white.

Gold trim is a favorite, especially for fall mountain weddings, Mount said. Other autumn colors can be pulled in as bridesmaid dresses. For bolder brides, some stores carry solid colored dresses, but Mount said gold and red are difficult to keep stocked.

A trend you won’t again anytime soon is sleeves, especially the pouffy ones of the 1980s, Mount said.

“More than ever, I see sleeveless and strapless dresses year-round,” she said. “It’s hard to find long sleeves anymore, and we only have a handful of short sleeves.”

Classic is cool, but when you start simple, it’s easy to get carried away with details that don’t always work with your body or your style, Vasquez said.

“Be true to your own style. Don’t go with trends. ” she said. “In 10 years, will you still love your gown or will you say, ‘What was I thinking?'”

To make the most thorough decision about your dress, bring a camera along and snap portraits in each one, Vasquez said. This will give you the time and privacy later to study each dress without the bustle of bridesmaids throwing in their two cents.

Vasquez said she advises women not to take bridesmaids’ opinions too seriously. Instead, find a consultant ” perhaps your future mother-in-law ” who can be brutally honest.

For some dress-seekers, budget is the first consideration. For others, price comes later as shoppers narrow down their choices.

“A bride doesn’t have to spend thousands to get a quality dress,” Mount said. At Amanda’s Bridal and Tux, she said customers spend an average of $500 to $1000.

But once the budget is set, don’t veer from it.

“Stay close to what you want to spend,” Mount said. “You just tease yourself if you try on a dress you can’t afford.”

Very rarely, women may find their dream dress on the rack and skip the step of special ordering. Stores sometimes offer deals on sample dresses, but Vasquez said she suggests weighing the entire package against the cost of a brand new gown. If the sample dress needs to be cleaned, repaired or altered, is it really a bargain?

Besides, most girls want their dress to be new, Mount said. Men don’t mind renting a tux for a day, but most brides prefer a dress all their own.

As you go from one boutique to the next and wrap yourself in shades of satin and layers of lace, know when to quit, Vasquez said.

“When you’ve found the gown you love, stop trying,” she said. “Don’t second guess yourself. Go with the one you know is right, just like your man.”

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