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Dressing the Bride

Dressing_the_BrideOn the Big Day, you are the star of the show. As the centerpiece of your wedding, you owe it to yourself to look your absolute best. Not that brides aren't always beautiful, but the right wedding dress, a great hairstyle, and the perfect accessories will make you a glowing beauty such as your guests have never seen this side of a movie screen. And how do achieve this effect, you may ask? Well, it isn't easy, but we're here to offer you a few pointers.

Let's start with the dress. While you're unlikely to be able to afford the multimillion-dollar diamond dress that the diamond industry commissioned last year (much less Tyra Banks' $10 million diamond bra), you've got a lot out there to choose from. If it fits your budget, by all means go for an expensive wedding gown, since high dollars usually means high quality. Of course, you don't have to pay a thousand bucks to get a decent dress; in actuality, there are several factors that are much more important than price. Specifically, the dress should fit you well, both body-wise and price-wise. Ultimately, it's your budget that may hold you back; it's been estimated that attire should account for only about 3% of your wedding budget. Even if it's true that the average wedding costs almost $30,000, that leaves less than $900 for wedding attire -- and that includes your groom, too.

When it comes to fitting your body, you do have a good deal of latitude, since a competent seamstress or tailor can make just about anything fit. More to the point, you should select a dress that compliments your body and helps you look like a princess. Your dress should flatter you on this, your most special day. Fortunately, most wedding dress shops and bridal salons will be more than happy to provide you with a wedding dress consultant, who will be sure to be mindful of all these things. She'll keep an eye on six basic factors: Color, Length, Silhouette, Train, Mood, and Size. Most of those characteristics are fairly obvious, though Silhouette and Mood probably require a little discussion. Silhouette indicates the shape of the dress, and how it clings to your body. For example, the silhouette may be Princess, A-line, sheath, ball gown, Empire, or mermaid (in which the skirt flares out below the knee). Two-piece wedding gowns, a la Gwyneth Paltrow, are becoming increasingly popular as well, though if you choose this style you should always wear a bustier with the top. Mood is closely related; for example, your dress might be romantic, modern, traditional, or classic. Classic wedding gowns, for example, are conservative in nature: they're characterized by plenty of satin with little or no beading, and are perfect if you're not into looking flashy. If you are, consider a dress with a romantic look; these may be long-sleeved or strapless, with a heart-shaped neckline and a long train.

Remember that you don't necessarily have to go with a traditional white wedding dress with a train and a bridal veil. If you'd prefer have your dress reflect your personality, let your creativity go wild. Your wedding dress can be as individual as you are. In fact, informal wedding dresses are quite popular these days, as are the informal weddings they go with. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you can also elect to go with a classic antique wedding dress. Even if there isn't an heirloom dress in your family, it's often possible to buy an antique dress for a price comparable to a brand new one.

A wide variety of accessories are available to wear with your wedding dress, but it's recommended that you not go overboard with what you choose. Tastefully earrings and an understated necklace -- particularly if both are the pearl variety -- should be the limit of your jewelry, because you don't want to take away from your most important piece of wedding jewelry: your wedding ring. Your most important jewel, of course (and surely your fiance will agree -- at least, he'd better) is you. Your final "polishing," so to speak, should take place the day before your wedding, when you visit your manicurist and hairdresser and have them work their magic. Not only should you prevail upon your manicurist for a manicure, but if you're going to wear open-toed bridal shoes, or if you just want to pamper yourself, ask for a pedicure too. Then there's your hair. Of course your hairdresser should give you a trim to start out with, but they should also help you by configuring your hair in the proper way. Traditionally, most women wear their hair piled up under their veil, but there's no reason you shouldn't wear your hair loose and flowing, even in a traditional wedding. That's entirely up to you. Wild and spiky, cute and bobbed -- it's your wedding, and you're the star, so shine on in whatever way suits you best.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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