We all have our style preference; sweetheart necklines or sleek silhouettes, but did you know that your wedding dress choice can affect your wedding photos? I know I’m just a wedding photographer and not a fashion designer, but we have a truly unique perspective when it comes to wedding day attire. Here are my top 5 tips for choosing a wedding dress and how your choice of dress style makes for amazing (or not-so-amazing) photos.
#1 – Material
Not all materials are suitable for all locations nor are they suitable for all seasons… at least, not if you’re unwilling to understand the limitations for certain scenarios.
Dresses that are made of tuille, netting and even flowy lace are notorious for picking up ‘nature’ as you walk around grassy areas. If you’re getting married in a rustic location or choosing a nature-filled area for your photoshoot, you need to understand that you’re going to be picking little bits of leaves and even a few curious little bugs out of that netting. Mosquito nets are made out of netting for a reason, y’all! The best thing to do is embrace nature and not spend chunks of time trying to find that one little leaf that’s in between the layers of tuille or to opt for a more urban or indoor setting for your photoshoot.
Material matters when it comes to heat as well. As a Toronto wedding photographer, our summers can be ridiculously hot here with summer wedding days easily hitting near 40 degrees Celcius (that’s ~100 Fahrenheit for our US friends). Heavy satin materials and dresses with multiple heavy layers are going to be so warm if you’re opting for an outdoor wedding or even outdoor photos. Buy a dress in a material and weight that is appropriate for the expected weather of the day unless you want to be ‘glowing’ all day long!
#2 – Sleeves
Sleeves can be an amazing addition to wedding dresses and truthfully, I think more brides should choose dresses with sleeves! There is a bit of a drawback though, and that’s when the sleeves reduce your movement in the dress. If you have any kind of an off-the-shoulder loop that prevents you from bringing your arms up and around your spouse, you’re going to be severely limited to how you can pose with your spouse during your photo session. Remember, you want to look amazing in your dress but it also needs to be functional for the day as well.
#3 – The 360-Effect
You need to love your dress from all angles, not just your favourite selfie angle. This means you need to love how it looks when you stand, sit, lean and lay down all with arms both up and down. If you only feel amazing in your dress in a handful of positions, that discomfort will show not only in your formal images but in the candids of the day too. When trying on dresses, make sure that you give it the 360 test and that you love it from all angles as you stand, sit and bend!
#4 – Alterations
There are times in your life when ‘good enough’ is good enough – how your wedding dress fits you shouldn’t be one of them. Your alterations should be done shortly before your wedding so that you have the most realistic fit for the big day. A lot of brides make the mistake of thinking that lace-back dresses don’t need alterations but that couldn’t be further from the truth. All dresses should be assessed for alterations and they should be assessing you standing AND sitting. Dresses that don’t stay up, that loosen and gape during the day and that aren’t tight in the right places (or too tight in others!) can not only be uncomfortable but even leave visible marks on your body. From my experience, spaghetti straps or any kind of lace-covered strap can cause a lot of skin irritation, especially if you’re already sensitive, so you want to make sure everything is tailored perfectly and that if additional material needs to be added it can be!
#5 – Acceptance
Finally, the last tip for choosing a wedding dress is my favourite one. It doesn’t matter where you get married or where you take your photos, you need to accept that the bottom of your dress will get a wee bit dirty throughout the day. “But I have a wedding party, they’ll hold my dress!” you say…. okay, sure, that may work for a bit but it’s also going to hinder you from moving freely and getting those amazing candid moments. I’ve seen many brides who are in constant worry about their dresses getting dirty and it preoccupied them so much that they stop being truly present on their own wedding day. You need to love your dress, but you also need to accept that some dirt is going to happen – especially if you’re outside for any length of time.
When it comes to finding tips for choosing a wedding dress, you’re going to come across hundreds and they’re all going to be reflective of what the author values. For me, I care about how a wedding dress affects your photos because a great dress can be a dream to work with and the wrong dress can really hinder your overall experience and photos. When you’re choosing a wedding dress, make sure to reflect on what it important to you and what you want to achieve so you can priorities correctly.