Every bride-to-be wants things to be perfect on her wedding day—especially the dress—and that can be a little daunting. Usual considerations include style, color accents, size, and budget. As a seamstress in Teton Valley, I have been making and altering dresses for the past eighteen years and can offer some advice to brides as they look for the perfect wedding dress.

Dress Style
When choosing a dress style, go with one that accentuates your figure. If you have an hour-glass shape, consider a sheath, mermaid, or full skirt with fitted bodice. If your hips are wider than your shoulders, try an A-line style or an empire waist to flatter your figure. To add curves to a straight-lined figure and fill out a silhouette, go with a fuller skirt, A-line, or mermaid-style dress. Have an open mind when you dress shop, and rely on the experts. Some dresses do not look great on the hanger, but look incredible on the right figure. Bring a close (and honest) friend or family member who can offer advice, but resist the urge to bring an entourage. Too many opinions can confuse and exhaust you.

The latest trends in wedding dress style include embellished necklines, gold and silver accents, romantic lace sleeves, chic floral designs, and sophisticated peplums.

Made popular years ago by Yoko Ono, the short dress is gaining popularity again. However, you need to consider the season and your venue if you are thinking about a short wedding dress. A short hemline may look out of place amidst the snowy landscapes of a Teton winter. If you are determined to wear a short frock, consider sporting one for your reception and opting for a traditional gown for your ceremony.

Fabric Options
There is a large array of lovely wedding-dress fabrics, and they, too, complement body types. In my opinion, lace is flattering for just about any body type, while silk or satin can be a little less generous if you need to camouflage an area. Tulle remains a fabulous fabric for creating a princess effect, while chiffon drapes well and evokes a smooth look with a hint of texture.

Buy or Create
Whether you choose to buy or create your wedding dress, you must start early in your wedding planning process. You may find your dream dress from a rack at a dress shop; however, more often than not, you must order your dress and wait for it to arrive before you start the alterations process. It takes four to six months to receive an ordered dress. Some dress shops offer expedited delivery options, but they come at a cost. If you find a dress on the rack, keep in mind it may take a month or two to complete the alterations. If your timetable does not allow for such an alterations schedule, shop around for a seamstress who can work within your timeframe.

Do not focus on the dress size; focus on its fit. Buy a dress that fits your current size; if you lose weight before your wedding, it is easy to take it in. It is more costly to take out a dress if you buy small in hopes of shedding some weight.

If you have a particular design in mind or a particularly difficult body type to fit, you might consider a custom-made dress. Find a local seamstress, see if your timeframe works with his/her schedule, and ask for a ballpark price for the design you want. You may be surprised by how reasonably priced a custom gown can be.

If you want a unique dress, consider revamping a vintage gown. You may have one from your mother, aunt, or grandmother. Keep in mind that altering a vintage dress is not always less expensive than buying a new dress off the rack. However, the sentimental value is priceless and definitely worth the effort.

Color Choices
Many brides like to add a bit of color to the traditional white wedding dress. It looks fabulous and is playful. To add a color accent, consider adding a colored sash or ribbon at the waist or appliqueing on metallic embellishments to the skirt. If you crave more color, try a blush-colored gown. I have seen pale pink, blue or grey dresses that are gorgeous. Do not be afraid to go nontraditional.

Most dresses need some kind of alteration. It is very rare for a bride to buy a dress that fits perfectly. Do not be afraid to point out areas that need attention. I really enjoy working with a bride to make a dress that does not fit quite right initially, look fabulous after a few alterations.

I recommend brides take full advantage of each dress fitting. Bring the necessary undergarments, shoes, and accessories to all fittings. And, bring your attendant or mother to the last fitting to ensure she can help you get into and out of the dress on your wedding day.

Pauline Elliott is an expert seamstress; she owns and operates Apparels of Pauline and Pauli Gear. Since 1995, Pauline has designed and created numerous wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses for weddings in the Teton area. In the winter, Pauline creates ski gear under her Pauli Gear label. You can reach Pauline by calling her at 208-354-2732, visiting her website at, or e-mailing her at

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