Perfect dress for the big day

Tuileries half cup bra, �64; shorty, �38; both Chantelle (01483 300 880/www.chantelle.com).
Tuileries half cup bra, �64; shorty, �38; both Chantelle (01483 300 880/www.chantelle.com).
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You’ve found your dream guy. Now the hunt is on for the dream dress...

You’ve fallen in love and you’re sure your husband-to-be is ‘The One’. Now the very same principles apply to your wedding dress.

Coast Cora lace maxi dress, �695 (www.coast-stores.com).

Coast Cora lace maxi dress, �695 (www.coast-stores.com).

Just as you need to kiss a few frogs in the dating world, the search for your dream frock can be a real journey.

You’re looking for the right shape, the right shade and exactly the right amount of sparkles, feathers or flounce.

Check out the latest bridal trends and find a wedding ensemble you’ll be smitten with...

Fabrics to fall for

Astoria frill dress, �395; bow peeptoe court shoes, �89; both Phase Eight (0207 471 4422/www.phase-eight.co.uk).

Astoria frill dress, �395; bow peeptoe court shoes, �89; both Phase Eight (0207 471 4422/www.phase-eight.co.uk).

Satin, silk, tulle, taffeta – the bridal options are endless, but one fabric is sending everyone wild.

“For this season, it’s lace, lace and more lace,” explains Susi Rogol, editor of trade magazine Bridal Buyer. Not only is it covering gowns a la Duchess of Cambridge’s, but it’s being seen as accents too.

“Lace is being used on little sculpted shrugs to give a hint of cover through to strapless gowns and as detachable straps to complete top layers.”

Meanwhile edgier brides are loving laser-cut fabrics, which create surface texture and 3D effects. Swirls of ribbon are also being used to form flower and petal shapes across skirts.

Delphine Manivet Pour La Redoute strapless bridal dress, �639 (0844 842 2222/www.laredoute.co.uk).

Delphine Manivet Pour La Redoute strapless bridal dress, �639 (0844 842 2222/www.laredoute.co.uk).

Briding your time

If you’re looking ahead to a wedding next year, look back in time for inspiration.

2013 will be a vintage year, according to Rogol. “Vintage is the direction that every influential designer is taking, harking back to the Thirties and Fifties in particular. So it’s slinky body-clinging dresses in slippery satins with clever fabric manipulation to form shape and accentuate curve on the one hand, boat necklines and ballerina lengths on the other.”

If you fancy a Fifties look, think Audrey Hepburn for inspiration and hunt for hallmark period details like nipped-in waists, bell skirts and crisp silhouettes.

Ritva Westenius Delightful dress, from �2200 (www.ritvawestenius.com).

Ritva Westenius Delightful dress, from �2200 (www.ritvawestenius.com).

Sweet on silhouette

Use your body as a guide when it comes to choosing the shape of your gown. There are two major silhouettes this season: curve-enhancing fishtails and retro ballgown styles.

Samantha Neville, founder of Mamfii Bridal, says: “Fishtail shapes accentuate the classic hour-glass figure and look fabulous in full lace, or fine silk duchess satin. Here, the beauty of the gown is all in the fabric and cut.

“Ballgowns are being given a slightly lower waist, which ensures a flattering fit for all figures. Damask fabrics are making a comeback in classic shapes as a choice for the fashion-forward bride, as are softer fabrics such as tulle and chiffon when cut into a fuller shape.”

Heart the high street

For brides who are short on time or cash flow, buying off-the-peg is easier than ever and high street bridal collections are going from strength to strength.

“It’s a different experience to the service you will get in a boutique,” Neville says, “but stores such as Coast and Monsoon have some lovely styles that are both stylish and cost-effective.”

Increasingly, big bridal manufacturers are introducing diffusion lines at cheaper prices so brides can still get a killer cut and perfect fit within their budgets.

Bride on a budget

Don’t begin married life in debt just so you can wear a fairytale designer gown for less than 24 hours. Elizabeth Catherine Myers, author of new book Pocket Wedding Planner, has these cost-cutting bridal shopping tips:

Wait for the sales in wedding dress shops and try and pick up a bargain – although sample sizes are often small and will probably be in need of a professional dry-clean.

Check the small ads in your local paper for a second-hand dress.

Scan auction websites like eBay to look for a second-hand dress. But take care as the photo provided on the site and the final product may look very different. Check the item description, find out whether the size has been altered, read the feedback comments about the seller and ask any questions you have before bidding.

Research the types of fabric that suit the style of dress you like. The type of fabric you choose could have a big impact on the overall price of your dress. Pure silk and hand-made lace will send the cost rocketing.

The style can also affect the price. A dress with a long train or a full skirt requires more fabric and will be more expensive.

Consider simple designs without embroidery. Machine-work instead of hand beading can greatly reduce costs and a simple dress with simple accessories can look very stylish.

Asking a local dressmaker to copy the style of a dress you’ve seen in a cutting-edge magazine could save you hundreds (and even thousands).

Consider selling your dress after the wedding to recover some of the cost.