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What To Wear…The BIG Picture
Written by Lisa Merton

Some girls dream of being a romantic princess bride, some want to stand out from the crowd, some leave it until the last minute and make a spontaneous decision … while the rest of us don’t know what we want to wear until we see it! But before you start the search for that perfect frock, take some time out and look at the BIG Picture – be your own wedding stylist!

For both brides and grooms, there are so many factors to consider when deciding what to wear on your wedding day. Think about your own style and personality, your colourings, your figure type, your budget, the weather, the setting, religious obligations, your families’ expectations and traditions….all of these factors are extremely important and need to be looked at before you try on your first gown.

But there is also another angle that is worth considering - the overall “look” and “image” that you want to project on your special day. Set up a theme or flavour that will run consistently throughout the event, from the bridal party fashions, to the ceremony, the flowers, the décor, the music, the food and the overall atmosphere. Professional wedding planners can be employed to assist you in this sometimes daunting and difficult task, but with a bit of imagination and lots of brain-storming, you and your partner can create a theme that will reflect your tastes and personalities and result in a harmonious and unique wedding which will linger in the memories of your guests forever!

What does this wedding truly mean to you and your partner? What does it represent? How do you want to feel on the day? What emotions do you want to stir up in the hearts of your friends and families? How do you want them to celebrate your declarations of love? How do you want them to remember this very special occasion? Sit down with your partner and write a list of words that pop into your mind when you think about your wedding. Play a game of word association and see where it takes you! Perhaps you could both write separate lists, then compare them and find the words that match up, the key ideas that you both share… this is a fun way to find a common thread which will lead you to your theme.

Deciding on a theme is not as simple as picking a colour. And putting that theme into action requires skillful co-ordination and careful consideration. Imagine you are a movie director, and you are planning a scene which is integral to the storyline….things must make sense and be logical, so the audience will understand what it is that you are trying to say. The set, costumes, lighting and dialogue must provoke a mood. The look must be visually stimulating and encourage the audience to behold its beauty and enjoy the feelings that it conjures up inside them.

It’s a similar scenario for a well-organised wedding… and whether you like it or not, the bride and groom are the stars of this show and are expected to perform and delight the audience in their own unique way!

Once you and your partner come up with your own theme, choosing your wedding outfits will suddenly seem so much easier … just ask yourself if that gown or that tailored suit will fit into the theme. Try to visit a variety of boutiques and try on as many different styles as you can, to help you decide on colour and shape. Once you narrow down your possibilities, or at least decide what you DON’T like, the real search can begin! For brides, you should start looking at least 6 months before the wedding, and grooms will need at least 3 months. Remember that the best suppliers tend to be booked out for months in advance, so get in early to avoid disappointment!

Try researching in a variety of media …the internet, bridal magazines, local directories, bridal fairs and trade shows, and ask around for recommendations from friends and family. Set a budget for each outfit, and stick to it as much as possible (but don’t be surprised when it blows out!) Most importantly, you must feel comfortable with your selection – don’t choose something that does not suit your own personal style, otherwise you will appear awkward and will not look yourself on the big day.

Make sure you and your partner decide on your own outfits first, before choosing what your attendants will wear. Everything revolves around the two of you, and don’t you forget it! When thinking about your bridesmaids, remember that long full length dresses and “up” hair-do’s will always look much more formal than shorter hemlines and wearing the hair out. Smart accessorizing such as embellished wraps, long gloves and diamante jewellery can dress up an outfit and instantly give it a more formal feel, without breaking the budget. And for the boys, “fat-boy” ties, cravats, gloves and top hats can easily dress up a hire suit, and nothing looks quite as suave as the good old tuxedo! However if you want your boys to appear less formal, then simply don’t wear ties at all. These days, open-collar shirts in interesting colours look fabulous worn with a well cut contemporary plain black suit. Why not pick the same colour as the bridesmaids and get matching shirts, pocket handkerchiefs and flowers for the buttonholes?

Here are some general suggestions on basic themes to get you started:

Formal and Prestigious- elegant church wedding, fancy cars, fancy food, sophisticated gown and formal suits, black tie attire for guests, structured reception with professional MC and live entertainment.

Classic Romantic- old fashioned in every way … traditional ceremony, traditional dress, huge bridal party, cheesey vows and photos, lots of speeches, ballroom dancing, and a wardrobe change for the “going away” outfits!

Glamourous and Sexy- think Hollywood celebrities, slick production, gimmicky reception, stunning décor or location, bedazzling gown, suave groomsmen, trendy food and big flashy fireworks!

Relaxed and Casual- short ceremony, informal location, no pomp, help yourself buffet meals and bar, simple unpretentious gown, open collar shirts and no ties, cruisey carefree atmosphere … stress-free and easy on the budget!

Garden Party- natural setting, outdoor reception, big long tables of home-made food, family atmosphere, lots of flowers and big hats, soft and pretty gown, relaxed menswear, acoustic music, kids and dogs running around playfully!.

Beach Wedding- barefoot in the sand, sarongs and flowers, seafood BBQ, The Beach Boys on the stereo, colourful lanterns, limbo dancing and a real easy-going party atmosphere!

Exotic- tropical island location such as Fiji or Thailand, small intimate guest list, seafood banquet, live musicians performing local traditional music, extended celebrations over a few days, holidays for everyone invited!

Fancy Dress- for a quirky wedding that breaks all traditions, come up with a fancy dress theme and get everyone into it … including the celebrant, the entire bridal party and all the guests too … 60’s Hippies, 70’s Disco, 80’s Retro or your favourite TV show! Imagine what fun you could have – and the photos would be hilarious!


For further information on Culture Shock Bridal and Eveningwear please contact Lisa Merton.

Lisa Merton
Culture Shock Bridal and Eveningwear (Sydney)
Ph: 02 9569 0551


As seen in Wedding Style Australia magazine. March 2003 edition.

This article has been reproduced on Wedding Central Australia with permission. © Lisa Merton 2003. All Rights Reserved.



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