Choosing a wedding dress is one of the biggest decisions that a bride will ever make. There are so many factors to consider, do you want a fitted gown, a ballgown, or perhaps a fishtail gown? Do you want lace or organza and do want something with sleeves or no sleeves? This decision is made a little more complex when planning an abroad wedding. Not only do you have to take into consideration your own style preferences but also the climate of the country where you are going to get married.
As a bride-to-be who is planning a summer wedding in Marbella, elegance combined with comfort and heat durability very quickly became the main factors in my search. I knew that with the heat in Marbella it was essential that I found a dress that was not too heavy. The problem is that finding a non-fitted gown (my preference) that doesn’t have a million layers of tulle is not as easy as it sounds, but thankfully there are some wonderful designers who cater to just that.
One designer who has beautiful dresses which have a quintessential Mediterranean feel to them with beautiful layering and lace is Riki Dalal. One dress, in particular, The Juliet Gown from the Shakespeare Collection, is a masterpiece of lace and embroidery with a true Midsummer Night’s Dream feel to it. It balances the ballgown look with the practicality of something not as heavy as Mikado silk with layers of tulle. The dress has beautiful off the shoulder sleeves which are incredibly flattering if you want to cover the tops of your arms for the ceremony, and they are detachable so that you can have two looks with one dress. One of the best things about this dress and designer is that they can customise your gown to remove the various layers of petticoats should you want to make it lighter, which is a real bonus for sunny destination weddings.
There are of course designers who are unique to the country where you are getting married and, in my case, this was Pronovias. They have a range of collections that portray everything from the classic ballgown to the modern two-piece dress with a top and skirt which you can mix and match. They even go so far as to have a section for “beach wedding” dresses. One of the beautiful elements of a Pronovias gown is how they are so elegant and yet they can be so simple. One dress which is simplicity and beauty is the Antares gown which is both sleek and sophisticated. It has the benefit of built-in shapewear, which is always a plus with a fitted gown and removes the need for any additional support wear such as Spanx, which would likely be too hot to wear.
One very popular material for dresses which is perfect in hotter climates is chiffon. It is incredibly flattering and offers something between the shape of a fitted gown and the less structured ball gown. Personally, I think that this type of material is incredibly flattering for all body shapes and it really is a great option if you want to have that Grecian style beach wedding dress which will blow in the breeze as the sun sets by the sea. One dress that really stands out in this category is the stunning Nora gown from the Justin Alexander Signature Collection. This dress combines so many bridal loves such as lace and beading, without being too overwhelming, whilst maintaining that flowing and more relaxed feel with its delicate A-line silhouette.
Without giving away too much detail about my dress, which I found at Mirror Mirror London, it is the creation of one of the all-time best princess gown designers, Hayley Paige. Hayley Paige is a unique designer whose creations are often the focal point of the international television show “Say Yes to the Dress”. Her dresses are quite literally the dreams of little girls turned into reality. Generally, a Hayley Paige gown is a ballgown, which comes with weight. However, she has managed to find a way to add volume by using layers of organza as opposed to the typical petticoats in some of her dresses. This is perfect for the bride who wants a classic ballgown but is getting married in the heat and doesn’t want the weight of one. One gown which is a wonderful example of this (not my dress of course!) is the Halsey gown from the Blush Spring 2020 collection, which combines intricate beading with a flowing organza dress and it is perfect for that summer destination wedding.
Before embarking upon shopping for your dream gown, I cannot stress enough the importance of research. If you know that you want to look for a certain dress or designer then you can of course go straight to their boutique as sometimes they are not stocked in larger bridal stores. I went to three shops, Riki Dalal (as their London boutique stocks all of their dresses), Angelica Bridal, and Mirror Mirror. The benefit of going to a store which sells dresses by multiple designers is that you can often try on the designer you love, whilst also looking at other ones which you might not have considered previously.
One piece of advice is that if you find a specific dress by a specific designer then it is worth telling the shop at the time of booking your appointment. I was desperate to try on a particular Hayley Paige gown and Mirror Mirror didn’t have it in-store, and so they ordered it in especially for me to try which was fantastic. I ended up going for the opposite dress to the one which I had always imagined I would and that is what makes it so perfect.
Keep an open mind, try on dresses which you don’t think will suit you (because you never know!), and remember to not just picture the dress and how you feel under the bright lights of the bridal boutique in a colder country, but also how you will feel under the blazing sun at your beautiful destination wedding.
Written by our new, in-house blogger, Sarah Rick-Harris