Dress Rehearsal


On the day of your wedding, all eyes are on you. You’ll want to look and feel your best, which means finding the dress that fits both your style and your personality. When Hilton Head Island bride Caroline Santorum didn’t find a single wedding dress she loved, she bought two and combined them to create the perfect princess gown.

Caroline Santorum2“The top of one dress we loved, but the bottom was a satin cupcake skirt, too much for a summer wedding on Hilton Head. So we took a tulle skirt from the bottom of another dress. I never really tried it on, but I just said ‘I think this will be great, I hope, let’s go with it,’ ” Santorum said of combining the two dresses for her June wedding in Sea Pines.

“I was a little nervous seeing the final dress, but it was stunning. It’s the favorite thing I’ve ever worn," she said.



Santorum’s risk move paid off, and the lesson is to not settle. But how do you find “The Dress” out of the millions of beautiful wedding dresses out there?

Start by knowing your own personal style. If you are very fashion-forward in your daily attire, a highcouture gown could be perfect for you. But if you tend to prefer more conservative, classic styles, it’s a smart choice to go with a classic gown. On your wedding day, you want to be the best version of yourself, not someone else.


With that in mind, flip through wedding magazines, scroll through Pinterest, and start visualizing your dream dress. This is one of the best parts of wedding planning, so dive in.

When you’ve got an idea of the styles you like, book an appointment at a bridal salon — and be sure to bring your mother, other relatives or close friends to give you another opinion. Many bridal salons offer private consultations, complete with mimosas or Champagne to make the process less stressful and more exciting. Your consultant will take your measurements and pull samples for you to try on. Even if you think you know what kind of dress you’re looking for, be open to a variety of dress styles. Dresses might look very different on you than they do on the rack, and you might be surprised by the dress that you fall in love with.


As you’re trying on dresses, have fun but be practical. You’ll want a dress that fits both your ceremony location and reception venue. A Cinderellastyle ball gown with a long flowing train might be difficult on the beach; instead, a tea-length silk number might be better. And of course, you’ll want to make sure your dress is comfortable enough so you can dance the night away at your reception.

It’s best to start looking for your dress about six to eight months before your wedding day. Dresses are usually made to order, which takes three to four months. Once your dress arrives, you’ll need to schedule at least one or two fittings to make any alterations, which will also take several weeks. On the day before your wedding, you’ll want to make sure that your dress is steamed and free of wrinkles.

If you have selected a second ensemble to wear late at night or for dancing at the reception, make sure it is delivered to your venue for an easy outfit change.


These days, just about anything goes when it comes to bridal party attire. A good rule of thumb is that the more formal the wedding, the longer the bridesmaids’ dresses should be, but gone are the days when the maids all wore the same dress. Different necklines, lengths and silhouettes to fit each bridesmaids’ body and style are the norm. Some brides even choose to mix patterns and colors.

For the groomsmen, you can go with the traditional tuxedo or suit, or relax a little with dress pants, button-down shirt and a vest, but no suit jacket. To spice things up and add a little panache to the day, try adding fun socks or bow ties.

Whatever you and your bridal party wear, make sure it’s comfortable and suits the time of year in which you’re getting married. No one looks good in clothes that don’t fit or if they are uncomfortable. Stay true to your fashion sense and be “the best version of you” on your big day.