Wedding dress shopping… it can be a doozie. While on paper it should be one of the most fun days in your wedding planning journey—rows and rows of beautiful clothing at your disposal, a trusted crew of supporters by your side—in reality, it can be one of the most stressful. Wedding dresses seem to come with their own rulebook that’s pretty foreign to most of us, and everything from the sizing to the terminology to even how to actually shop for them is veiled in mystery (sorry for the pun).
So we asked Sarah Hrudka Behlke and Lindsay Ulness, the ladies behind bridal design boutique linyage, for their insights on all things wedding dresses. Read on for their insider tips on how to shop for your wedding dress like a true pro.
First off, tell me a little bit about linyage.
We are an intimate bridal design studio offering limited and one-of-a-kind bridal separates. Each top and bodysuit is made from our curated collection of vintage lace and made by hand right in our studio in Wisconsin, and our skirt collection is made of varying silks. We intentionally craft these separates to allow our brides to create a look that is entirely her own and unique to her.
What drew you to working in wedding dresses, specifically?
We know all too well how incredibly daunting the process of wedding dress shopping can be. In the last decade the entire industry has shifted in several ways thanks to social media, reality shows, and Pinterest, just to name a few. All of these facets have made it an incredibly exciting time to get hitched, but they also seemingly add another layer of pressure. So we decided to pivot, and it’s allowed us to get back to the core of why we love weddings after all.
With the rise in popularity of so many off-the-rack wedding dress companies, what made you choose to go in the opposite direction with custom, handmade bridal separates?
We began this process because we have an appreciation for the quality and intimacy in all things made by hand and, more than anything, for the labor of love. The idea of creating separates was a collective concept of the past, present, and future. We love the idea of versatility, as well as utilizing materials that have a story and that can remain timeless enough to pass along as a future heirloom. It all feels incredibly personal; it’s what a wedding and creating a new chapter with your loved one is all about.
What advice do you offer brides who have no idea what kind of wedding dress they want?
Over the years, from both our recent personal and professional experience, we’d like to think we have learned a thing or two when it comes to picking out the dress that’s right for you. First and foremost, we cannot stress enough that this is YOUR day—you are perfect and enough as is, and your dress should never take away from, but rather simply be an extension of that.
That sounds great—but level with us. What are the tricks of the trade when it comes to going wedding dress shopping?
Well, we know that women shopping for wedding gowns are frequently in planning mode (cue the binders and color-coordinated pens). In that state, nothing feels better than a good ‘ole list to make information more digestible. You will be bombarded with how-tos—if you aren’t already—so we’ve created a list for your readers for what we feel to be the three most essential components when looking for the threads you will say “I do” in.
Oooh, a list! We love lists. Bring it on.
We call it “The Three Vs.” Follow these three tips for wedding dress shopping, and we’re certain it will leave you feeling like exhaling is a little bit easier, and that this process can be… wait for it… a fun one. (We mean it!)
It may seem like an obvious factor to consider, but you’d be surprised how many brides don’t regard their wedding setting when picking out a dress. It’s imperative—at the very least for your comfort—to wear pieces that are compatible with your venue location, both aesthetically and functionally. Are you an outdoor bride who knows she will be waltzing in a field for photos at golden hour? Don’t let the bottom of your dress hold you back from Mother Nature’s elements. Getting hitched in late fall where the air is slated to be crisp? Perhaps lace sleeves are something to ponder.
Wherever you say “I do,” remember that regardless of the locale, your comfort should be a top priority. The construction of a wedding dress is of course meant to flatter your figure; you will never be quite as comfortable as when wearing your favorite pair of yoga pants. But remember this: you will be hugging your guests. You may even be cutting a rug (or two). In short, you don’t want to be held back. While remaining classy and every bit the bride, don’t forget that you don’t want to be spending your day thinking about your look, or having it inhibit you from enjoying all of the elements of the venue that you so thoughtfully chose.
Gone are the days of cookie-cutter tradition, making way for a gal that is looking to make the most of her long-awaited wedding day and all of the components that come along with it. While tradition can lead to the idea of something timeless, which is always a good choice, brides are turning a new leaf and searching for pieces that create options as well as longevity. For example, we’re fans of the concept of separates.
Tell me more—I’m so curious about wedding dress separates. They seem to be a relatively new trend in wedding dresses; why would you recommend a bride choose separates over a full dress?
It allows a bride to change up her look from ceremony to reception. Another trend we have been seeing is reusing one piece for multiple wedding events, from a boudoir session to an engagement party to a bridal shower. Perhaps you are eloping abroad but having a party with loved ones back home—how convenient would it be to get some leverage out of your look? And if you’re really feeling bold or progressive, you may find a way to wear a part of your wedding day look into everyday life. We’ve had brides where their linyage bodysuit with high-waisted jeans and a blazer, and another wear her skirt on every anniversary. Ultimately it’s up to you, and maybe you’re a bride who wants to wear her dress on that day and that day only—completely fine and your prerogative! Just remember that there are so many other aspects when it comes to wedding planning that you will have to think about, so let the adaptability of your dress be the least stressful of them all.
Makes perfect sense. So what’s the last V brides-to-be should consider when picking out their wedding day ensemble?
We’d be remiss to not discuss cost when it comes to wisely choosing your wedding dress. The biggest reason brides come to us is because, when imagining their dress, they place great importance on custom, one-of-a-kind, and American-made products. So often brides come to showroom appointments with minimal knowledge of what a wedding dress “should cost.” The truth is, there is no one right answer when determining the pricing of your wedding dress; it is entirely personal. The weight you place on this portion of your wedding expenses is contingent upon your preferences and what you value. Do not shop according to what you think one should spend, but instead base off of your taste and what you put value on.
That sounds easy enough—but how can a couple really figure out what they value most when it comes to their wedding expenses?
We always suggest this to our brides: sit down and create a list of the top three most important factors to you when it comes to your day. For example, if statement florals are not a crucial component to you, then perhaps this leaves more financial wiggle room for your dress.
Think of it this way: when you look around at the walls of your living space, what do you see? Are there framed photos of loved ones? Unique art by your favorite local artist or Etsy shop? A large canvas that you picked up at your local craft store because it matched your sofa? What we place value on is entirely personal, and when it comes to one of the most meaningful days of your life, the decisions made should follow suit. Whether you want a custom, indie label for your dress or don’t mind buying off the rack, take that into consideration.
Thanks Lindsay and Sarah! With these Three Vs in mind, hopefully Zola brides will have no trouble making wedding dress choices that prioritize their comfort, their ensemble’s versatility and re-usability, and the right investment that reflects their own values.
Featured Photo Credit || Athena Pelton