The Tertia dress from Caroline Castigliano’s 2017 ‘Love is in the Air’ collection
Bridal couture designer Caroline Castigliano has been creating exquisite wedding dresses for 25 years. She shares her expert advice for finding the perfect gown
What should a bride consider before she starts looking for a wedding dress?
Most of our brides start looking for their wedding gowns a year to 18 months before their wedding, but we also have some brides coming to us with just a few months notice. Before you even go out to try on wedding dresses, search the internet and look at fabrics and silhouettes and make mood boards of everything you love.
Then after hours of searching and looking, start thinking about the venue you have chosen and the ‘vision’ you want everyone to see when you arrive at your wedding. Do you want to have a traditional look or do you want to be modern and contemporary? Perhaps you want a relaxed look or something very romantic or red carpet glamour is more your style. When you know the overall ‘look’ you want to create, go back over the pictures you collected and start a new board with the real look you want for the big day.
Your next big decision will be the investment you want to make in your bridal gown and understanding the difference between a standard mass produced dress altered to fit and a gown fully made to measure for you that fits like a glove. There are big differences so be aware – if someone says this is ‘made to order’ do not understand this as ‘made to measure’. Ask exactly what you would be getting. Once the gown has been chosen, other decisions fall in to place.
How can brides ensure that they stay true to their personal style?
A wedding dress shows the personality and style of the bride so it is very important that she feels confident that the vision she projects on her wedding day is very much her style. Brides can stay true to their personal style by talking to an experienced professional bridal stylist who will talk to them about their aspirations and the vision they want to create for their wedding day. If the bride wishes for a theatrical statement in her wedding gown then she should look at designers who create exactly that look. In the same way, if she wants a clean and understated vision she needs to look at dresses from a designer whose handwriting is reflecting clean lines.
Ultra feminine meets sensuality in Caroline Castigliano’s 2017 ‘Love is in the Air’ collection
Do you recommend brides taking people with them to try on dresses?
Yes, but avoid taking a brig group with you. To have a really nice experience, you don’t need more than two companions – and choose them carefully. Bring one or two friends with you whom you trust and whose opinion you really value.
How should a bride prepare for wedding dress fittings once the gown has been chosen?
A bride should always ensure she has the underwear she will be wearing on her wedding day for the first gown fitting. The fit of the bra is essential to the fit of the bridal gown and should be a simple foam cupped bra with underwiring – there should be no embellishments on the bra. The pants all depend on the style of the gown but if the bride is wearing a sheath gown the pants should be seamless and without any embellishment.
The other crucial accessory for the fitting is the shoes so ensure you have done the research and have purchased the shoes to wear with your wedding dress well before the first fitting.
Do not wear any fake tan to the fitting as it can easily come off and stain the dress. Finally, ensure you are wedding weight for the first gown fitting, you do not want your weight to change once you have started the fitting process.
What should brides remember when it comes to choosing accessories?
Accessories are very important for finishing off a ‘look’ for your big day although you should always make sure your accessories do not overpower you. A big head piece on a small head is not flattering – look at the shape of your face before trying on headdresses as you want a shape that will flatter your features. If you have a round face, an Alice band shape won’t work! If you have a beaded neckline on the dress, then it is best not to wear a necklace as they will clash and can overpower you. Earrings should be quite delicate – remember that hundreds of pictures will be taken of you and you don’t want large, overpowering earrings to be a distraction.
Accessories can make the simplest gown look glamorous. A favourite of mine is a silk crepe fishtail gown with a long two tier veil and a beaded belt, drop earrings and a matching bracelet. Simple, stunning and glamorous.
Do you have any personal favourite gowns from your collections? What is it about it that you love so much?
I don’t have a favourite gown – everything comes down to the height and shape of the bride as to what looks fabulous and for me it is all about the right silhouette on the client.