The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Wedding Dress in Sacramento

Weddings should be a huge celebration with the other half who makes you a better whole, with dozens or hundreds of guests who love you and fill your life with joy, and all while you’re the resplendent center of attention in a magnificent wedding dress.

The madness of wedding planning can eclipse all of that, however, especially the search for the right bridal gown. Thankfully, you can bid adieu to stress and “Say Yes to the Dress” with this style and shopping guide for the best Sacramento wedding dresses.

Who You Are as a Bride: Dress Style Guide

First and foremost, you need to get a wedding dress that suits your personality and personal sense of style. Just as with your engagement ring or partner-to-be themselves, your wedding dress should fit you perfectly in every way imaginable. That means being yourself. Society places a lot of ugly expectations on brides to fit stylistic or social expectations for how a bride is “supposed” to look. You shouldn’t feel forced to slim down into a dress that’s several sizes smaller and leaves you feeling uncomfortable all day.

Likewise, you shouldn’t feel awkward or disappointed in a dress that’s cut to a style that simply isn’t “you” because, remember, today really is all about you. If you’re going to spend that much time, money, and attention on something, and have dreamed about it this long, you deserve to look and feel good in your wedding dress, and that means getting a dress that suits you, not someone else.

Still, matching your personality to a dress can be difficult, which is why you might want to break them down into different dress categories, such as:

  • Traditional ball gown designs featuring a bell-shaped bottom that flows downward from a slim-cut bodice
  • Mermaid designs with a more elongated bodice and the bottom flaring out, creating an hourglass shape designed to accentuate curves
  • A-line designs, which leave your shoulders free and flow downward in a subtler, more natural fashion
  • Sheath silhouette dresses, which offer a slim sheath of covering around your shoulders and neckline while flowing downward in a straighter and more modern fashion than traditional wedding dresses
  • Romantic sleeved dresses, which boast elegant designs all the way down the sleeves, V-shaped necklines, and large skirts, with the extra romanticism and warmth a welcome choice in Sacramento wedding dresses for outdoor weddings held on the capital’s cooler weather days
  • Royal-themed dresses which, true to the name, are cut after the designs of real-life royals and can even be topped off with a tiara
  • “Sexy” dresses, which cling tight to your body with nude fabric and a plunging neckline, allowing body-positive brides to strut their stuff as they stroll down the aisle

There are, of course, plenty of variations on those basic bridal themes, but the best barometer for your wedding dress dreams, according to Jacquelyn Ward of the now-closed Our Story Bridal boutique consignment shop for wedding dresses in New York, is to “shop feeling like the best version of you.” The same holds true when shopping for great Sacramento wedding dresses; for all those styles and trends, remember that weddings are all about looking and feeling like the best version of yourself.

Ward notes that your first emotional reaction to a dress is likely to be a powerful indicator of your basic style tastes. You’ll be analyzing every last inch of wedding dress and ceremony, but when it comes to gown style preferences, there is such a first thing as love at first sight. Listen to it, and listen to yourself.

What to Look for in a Wedding Dress

One area in which you don’t want to be led by emotion when searching for Sacramento wedding dresses is in the actual dress fabric and substance beneath all that style. From overly wide Versailles gowns to absurd Regency and Victorian corset tightening, staying in step with style dress-wise has often meant severe sacrifices to one’s personal comfort. However, the last thing you want on your big day is to feel uncomfortable the whole day through because the dress you chose is too tight, you’re constantly stepping on it, the material’s too thin or thick, or any other issue that gets in the way of your big day.

For that reason, you’ll want to pay special attention to a wedding dress’s construction and qualities, with some of the most important dress features being:

  • How the hemline flows outward: You don’t want to be stepping on your hem constantly and don’t want others doing the same. Make sure that your hemline is cut accordingly for both style and comfort.
  • The bodice and boning: Ideally, your bodice should be snug enough to stay in place and accentuate your body as much as you wish while leaving enough space to be comfortable. The boning, meanwhile, is important for making sure your dress doesn’t wrinkle or start to deform. If you are buying a custom wedding dress, these are likely to be among the most important features to consider since they’re essential for ensuring that your gown fits like a glove.
  • Embroidery: Beading can place a big role in designing patterns while lace is as classic an accentuating factor as there is.
  • Shoe and undergarment fit: Yes, really. You’re already going to have enough surprises in planning your wedding without going to put on your gown the day of the ceremony and finding it tighter than you expected because of the undergarments you’re wearing. What’s more, while you hope to be killing it in your dress, you don’t want your heels or flats to kill you the whole ceremony (remember, that’s a lot of standing and dancing for way-too-tight, toe-crushing shoes)! Make sure to bring the kind of shoes and undergarments that you plan on wearing when picking out dresses so you can try everything on together and make sure that everything fits.

One area you’ll want to dive even deeper into is the dress fabric itself. This is especially important when shopping for Sacramento wedding dresses because, depending on the weather or season, it can get pretty hot or cold outside and you don’t want to spend your big day shivering or sweating away in a gown that’s too thin or too thick.

Some classic wedding dress fabrics to consider include:

  • Batiste: Soft, lightweight, transparent, sophisticated, good for warm weather weddings
  • Brocade: Silky, synthetic, somewhat stiff, great for a structured gown, not suitable for warm weather weddings
  • Chiffon: Light, transparent, made from rayon or woven silk, can have a wonderfully weightless or bohemian aesthetic, but is one of the most delicate and fragile fabrics on this list
  • Crepe: Lightweight, made from rayon or soft silk, gauze-like, goes well with mermaid and A-like styles, more versatile than chiffon, can be worn at any time of the year
  • Dotted Swiss: Lightweight, breathes well, made from muslin, features elegant dotted patterns, great for outdoor garden receptions in spring and summer
  • Faille: Ribbed finish, less ethereal and more substantial, good for cool weather weddings, its inherent “less is more” aesthetic lends itself well to minimalistic modern dress designs
  • Gazar: Wool or silk, crisp and smooth, stiff and structured yet translucently romantic, the stuff of dreams (and Kate Middleton’s wedding dress)
  • Mikado: Heavier silk with a shinier finish than other iterations, sophisticated, goes well with multi-seam mermaid and strapless gown designs, can be worn year round but veers slightly towards cooler weather
  • Moire: Made from polyester or heavier silky taffeta, subtle, can be imbued with an elegant glistening quality, heavy fabric means its best in winter
  • Point d’Esprit: Polyester sewn into elegant textured diamond patterns, dainty, vintage, often used in veils, breathes very well, ideal for open-air ceremonies in spring, summer, or early autumn
  • Satin: An all-time classic, heavy, smooth, versatile, the “duchess satin” variety (as worn by Queen Elizabeth II and Michelle Obama for their weddings) is best suited to cooler weather
  • Silk: Another absolute classic, highly versatile, can be woven in countless textures and styles, suitable for all seasons, the fabric of choice for Megan Markle’s wedding dress (double bonded silk cady with a silk organza underskirt) with plenty of haute couture wedding dress lookalikes available
  • Taffeta: Another classic choice worn by royalty (silver screen queen turned Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly), can be made from silk or synthetic materials, stiff, crisp, versatile, goes exceptionally well with A-line dresses and ball gowns with large skirts
  • Tulle: Light, gauzy, delicate, often used in veils, can be ordered to varying degrees of stiffness, is especially popular with romantically long-sleeved and nude fabric designs
  • Voile: Lightweight, breathes well, made from wool or cotton, semi-translucent, more casual than other fabric options, flows easily without the need for much structure

Finally, you’ll want to consider your dress’s bustle. These are an essential part of bridal gown glamor but are nearly always bought separately from the dress itself because they need to be customized to your height and body type to achieve the most flattering design (and so you won’t trip on them).

You can put some hustle in bridal bustle with options such as:

  • American Bustle: Also known as an over-bustle, this style hooks over the dress via hooks on your waistline, and goes great with ball gown designs.
  • Austrian Bustle: This style is becoming more popular given its neat flowing shape and goes well with gowns that feature intricate details (and it’s comparatively easy for your bridesmaids to help you with getting it on!).
  • French Bustle: This is an au naturel style which emphasizes the natural curves of your waistline, making it ideal for mermaid and A-line dresses.
  • Ballroom Bustle: As the name would imply, this style evokes a classic ballroom aesthetic, perfect for those who favor longer gowns.

Taking together that wealth of information on dress fabrics, fit, and construction can help you shop for Sacramento wedding dresses that suit the season and setting of your wedding as well as your personality to perfection.

When to Order Your Dress

One mistake that way too many brides make is ordering their dress too close to the ceremony. Not only do you need to make sure it arrives on time but you need to insect it before the big day to make sure it’s perfect. If you are ordering a custom wedding dress, it will take extra time to make.

Ideally, you should start your search 12 months in advance (yes, really!), giving you plenty of time to search, buy a dress around eight months out, and have your first fitting no less than three months from your wedding day.

Where to Look for Great Wedding Dresses in Sacramento

When you’re first starting the search for the best Sacramento wedding dresses, you may actually want to try using Pinterest and other platforms first for ideas. Armed with your new style ideas, you’ll want to look to make your dress a reality with one of the best Sacramento wedding dresses from bespoke boutiques or dress shops, including:

  • A&BÉ Bridal Shop: This inclusive bridal shop boasts vintage options, great plus-size dresses, and bridal accessories, as well as a special Sacramento-specific selection with dresses from designers such as Alexandra Grecco, Madi Lane, Rue De Seine, and Vagabond at an average price of $2000 to $3000.
  • La Soire Bridal: Located a little over an hour away in Walnut Creek (with a second shop in Venice if you’re planning a So Cal wedding), this shop offers bespoke bridal dresses under their own label as well as leaders such as Enzoani, Hayley Paige, Elysée, Livné White, and Anna Campbell. The price range is $2500 to $8000, with most being around $2500 to $5000.
  • Miosa Bride: Boasting 245 years of experience, this bridal outlet offers bespoke dresses for a wide range of body types from designers such as Enzoani, Maggie Sottero, Calla Blanche, Nicole Spose, Elysée, Ashley & Justin Bridal, Atelier Pronovias, Cristiano Lucci, and Pronovias.
  • Bride to Be: With great service from your first day shopping through all the alterations to post-wedding dry cleaning to preserve the wedding dress along with your wedding day memories, this lovely bridal shop offers great dresses for all sizes from designers such as All Who Wander, Badgely Mischka, Enzoani, Calla Blanche, Nicole Spose, Elysée, Essence of Australia, Lazaro, Madi Lane, Maggie Sottero, and Willowby.
  • Always Elegant Bridal and Tuxedo: An award winner on the bridal resource website The Knot, this affordable shop offers a great selection and, as the name implies, can tailor tuxedos and wedding dresses alike so you match your partner perfectly.
  • Second Summer Bride: Another Knot-worthy award winner, this proudly Black-owned business offers a range of boutique new, used, and consignment Sacramento wedding

Why Dress Style and Body Type Matter

Your wedding dress should make you feel supremely happy, elegant, and confident and this means making sure that it complements your body. Certain styles favor certain body types, but every combination has its upsides.

Some things to keep in mind about dress styles and body types:

  • A-lines look A+ on practically everyone with a lovely design that flatters all body types, making it by far the most low-pressure option.
  • Mermaid styles are designed to accentuate hips and waistlines, making them a fantastically flattering choice for curvy body types in particular.
  • Ball gowns, by contrast, are often designed with fuller bustlines in mind and accentuate your body from the waist up, though some designs can also make your hips look larger, so consider a full skirt with a structured bodice for the most flattering results.
  • Sheath gowns are good for those looking for a snugger fit and can also help more petite brides appear taller.

How to Shop for Your Wedding Dress

Bridal gown budgets need to be decided upon as early as possible. You’ll have to consider a lot of dress considerations between the fabric, style, bustle, accessories, and other features and you don’t want to run out of money prematurely. Wedding dresses average around $1600, but as demonstrated by some of those shops above, they can easily run into several thousand, if not more.

Thankfully, services such as The Flash Box in Sacramento can help you save money, including $100 off any dressmaker in the area when you purchase their wedding photography services.

A few other basic Dos and Donts when shopping for Sacramento wedding dresses:

  • DO focus on the basic silhouette shape first before getting bogged down in details.
  • DON’T visit a dressmaker late in the day; this is a decision that’ll take several hours at least, and likely multiple visits.
  • DO take photos of yourself and the dresses (if the boutique allows it) for reference when discussing dress options with your bridesmaids.
  • DON’T just go with what’s trendy.
  • DO make sure that you get second options from your bridesmaids.
  • DON’T be beholden to their opinions or feel the need to bring a huge dress-shopping crew; narrow it down to two to four voices that you trust the most.
  • DO ask plenty of questions.
  • DON’T worry too much about sizing early on as that’s what dressmakers’ expert tailoring skills are for, after all.
  • DO remember to actually walk around in the dress to make sure that it looks and feels just the way you want it to before buying.
  • DON’T forget about the venue. Consider how your wedding dress will flow and feel when outside on grass or a wedding hall’s interior.

All those style guidelines boil down to one essential, recurring point: browse Sacramento wedding dresses and find the one that makes you happy and enjoy the wedding day celebration you deserve.

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