Charleston is the wedding capital of the world. With my own wedding coming this October, I've recently explored the massive wedding industry in town. It's been inspiring meeting the creative women running the field, from makeup artists, florists to designers like Emily Kotarski. Emily is girlboss who runs a successful custom wedding dress atelier on King Street. Oh, and she's only 26.
“8 things every Charleston bride should know when wedding dress shopping - expertise from a wedding dress designer."
1. Pick a date and venue—there are so many different, beautiful venues here in Charleston. A wedding at one of the surrounding plantations would speak to a more ethereal, garden inspired look. On the other hand, a downtown ballroom would lend itself to a completely different style gown. Having an idea of your setting will help allow you to envision how each dress will work within the venue.
2. Keep the time of year in mind. If you are getting married in June, in Charleston, most likely the weather will be hot and muggy. A larger, heavy, satin ballgown might not be the best option if you don’t fair well in the heat. On the other hand, if you are getting married in January, you might want to plan for a dress with sleeves or a detachable bodice for more coverage and warmth.
3. Pin together your favorite images of gowns on your Pinterest wedding board. Even if each gown seems so different and you feel like your ideas are all over the place, once you get to a store they can help you find similarities between all the different pictures.
4. Take a look in your own closet, a lot of the time there is a reoccurring theme. The shapes of dresses, necklines and fabrics that you choose to wear in every day life typically reflects the style that you feel the best, and most beautiful in. Keep these details in mind when choosing your gown because these are the details that make you feel the most like yourself. Most of the time brides will subconsciously gravitate towards these styles!
5. Once you have some inspiration and a setting in mind with your date and venue, pull together the 3 people who mean the most to you. Trust that they will want to see you happy and have your best interest in mind. Keeping this group small helps to limit conflicting opinions and makes the process less overwhelming.
6. Keep in mind the length of time that you are in the dress. Most women are not used to be in a full length gown at all let alone an extended period of time. An off the shoulder, soft and flowy sundress is not going to feel the same on your body as an off the shoulder, structured satin ball gown. Is it important to you that you can move freely and lift your arms? If so, and off-the-shoulder neckline probably isn’t the right fit for you. Are you looking to have a skin tight fit and flare gown to show off your shape? If that is the case you might not be able to sit down too comfortably. Weigh the pros and cons for all of your thoughts and ideas and prioritize the way you want to look and feel all day into the night.
7. Don’t expect this to be just like any other shopping experience and most of the time it won’t be as easy as it looks on tv. Try to look past the fit details since each dress only comes in one sample size which Is typically an 8-12. Trust that the fit of your dress will be perfected once it is ordered in your size and adjusted to your body type.
8. Meet directly with the designer. A lot of times my brides will come in to my studio and ask if “this is possible” for a specific idea they have. Don’t feel as if you have to search for a unique style in stores like a needle in a haystack. If you have a specific and unique idea in mind for the design of your dress, come and show me some pictures, let me know what is important to you on your big day and most of the time your dream gown can absolutely be made possible.
Wedding dress details to look for this summer
Photos by Dear Elizabeth Photography.