Buying a wedding dress is a big deal, not only for the bride, but also for all of the people who will accompany her in the search. We spoke with style and etiquette coach Christine Launert about the rules of behavior for the accompaniment and what the bride can do to ensure a thoroughly positive shopping experience:
HOCHZEIT: So, buying a wedding dress is not only a very exciting experience for the bride, but also for the person helping her out. But still – the bride is the center of attention. What does the accompanying person need to keep in mind?
Christine Launert: First of all: talk to the bride before the first visit to the bridal store about her style concept for the wedding and her gown. Secondly: give the bride some time in every dress to get used to it, holding back your own opinion initially. Ask the bride how she feels in each dress first. Observe her body language in the different dresses. Does she have better posture in certain dresses? Do her eyes sparkle? Does she immediately smile at how she looks in the mirror and look smitten when she sees her reflection? Thirdly: your personal taste is not most important – you are only the accompaniment! The deciding factor is the style the bride wants, as well as the impression she makes in the gown. Fourthly: view the bride in each dress from different perspectives: up close, far away, from the front, from the back. How does she move in the gown? Ask yourself if you are more impressed with the dress itself or if it is the bride who actually looks stunning in the dress.
HOCHZEIT: It seems like it’s a bit of a tightrope walk: as the accompanying friend, you want to act neutral and not influence the bride too much, but you also still owe the bride an honest opinion. How can one negotiate this split?
Christine Launert: It really is true that what is said in these highly-emotional moments by an accompaniment is very meaningful to a bride, often hitting home very deeply and being remembered for a long time. Thus you should state your opinion honestly, yet at the same time diplomatically and constructively. Keep your comments positive, describe how the bride comes off in the various dresses, with this emphasizing that you are only stating your personal opinions.
HOCHZEIT: And if you really think a dress is hideous?
Christine Launert: Not everything that is negative needs to be put into words – sometimes silence says a lot more! If the dress is a real no-go as far as you are concerned, the most diplomatic way to react is to just call the bride’s attention to another dress, distracting her.
HOCHZEIT: At the end of the day, the bride is still the one making the decision…
Christine Launert: Exactly! It is very important that you as the accompanying person leave the final decision up to the bride. This also means that the bride should not be pressured into make a certain decision!
HOCHZEIT: Who would you recommend taking along for wedding dress shopping?
Christine Launert: As a style consultant, my answer is this: ideally a person who is open and honest with me, someone for whom it is important to see me as a beautiful bride on that day, who doesn’t have their image of me set in stone but rather is open and willing to discover new sides of me, and someone who has a proven sense of style and fashion as well as good taste in general. As a wedding consultant and woman, my answer is this: buying a wedding dress is one of the most wonderful and most emotionally-charged moments in planning a wedding. We women remember these times for many years to come, often times the memories are just as intense as the wedding day itself. Thus, take a person with you who plays a significant role in your life, someone who is an important friend for life.
HOCHZEIT: Certain people (maybe the mom, sister, or best friend) may even expect to be invited along by the bride in looking for a dress. Wouldn’t it be extremely impolite for the bride to decide to go shopping by herself after all?
Christine Launert: No – with the argument that she wants to surprise everyone at the ceremony she takes the wind out of their sails.
HOCHZEIT: It is of course well known that taste is a matter of opinion. Most likely there would be many opinions if a bride takes several people with her to look at dresses. What do you recommend for brides who are confused and don’t have a clue what to do thanks to so many varying opinions?
Christine Launert: At best only one person should be taken along as accompaniment. And don’t ask more then two or three people in total. A wedding dress is one of the most personal articles of clothing in our entire life. The decision definitely needs to be made on your own, by only the bride!
HOCHZEIT: Some bridal couples buy a wedding dress and suit together, and so it’s possible that a certain look can’t be agreed upon. What do you recommend so choosing outfits can be a positive experience and doesn’t end in a fight?
Christine Launert: I recommend already starting to think about the desired style of the wedding in detail before the first visit to the store. Look at wedding magazines and brochures together, visit wedding conventions, and just ask each other what you both want. Of course, it would be ideal to have a joint type and style consultation ahead of time, during which these aspects can be thoroughly discussed. Preparation is key! And when the time for shopping together has arrived, the same above-mentioned rules apply just as much to the bride and groom as to the accompanying shopper.
HOCHZEIT: What about the bridesmaids? Should they buy their dresses with the bride along? And should that be done right when the wedding dress is purchased?
Christine Launert: That could overwhelm the bride and the accompanying friends pretty quickly. It’s better to just get the bridesmaids‘ outfits after the wedding dress has been purchased. The most important thing is that the color matches that of the bride’s attire. If the wedding dress is white, then the color of the bouquet is the deciding factor.
HOCHZEIT: Who actually pays for the bridesmaids‘ dresses?
Christine Launert: There are no clear rules for that one. If it is important to the bridal couple to have a specific outfit, then I would recommend that they also pay for the bridesmaids‘ dresses. But there’s also nothing wrong with the bridesmaids footing the bill if they offer, if they are perhaps better off financially than the bridal couple – to the tune of: “I’ve been wanting to get a long dress for a while now anyway…” If this is the case, the bridal couple could just pay for some matching accessories.
HOCHZEIT: Back to the bride: what should a bride take into consideration in deciding on her dream dress anyway?
Christine Launert: Most important is how she feels in the dress. And maybe then also what in her opinion her future husband would say.
This article was kindly granted for our use by HOCHZEIT – www.hochzeit-magazin.net
‘HOCHZEIT’ conducted this interview with Christine Launert – consultant and trainer for image, style, soft skill, modern forms of communication, and marketing.
Image: © Depositphotos.com/ londondeposit