Having a wheelchair won't stop you from finding the perfect wedding dress. Read on for some useful tips and tricks to make your shopping experience just as fantastic as your big day!
Preparing for dress shopping
Before setting off on your shopping trip, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with the bridal shop first. This applies whether you’re planning on visiting chain stores or small boutiques. Chat with the manager or store owner to make them aware of any special needs you have. This will enable them to accommodate you and block out plenty of time in their diary for your appointment.
Wedding dresses can be tricky garments to get in and out of and it’s well-worth recruiting a few bridesmaids to help you in trying dresses on. Always ask the manager when making your appointment if they have a large dressing room to accommodate your wheelchair; most shops do.
Before you arrive for the appointment, make a quick telephone call to check that the person you spoke to will be there and that they’re ready for you. Take a few pictures with you of dress styles you like, but keep an open mind. It’s also a good idea to wear your hair and makeup as it will be on the big day to give you a clear picture of how everything will look when put together with the dress.
Wear clothing that’s easy to get on and off and bring appropriate underwear, jewelry and similar type of shoe.
Ask one of your friends to take pictures of you in the dresses you try on so that you can review them later at home. Never feel pressured into making a decision there and then.
Finding the perfect dress
Stylists recommend going for a classic, timeless look. Keep things simple and comfortable, so remember that less is definitely more where the skirt is concerned, especially while maneuvering in your chair.
Lighter weight fabrics without too many layers and petticoats are a practical and beautiful choice. You might find that bridesmaid's dress style (in white) might be a better option as they tend to be less ‘poofy’ and bulky. Fitted mermaid style dresses with a softly flared lower portion work well as they don’t get caught up in the chair’s wheels. Clean, simple styles look better than those with lots of ruffles because they won’t bunch up when you’re sitting.
Detailing on the top of the dress works well and you can go for as much bling or beadwork as you like whilst keeping the skirt plain. Longer skirts look better if you use a wheelchair and you could even opt for a pretty white/cream cover for your chair too which would be something a little different.
Two piece outfits work really well for wheelchair users; they are much easier to get in and out of and tend to be more comfortable too.
Always be prepared to listen to the opinion of someone you trust and never be rushed into buying something you’re not one hundred per cent sure about. Remember, most brides have their dresses altered so if something’s not perfect, don’t worry; a good seamstress will be able to make it so.
Is Custom-made the Better Way?
If you can’t find a dress ‘off-the-peg’, you could always go down the custom-made route, although this is usually considerably more expensive. The clear advantage of having a dress custom-made is that you can choose the fabric you want and the style and have the whole outfit tailor-made. Always ask to see examples of the designer’s work before you commit.
Pulling the Look Together—Tips on Makeup & Jewelry
It’s a good idea to spend a while perusing magazines to get ideas as to how you’d like your hair and makeup to look and have at least two ‘dry-runs’ before you make your final decision. Avoid heavy makeup and go for the natural look with a soft, natural hair style. Your wedding day is not the time to try a totally new ‘do’ and party makeup you’ve never worn before! Nails look best natural or very pale and pearly; bright red or patterned simply doesn’t look right.
When it comes to jewellery, keep it simple and understated. The same goes for headwear including veils, especially for a bride in a wheelchair.
Pretty satin flats or pumps look timeless and you can find plenty with lovely detailing.
Don’t forget your chair! Make sure it’s clean and decorate it if you want to.
Finally, a bride should be comfortable and look how she wants to look, not how someone else thinks she should look! Don’t try to look different, just try to look your very best.
Good luck and have a lovely day!