The dress a bride chooses to wear as she walks down the wedding aisle says a lot about her as a unique individual. So many styles, so many gowns, so many ways for brides to express themselves! That’s why it’s always best visiting stores where shopkeepers really value the decision-making process, not just the process.
Our friend Jennifer Dang is that kind of shopkeeper. Both Toronto bridal boutiques, Ferré Sposa and Elizabeth & Beau, are stores she's involved in that promote a culture of positivity, with dress consultants that provide pressure-free support; because buying a dress doesn’t have to be stressful.
We caught up with Jennifer to talk about some different ways brides can put their own unique twist on their wedding outfits so that their personality shines through on their big day, no matter what they’re wearing.
STYLE / The traditional white wedding dress is by far the most popular choice for brides, but it’s not the only choice. As a buyer, you see a lot of different designs on bridal runways and in magazines. What are your thoughts on the spectrum of more creative or alternative choices for bridal wear?
JH: I like to label myself as a modern/traditional bride consultant. I do a combination of traditional looks, because ultimately when people are getting married, it’s their first time. Unlike someone who might be in the industry, they might not be as daring. However, because they’re into fashion and style, they might want to do something a little different. A little tradition with a touch of modern. I look for something modern and useful when I work with brides.
PROCESS / When a bride comes into on of your shops, where do they start? How do you and your team help them start the process of looking for their wedding dress? Every bride is so unique, from her tastes to her personality. In what ways can you help a bride choose a wedding dress that best reflects her?
JH: A lot of people come in asking “what do you think works for me based off my body type?” I’m actually trained not to go off body type. Ultimately if you’re able to rock a look, that’s all that matters. So whatever the bride is comfortable with based off her personality is the most important thing. I figure out more who the bride is to give them more of an opportunity to look like themselves. Although they may not know what to choose, I start to pick up what they’re selecting and start making mental notes. If they’re picking something more simple, or extravagant, I start to go with the process of talking them through what they like and don’t like. I formulate a look that suits their personality. It has very little to do with their body type.
Ultimately, I showcase what brides are comfortable with. I find what they feel good in and hone in from there. Once I start to narrow down, it makes it a lot easier to pick the right wedding dress.
TIPS & TRICKS / Being wedding filmmakers in Toronto, we see many original looks and know that anything is possible, but a lot of brides don’t always realize that there are other choices beyond the dress that can really make a difference in their bridal look. From shoes to jewellery, headpieces to clutches, there’s a ton of ways to express their individuality. Do you have any tips and tricks for brides in terms of accessorizing, whether it be through purchasing, renting, or even DYI-ing?
JH: When I shop for wedding gowns, I always tell brides “don’t take at face value.” That means that whatever brides see on the rack, they can still modify. So let’s say they’re looking for a long sleeve dress, or they’re looking for something with straps, they’ll tend to look at dresses that already have straps or long sleeves. This is very limiting because what’s been working for years is strapless gowns. So using a broader canvas, and finding something based on the silhouette and adding in accessories will allow them a variety of selection. They don't have to look at the five dresses that have spaghetti straps or long sleeves. They can look at the other 20 gowns that are in the selection of the silhouette, and if the budget allows, adding those accessories. That’s the first thing brides can think of.
The next thing is that once they’ve purchased their gown and want to add more personality to it, they can get really creative in how they shop. One great tip is that you can look at hair pieces to be added as a belt for a very unique look, it might be more of a dainty hairpiece. So that’s a really creative way to save money. Hair pieces tend to be cheaper than belts.
I also find that a lot of brides take an opportunity in their shoes to bring them personality. Your shoes don’t actually show that much when you’re walking, but it’s in your detailed shots that gives some personality. I actually have a bride that had taken pieces of her moms wedding dress and asked us to incorporate it. It’s all about creativity. It might be as simple as taking the lace of your moms wedding gown and incorporating it into your own lace. Or taking and adding buttons to your gown. There’s lot of ways to have that homage to your mom. I think that’s a really cool, fun detail. I think it’s in thinking about what’s important to you. I always tell people that whether it’s your wedding gown or your wedding day in general, it’s bringing a piece of who you are in your wedding day style that’s a really nice touch for everyone to see.
WILD CARD / You do a lot of traveling! Have you picked up any cool wedding traditions, customs or unique looks that you loved along the way? Anything out of the box that might inspire our Toronto brides?
JH: Bring your personality. I get so many couples that are mixed from different cultures. I love when they take the opportunity to allow their guests to experience the combination of the two cultures. It’s super unique to Toronto. It’s a beautiful thing. What a lot of these brides like to do is incorporate their culture so they have their roots in their wedding. It doesn’t have to be a huge part of the ceremony, but partaking in small traditions are a fun and meaningful way to have something that is a part of who they are so the guests can experience that.
Last year a southeast Asian bride I worked with wanted to wear a wedding gown. Typically, she would have worn a sari that is mid-drift and can be a ballgown, or a slim dress with a scarf over top. I found a gown that looked similar to that: it was a t-shirt lace-top that was cropped... and it was a ballgown. I think she had incorporated a scarf afterwards. It was such a beautiful mix of the western and southeastern cultures. As a consultant, I love being a part of that mixing process.