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Wedding Dress Silhouettes and Necklines

During your bridal appointment, one of the first questions you’ll be asked by the stylist is what type of wedding dress silhouette you’d like to wear. You might already have an idea of how you want your dress to look (Flowy? Fitted? A little bit of both?), but knowing exactly how to describe your dream gown will come in handy as you’re working with your stylist to find The One. We’ve created this guide explaining the differences between five popular wedding dress silhouettes that you’ll definitely want to know about. And while we recommend trying on more than just one type of silhouette during your bridal appointments, this guide will help you put your dream dress into words or help you narrow down your options if you’re still on the fence.

Silhouettes

Ball gown wedding dress

If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own fairytale moment, then this is the silhouette for you. Ball gowns are one of the most classic wedding dress silhouettes and will instantly give you the Cinderella effect on the big day. A ball gown features a fitted bodice (sometimes with a corset) with a wide, full skirt, most often achieved by using crinolines or layers of tulle. Since the full skirt glides over your hips and lower torso, this silhouette is great for brides who want to cinch in their waist. The ball gown is one of the most regal silhouettes—the Duchess of Cambridge, Grace Kelly, Jackie O, and Princess Diana all wore ball gowns for their weddings.

A-line wedding dress

Consider the A-line as a halfway point between sheath and ball gown silhouettes. An A-line skirt, which is named for the way it creates an “A” shape on the body, flares out from the waist more than you’d see on a sheath gown, but not as dramatically as the ball gown. This universally-flattering silhouette is ideal for all styles, whether your wedding is bohemian, classic, beachy, or something in between. A-line wedding dresses often feature organza, lace, or tulle, but you’ll also see them made from structured fabrics, such as Mikado.

Mermaid wedding dress

Va-va-voom. The mermaid is known for being one of the most flirtatious wedding dress silhouettes, since it’s extremely fitted throughout the bodice, waist, and hips. In other words, if you want Beyoncé-worthy curves for your wedding day, look no further! A mermaid gown will either accentuate what your mama gave you or create the illusion of an hourglass shape for brides with slimmer figures. This attention-grabbing silhouette flares out at the knees and is often paired with beading, ruching, or ruffled skirts for added wow factor. Another option? Opt for an unembellished satin mermaid gown and then add a bridal cape to achieve a fashion-forward look.

Fit-and-flare wedding dress

Brides who want to show off their figure without committing to the dramatic mermaid silhouette should consider a fit and flare wedding dress instead. This toned-down version still hugs your body through the chest and waist, while being a little more forgiving through the hips, derriere, and thighs. The skirt flares out above the knee, giving you a little bit more freedom with your legs. Fit and flare gowns are perfect for brides who want to let loose on the dance floor! This wedding dress silhouette looks incredible when paired with a sweetheart neckline.

Sheath wedding dress

A sheath wedding dress fits close to the body and falls straight to the floor below your hips, with a very minimal flare. This wedding dress silhouette is perfect for brides who want an effortless gown, since it requires less fabric than other silhouettes (and is therefore very easy to move around in!). What a sheath wedding dress lacks in volume, it makes up for with its versatility—the sheath silhouette works well with nearly every type of fabric, from beading, lace, satin, and even crepe. Sheath wedding dresses are a flattering option for slim figures and petite brides who don’t want to be overpowered by their gowns. 

Column wedding dress

This sophisticated wedding dress silhouette is similar to sheath styles, but the opening at the bottom is a little bit more narrow. Column wedding gowns skim your hips and fall straight to the floor, creating a structured, statuesque look (hence the name!). These types of wedding dresses are ideal for petite brides, since the minimal amount of material won’t overwhelm small figures. They’re typically made from sturdier, thicker fabrics, such as silk charmeuse, crepe, or beaded satin. 

Empire

Empire waist dresses feature a raised waistline that sits just below the bust. The rest of the dress then flows down to the hem. Therefore, they can lengthen the appearance of your legs while highlighting and defining your bust. This makes them perfect for petite brides who want to appear taller as well as brides with small busts. Additionally, empire gowns also make a lovely maternity choice for pregnant brides.

Necklines

Sweetheart

Sweetheart necklines are cut low and shaped like the top of a heart across the bust. They can either have straps or be strapless and are perfect for projecting a feminine and romantic appearance. The style can work well for brides with small busts as well as those with larger busts, who want to show just a little cleavage. Also, the soft curves of the sweetheart neckline make it ideal for balancing strong facial features.

Halter Neck

A halter neck dress features a strap that sits around the neck to help hold up the top. Most halter neck gowns feature a high-neck and backless design, but this can vary. The style is a flattering and stylish option for modern brides and is ideal for showing off your shoulders and arms. It also makes an excellent alternative to strapless styles and is useful for adding the appearance of height to a petite frame.

V-Neck

V-neck styles feature two diagonal lines, which form a ‘V’ shape and expose the decolletage. Just how low a V-neck goes depends on the design. So, you can easily choose how much cleavage you want to show with this look. Additionally, while the cut does reveal cleavage, its straight lines can actually minimise the appearance of your bust and its plunging shape can add height to your look.

Square Neckline

A square neckline features a straight cut bust that connects to straps at a right angle, creating the three sides of a square or rectangle. Although the style is angular, some options can be slightly rounded for a softer appearance. Either way, the look appears formal and elegant and is ideal for broadening shoulders or balancing a round face.

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The quality of diamonds can be graded on four factors or 4Cs. These are the cut, clarity, color, and carat weight of the diamond. It is very important to know the characteristics of these precious stones while you are purchasing them.

Clarity

Clarity generally refers to the presence of identifying marks on the surface (blemishes) and inside (inclusion) the diamond. Considering the tremendous amount of pressure used to create diamonds naturally, it is not unnatural to have flaws. The two types of flaws generally include blemishes and inclusions.

The surface flaws are known as blemishes while internal flaws are called inclusions. It is natural for diamonds to have both blemishes and inclusions at the same time. Blemishes may include chips, scratches, and pits. Many times blemishes may occur due to cutting. Inclusions generally include cracks, air bubbles, and non-diamond materials inside the diamond. When it comes to grading diamonds, all flaws are called inclusions.

COLOR

Diamond color usually refers to the lack of color in a diamond. When it comes to diamond color, the lesser the visible color, the higher is the grade of the diamond.

It can easily be said that the whiter the diamond, the greater its value. The degree of the color of these precious stones is tested over certain levels that generally range from colorless (D) to significantly colored (Z).

Diamonds that have a low rating on the scale have a mucky yellowish or brownish color. Diamonds that are from D to H on the scale are whiter while from grade I some yellow color will be visible.

Generally, the color of the diamond is a result of its composition and so the color does not change over time. A colorless diamond allows more light to pass through than a colored diamond, and thus emit more sparkle and brilliance.

CARAT

Carat is the unit of measurement used to weigh diamonds.

One carat of diamond generally equals 200 milligrams or 1/5 of a gram (0.2 grams). The term carat comes from the pod of the carob tree, a tree that is located in tropical areas.

CUT

The way a diamond is polished and cut affects its brilliance, sparkle and the fire of the stone. When a diamond is cut properly, it allows light to reflect and refract internally and then emit from the top causing a dazzling effect.

If you wish to have unique diamond rings that have amazing sparkle, you have to look for diamonds that are cut with precision. When a diamond is not cut properly, it will emit light through the sides and bottom and not through the top.

This will result in a duller looking diamond, one that has less fire and sparkle. A diamond is known for its brilliance, sparkle, and fire. A proper symmetric cut along with accurate polish can result in more of this dazzling effect.

THE MOST IMPORTANT C IS CUT

Irrespective of its carat weight, color, and clarity, if the fire and brilliance are absent, then the diamond is not that valuable.

A diamonds cut is always difficult to quantify than its color, clarity and carat weight. Cuts vary from a diamond to diamond and how cutters choose to shape, facet and polish the diamond.

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CARIBBEAN

Cancun

On the Yucatan Peninsula along the crisp, vibrant waters of the Caribbean is one of the most well-known cities in Mexico: Cancun. The beaches of this area can make a dreamy background for a Cancun destination wedding. With some of the whitest sand in the world and see-through waters that reflect colourful, dynamic sunsets, don’t let your memories from high school and college discount the charm of the region. The ruins of the ancient Mayan empire in seaside Tulum provide a stunning backdrop. For a slower-paced setting, try Playa del Carmen, which displays an authentic rustic charm and is home to some gorgeous beaches. And there’s no shortage of natural settings here, either: Say “I do” in a lush, tropical garden, in a beautiful eco-park or among the cenotes, or freshwater pools, the Riviera Maya is famous for.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s got all the assets of the other Caribbean islands—gorgeous beaches, friendly locals, plush resorts—plus one big one that sets it apart: It’s a US territory. That means you and your guests will have few, if any, of the hassles associated with travel abroad. You won’t need to go through customs, phone service is excellent, and most people speak English. Puerto Rico offers a blend of both traditional beachy relaxation and unique cultural and historic sights (which non-beachgoing guests will appreciate). As with the rest of the region, beware of hurricane season, which lasts from June through November.

The Bahamas

This collection of 700 islands has something for every taste—enjoy complete privacy by renting your own island, or host hundreds of your favourite people at a mega-resort. Nassau and Paradise Island are two of the most visited and activity-packed destinations, while more remote areas such as Harbour Island and the Exumas tend to feel more laid-back. And since the Bahamas are just a 35-minute plane trip from Florida, it’s an easy journey for guests and makes for a great excuse to spend a few extra days vacationing, scuba diving around Andros Island (the third-largest barrier reef in the world), strolling the white-sand beaches, touring the historic homes of Nassau and sipping Goombay Smashes (hint: a great signature cocktail). The high season lasts from mid-December to mid-April, while summers are sleepier. Although hurricanes are infrequent, they can occur, so it’s best to avoid the area from June through November.

Turks and Caicos

Less developed and more upscale than much of the Caribbean, this collection of 40 islands, eight of which are inhabited, has an intimate feel. Many of the islands are surrounded by a natural reef, making the turquoise waters just offshore clean, calm and full of sea life, and the perfect backdrop for a beach ceremony. And sunsets over Grace Bay are unforgettable (sunset ceremony, hint, hint). The islands are also relatively easy to reach, since you can fly direct from a number of US cities to Providenciales, the main island—a plus for guests. Snorkelling and scuba diving are great options to suggest, since Turks and Caicos has some of the best underwater sightseeing around. Historic Cockburn Town on Grand Turk is also worth a visit for history buffs, and whale and bird watching are two other popular activities. The climate is sunny and dry, with highs between 26 and 28 degrees (centigrade). from November to May. But during the summer and early fall, daytime highs range from 29 to 32 degrees(centigrade), sometimes reaching the mid-90s in late summer, and hurricane season also runs from June through November, so that’s not prime wedding time.

Antigua

This idyllic island not only has a whopping 365 beautiful beaches to get hitched on, but it’s also steeped in nautical history. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Antigua was home to a huge British naval base, and its harbour is still a popular yachting destination for the international jet set. If you want to host your nuptials at a high-end all-inclusive resort, look no further—many of the world’s swankiest are here. The high season runs from mid-December through April. After April, rates go down as much as 40 percent, but some places do close between August and October. The humidity and rainfall are low year-round, but avoid hurricane season, which runs from June through November.

Cayman Islands

Discerning couples who want more than a destination-wedding-in-a-box head to the Cayman Islands for the ultimate in hospitality and tropical romance. Whether you choose to marry at a smaller resort or a five-star hotel, this destination has the resources to cater to every couple’s personal style and guest-list size. Not to mention the backdrop is absolutely gorgeous (think: tranquil turquoise waters and sugary white-sand beaches dotted with palm and pine trees). All three islands are home to a wealth of wedding venues and pros, so there’s little need to bring your own pros. And your guests will have plenty of options for how to spend their downtime, including swimming, snorkeling and visiting historic George Town, where sparkling-jewelry retailers abound. Keep in mind: There’s no live/outdoor music allowed on the island on Sundays, which means if you’re saying “I do” beneath a tent on the beach or poolside on a Saturday, your band or DJ must wrap it up by midnight. High season begins the week before Christmas and goes through April, so you’ll deal with crowds then. Avoid hurricane season, which is May to November.

Saint Lucia, Caribbean

If the lost city of Atlantis were to re-emerge from its watery depths, it would likely resemble Saint Lucia. With white volcanic sand, sapphire water, tall mountains and cascading waterfalls, this Eastern Caribbean island is any beach lover’s wedding dream. Those who decide to travel to this stunning destination be warned, you may never want to leave.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

The Big Island, Hawaii

The Big Island is (you may have guessed) the largest island in the chain and offers incredibly diverse topography. In fact, 11 of the world’s 13 climatic zones can be found on the island (there’s even snow on top of the highest mountains!). The landscape varies dramatically as you travel around the perimeter, so you’ll have your choice of backdrops: The Kona coast to the west has a lunar-like landscape, while the north and east coasts are wet and super-lush. There’s plenty for guests to do too, from exploring the rain forest region to going horseback riding, snorkelling or just lazing on the beach. You won’t have to go anywhere for a dream honeymoon. These are just some of the reasons we consider The Big Island on our list of best destination wedding locations. 

Maui, Hawaii

Many visitors think of Maui as the most romantic Hawaiian island, perhaps because it’s filled with waterfalls and rainbows. And its beaches are considered to be among the best anywhere, so it’s a popular spot to wed. Guests will enjoy hitting the links on the west coast, or “Golf Coast,” and surfers (or aspiring ones) will find some of the world’s most famous waves here. Of course, snorkelling, kayaking, whale watching and all the activities you’d expect from a tropical paradise are here as well.

Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, California

Wine Country USA is filled with stunning landscapes—rolling hills, lush valleys and acre upon acre of vineyards (aka the perfect romantic backdrop for your nuptials). Of course, the abundance of amazing wines produced here, and the world-class restaurants with dishes worthy of accompanying them, will certainly make treating your guests a breeze. And given the sheer number of vineyards and charming inns, resorts and spas surrounding them, you’ll also have plenty of options for venues and accommodations.

Summer and October are the best times to visit the region. September can be beautiful, but you may have problems with availability, and rates will be at their peak because it’s harvest season. Even though you’re in California, temperatures can drop at night (think: mid-50s in the summer), so be sure your guests know to bring sweaters and wraps for the evenings.

EUROPE

Portugal

If fairy tale castles, hidden beaches, and world-class seafood rank highly on your traveller’s bucket list, Portugal is the wedding destination for which you’ve been searching. Located right next door to Spain, this country has something for everyone. From the turquoise ocean coves of Lagos to the whimsically bright coloured castles of Sintra, Portugal provides the perfect backdrop for a truly unique wedding.

French Riviera, France

One of the world’s first modern resort destinations, the French Riviera was a favourite vacation spot for royalty in the 19th century. What later became a hotspot for prominent artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse is nowadays the home to celebrities such as Elton John and Brigitte Bardot. With 310 to 330 days of sunshine per year and 115 km of coastline stretching across Saint Tropez, Cannes, and Monaco, it’s clear why the world is in love with this stunning location. If you envision lush forests, breathtaking cliffs, sparkling blue water and bright flowers at your wedding, put this destination at the top of your list.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

If your wedding dreams consist of sparkling turquoise waters, sheer cliffs adorned with vibrant lemons and exotic flowers, and a perfect summer’s day, make your way to the Amalfi Coast. The playground of the rich and famous, this 50km stretch of Southern Italy’s coastline offers picture-perfect views from every angle. Whether you select Positano, Praiano, Capri or Amalfi from the coast’s seemingly endless line of glittering islands, you’re in store for an unforgettable experience. Spend your special day exchanging vows by the sea before dining on a meal of fresh seafood and drinking Amalfi’s famous Limoncello. April through June, and September and October are the best times to explore Italy, with mild temperatures and smaller crowds. August can get hot, and it’s the month when most Italians go on vacation, so many shops, hotels and restaurants may be closed. Winters stay on the warmer side, with temps averaging around 10 degrees (centigrade).

Santorini, Greece

For a destination that matches seamlessly with any bride’s beautiful white dress, the Greek island of Santorini lies in wait. Here, whitewashed houses cling to the breath-taking cliffs, while their famous cobalt blue roofs match the endless expanse of the glittering ocean below. Turn up the heat with a ceremony on one of the island’s volcanic sand beaches while a fiery copper sunset creates a truly unforgettable wedding moment. For something different, head to the mesmerising black sand beaches of the island’s East coast or the red sand beach of the South.

Sicily, Italy

Surrounded by the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, Sicily’s gorgeous beaches are not the only thing that makes it one of the world’s best wedding locations. Harnessing all of the elements, this island combines pristine waters with breath-taking mountains, a smoking volcano, and fresh island cuisine. If that isn’t enough to lure you to Sicily for your wedding, also consider the rich culture and history that comes alive here. Set your wedding against a backdrop of Byzantine mosaics, Arab castle ruins, or in an ancient Baroque palace for an unforgettable experience.

AFRICA

South Africa

South Africa has been called “a world in one country,” and it’s easy to see why: Towering mountains rise over a vibrant and trendy Cape Town; ostrich-dotted grasslands stretch to connect quaint villages; monkey-filled forests line the deserted beaches of Natal; and the Stellenbosch wine route tucks vast vineyards into lush, fertile valleys. Then, of course, there are the lions (and giraffes and crocodiles…). South Africa’s stunning landscapes, wildlife preserves and pristine beaches along the 2,174 miles of coast and rolling vineyards have made it an ideal vacation—and exotic destination wedding— spot. So, it’s the perfect locale for adventurous couples to throw a unique wedding for guests willing to make the trek. Summer (December to February) is ideal for beach bashes, while winter (June to August) is best for game viewing if you want to give guests a wild treat. Average temperatures in Cape Town range from 17 degrees (centigrade) in winter to 26 degree (centigrade) in summer, so you’re pretty safe year-round, but other regions can reach as high as 35 degree (centigrade) in the summer months.

Marrakech, Morocco

For a wedding that appeals to all of the senses, make the journey to the incredible Marrakech. Vibrant colours, exotic sights and spice-packed flavours are found at every turn in this former imperial city of Morrocco. As a treasure trove of stunning Islamic architecture, it is undeniable that it will provide a gorgeous backdrop for your special day.

ASIA

Thailand

There’s a reason why locals commonly describe this Southeast Asian kingdom as sanuk, or “fun.” From the ornate palaces to the rich coral reefs and other wildlife—not to mention the tasty cuisine—guests will be thrilled to have an excuse to visit this exotic gem. For an exciting urban experience rivaling the pace of New York City, suggest that guests stop in Bangkok enroute to your chosen wedding locale. The huge metropolis consists of kitschy souvenir shops, dance clubs, the must-see Grand Palace and the notorious red-light district. For nature lovers, northwestern Thailand is where it’s at, but the beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters and luxe resorts of destinations like Phuket (the largest and poshest island) and Koh Samui are why couples make the long trek to Thailand to get hitched. November to January is the official “dry and cool” season, but heat and humidity are always present. Summer (from February to May) is the warmest, while the rainy season lasts from June to September, and you’ll get cooler temps from November to February.

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10 Reasons to Have a Destination Wedding

At some point in the planning process, every engaged couple entertains the idea of having a destination wedding — after all, who doesn’t get excited at the prospect of going somewhere gorgeous and unique to exchange vows? But at the same time, it can be daunting — can you actually pull off a destination do? Will your loved ones be supportive? If you find yourselves debating “should we or shouldn’t we?” or needing to convince some VIGs (very important guests) to embrace your decision?

Still undecided on whether or not you should plan a destination wedding?

Here are 10 reasons to take the plunge

  1. You can say “I do” anywhere! A destination wedding is defined as marrying at least 100 miles from where the bride currently lives. So imagine the options that definition opens up for you — the world really is your playground.
  2. You’ll stand out from the pack. More than 2 million American couples wed every year — and fewer than 25 percent of them have destination dos. Bonus: Wed away, and you won’t have to choose from the same old hometown spots all your friends have booked.
  3. It’s easier. Many wedding-worthy resorts offer free planning help to couples, whether the event is for two or 200, and an abundance of packages keep things simple while still giving options to customize. Want something more involved? Turn to an independent planner who specializes in more elaborate events.
  4. You can save on decor. With a destination wedding in a stunning setting, your location of choice supplies the theme, from castle fairytale, to sea-inspired soiree. And when you choose an amazing backdrop, it doesn’t take much to dress it up. Opt for a pristine beach, a tidy vineyard, a blooming garden or a historic plantation house furnished with graceful antiques, and you’ll be more than covered with a few simple florals and other modest accents.
  5. Enjoy quality time with loved ones. The standard wedding lasts for five hours, and the bride and groom spend most of that time running from table to table, trying to say hello to everyone. A destination do spans a minimum of three days — which means, now that you’ve finally gotten your nearest and dearest together, you can actually spend quality time with them! Hooray!
  6. It’s a great excuse to limit the guest list. The very nature of destination weddings — they require travel, a longer time commitment and hotel stays — gives you the perfect excuse to cut down on an often unmanageable number of invitees. Think the second cousins and office mates will be miffed? You can always throw a post wedding party, complete with plenty of photos, when you get back home.
  7. Guests can save on a vacation. Ask your host hotel about discounted room rates for your guests; most resorts are more than willing to bargain in exchange for group business. Some airlines, such as United and American, offer discounted airfares for groups of 10 of more — on the latter, this is true even if your guests are departing from different gateways. And ultimately, your friends will have a blast! Destination weddings give friends and family that most valuable commodity: downtime — to kick back, connect and celebrate. And what’s more fun than that?
  8. You’ll share a locale you love. Part of the joy of a destination wedding is showing off a place that has special meaning to you, be it bringing friends and family back to a beloved college campus, sharing where you took your first vacation as a couple or finally going to a locale you’ve always dreamed of visiting.
  9. Flexible timing helps with budgeting. You’ll be at your destination for a few days, so work with your vendors to see how timing can trim costs. After all, if everyone is already there, you can wed on a Friday, a Sunday or even a Tuesday — what does the day of the week matter in paradise? Look at seasonality too. Many Caribbean hotels drop their prices dramatically in mid-April; by planning your wedding for May, you can get the same great digs for a fraction of the price paid by visitors a few weeks earlier. Likewise, mountain resort towns offer big savings in spring and fall.
  10. You can start the honeymoon early. Just arriving at your destination is sure to put you in a relaxed mood as the pre-wedding festivities begin. Many hotels offer automatic upgrades to the bride and groom on their wedding night, and you may be able to negotiate an extended minimoon at a reduced rate after the guests have gone home.
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