Finding a wedding dress for a Jewish wedding doesn’t need to be stressful
Finding the perfect traditional Jewish wedding dress is not an easy task. When I was looking for my own wedding dress years ago, I had certain specifications I was set on. I had this idea in my head of my “perfect” dress. I wanted it to be a princess gown with long sleeves and lace. I quickly realized that short of getting the dress custom made (which required more time than I had), I wasn’t going to find what I wanted. I had the added pressure of ours being a traditional orthodox sephardic wedding, so my dress had to meet certain requirements: specifically, my arms had to be covered. I learned pretty quickly that although it isn’t impossible to get exactly what you want, you should go into this process with an open mind. The most important takeaway? Be aware that dresses look different on the hanger than they do on your body.
If you are having a religious jewish wedding or just want a more conservative look, there are several sleeve options available. If you are unsure whether or not you have specific requirements for your type of wedding then you should ask your rabbi or officiant beforehand.
Capped or Short-Sleeves
If you are unable to show your shoulders at the wedding, there are still plenty of options for Jewish wedding dresses that are beautiful and elegant. One of the easiest options is to choose a dress that has capped or short sleeves. This can be a very romantic look, while adding some coverage. This kind of sleeve is especially elegant when there is lace or beading and can really add style to the dress.
If you feel the need or have the requirement to go more conservative, you may want to consider three-quarter or long sleeves on the gown. Although this might seem like an inhibiting requirement, there are beautiful styles that are sexy while also cover you up. Consider having the sleeves be lace to make them less bulky, or to have delicate flowers sewn on the body of the gown to take attention away from the sleeves.
Add a Jacket
If you have a dream of wearing a plunging neckline or a strapless dress, you can always wear a shawl or jacket over it for the ceremony. While shopping, ask your store clerk if there are matching jackets or shawls or feel free to mix and match. Many designers now create jackets or shawls to go over dresses. In my opinion this is a great option (and the one I chose myself in the end).
Here are some additional tips for wedding dress shopping:
• Know yourself – be prepared to try on as many or as few dresses as you think are necessary. Some women only need to try on a few dresses to know which is “the dress”. While others may need to go to a lot of different bridal stores and try on many dresses to find the right fit and style.
• Don’t bring too many people when you are looking for your dress. One or two is enough. You don’t need many conflicting opinions that are going to confuse you or make you doubt what you want. This is your wedding and you need to be comfortable and happy with your dress choice. On that note, don’t bring someone whose opinion you know will conflict with yours. It will only cause stress that you don’t need during this special time.
• Give yourself plenty of time to look for a dress. Most bridal gown shops require you to order your dress 6 months in advance. After setting a wedding date, dress shopping will be top priority. Of course there are exceptions such as shopping at a thrift shop or buying something off the rack that doesn’t need to be ordered. (These are great options as well, but you will need to be more open-minded about specifications).
Most of all, have fun! It’s always fun to play dress up and this is a chance to try on many different types of looks until you find the right fit!
The most important part of the wedding dress shopping experience is not to stress out. This is only one part of your wedding. Take the time to enjoy getting dressed up and pampered, try out different options, and choose the right dress for you. You will look beautiful no matter what!