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Behind-The-Scenes Series #7 | Featuring Atlanta Wedding Dress Designer, Bekah Bea

If you have been following my weekly facebook live series, I've been sharing wedding tips each week and covering various topics. This week I had a very sweet friend and talented artist as my guest. Bekah Bratton - the dressmaker behind Bekah Bea Bridal.  You can find our video chat here. Now I'm going to hand over the reins to Bekah and let her do her thing! 

Hello everyone! My name is Bekah Bratton and I’m a custom wedding dress designer and dressmaker currently working in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been sewing since I could dress my American Girl dolls around 7 years old. My background is in Dance and Theatre Costuming and I have made roughly 350 tutus.  I do custom alterations and complete customizations of Bridal and Bridesmaid dresses. Today i'm sharing 10 things nobody tells you about wedding dress shopping. 

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Top 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Wedding Dress Shopping!

     Wedding dress shopping should be one of the most thrilling adventures of your adult life.  You bring the mom, the aunt, maybe the grandma, and all the girls. You get some champagne, tell your stylist all about your hopes and dreams & pull up the photo you’ve been drooling over for months. Then, reality starts to set in as dress after dress just isn’t cutting it & the label sizes are making you emotional, because there’s “no way that’s your size”. This skirt is just perfect, but that top part isn’t what you imagined, or, that top fits you like an ever-loving dream but the skirt is stupid and “why would anyone put this whole dress together.”  Or, mom hates that one because “she’s my princess and a bigger skirt would just be perfect!” and grandma is shocked by the amount of skin that is being shown! Then, maybe your stylist starts giving suggestions about the designer being able to combine your favorite top and skirt, but it will be a “custom” job and will take longer to order, and will, of course, cost a lot more. We’ve all seen the shows & we know how much energy and emotional effort it takes to find that “perfect” dress for your wedding day; it can be overwhelming and break down the most confident of brides. This compilation is intended to help you let go of that ‘overwhelming’ feeling and give you tips and advice no one ever tells you until you’re in the thick of it!

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1. That Number on the Label Doesn’t Mean a Thing.

That’s right, a “12” by one designer may be exactly the same measurements as a “6” by another one.

{A little history: It wasn’t even until the 1940’s that sizes even existed.  Before that, the number on clothes corresponded with ages (i.e. a size 8 was for an 8 year old) and adult sizes were based on the bust measurement. A preliminary “size chart” was created post war, but it wasn’t broad or inclusive enough. So, in 1958, The National Bureau of Standards created the scale that we consider was the “original” sizes 8 through 38 and these stayed pretty consistent until about 1983 when ‘vanity sizes’ emerged. In 1995, this scale was completely thrown out and designers were allowed to create their own sizes.

Humbling note: everyone’s favorite ‘hourglass figure’, Marilyn, wasn’t actually a size 12. Because of all the size changes and standard inconsistencies, her measurements are more like a size 6 in 2017 - not a 12 like the Pinterest posts claim}

 

2. Buy the Size You are NOW!

We all have great intentions to lose a couple pounds before the wedding day.  {Believe me: I am your biggest cheerleader and supporter all the way}  In all honesty, you probably will lose some weight - the season you are about to walk into has stressors you’ve never experienced before & your body will react. Because of this, you may lose weight, gain weight or stay exactly the same AND THAT IS 100% OK!!  

DRESSES CAN ALWAYS BE TAKEN IN - letting them out is not easy & is sometimes impossible!

 

3.  Alterations are Standard

Speaking of dresses being taken in...there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’, the dress you buy will need to be altered in some way, shape or form.  When you look at the price tag - don’t forget that alterations are not included and will need alterations.

BONUS: You don’t have to have your alterations done at the same store where you made your purchase. Before I went into business for myself, I had gone through the hiring process at a major chain store.  One of the things I was told and was all over the paperwork and training videos is that the alterations specialist was not allowed to ‘change the integrity of the dress purchased’ - meaning, I would have been allowed to take in side seams and take up the hem, but couldn’t change a neckline or the shape of the skirt. So, if you want your dress customized (which I highly recommend to make it yours and only yours), try taking it to an alterations specialist outside the store - like me!

 

4. Try ONE Thing On Completely Opposite of What You Think You Want.

This may seem ridiculous or like a waste of time, but, sometimes we, as women, get so caught up in those ‘shapes’ that we gravitate toward & make us comfortable. Do yourself a favor and pick something that you always thought would ‘never look good on me’ and just try.  Even if all you end up doing is laughing or relieving some stress & tension, you won’t regret it.

 

5. You Don’t Have to Say YES on Day 1.

If you’re like me, you’ve seen the shows and think you know what is best for whichever bride is on the platform at the time - but your dress is for YOU!  You may have been planning for years and years and KNOW what you wanted to look like walking down the aisle, or you may just be starting to realize you need to probably be wearing clothes that day!  Either way, the pressure is off. You aren’t trying to choose your dress in a 30 minute segment on tv. Weigh all of your options, sleep on it, you can say YES tomorrow!
 

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6. Your Voice is the Most Important.

I will go with the delicate approach on this one.  We all have people in our lives whose voices have shaped ours and continue to speak to us. We want our moms, grandma’s, aunt’s or best friends with us to help us shop and decide. But on YOUR wedding day, it’s YOU wearing the dress, they are YOUR photos that you keep for the rest of your life. Sometimes we feel pressure because a relative is helping pay or maybe fully paying for aspects of your wedding and we have decided that their contribution means they should get to decide some of the details.  I promise you - all they want is for you to be happy and see your dreams come to life. They love you.

BONUS: When I meet with brides, I have a rule that the first conversation we have is just between the two of us - no relatives or fiance’s allowed. My biggest desire is to hear YOUR voice and to make sure the things you want come are top priority in every future conversation or appointment.

 

7. You are Allowed to Change Your Mind

The stylist may not like it, your mom may roll her eyes & you may lose a deposit...but, I’m giving you permission to change your mind.

BONUS: You don’t have to buy your dress a year in advance. I’ve seen bride after bride get so excited and run straight to the store the day after they get a ring on that finger and buy the dress they’ve “always dreamed of” only to see them 3 months before their wedding day really doubting their decision. (Here’s where I will highly recommend going for custom, because, dressmakers like myself, don’t need 6 months to order your dress from their factory overseas. Mostly, I just need about 3 months to go from a bolt of fabric to your walk down the aisle & you can get exactly what you really want)

 

8. Test The Limits

We all have that body part that we just love and are super proud of - right?! You KNOW you do!

Be confident of your body and when trying things on, put it to the “Movement Test.”  If you have great hips and love your ‘assets’ - make sure to try SITTING in the dress {especially if you want to try on a Mermaid or Trumpet style}. Or, if you are going for strapless or a little neckline plunge - lift your arms over your head and maybe do a dance move or two in front of those multiple mirrors. {You don’t want to be dancing away and realize the top is slowly slipping down!!} Keep in mind that even though a lot of a ceremony and reception consist of standing, you will hopefully get to sit for dinner and maybe a dance break or two.  Comfort is key so try Sitting, Twirling, Hugging & even Squatting {for greeting those tiny humans in attendance} Remember - Photos will be taken at all angles {and who doesn’t love a good dance floor candid} - so maybe make sure you find a dress that stays where it is supposed to and you won’t mind wearing for 8-12 hours!

 

9. A Little Luxury Never Hurts.

It may only be one day of your life & we all can agree that the longevity of your marriage is more important than the wedding day itself, but, it’s ok to really want that beaded belt or that cathedral length veil. If, after the perfect photo is taken and you are still feeling guilty about the money, you can always reuse or repurpose pieces. {I’ve even cut a dress off at the knees and the bride kept it as a cocktail dress - which she wears still!}

 

10. You Really Do Get What You Pay For.

Be careful in your shopping. Many of the chain stores with their cheaper price tags can sell so low because they have factories over seas, which is also why it takes 6 months to get your dress in. If you want to be more ethically conscious, I recommend buying from the sample dresses or ones they are trying to clear off the floor and take it to an alterations specialist who can take the dress and make it fully custom just for you.  Please keep this point in mind for all vendors. We work extra hard to make sure you are getting everything you dream of & deserve. Some of us are priced a little higher, but we promise that we will take the best care of you and your special day as possible.

 If you can’t seem to find what you are looking for in the stores or have found something that needs a little love and customizing, I would love to help you! Or, if you want to create a dress completely from scratch - let’s start dreaming!! 

Thank so soooo much Bekah for sharing these amazing tips with readers! You can follow Bekah's latest work on Instagram. Or contact her on her website here with any dress questions or dreams! - Audrey Grace