Once you have found the perfect gown based on your style, figure, budget and level of formality of the wedding you still have some important decisions to make. The size you order is very important. If you have a knowledgeable Bridal Consultant who has helped you in the process of choosing the perfect dress you will be wise to consider her advice where the size is concerned.
The usual procedure for ordering your wedding gown in a full service salon once it has been chosen is to first choose a size. Your measurements will be taken by your consultant. Each designer or manufacturer provides the salon with a size chart. Unless you are ordering a gown that provides custom measurement options you will need to choose one of the standard sizes listed on the chart. Most gowns are available in longer lengths and some also offer petite or extra length. Some manufacturers will custom make the gown to your length requirement for an extra fee. In this case it is important that the person measuring has a fair amount of experience in taking these measurements as an error can be catastrophic.
Typically the measurements that need to be taken are Bust, Waist and Hip plus Hollow to Hem length if you are even close to 5'7" for choosing from the manufacturer's standard size chart, as most gowns are made for that height. It is important to order the size closest to your measurements. Keep in mind that it is much easier for the seamstress to take the gown in (make smaller) than it is to let it out (make larger). Usually a gown has enough extra fabric in the seam structure to make it a full size larger and a size smaller is usually possible as well. If the measurements are perfect for a size 10 in the bust and hip measurement but the waist is one inch off, larger or smaller, you would most likely be safe to order that size 10.
Often the size chart will reflect a size different from your usual size in ready to wear clothing that you would purchase at your favorite casual wear store. It is important to focus on the measurements not the number. If you tried the dress on in the salon and it fit perfectly but the size chart indicates a size larger, this is not unusual because the dress in the salon has, in some cases, been tried on hundreds of times and often zipped when it shouldn't be zipped! This stretches the gowns slightly and you will have to use your judgment. Another consideration is that some designers use "finished garment" measurements and others use the actual body measurements. This is where your experienced consultant comes in once again.
If you are ordering a gown on line, you may consider having your measurements done by an experienced Bridal Seamstress. If you do it without a seamstress, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer having someone else measure you standing up straight in a relaxed manner, don't hold your breath!
After many years in Bridal Fashion and Wedding Planning, I assure you, the bridal salon owner wants nothing less than for you to have a gown come in and zip up for a perfect fit! We all know this doesn't happen as often as we would like, but I can tell you that almost every fit "issue" has a solution in the hands of an experienced Bridal Seamstress. See "Alterations" article.