Q & A

Q. I want to show some skin but I don't want to go strapless—all of that tugging will drive me nuts. What are my options?

A. One of the best ways to show off a sexy décolletage is by wearing a cap-sleeve gown with a deep V-neckline. It skims your shoulders while keeping the upper arms hidden. You could also choose the anchoring elegance of a spaghetti-strap or halter dress, neither of which will fall down on the job.

Q. I'm worried about my train getting tangled before I walk down the aisle. How can I be sure it's straight?

A. Ideally, one of your bridesmaids should make a last-minute adjustment. But since they head down the aisle before you, you may have to ask your dad (or whoever is escorting you) to fluff out your train and make sure it falls evenly. You can also designate your wedding consultant or a friend to handle the job. After the ceremony, your honor attendant should straighten out your train before you head back up the aisle.

Q. I just got engaged and want to hit the bridal salons right away. Others are telling me that I should wait until my fiancé and I decide on a site. Who's right?

A. Assuming you've got enough time (your dress should be ordered at least six months before the wedding), hold off on the shopping trip until you choose a location, time of day and overall look for your celebration—they'll all affect the style you ultimately buy. For example, sequined and jeweled gowns work best for a formal evening affair (in a ballroom, perhaps), where you can be as glamorous as you like. During the day, when all that glitters can look out of place, opt for romance: A princess-line gown of lightly layered tulle or a lace sheath is the perfect choice for an afternoon garden ceremony. The bridal salons will be there whenever you're ready, so take the time and do some important decision-making beforehand. (Source: Brides magazine)

Q. I found the perfect wedding dress—but when I ordered it, the bridal salon insisted that I needed a dress that was two sizes larger than I normally wear. Are they trying to make me pay for extra alterations?

A. Don't freak out if the store orders a size 12 or 14 dress when you normally wear a 10—bridal designers size their dresses differently than your everyday clothes. To figure out what size you'll need, the store consultant will take your measurements and compare them to the designer's size chart to determine the best possible fit. When the dress comes in, alterations will make it fit like a glove. For an extra charge, some designers will make your dress "to measure," which means the fabric will be cut to match your exact bust, waist and hip measurements. This might be cost-effective if you're between sizes. Of course, some designers will custom-design and custom-make your dress, starting with a muslin prototype. This involves a larger investment of time and money, but the personalized final product may be worth it.

Q. How do I take care of my gown once the wedding is over? My mom says it has to be cleaned a special way.

A. In this case, Mother knows best. "A wedding gown is a very delicate garment, so it needs to be handled with the utmost care," points out Steven Saidman, of the Imperial Gown Restoration Company in Fairfax, Virginia. "This means having it cared for by an expert, who will use a special technique called hand-wet cleaning." During this method, the dress is immersed for a precise number of minutes in a bath of solvents tailored specifically to the fabric. While your neighborhood cleaners may be great at reviving workday wear, they may not be experienced with this process. "So if you take it to a regular cleaners, you run the risk of subjecting your dress to the solvents used on everyday clothes. They're too harsh for a wedding gown," says Saidman. To find a qualified bridal cleaner, ask your salon or dress manufacturer for recommendations. Check out Web sites like gown.com for additional information.

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