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Ian Stuart: Synchronized Styles

Same-sex weddings present quite the challenge when it comes to deciding what to wear. Unless there is an obvious Albin/Georges, Portia/Ellen dynamic in your relationship, where distinct feminine/masculine roles will be taken, you need to collaborate on your attire. Whether that involves a conversation with some guidelines or meticulous coordination, be sure you communicate with one another, or risk turning up at the altar looking like twins who haven’t outgrown wearing matching outfits.

One of my most memorable experiences as a designer was helping a lesbian couple coordinate their dresses. They wanted to keep the traditional element of surprise while sharing the special experience that is shopping for your wedding dress. They began by choosing a designer that they both like the style of—in this case me—and they put their trust completely in my hands. I was responsible for making them look like a coordinated couple, while helping them express their own personalities and individual style.

The first appointment was an informal chat between the three of us where I got an idea of what they both liked, and we threw some ideas around to make sure we were on the same page with a shared vision. The following appointments were done individually but consecutively, allowing them to share and enjoy the day with their beloved while keeping their wedding day ensemble ideas top secret, and helping me keep in the flow of the couple. I was able to tweak designs to suit each bride perfectly, alternating between them until I struck the perfect balance for both dresses.

I would recommend this process to any couple. It was enjoyable for everyone involved and the outcome was spectacular. Coordinating wedding dresses is creative, fun, and exciting. Here are my top 10 tips for selecting wedding day ensembles that beautifully complement one another.

  1. Be practical. If you both want to wear a big dress, is there room to stand side by side on your aisle? Can you embrace easily?
  2. Balance the silhouettes. Your dresses might have different details, but if they are exactly the same shape, they will look the same in photos, as subtleties don’t show up well on photos.
  3. Color, whether striking or pastel, is a great way to coordinate while looking completely different. You can tone in shades of the same color, or choose something different but
  4. Choosing gowns in the same fabric but different designs can look beautiful as it ties in texture, especially if there is no embellishment.
  5. Wearing gowns from the same designer is a great idea, as they will have the signature look of the designer. While not the same, there will that je ne sais quoi similarity that the untrained eye can’t identify, but the gowns will work so harmoniously together.
  6. Wear different necklines. Lots of wedding photos are from the waist up, and if you have the same neckline, it could look like you are wearing the same dress.
  7. Think about customizing, like taking elements from one dress design such as flowers, lace, or applique, and adding it to the other. These subtle additions will tie the dresses in without looking overtly matching.
  8. Try and select a coherent mood, theme, or era. If one bride wants boho and the other wants Disney princess, the contrast would be too jarring. Instead, try combining both themes into both dresses, or finding a mood that you both like.
  9. Have equal budgets. Quality is very noticeable in wedding dresses; a $500 dress could look like something you picked up at a fancy dress store bargain bin next to the intricate beauty of a $5,000 designer gown. Decide with your partner how much you each want to spend on your dresses. If that figure is very different, try to find one in between, or be savvy to find gowns that at least have a similar original recommended retail price. A sample sale for one of you could solve this problem.
  10. Wear different headpieces, veils, and hairstyles to put the finishing touch to
    your own style.

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