Are you planning to hit the dance floor for your entire wedding reception? Then you'll probably want to choose a comfortable, lightweight wedding dress that won't get in the way. To better understand what a bride-to-be should look for in a party-ready bridal gown, we talked to two designers and one planner. Here, their tips on the best wedding dress styles, fits, and fabrics for brides who really want to bust a move.
Look for light fabrics.
Catherine Kowalski, founder and designer of Catherine Kowalski Bridal, says to look for free-flowing fabrics that move with your body. "Think tulle, chiffon, and charmeuse—the lighter the better!" she says, adding that these fabrics photograph especially well. Thicker materials like satin, silk mikado, and brocade will weigh you down, making your moves appear awkward instead of adorable (plus, these thicker fabrics may cause overheating on the dance floor).
Avoid anything too tight.
"Mermaid wedding dresses are infamously tight and hard to move in without feeling like you're going to fall flat on your face," says Kowalski. "Column dresses can also be difficult to really get down in, but a side or back slit definitely helps." For greatest mobility, avoid anything that cinches the knees or legs, and opt for A-lines and looser ball gowns instead.
Fortunately, there's still hope for brides dying to wear a super-tight trumpet wedding dress. New York City-based designer Paula Varsalona suggests working with a tailor to perfect your alterations. "Most gowns can be modified to allow for movement," she says. "For example, we add proper boning and lining to ensure the gown stays exactly where it should. We also customize our gowns by adding things like spaghetti straps that the client may need when it's time to dance!"
Buy a second dress.
Naturally, short dresses, rompers or jumpsuits, and skirts with slits give the biggest range of motion—but most women don't want to walk down the aisle in these casual options. One of Kowalski's favorite solutions: purchasing a second wedding dress! "With two dresses, you can wear your big dream dress through the ceremony and dinner, and then switch into something lighter to dance the night away," she says. She recommends a wrap dress in a drapey fabric with a well-placed slit. Another solution would be adding a detachable skirt to your dress for the ceremony, then removing it for the reception.
Bustle your train.
Trains make any gown inherently bridal, but they aren't friendly for the dance floor. This explains why most dresses with trains need a bustle (a device like a button or ribbon that lifts the train for easier movement). Every dress will have a different style of bustle, so it's vital to understand the bustling process for your particular garment says Kaitlin Donaldson, junior planner at Jennifer Zabinski Events. "If you're not going for a super long train, another great option is a finger loop on the interior hem of the skirt, which keeps your dress from dragging on the floor and getting dirty," she adds.
Practice Makes Perfect
While it may sound silly, brides-to-be should practice dancing in their wedding dress and shoes. That way, you'll know the moves to make—and the moves to avoid—on your big day. You can also enroll in dance lessons before the wedding to increase your confidence. "You can wear your gown during your lesson so your instructor can teach you how to move properly and safely," says Varsalona.
Get yourself space.
If someone steps on your wedding dress, you might trip and fall on the dance floor. Avoid this disastrous situation by keeping a safe distance around yourself. "When wearing column and mermaid dresses, your range of motion is limited, so it's best not to attempt any big moves," adds Kowalski. "Take it slow, since it's so easy to catch the lining of your gown and trip yourself."