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Final Details: Getting Dressed & Getting Around in Your Gown

Putting on a wedding gown isn't like putting on any old dress. It's at least a two-person job, so take heed of these tips to get into and get around in your gown.

You're probably already aware that your wedding gown is unlike any other piece of clothing. Likewise, the way you put it on and maneuver around in it is unlike the way you wear the rest of your wardrobe. Know this: Getting dressed on your wedding day is at least a two-person job. Arm yourself with this advice:

Assemble the Accoutrements

When getting dressed, the main goal is keep your gown clean. You'll need to have a few things ready: a clean white sheet, your garter, and your shoes. If your gown needs to be slipped over your head, have a scarf on hand; if your gown has a lot of buttons, make sure you have a crochet hook to help pull the loops over them. Keep a clean white towel on standby, as you'll need it to cover the front of your dress when drinking or eating before you depart.

Step Right In

When it's finally time to get dressed, place the sheet on the floor and set your shoes down on top of it. Put on your garter if you have one, then unzip or unbutton your gown and position it over your shoes. Have your mom or an attendant hold the dress open and support you, as you slowly step into it one leg at a time, placing your feet in your shoes as you do so. If you have a sheath or other style of gown that you must slip over your head, put your shoes on first and use the scarf to cover your face to avoid makeup smudges. Have your mom or an attendant zip or button the gown.

Brace yourself: Going to the ladies' room is also a two-person job.

Get Into Position

Examine the gown to make sure every fastening has been secured, every inch is lying smoothly, and there are no last-minute smudges or spots. If you need to sit down for a moment before hitting the aisle, perch on a backless stool with your gown fluffed out around you--not scrunched under you. If you can't find a backless stool, pull your gown up before you sit, and ask an attendant to drape your train over the back of the chair. Drape the towel over your bodice before applying last-minute face powder or taking sip of water. Finally, turn towards a full-length mirror and take a long moment for yourself to revel in how simply stunning you look.

Master Moves

As you move around it's important that you gently lift your gown to avoid last-minute tears and stains. To do so, bend just a tiny bit at the knees and softly gather a piece of your skirt in each hand (if you carelessly grab a fistful of fabric, you'll wrinkle it). Then slowly lift your skirt off center and away from the ground. If your dress is super-full or designed with a train, try not to walk or step backwards (again, you'll risk ripping the fabric). Instead, reach behind you and delicately lift the back of your skirt with your hand, or enlist the help of an attendant. When you reach your destination, simply drop the skirt behind you and it will naturally fluff itself out as you take your first few steps.

From Here to There

If you're driving to a different location for your ceremony, you'll need to get in and out of the car slowly, taking care to avoid greasy door locks, dirt, and dust. You should also avoid sitting on the back of your gown; pull it up behind you and lean forward in your seat. Even when the ceremony is over, you'll still need to take care when moving around in your dress. After all, you've got pictures to take and a long reception to make it through! If you plan to take pictures outside, have an attendant bring along a pillowcase so you won't have to sit or stand directly on the ground and suffer grass stains.

Do the Bustle

Decide in advance when you'll bustle the train. Though some brides wait until after the first dance, most choose to bustle their train after the ceremony (sweep trains, detachable models, and train-free gowns are of course the exception here). It helps to have a designated bustler like a wedding consultant, family member, or maid of honor who has accompanied you to your last fitting to learn the ins and outs of your gown. Once you've been bustled on the big day, have the bustler check to make sure the entire hem of your gown is even, and that the fabric drapes gracefully (but not so fully that you can't sit comfortably).

Train Transportation

For those of you who want to wait to bustle until after the first dance, your bustler will need to take charge of your train in the meantime. She will need to help you in and out of the car, drape your train over your chair when you sit, and help transport it when you walk. Another option is to attach a loop to your train that you can slip over your wrist, allowing you to carry it all night.

Forget About Modesty

Brace yourself: Going to the ladies' room is also a two-person job. You may want to ask your bustler to pitch in here, too, for help in lifting your gown. Note to those of you in big ball gowns: don't be shocked if you actually have to step out of your gown altogether for that trip to the toilet.

Manners Matter

When you get to your reception and start making the rounds, don't forget all that great advice your mom gave you. You know -- stand up straight, keep your shoulders back, don't chew gum, watch your language, put your napkin in your lap, and smile. Of course, that last one will probably come naturally. So take a deep breath and savor this magical moment. Don't worry so much about your dress. You've spent months planning your wedding -- now it's time to enjoy it.

-- Hollee Actman Becker

See More: Wedding Dress Shopping