What I learned being a bridal model for a day

A friend of mine once mused about whether it could be fun to go try on bridal gowns for fun somewhere just to see what it was like. It was the episode of Friends where Phoebe, Rachel and Monica sat around in dresses that sparked this conversation. But knowing that bridal consultants work on commission and you need appointments for a fitting, this idea never came to fruition because we know better than to waste the time of hard working individuals making a living just to feed our avid fantasy life.

But then last week I was asked to fill in for a model friend at something called Bridal Market. Not familiar with it? Neither was I! But apparently Bridal Market is an event held in different cities and serves many purposes. Brides to be can attend runway shows and pick out their dream dress. Bloggers and fashion editors can ascertain what the new styles in bridal couture are and then report on it. And finally designers can showcase their new collections to store owners and buyers. That’s where I was able to partake.

In short? I got to play dress up and be a princess for a day. Which is definitely as amazing as it sounds because it was the equivalent of living out episodes of both Friends and Sex and The City (don’t worry I wasn’t fashion roadkill) and feeling like a Disney princess. But I also learned SO much! It was truly one of the most fun learning experiences of my life. And here’s what I took away.

Being a bridal model was actually a huge body image boost

I would have thought the opposite! But a lot has to do with the designer I modeled for. I’ve always felt self conscious in strapless dresses because I don’t fill out the bust. When he was helping me into my first gown, I was completely in love with it but apologized to him for not having the body to do it justice. He immediately dismissed my deprecating comments as “nonsense” and told me all women have beautiful bodies and should wear what they want with confidence. A thing that I should already know! But it’s so easy to pick at your personal flaws, sometimes we need a reminder to stop and how rad to hear someone in the fashion industry promoting that message as well?

Social media is HUGE in the bridal world

Brides are searching Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and and variety of other platforms in search of the perfect dress. One of the buyers for my designer’s gowns was actually snap chatting me in different ones to get an immediate reaction from potential customers at his bridal store.

A designer can literally create anything you want

I was always under the impression that you tried on a bridal gown sample, you picked one and then using your measurements, your dress was created specifically to your exact size. While that’s true, a designer can also alter, add or subtract things to make a dress uniquely yours. Love the dress but want a slightly higher neckline? They can do it. Love the way a dress fits but want a little more beaded detail on the skirt? They can do that too. Unless it’s structurally impossible to do (i.e. Your dress won’t stay up) the designer wants you to have absolutely everything you want, which fits the fairy tale we all want this experience to be.

They want to showcase their dresses on diverse bodies

Many fashion runway shows operate under using a model’s body that can best emulate a hanger to display their clothes. Not at bridal market. These designers know their clientele and want them to be able to look at their dresses and be able to picture themselves in it. One such designer was Katerina Bocci whose brochure is full of beautiful models who not only look fantastic in her dresses but also like one of your besties.

Modeling is actually kind of exhausting

I know I know, champagne problems right? But I have so much more respect for models than I would have realized. I was on my feet in heels for more than ten hours, making rapid quick fire changes, smiling and posing and biting my tongue from gushing about how much I loved each dress. You’re there to make the dress look as incredible as possible and assist the designer in sales and getting press coverage for their collection, and I found that I almost took it a little personally when a buyer would say “hmmm not sure about this one.” And as for photos? Shoulders back, but drop them down more, head up, chin out, a little more, turn slightly sideways, hands on hips, fingers slightly spread apart, no no not that much, soft hands ok perfect, now look directly into the light. I was continually shocked to see how natural each photo looked when these positions felt TOTALLY unnatural and uncomfortable. So kudos to all the models striking a pose and looking they’re just casually hanging out.

In the end, I wouldn’t wish for a model life, but getting a peek at what it was like and playing princess for a day was still a great deal of fun. And if I decide to get married someday? I now have a great deal of insight as to the kind of dress I would want. Even if I never get married? It was fun to play pretend for a day.

[Photo via author]