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Lebanese Stylist Khalil Zein Shares 8 Rules Every Bride Should Follow When Picking Her Wedding Dress

If you love fashion, it’s likely you’re more than familiar with Khalil Zein. The Lebanese stylist—who’s worked with the likes of Nancy Ajram and Maya Diab—has a new project at hand, hosting the very first season of Say Yes to the Dress Arabia, the Middle Eastern edition of the iconic show that sees a host of brides-to-be find their perfect wedding looks. Playing now exclusively on StarzPlay, the series kicked off on February 11, with two episodes dropping each week.

Shot at Hazar Haute Couture in Jumeirah, Dubai, Say Yes to the Dress Arabia isn’t just a binge-worthy watch, it’s also full of inspiration for brides who are currently working on their big day. Sharing the journeys of 20 women between 23 to 50 years old from 12 different nationalities, the show seems to have something for just about everyone. “The brides I was styling on Say Yes to the Dress Arabia represented different cultural backgrounds and had distinct wedding themes, preferences, and personalities. Fortunately, my years of styling experience allowed me to effectively help each bride find a unique dress for her special day.” The Middle Eastern series also, of course, celebrates everything that makes the brides of this region special. “I’m proud we got to share the Middle Eastern culture and fashion with the rest of the world,” Zein says. “Arab women are truly unique and bold with their fashion. They always add a distinctive flair into everything they choose, ensuring that each look they pull together truly mirrors their personality. Arab women also have an innate love for extravagance and never shy away from experimenting and blinging up a look, which is truly a delight for stylists.”

Bride Dina Moukhmalji

Whether you’re a ‘more is more’ bride or prefer to say “I do” in an understated look that promises to become a family heirloom, Khalil Zein has your back. Below, the stylist shares his eight golden rules to picking the perfect wedding gown.

Set a budget

Wedding planning can be challenging, especially if you’re planning something as big as an Arab wedding! Remember, brides: your wedding dress won’t be the only thing you’re spending on. A budget will help ensure you don’t overspend on your gown and anchor your selection process.

A dress doesn’t have to cost a fortune to make a bride feel beautiful and special on her wedding day. However, being short financially due to wedding splurges is certainly not a great start to your married life.

Don’t panic if it takes time to find your dress

Having trouble finding your dress? Don’t fret! You are not the first to experience this. Maybe you’re trying styles that are not tailored to complement your body shape, or perhaps your judgment is clouded by the long list of unrealistic standards stemming from hours and hours of scrolling on social media.

If you’re feeling stressed, clear your mind and take a break to do things that make you feel calm. Hours and hours of fittings can be mentally and physically taxing. However, a relaxed mind will put you in the right spirit and sharpen your sense of decisiveness.

Consult a stylist if needed 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can start by consulting the stylist at your local boutique. They are likely to have an innate flair for fashion and, most importantly, experience managing different expectations—including yours. So when in doubt, seek for advice.

Bride Makenzie Landeros

Don’t be afraid to say yes to the first dress you love

If sparks flew the moment you tried on that first dress, don’t be afraid to say yes to it! Trying on a choice of dresses is commonly recommended, but it can sometimes overcomplicate things, especially if the bride is unsure of her own personal style. So, if you can truly envision yourself walking down the aisle in the first dress you tried, I say you’ve just met your sartorial match.

Be open to stepping out of your comfort zone

Even if you’ve curated a mood board for your ideal wedding look, it is important to keep your options open. Some dresses may look good on others, but may not complement your personality and body type. While some styles may not have stood out while you were internet browsing for inspiration, you may be pleasantly surprised when you see the dress in person and actually try it on. 

Pick your entourage wisely

Choosing the wedding dress is a very personal and intimate experience. When choosing your bridal entourage, pick people who respect you and your personal style, and who are honest about their opinion without raining on your parade. More often than not, brides are compelled to invite family members who can be hypercritical. In fact, you’ll see this in some episodes of Say Yes to The Dress Arabia too. In such situations, it’s key to invite your closest comrades who will help you keep everyone, and their opinions, in check. Remember: this is your big moment, so trust your instinct above all else.

Bride Sabrine Abusabaa

Make sure your dress fits your wedding theme 

You cannot wear a black dress if your wedding theme is classic. Similarly, you cannot wear a summery dress if you are getting married in the thick of winter and risk freezing into a block of ice before you can even say “I do”. Your wedding theme should be the backbone of your fittings, and inspire your selection process when choosing your gown’s color, shape, texture, and cut.

And most importantly, stay true to yourself, no matter what others say

Overwhelming stress usually kicks in due to too many outside opinions that blur your vision. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that your wedding day is your special moment. Do what feels good to you, and never compromise on your dreams. We have our intuitions for a reason, so use it as your guide and design your wedding dress according to what feels right to you.

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