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What to Wear When You're Expecting

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Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry married fiancé Olivier Martinez over the weekend in the French actor's home country. Us reports the pair initially exchanged vows in a civil ceremony with a local mayor, followed by a religious ceremony at the chapel on the grounds of Chateau des Conde in Vallery, France.

The wedding — Berry's third and Martinez's first — certainly is big news, but what's most exciting is that the couple will soon welcome their first child together (Berry is mom to a daughter, Nahla, with ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry). Full photos of Berry's wedding look have yet to appear, but the actress's baby bump has been on display, so it will be interesting to see how she styled herself for the big day.

Pregnant brides certainly are nothing new, but dress shopping with a bump in mind can pose its own set of unqiue challenges.

Here is a guide to what pregnant brides can expect when shopping for their dress:

Just because you’re in a family way doesn’t mean you have to forgo elegant bridal style on your big day.

If you’re in the early stage of pregnancy and your belly simply feels extra-squishy or is just starting to pop, you’ll likely be able to get away with wearing a “normal” wedding dress. Most fabrics should work if the bump is still tiny, but your best-bet styles are side-draped dresses, fit-and-flare or A-line cuts – anything with a waistline above the belly’s swell, says Rachel Leonard, fashion director for Brides magazine.

As for mother-to-be brides that are further along, Jessica Iverson, owner and designer for Maternity Bride by Jessica Iverson Couture, recommends maternity wedding gowns featuring an empire waist and corset back. “The empire waist provides enough room through the skirt for growing bellies, while the corset helps accommodate a growing bust and ribcage,” says Iverson, who was a pregnant bride herself.

Billowy skirts are clearly a comfortable choice for this stage, however, some brides may prefer to show-off their bump with fitted but soft ruching or draping, says Leonard. She also recommends V-necks and strapless gowns because they draw the eye up and accentuate the upper body.

When considering fabric, satin, taffeta or shantung should work just fine for more structured styles, says Iverson, while layered chiffon, tulle or organza are ideal for ethereal looks.

For the most flattering fit, look to tried-and-true designs from maternity brands like A Pea in the Pod or Maternity Bride – which also offers custom gowns and rentals – or maternity lines from designers like Sarah Houston (these dresses are usually cut longer in the front). And don’t forget to book an appointment with a seamstress for shortly after your dress is supposed to arrive, warns Iverson, just in case your bump expands faster than expected. — Anna Sachse

[Photo: Maternity Bride by Jessica Iverson Couture, iStock PhotoMaternity Bride by Jessica Iverson Couture]

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Tags: pregnant, maternity brides, maternity wedding dresses, halle berry