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Industry experts agree that this season’s hottest wedding fashions are sparkling, romantic and infused with vintage style.


Knowledge of current fashions helps ensure that you dazzle future brides and grooms with every consultation. So we’re offering our annual update on bridal fashion trends, with insights from two respected industry experts: Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings, and Marilyn Oliveira, editor for WeddingChannel.com.

Vintage Inspirations
For the last two years, we’ve reported on the glamorous vintage influences that have captivated designers and brides-to-be alike, and both Ms. Miller and Ms. Oliveira agree that these retro looks will continue to dominate this spring and summer.

While this type of gown is distinguishable by its vintage styling rather than a particular silhouette, Ms. Miller reports that vintage-look gowns will tend to be form fitting, such as the mermaid silhouette. Retro inspirations have begun to highlight other silhouettes. For example, Ms. Oliveira notes, the classic A-line is being designed with vintage details although she says the profiles are slimmer than those of traditional A-line gowns.

Often, vintage-look gowns are cut from flowy fabrics such as crepe and chiffon. This season, however, stiffer fabrics such as satin and taffeta also are coming into view.

Dramatic Details
Despite the popularity of slim fits, fuller skirts, including bubble skirts and full-skirted A-line gowns, are making a strong comeback. On many of these silhouettes, as well as on some of the slimmer styles, ruffles and layering are noteworthy skirt details for 2006. Layers are often accomplished with “pick-ups” of material gathered from below, which result in a flouncy, tiered look. The pick-ups are often trimmed with sparkling brooches, jewels or beading, adding to the glamour.

Pick-ups, ruffles and other detailing may envelop the skirt or be concentrated at the back, where, this season, designers are focusing special attention. “Brides are viewed from behind throughout much of the ceremony, so they want their backs to look as amazing as their fronts,” Ms. Oliveira explains. “There’s drama, with cut-outs and striking crisscross straps and other detailing.”

Regardless of the silhouette, bare shoulders remain the rage. Strapless gowns especially dominate this spring’s selections, but halters and spaghetti straps are visible as well. Designers also are exploring creative strap alternatives, including lace straps and tiny cap sleeves, which are often lace embroidered.

For some brides-to-be, though, Ms. Miller explains, “strapless gowns may be inappropriate in a house of worship.” Therefore, many opt for detachable sleeves that can be worn during ceremonies and removed for receptions. “Designers are making their lines very customized,” Ms. Miller says, “so brides can choose the same dress with or without sleeves and with or without sashes. And detachable sleeves are another option.”

Romantic Accents
As might be expected with vintage-infused fashions, accents and trims are important to achieving the look of a bygone era. As a result, retro-inspired jewelry, especially brooches and pins, often embellishes today’s gowns, usually at the neckline or waist but also on skirts, backs and trains.

In addition, Ms. Miller says, other types of accents— such as crystals, pearls and even feathers—contribute to the romantic allure. “‘Glam’ is definitely back,” she assures.

Beautiful needlework is another common embellishment and is today’s medium of choice for infusing hints of color. “Gold, pale blue and soft pink embroideries add just a bit of color and give brides the differentiation they so desire,” Ms. Oliveira explains.

She also mentions that, while brides like hints of color, dresses in all-over hues, especially the most bold hues, are not commonly selected. “They don’t want to look back at their weddings and realize how ‘trendy’ they were,” she notes.

However, Ms. Miller adds, bright white doesn’t enhance every skin tone, so some brides opt for a different yet subtle shade. “A blush pink or soft oyster may be more flattering for some,” she points out.

For hair adornments, both women agree that veils are still the mainstay and are often designed with detailing that matches the gown. However, jewels, combs, hairpins and tiaras, especially those of antique styling, are strong contenders this season and may replace the veil or be worn beneath it.

“Many brides want to remove their veils for their parties,” Ms. Miller shares, “so barrettes and combs elevate their hairstyles beyond their everyday looks.” Flowers worn beneath veils offer the same benefit, Ms. Oliveira points out, and are intended to be visible through the veiling during the ceremony.

Attendants Shine, too
Taking their cues from bridal gowns, bridesmaids’ fashions are showing some vintage influence as well as shimmer and sparkle with romantic jewelry, beading, sequins and more. Necklines also are reflective of today’s bridal fashions, with an abundance of strapless and halter styles as well as cap and flutter sleeves on the market.

According to Ms. Miller, these dresses’ retro appeal impacts the color palette for spring and summer, which, though mostly paler and pastel, is also a bit muted. “The colors are more appropriate for vintage-inspired looks,” she explains.

While many brides-to-be this season will choose the glamour and drama of full-length gowns for their attendants, elegant tea-length and shorter styles will grace the aisles as well, depending in part on the type of retro styling brides are seeking. Separates remain popular choices. And Ms. Oliveira notes another trend in bridesmaids’ fashions: “Designers are making lots of styles available in the same colors, so brides select a swatch and allow attendants to choose from a coordinating group of gowns in that color.”

Floral Expressions
Bouquet choices also reflect today’s vintage trends. For hand-tied designs, which both experts agree are still the bouquets of choice, Ms. Miller suggests that decorative or personal effects may be incorporated.

“A bride may wrap the stems with her grandmother’s handkerchief or with a piece of her mother’s veil,” she explains. “Or she may tuck a family heirloom, such as a locket, among the flowers, so she can view it as she walks down the aisle.”

While compact bouquets remain popular, the retro appeal suggests a future for more dramatic designs that echo the glamorous gowns’ old-fashioned grandeur. Regardless of brides’ chosen bouquet styles, Ms. Miller and Ms. Oliveira agree that brides prefer readily available, in-season blossoms.

However, as a recent photo spread in Martha Stewart Weddings illustrates, uncommon elements, especially botanical materials and shimmering jewels and beads, are gaining importance. Layers of cockscomb, for example, may mingle with premium blooms; herbs and other unexpected foliage may accessorize all types of blossoms; and diminutive fruits such as dates and kumquats can add texture and complete vibrant color palettes. The choices are almost limitless.

Whatever the floral selections, Ms. Miller says the bottom line for all event details is that brides and grooms want their weddings to be personal expressions of themselves. If your floral suggestions help them accomplish that, then you’re sure to be a smash hit this wedding season and beyond.

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