Bride and joy: Limitless options allow gowns to be tailored to your personal style

More than ever, brides want a dress that reflects their own distinctive style, rather than tradition. And why not, especially with all the new choices available?

“The most important thing for brides right now is to be individuals,” said Danyelle Bengochea, owner of the Grey Pearl bridal shop in Las Vegas. “They want something they haven’t seen someone else wear.”

Patricia Perker, manager and buyer of Celebrations Bridal in Las Vegas, sees the same independent streak among her customers.

“Gone are the days when brides want to mimic a certain celebrity or royal,” Perker said. “Brides do come in with pictures of dresses they see on Pinterest or Instagram. That’s just a starting point. They don’t want to feel like they’re copying someone.”

While shades of white — including ivory and champagne — remain perennially popular, some modern brides are stepping down the aisle in pastels, smoky greys and even black.

And today’s embellishments extend far beyond lace and pearls. Gowns adorned with light-catching crystals, glittering sequins and flowing feathers have made their way from New York’s fashion runways to bridal shops across America. These festoons elevate dresses with sleek, simple silhouettes, which are replacing the voluminous, poofy princess dresses popular in the past.

Easy-to-create custom gowns

“No two brides are the same, and their dresses should reflect their unique union,” Bengochea said,

One way to do that, she explained, is to select a dress with clean, modern lines that the bride can accessorize to her own taste.

“A silk crepe-fabric wedding dress is really popular, especially in Vegas, because the fabric is beautiful and breathable,” Bengochea explained. “The bride can decorate it to make a one-of-a-kind gown. She can pick the laces and details, like stones and crystals, with a focus on not being overly embellished.”

Those who don’t wish to create their own dress can select from a spectrum of stylish ready-to-wear designs. One of her most popular dresses this year, Perker said, features fitted lace with a low back and a plunging, scalloped neckline. The lace covers a stretch lining, which flatters most body types, she said. “It’s sexy, but not too over-the-top.”

Another popular choice is an updated ball gown with a sheer bodice and glittered tulle skirt. “It shows a bit of skin on top and the bottom can be sheer or you can ask for it be lined,” Perker said.

Other new bridal trends include Boho dresses with layered skirts, ruffles and embellishments — including eye-popping plumes. Feathers are in fashion, from mere accents on a sleeve to full-out frocks. Sheer, full-length capes covered in ruffles also are showing up, layered over lace column dresses.

Today’s color palette

“No one really wears diamond white, which is the color that people used to think about when mulling over wedding dresses,” Bengochea said. “Designers have a less-bright version now called natural white or ivory.”

Shades of white are far from the only acceptable choices for today’s brides.

“Blush has become a popular color, with pink undertones,” she said. Dove grey has seen a comeback, creating what fashion magazines describe as a “walking smoke” silhouette for the bride. Blue as an accent color is also in fashion.

“Many brides do ivory with some sort of champagne lace over them, which really makes the lace and details pop,” Perker said. Some brides want to make a bolder statement; some have asked Perker for red wedding gowns, as well as black.

“A red dress is traditional for many Asian brides,” she said. “As for black … it’s a different look — a very dramatic one.”

Plus-size brides shouldn’t worry about finding or creating their own dream gowns. “Many companies are even catering to plus-size brides,” Bengochea said.

For bridesmaids’ dresses, the color options are endless. White and ivory dresses are back in style for gal-pals, according to Bengochea. Such color coordination has historical roots. “Traditionally, brides and bridesmaids wore the same color so evil spirits could not ‘get’ the bride on her wedding day,” Bengochea said.

Jewel tones work well for bridesmaids during the fall, she said, even maroon, navy and darker emerald greens.

Black bridesmaids’ dresses make a striking statement, Perker said. “The groomsmen are in black suits or tuxes. A black bridesmaid’s gown is formal and elegant in the same way.”

In terms of cut, off-the-shoulder and column-style bridesmaid dresses are popular, Perker said. “They’re not skin tight, but fitted through the hips and then (run) straight down.”

They work for all body types, she said, and off-the-shoulder dresses cover the biggest part of the arm.

Beyond the dress

Brides also have more choices than ever for other elements of their wedding ensembles, notably veils and trains.

“For a while, brides were getting away from the veil,” Perker said. “Now that veils are back in fashion, they are long — even trailing past the train.”

Atop the veil, tiaras are still in vogue But brides searching for a different crowning approach can select from beaded and sequined headbands and side combs.

“They add a nice sparkle,” Perker said. “And when you take off the veil, you still have something pretty in your hair.”

As for trains, many brides say they don’t want a long one because they want to dance freely at their receptions, Perker said. A detachable train offers one solution. Remove it and the dress looks totally different, she said.

Some gowns incorporate two dresses in one, Bengochea said.

“Many brides love a reception change. For instance, there might be an overskirt on the dress that can be removed to reveal a slimmer dress underneath for dancing. You get the true bridal feeling for the ceremony and don’t have to worry about bustles later on,” she said.

“It’s the best of both bridal worlds.”

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