Grace & Lace

Brides choosing simple elegant dresses; capes add a sweeping a sweeping statement

The days of the ball-gown bride are fading away as many women migrate to simple, elegant dresses for their big day.

Some of the most popular designs this year include those with accents of subtle colors such as champagne, pale pink and pale blue.

“I think women got really into the big, puffy dresses a few years ago,” said Danyelle Bengochea, owner of Grey Pearl Bridal Gallery. “But they weren’t comfortable. So, all of a sudden you started to see them wanting different dresses for their reception. Women don’t want to deal with the second dress anymore. They want to be comfortable in their wedding dress.”

Intricate lace dresses are in, according to bridal boutique experts in the know.

“Lace can go either way,” said Annette Cirillo-Bergen, an owner at Couture Bride. “Some brides like to wear cowboy boots with their dresses and lace is perfect for that.”

While such gowns can be dressed up or down, we’re not talking about your grandma’s Victorian lace: lattice, floral and other patterns have freshened up these designs, which are sometimes elaborately dressed with beads hidden inside lace embroidery.

Mermaid dresses, unembellished or outfitted with beads and lace also are in demand at Celebrations Bridal. Fitting almost like a glove, the dresses accentuate a bride’s silhouette, enhancing curves to create a softer, more romantic look.

“Our most popular styles are definitely lace gowns with beaded detail,” said Patricia Parker, buyer and manager at Celebrations Bridal. “Fitted mermaid and trumpet styles are very popular. Brides are starting to prefer dresses with sleeves or straps and pretty back detail over strapless gowns. Another popular detail is the ruffled skirt, or horsehair hem detail.”

Romance meets elegance with wedding capes, which Bengochea said are drawing more interest from customers in recent months. Capes can be sewn to or thrown over wedding dresses as an accessory, invoking that fairy tale look. At Grey Pearl, where dresses can be custom-made, capes can be tailored to fit brides’ preferences.

Embroidered lace sleeves also are in vogue, providing some coverage with elegant detail.

“It’s a decorative thing. It’s not for warmth,” Cirillo-Bergen said. “A tulle sleeve with lace embroidery. Something more than just the strapless.”

Bengochea and Cirillo-Bergen agree that dress designs soon will return to a more classic, sleek look. “Think Carolyn Bessette,” Bengochea said. John F. Kennedy Jr.’s wife wore a simple bias-cut silk dress designed by then-unknown designer Narciso Rodriguez in 1996.

“I think going forward, we’ll see a little cleaner look, away from the texture of the lace,” Cirillo-Bergen said. “It’s not here yet, but it’s coming.”