As the summer wedding season is about to shoot itself right out of a cannon, let's celebrate some memorable wedding gowns from the public (read: celebrity) realm. Why not? Inspiration comes from a million directions. [If you are a bride-to-be: try to let inspiration come from no more than a dozen directions. Just sayin....]
These are gowns that we've noted, tilted our heads to the side like a Lab puppy (and let's face it - DIED LAUGHING AT) more than once as a culture ,,,, and rightfully so. If you are under the age of 30, consider this part of your education in pop culture. You may need to Google some of these folks.
Katie Holmes was Tom Cruise's third wife and she was 16 years his junior .... still is, if math holds up, and we believe it does. He was 54 and she was studying for her finals in college. Kidding. The gown was gorgeous, designed and hand made by Armani.
This dress is amazing in that it is a completely original idea - or at least a take on a very old idea. Brides, especially royal brides, use symbolism in their gowns and veils to show family heritage. They sew in family crests, elements that represent their battles, triumphs, wealth, property, etc. While this post will contain no images of royals, I'll mention that Meghan Markle's veil in her wedding to Prince Harry had representations of all the flowers from each of the states in the royal commonwealth - a nod to the family she was joining.
When Angelina Jolie married Brad Pitt, she had their children's favorite drawings embroidered into her gown and veil so that they were all joined together that day. Regardless of how you feel about them and their breakup, the sentiment on that day is pretty sweet.
We included this dress, because of the scale of the entire outfit. There is ... just. so. much. to look at! Celine Dion (here's her wiki page, kids) wore everything but the kitchen sink. She reminds us of an ice princess with all of those crystals and diamonds and fur. Underneath, though, is one heckuva singer.
By contrast, here is former supermodel, Kate Moss. She wore a particularly lacy and clingy gown for her marriage in 2011. Designed by her longtime friend and designer John Galliano (pictured with her), her gown is sort of the definition of gossamer. Delicate and sheer, it appears to be a reference to her fame as a waif when she was most famous in the 1980s.
Jada Pinkett Smith wore velvet and silk. That lady sparkles, but our guess is that she was burning up in that thing. What else can you say. The marriage has lasted nearly 22 years, but the dress ... well, you make your own judgements.
The beautiful Carolyn Bessette Kennedy sadly passed away, along with her American royalty husband John F. Kennedy, Jr., before we would see her really become someone. This July will be 20 years since their small plane went down. She was known for her style and her wedding gown is the proof that she had an eye for cuts that worked for her.
Kim K was covered on her wedding day, in tons of figure-hugging fabric and lace. If you get married in Italy and can have 47 million blooms shipped in (we made up that number), you can wear whatever you like. Her first gown showed more skin, but this looks downright virginal.
Kaley Cuoco, of The Big Bang Theory fame got the job done in a lace pant suit. It's non-traditional and fun, if not for everyone. She looks happy!!
Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts, was once married to singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett and above is what she wore. Yup, she was barefoot and in a casual sheath dress. The marriage lasted 2 years, but the look has appeared on beaches everywhere. Keep it simple.
Whether you are going for princess, beach bunny, classic or over-the-top, our recommendation is that brides stay true to who they are and wear something that makes them look and feel amazing.
At Bridal Traditions, we have worked a long time trying to find the right suppliers and designers to work with in order to provide gorgeous dresses for prices that don't make brides wring their hands and settle for less. Or run screaming into traffic. Both bad options.
Just recently, we made it official: ALL of our current wedding dresses are priced under $1,000 and we actually have some under $200 that will bliss you out too. In today’s market, this is extremely difficult for boutiques like ours to do, so we could not be prouder.
So much of what we do at BT is about helping ladies "know thyself." If you know who you are and what you want, then the scope narrows to a select few things:
- cut of the dress;
- season when you marry;
- theme of your wedding;
- time of day for your ceremony;
- and cost.
If you order online or from a large retailer, you may get a lower price, but you don't get our time, our team and our dedication to your vision and so much of that is in those 5 items above. We are so excited to be able to offer all price ranges to our brides AND these gowns are elegant, fun and worthy of the occasion. Here is just a sampling.
Above: Designed to be artistic, add the V-neck front and embroidery, this dress is not a dress - it's a gown. Architectural in design but not structure. So think comfort and elegance.
Below: To sleeve or not to sleeve...... Some ladies love them, and they can create a classic look (think: Grace Kelly and Meghan Markle).
This gown, below, has a plunging neckline and fitted shape that will showoff the bride's figure, but it also has an interesting tiered skirt with lace details. It looks expensive and like a thoughtful girl chose it. It just doesn't happen to be $5K. Again, it's under $1,000.
All of these gowns are affordable and elevated in how they are constructed and designed, AND how they look on brides.
Above: This dress is perfect for a beach wedding or a casual summer outdoor wedding. It is under $200 and absolutely lovely. Beautiful fabric and cut and with a belt, it is bohemian too. Add freesia as part of a headpiece or garland for her hair or create a bouquet of wildflowers, put on Grecian sandals and you're ready.
Elements of mid-century modern, the Empire State building and fine art deco. This dress is The Great Gatsby. Beyond elegance.
Brides who wear a gown under $1,000 have money for the rest of their wedding, their honeymoon and their future.
Ladies: come in and see for yourselves. We are so proud of this collection of dresses.
The dress is the show-stopper at any wedding. Right? It just is. Unless you have The Rolling Stones or the Avett Brothers or Willie Nelson or ..... you get the idea ..... opening for your wedding, then the bride walking down the aisle in her gown is the show-stopper. It kicks off the wedding as an event. At BT, we focus on getting that right with our clients. In fact, sometimes, the dress - plus heels..... or decorated flip-flops, cowboy boots, Chuck Taylor's, glass slippers, etc - is all a girl needs. Hand her some flowers, point her toward the officiant and her future husband, gently push and say grace that everything else will go well.
But there is more, dear friends. Veils! The veils we get and sell at our boutique are so delicate, intricate, and exquisite that they will transport you back to Paris or a place where princesses were wrapped in elegance. As an accessory, they can make a dress into a bride's ensemble. All that to say: we have veils and our brides love completing their gown and look with a veil that doesn't compete, but enhances.
Bridal Headbands and Head pieces
More and more, we are seeing bride's who want to add a little something special to their locks after the stylist has had his or her way with them. Used with a veil or alone in a bohemian chic style, earthy lose braids or an elegant up-do, these head pieces are defining and gorgeous. Be they blossoms and floral designs with accompanying beads, groupings of flowers in gold, silver and sequins, there isn't a girl we've seen try these on who isn't instantly transformed from girl-to-be-married to woman and wife.
Necklaces, earrings and belts
These items clearly speak for themselves, but pulling together the right combination takes some thought and guidance. Big hair, big dress, big earrings, large belts, huge bouquet...... see where we're going? If big is your goal - go for it. But mostly, these items just accentuate the totality of your wedding ensemble. Sometimes less is more. This does not mean you don't need a belt, earrings or head pieces; but it does mean that you should pull the entire bridal look together. Brides who pull off all the elements in coordination with each other, without overdoing any, achieve the best photographs, feel the most comfortable and look spectacular. More on that at the end!
At BT, lace is everywhere, but often specific lace is chosen for veils and incorporated into a bride's theme or part of the family history she hopes to show on her big day. If there is a type of lace or pattern that you want added as an accessory, ask us and we'll work with you and our creative seamstress and other vendors to try to accommodate that request.
Whether a bride chooses to keep this part of her wedding day private and for her husband and herself or invite guests at the reception to participate, the garter is a tradition that has not flagged with time. We sell them. We love them. They're fun. These are accessories with staying power and when a dress is kept as part of gown preservation, the garter is usually kept too.
We see our brides come in wide-eyed and excited. Some of them have lists and have thought through every single element of their wedding ensemble. Those who haven't shouldn't fold into a fetal position. Find your style (we're here to help, girls!) and then build on it with careful, signature accessories that complete your look. Be you. Feel like you. It's your day, after all.
It ain't just pinning and hemming. . .
Sweet Brides-to-Be ~
This is Mama Kelly speaking. I love you and I'm excited for you. Planning a wedding is a big deal and of all the things you care about, your wedding gown is easily Number One. If that's not true, then skip to a blog about wedding venues or appetizers. But if having the right gown FIT YOUR BODY is important - read on, because I'm about to throw down some knowledge laced with a little tough love. I promise that if you read this and understand what I'm sharing, your dress fitting experience will be smooth sailing.
"The More You Know!"
> Altering a wedding gown is a process. A seamstress is literally fitting a gown to your body. She's molding the dress's structure, shaping the fabric and making sure that dress looks like it was custom made just for you. Getting the perfect fit rarely happens with just one fitting. It's a process that takes tweaking and retweaking.
> Alterations take time. The average bride will have between 3 - 5 fittings based on the intricacies of the gown and types of alterations. Sometimes there are more than half a dozen fittings. You'll want to plan on making those trips to try on your gown, be pinned in again based on new adjustments, try it on with your shoes and veil, and so on. It is not an easy job. It's surgery. Seamstresses are, in some cases, taking your dress apart and putting it back together.
> Seamstresses have a backlog. When your dress is pinned and fitted to you the first time, you'll then wait a few weeks before you see it again. This may be due to the number and types of alterations, but it's most certainly because you are not their only client or dress. Your seamstress is not working solely on your gown or bridesmaids dresses. She is slammed, because this is how she makes a living and because this is delicate work. She needs the time to do that delicate work on every gown, not just yours.
> Alterations are not free. Things cost money. When you work, you expect to be paid - whether you are nursing a patient back to health, managing a project on a timeline, adding structural boning to the bodice of a wedding gown, or removing 350 tiny beads from the train of a gown. Seriously! Think about all the requests that a bride can make:
+ Add 500 crystal beads or sequins.
+ Remove the lace that came with the dress and replace it with my grandmother's antique lace.
+ Create a keyhole in the back where there wasn't one.
+ Shorten the sleeves.
+ Lengthen the hem.
These are complex tasks and seamstresses expect to be paid for their experience, their knowledge and expertise and their careful, intricate, detailed work.
At BT, we provide a meeting place for brides and seamstresses to have these fittings. We don't take a penny from alteration fees. We want it to be convenient, so we offer this space as a courtesy to our customers. The seamstress is an independent contractor, so when you're working with her and paying her, you're helping feed her family, not ours at BT. Some big box stores have their own in-house seamstresses who get paid through the company. Using an independent seamstress like those we suggest for our brides often means you will save 50-60%. The cost of alterations will depend greatly on the dress and what has to be done, and can range anywhere from $10 - $250+/-.
Finally, the last 3 nuggets are the most important:
> Show Patience. Losing patience with any wedding vendor will never serve you well. So don't huff and complain to your seamstress. During the fitting process, when the dress is being reworked, trust that she knows what she's doing. She does. While we never put a guarantee on the work of a seamstress, we would also never send you to someone who hadn't already shown us that she does great work.
More than one fitting is not the beginning of your dress being destroyed. It's an absolute part of the process. As she molds your dress to your body, she makes those adjustments by hand in many cases. Understand that some wants for your gown are just not possible because of the way the dress is already cut and shaped.
> Communicate. It's important to trust your seamstress and be patient with the process, but don't fail to speak up if you find that something feels uncomfortable or ill-fitting. Keep the lines of communication open. She's there to help you and cannot read your mind. Ask questions, listen and keep talking.
> Be Kind. That seamstress is your ally. Listen to what she's telling you about what can and cannot be done and trust her instincts. She's there to make you look fabulous in the gown you chose. Don't succumb to the temptation to go Bridezilla because you're under stress. Behaving badly is something you'll regret. Be kind!
Why am I harping on kindness? Because it's a foundational unit of measurement - like centimeters of fabric. Your wedding is a big deal and I can promise you that every vendor you're working with wants your day to be perfect. Be more honey than vinegar and you'll remember the experience fondly and enjoy your day sooooo much more.