In a sea of white, certain trends stand out: two-piece dresses, blush-colored slips under lace and elaborate backs. But not all brides want something new. Boutique owners are seeing the return of vintage ball gowns and brides choosing revamped versions of their mothers' dresses. Whether the wedding's aesthetic is ultra-modern or vintage, brides are using modern tools to realize their visions of the big day — of which the dress is a crucial part.
Crickett Lapeyre and Jennifer Atkins own Peony Nola and women's clothing line Libellule. Libellule wedding gowns are custom made of materials including silk charmeuse. "Some [brides] want special, intimate, less stock-manufactured, maybe something more original — although our original is not avant-garde original. It's more heirloom, one-of-a-kind original," says Lapeyre, who works with about five brides a year. "And that is where we come in."
Lapeyre says a bride may opt to wear her mother's dress and buy a custom reception dress. This way, she can be fashion-forward while feeling connected to her past.
At Pearl's Place, co-owner Courtney Schulman has outfitted generations of families during her 20 years in bridal attire. She says two-piece wedding dresses are trending. More brides are choosing muted colors like blush and antique gold. Some opt for bold hues like red, black and royal blue.
"I can't remember the last time I sold a white dress," Schulman says.
Brides also are focusing on minutiae, such as the way the lace lays on the dress or the buttons fastening the back.
"Back details are unbelievably popular right now," says Dina Ippolito, owner of Linda Lee Bridal. "I've never seen so many girls wanting to know what the back looks like before the front."
Ippolito attributes this attention to detail and nontraditional styles partly to the fact that many brides are paying for their own gowns.
"It's all about their choice," Ippolito says. "The mother has given her approval but the girl is paying, so she has the final say."
She adds that technology has made brides more detail-oriented. "You didn't have that before," Ippolito says. "They might tear a page out of a book, but they didn't have Pinterest to check out a hairstyle, fingernails, shoes."
Though the internet can be a great tool to help brides get a better sense of their taste and preferences, boutique owners urge brides not to skip the wedding gown shopping experience.
"[The dress] is something that needs to be tried on and really felt," Schulman says. "[A staff member] here is going to have the experience of seeing all these gowns on many people and will be very educated in fit, proportions and styling."
Ultimately, a bride's decision comes down to her personality and desire to have a wedding that is unique to her and her partner.
"A bridal gown is what each individual bride responds to," Schulman says.