Five trends—color, portrait backs, peplums, lace, and convertible gowns—dominated the Spring 2013 Bridal runways, together signaling a new direction for the American bride. She no longer feels bound to virginal all-white palettes, as heralded last season by Vera Wang's black-and-nude collection which gave way six months later to a stampede of crimson creations. Other designers known for their bold choices, such as Oscar de la Renta and Romona Keveza, also showed unconventional palettes, although while keeping their more traditional clientele in mind.
Last season's sexy backs returned for Spring 2013 having softened the focus on bare skin with sheer panels of tulle, re-worked lace, and keyhole closings. While the emphasis is still on the bride from reverse, it's with more romance than seduction that she holds our attention. Silhouettes in general gravitated toward coverage, a sign that Duchess Kate's Alexander McQueen wedding gown still reigns supreme a year after the royal wedding. Kate's choice of lace equated to a flood of the fabric across practically every runway, from Christos' ruffled cap sleeves to Jim Hjelm's slinky slit gown. "There's something about lace that pushes back on the technology-driven society we live it," notes Brides Fashion Director Rachel Leonard. "It's soft. It's romantic. It takes us away."
Peplums also offered a high-fashion escape this season, injecting wedding gowns with a dose of haute style using both structured and softly draped shapes. And brides needn't fear added volume at the hip—peplums of the right proportion are great for defining a waist on both boyish and curvy figures. Not sure which of spring's trends are right for you? Have them all with a convertible gown, which employs removable skirts, trains, and capes to transform your ceremony dress into a distinct reception look. Peel away Reem Acra's horsehair-trimmed tulle skirt, for example, and you're left with a glittering, bead-encrusted mini worth several spins on the dance floor.
—Phillip B. Crook