How to Determine Your Bridal Style, According to an Expert

A professional stylist shares the tips you need to know.

Bridal Style


Whether the planning began in grade school or following a proposal, there are so many details to decide upon when it comes to your wedding day. Figuring out your bridal style is important; it helps to serve as a compass, the center of a web from which everything else is connected and influencing all the other details that go into a ceremony and reception.

If you need wedding fashion inspiration, renowned bridal stylist Gabrielle Hurwitz says to ask yourself the one question she always poses to her clients: “How do you want to look and feel on your wedding day?” She says the benefit of considering this question is that, while your answer will probably correspond to a particular style, it may also reveal that you’re looking for something you didn’t realize.

Meet the Expert

Gabrielle Hurwitz is a bridal fashion stylist. After stints at Martha Stewart Weddings, Cosmopolitan, and Style Me Pretty, she has since graduated from editorial styling to real-life brides with her work taking her to far-off reaches like Morocco and Thailand. She averages around a dozen weddings per year, which allows her to focus on a breadth of style beyond the wedding dress. This often includes the entirety of the bride’s entire weekend.

“What you wear has the power to influence how you feel, how you carry yourself, how you interact with the world,” says Hurwitz, again emphasizing that fashion is so much more than fabric. When it comes to bridal fashion in particular there’s even more consideration at play. “Your wedding dress is the most important article of clothing you’ll ever wear, and how you feel in your wedding dress will determine how you feel throughout your entire wedding day.”

Ahead, we break down the basics of six different bridal styles: Romantic, Classic, Boho, Modern, Glamorous, and Non-Traditional.

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The romantic look is soft, whimsical, and feminine. When breaking down the look, Hurwitz points to actress/singer Mandy Moore’s wedding to Dawe’s frontman Taylor Goldsmith. The pair married under an archway of pink baby’s breath flanked by the pastel hues of a Los Angeles sunset. “Moore is a great example of a “romantic” bride in her blush pink Rodarte dress with ruffled tulle skirt and floral detail on the bodice,” says Hurwitz, while also being quick to note that there isn’t “necessarily a specific silhouette or neckline” when it comes to the gown within this style. “A mermaid gown with an off-the-shoulder neck can be just as romantic as a strapless ball gown. Instead, it’s about the details.”

As for those details? “Think light-as-air tulle, flowy chiffon, intricate lace, and 3D floral appliqués. Accessorize with a statement veil, floral hair vine, or delicate earring to complete the look.” For inspiration, she recommends looking to designers like Marchesa, Monique Lhuillier, and Claire Pettibone. When it comes to hair and makeup, Hurwitz recommends soft tones that play into the feminine and romantic vibe. “I’d recommend makeup in soft, pink tones like a rosy cheek and natural, pink lip. For hair, I’d recommend something soft as well, like a loose chignon or long, soft curls.”

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“The classic traditional bride wants her wedding dress to be as in style on the day she wore it as it is on her 50th wedding anniversary,” says Hurwitz. To achieve such a result, she recommends going in an understated direction, adding that “you’re probably not going to find her wearing something with blingy beading or a super sexy, low back.”

Hurwitz sites Kate Middleton’s royal wedding as the ultimate example of the classic bride with her long-sleeve lace and Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen ball gown. It’s just as easy to imagine the lace detailing and narrow waist fifty years ago as it is in the present without it looking dated. The key elements work and look refined and sophisticated in any era. The same approach applies beyond the gown, to everything from table settings to accessories. “In terms of accessories, she might pair diamond or pearl stud earrings with heirloom family jewelry or her mother’s veil to keep the look elegant and special,” she says.

As for crossover between the romantic and classic bridal styles, Hurwitz sums it up with the spot-on, asking “after all, what bride doesn’t want her wedding day to be romantic?” While overlap exists, she’s sure to specify that “the classic bride tends to be more drawn to understated elegance whereas the romantic bride is drawn to whimsy and the ultra-feminine.”

Hurwitz recommends looking at Middleton’s wedding once again when it comes to hair and makeup: “The classic bride typically isn’t looking to do anything too dramatic with her hair and makeup on her wedding day. She just wants to look like the most beautiful version of herself whether that means a sleek, classic bun or a half-up, half-down look with loose waves.” For additional guidance, “I think of designers like Carolina Herrera, Monique Lhuillier, Oscar de la Renta, Lela Rose and Anne Barge as speaking to this bride.”

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Simply put, “people often think that boho means a flower crown in your hair, and it can, but it doesn’t have to,” says Hurwitz when it comes to the boho bridal style. “There’s an effortless and carefree vibe” and distilling those elements in the dress, the environments, the accessories are key to achieving such an essence. Kate Moss elevated what we typically think of as boho with her John Galliano bias-cut slip dress embellished with sequins and subtle beading.” The ceremony featured flower crowns galore but worn by the wedding party of child bridesmaids while Moss opted for loose flowing tresses topped by an unencumbered veil.

In addition to the sequins and beading, there was a sheer element to the skirt of the gown, which Hurwitz says is a component to the boho style. “When brides think of boho wedding dresses, they often think of crochet laces, fringe, and bell sleeves but it can also mean simple sheaths, gauzy A-lines, and even chic separates. Boho wedding dresses tend to feature a flowy silhouette that moves freely, nothing too constricting or fussy.” Whether you’re creating mood boards or grazing Pinterest for example, Hurwitz lists Rue de Seine, Costarellos, Willowby by Watters, and Studio Levana as designers that speak to the boho bridal style.

For complimentary makeup, Hurwitz suggests sticking to “muted earthy tones for your makeup, like bronze, terracotta, and peach.” When it comes to hairstyle Hurwitz recommends trying “a flower crown paired with long, loose waves. If you want something a little more unexpected consider adding touches of baby’s breath throughout a loose braid” in order to fully embrace the boho vibe.

It’s worth noting that Moss’s wedding featured a multi-day festival to celebrate the nuptials. Considering she married musician Jamie Hince of the band the Kills, such a cultured tribute seems appropriate, but it also falls in line with the bohemian style at large. When thinking of movements connected to the term at large, it’s often linked to creativity and counter-culture. How can you connect elements to the ceremony and related events in ways that go beyond the visual?

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As with the classic and romantic bridal styles, there are adjacent elements when it comes to the modern bridal style too. To better recognize what defines the style Hurwitz points to another royal wedding as a pinnacle example: “Meghan Markle in her Stella McCartney reception dress is the epitome of the modern bride to me. Sleek, sophisticated, and cool, her dress looked effortlessly stylish and glamorous.” To translate that essence into your own gown, she recommends looking for dresses “with clean lines, architectural details and unfussy fabrics like crepe and silk satin.” Beyond that iconic wedding, she suggests looking to “designers like Rime Arodaky, Maticevski, Sarah Seven, Galvan London, and Romona Keveza (sometimes) as speaking to this bride.”

To best integrate elements of the modern bridal style into your own wedding beyond the gown, Hurwitz proposes keeping “the accessories fresh and chic with cool hairpins or sleek statement earrings.” And a lightweight gel might be your most reliable companion when it comes to hairstyle. “Whether you wear your hair up or down, slick it back into a chic and sophisticated style. Keep your makeup fresh with clean skin, lots of mascara, and a bold lip.”

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Hollywood glamour isn’t far off the mark when it comes to the glamorous bridal style. File-o-fax through the images that come to mind when you think of starlets of the golden age of film, whether it be their looks on movie posters or red carpet appearances and you’ll be in line with what the style commands. “The glamorous bride is all about the drama and I mean that in the best way. She loves dramatic silhouettes, sparkly beading, feathers, and anything with that certain je ne sais quoi,” says Hurwitz.

To channel those elements Hurwitz recommends “dresses with extra special details like detachable overskirts and dramatic capes.” She points to sitcom actress and host Sophia Vergara as well as tennis GOAT Serena Williams as present-day inspiration in lock-step with the style, specifically “Sophia Vergara in a beaded Zuhair Murad gown and Serena Williams in her ballgown and tulle cape are both prime examples of glamorous brides.”

For the glamorous bridal style, what hairdos best accompany the look? Hurwitz urges brides to “consider a bedazzled hair comb or tiara to finish the look,” or to “think about Old Hollywood-inspired waves accented with a pretty comb or a dramatic updo that feels formal and regal.” Just as makeup is a key player when it comes to a motion picture it is just as important for the glamorous bride. “Play up the drama with a sexy smokey eye or bold lip. I recommend choosing one feature to really play up with the makeup and letting the rest be subtle. For example, pair a sultry smokey eye with a nude lip and clean skin, or a bright red lip with lots of lashes.”

Other than films and Hollywood actresses that embody the style, Hurwitz says she thinks of designers like Zuhair Murad and Reem Acra whose aesthetics run in tandem with the style.

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When it comes to what’s first and foremost in regards to the non-traditional bride, Hurwitz is quick to exclaim “anything goes!” What might a bride gravitate towards that would reveal her style to be non-traditional? Well, anything left of the norm, whether it be cut or color. “If a long, white wedding dress isn’t your thing, don’t force it! Consider a super-chic jumpsuit like Solange Knowles, a daring mini like Kiera Knightley or even color like Gwen Stefani’s pink gown,” says Hurwitz. “If you’re not finding anything you love by traditional bridal designers don’t be afraid to look at Ready-to-Wear and evening gowns to find the perfect dress. You can even wear a fabulous tuxedo or tailored suit.”

Consider the lack of template as something freeing and a way to better infuse your personality into everything that surrounds your vows. Your own spirit should set the tone. “The most important thing is that you feel confident in whatever it is you’re wearing.”

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