Marriage is an age-old practice. It's reported that the first recorded wedding dates back to 1250-1300 C.E, a distant memory from the events of the present day. While the very first iterations of wedding attire aren't documented, the industry has seen its fair share of trends in the past few centuries, particularly as it relates to what it means to be a bride or groom. Today, we know that marriages are all about choices: the choice to choose your partner, your vows, your invite list, and of course, your outfit.
According to a 2021 study conducted by Brides and Investopedia, many couples find themselves somewhere between tradition and innovation. “Forty-two percent of couples are planning a 'traditional' wedding, while 41 percent of participants are incorporating classic and unconventional elements,” the study notes. And for 28 percent of people in the study getting married, the typical white dress or suit has gone out the window.
Meet the Expert
To help shed light on what's currently happening within bridal fashion, we tapped Gabrielle Hurwitz, bridal fashion stylist at Gabrielle Hurwitz Bridal Styling, for expert advice on the ways today's brides and designers are mixing past trends with new classics. We're calling it, "traditional with a twist;" take what you love from the traditions and revamp the rest. It’s not too serious, certainly not retro, and entirely of the moment.
Mini Dresses With Long Traditional Veils
“What started out of necessity—brides wanting to still feel bridal for their micro weddings even without a big white dress—has become a statement for those who are looking for a fashion-forward look without completely bucking tradition,” shares Hurwitz. Pairing classic veils with contemporary mini dresses offer a dramatic effect without feeling too conventional. It’s a playful nod to the history of a veil, with an eye towards modern taste. Plus, the length of the veil makes for stunning photographs no matter the locale.
Birdcage Veils and Hats
Birdcage veils and hats have made a resurgence down the runway over the past few seasons. A once-dated accessory only seen in faded wedding polaroids and classic cinema, brides and designers are now incorporating this style into all of their looks—paired with everything from classic ballgowns to A-line dresses. “Birdcage veils aren't for everyone,” Hurwitz reminds us. “But when they're done well, they're undeniably chic.” Even better, they’re not just for ceremonies and can be worn with a bride's rehearsal dinner or reception outfit.
Sleeveless Gowns With High Necklines
From Grace Kelly to Meghan Markle and Lady Kitty Spencer, high necklines have graced some of the most royal wedding aisles throughout the years. Paired with a sleeveless silhouette, brides are able to get the best of both worlds and an effortlessly regal and trendy gown for their big day. “Take it up a notch with a keyhole or open back for just the right balance of timeless and sultry,” recommends Hurwitz.
“White dresses aren't for everyone, so I love seeing more brides choose to wear color and prints,” Hurwitz shares, and we couldn't agree more! By steering away from traditional bridal white, brides are taking control over the rules surrounding their nuptials in order to showcase their individuality and uniqueness. From bold and pastel-colored gowns to bright (and even neon!) accessories, there are so many ways color can change the course of a traditional wedding for the best.
According to Hurwitz, “accessories are the perfect opportunity to take some fashion risks and infuse your personality into your wedding day look.” If past Bridal Fashion Week seasons were any indication, gloves, sunglasses, oversized bows, and choker necklaces seem to be a few popular choices for designers—and we expect to see more of these trends down the aisle.
Also, accessories are a simple way to switch up a look from the ceremony to reception, without compromising on wearing an entirely traditional look. They offer brides the ability to mix and match throughout the day and night, like sitting for portraits in heirloom earrings, then changing into sunglasses for dance floor shots.