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COVID derailed many a wedding in 2020. For plenty of engaged couples, months and months of planning effectively felt like wasted time, resulting in a rollercoaster of changes, postponements, or canceled plans. While some determined-to-be-wed pairs carried out their vision on a smaller scale, others pushed their “I do’s” farther out into 2021 or beyond. To wit, virtual and micro weddings became a regular occurrence. Now, the second wedding trend is emerging for those who still want to celebrate more inclusively with friends and family as initially intended.
Ordinarily, a second wedding would sound a bit extra, but for couples whose plans inadvertently fell amid a pandemic, it’s far from excessive. A second wedding awards couple’s the opportunity to celebrate their love with those they hold nearest and dearest. Plus, it’s a time to debut dreamy bridal fashions that might have felt overdone for virtual or small-scale nuptials. “Weddings for 2021 are still very uncertain, but one thing is for sure, the bride still wants to wear her dream gown regardless of the size of the event or type of wedding she is having,” says Beth Drake, a bridal division director merchandise manager at David’s Bridal.
Whether you’re planning an “I do”-over on a massive scale, timing a celebratory reception to the anniversary of a 2020 minimony, or planning an IRL affair after a virtual first go, what to wear is undoubtedly top of mind. Do you finally debut the extraordinary gown you bought months ago? Or, splurge for a new one if the original style no longer suits your vibe? If you veered simple with your look for a low-key ceremony, should you lean into a totally new, perhaps more glamorous, aesthetic for round two? Then there’s the matter of bridal event attire for postponed or second-take bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and rehearsal dinners. These occasions all call for an outfit, be it dressed-up or subtly chic.
Meet the Expert
- Beth Drake is a bridal division director merchandise manager at David’s Bridal.
- Andrea Louie Brown is a divisional merchandise manager at BHLDN.
- Liane Wiggins is the head of womenswear buying at MATCHESFASHION.
Drake tells Brides, “Transitional looks are a big trend for 2021. With wedding plans up in the air, lots of brides are on plans B or C and want a different look for each celebration. Seasons have changed, and maybe you’ll need a look that works in both spring and fall. With trends like a removable skirt, straps that can be styled in multiple ways, or removable sleeves, the bride can have multiple looks in one gown.”
Clean & Minimalist
Clean and simple gowns have been a big trend throughout the pandemic, and according to Andrea Louie Brown, BHLDN’s divisional merchandise manager, this trend is not leaving anytime soon. “Our minimalist bride loves simple and clean but isn’t afraid of a low back or a plunging neckline for a little extra drama.”
Romance, Opulence, & Drama
2020 resulted in many an intimate wedding with brides frequently opting for casual or understated pieces. In response, Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear buying at MATCHESFASHION, predicts a shift toward ultra-feminine styles, like dresses featuring an abundance of tulle, feathers, and lace. “For Spring/Summer 2021, we are excited to launch collections from The Vampire’s Wife, which offers a twist on retro glamour and enchanting Pucci x Tomo Koizumi pieces,” she tells Brides.
Wiggins also notes a return to full-length gowns and fanciful accessories. “Recently we have seen an increase in sales of full-length dresses from Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Kane, and Emilia Wickstead, and our customer has responded well to Jimmy Choo’s pearl embellished mules and sandals,” she says.
Echoing Wiggings, Louie Brown says the extra time for those who pushed out their wedding by a year or more has allowed for more planning and more saving, resulting in bigger and more extravagant fashion choices. “We believe many brides will opt for dramatic details, and similar to the roaring 20s, we expect to see a resurgence of deco beading, feathers and bows, and satin bias gowns,” she says.
Similarly, Drake reports an uptick in distinctive designs like all-over pearl detailing and fringe and charming bridal separates like embellished tops and tulle skirts as a favorite among current shoppers. “These items look great on camera and even virtually can make a bride feel special, which is why we think she’s gravitating to them.”
Playful Silhouettes & Proportions
In addition to intricate detailing, Wiggins says ample proportions are on the rise for 2021 brides. “We imagine that when larger weddings can go ahead, some brides may want to make a statement on their big day, playing with proportions for a bold impact that guests will remember. Whether that be in the form of exaggerated bows from Emilia Wickstead that flow into a train or that drapes over the shoulder from Bernadette, or they may choose to accessorize with a beautiful oversized hat from Harris Reed.”
Louie Brown says 2021 will mark the return of the ball gowns as well as modern necklines. “Clean and simple gowns are still trending, but recently, we are seeing a desire towards more formal necklines like off the shoulder and fuller skirted ball gowns.”
Sleeves & Layering Pieces
With outdoor weddings continuing to be popular, Louie Brown anticipates a desire for coverage. “We think there will be a strong desire for brides to have options to keep her warm for her outdoor wedding,” the BHLDN expert tells Brides. “We expect sleeves on bridal gowns to gain popularity, and we anticipate seeing this trend show up in a range of styles, from clean to dramatic. We also anticipate faux fur wraps and novelty denim jackets will have their moment.”
While simple gowns are far from obsolete, Drake says brides are more frequently in favor of sultry dresses constructed with bodysuit linings, featuring thigh-high slits, or plunging illusion necklines—the ultimate trend for glamour-loving ladies in 2021.
Tailoring & Separates
Tailoring continues to be popular among modern brides, especially those who adapted to smaller gatherings in 2020. Wiggins says the trend will evolve for a second wedding in 2021, with more directional and elaborate designs at the forefront. “Embellished suits from Christopher Kane, tuxedo styles from Pallas Paris, or boucle two-pieces from Blazé Bridal, there are so many options for an elegant, sophisticated look,” she says.
For 2020 brides who purchased a gown long before their wedding date and postponed or recalibrated for a smaller-scale event, 2021 is the time to revisit the original look. Drake says accessory switch-ups will be a popular choice for refreshing something bought many months, if not more than a year ago.
“In general, our brides tend to come back and shop with us multiple times after they purchase their gown to support their look with different accessories, including lingerie, footwear, headpieces, and veils,” the David’s Bridal director explains. “Over the past few months, our accessories sales have definitely increased. Brides who bought dresses for an original 2020 wedding are looking to alter a look because they saw a fun new product launch or revamp a look because of a change of plans. So many of our gowns are versatile, and a quick swap of accessories can give you a whole new look.”
The Fine Jewels
For an ultra-special finish to a second wedding look, Tanika Wisdom, a jewelry buyer at MATCHESFASHION, suggests investment-worthy jewelry, such as a subtle pair of drop earrings or delicate diamond designs.
“Wearing a special piece of jewelry on the big day adds an emotional element as it can be gifted from loved ones or purchased by the wearer as a worthwhile investment—worn for years to come and then passed down as modern heirloom pieces for family members,” she tells Brides.
The fine jewelry buyer recommends glitzy but delicate white gold jewelry for a feminine touch with a tailored look, like Suzanne Kalan’s white topaz firework designs. She suggests timeless pearl pieces from designers such as Yvonne Léon, Sophie Bille Brahe, and Mateo for a romantic and classic vibe. Whether you choose a pair of earrings, necklace, or cuff, pieces from each label bring a modern and refined elegance to feminine bridal designs.