On April 1st, I made an appearance at the "Unveiled Bridal Style Revealed" event in Beverly Hills, Calif., held at the exquisite Beverly Canon Gardens. "Unveiled" is an outdoor bridal event that brings together the best event professionals, resources, and designs for couples to enjoy as they plan for their big day.
I am not married nor am I engaged. Thus, I can only imagine what it must feel like for newly betrothed couples when the engagement haze wears off, and the reality of creating a wedding becomes, well... real. Venues, food, guests, invitations... the details and decisions are seemingly endless. Bridal events, like "Unveiled," are an invaluable resource for couples. They are like the Barneys New York women's shoe department of weddings: the best the industry has to offer, in one place, and with smiling, friendly people waiting to chat and help!
My team and I were on-site to talk with brides about all things wedding fashion and style including: upcoming trends, choosing your wedding gown, choosing bridesmaids dresses to compliment every personality and figure, how to style your groom and groomsmen, and much more.
One bride in particular asked my advice on how to wear different ceremony and reception dresses, while maintaining a consistent style. My conversation with said bride inspired this article because I know she is not the only woman grappling how to wear two different dresses, while maintaining one overall look. So, let's talk it out...
If you decide to change between the ceremony and the reception, both dresses together should tell a story and create a cohesive look that reflects your personality and overall wedding theme. This can be done in the following ways:
Create a color story.
Your wedding colors will be apparent throughout the details of the décor: flowers, linens, centerpieces, etc. Incorporate your wedding colors throughout your wardrobe changes to create a look that is consistent. For example, add pops of your wedding color to your ceremony dress through a sash/belt, headpiece, shoes, jewelry, or even with the flowers in your bouquet. Continue this color story by choosing a cocktail dress in your wedding color for your reception. Even if you are not in white, every one will still know you are the bride.
Your personal style.
Stay true to your personal style and taste when selecting both the ceremony and reception dresses. Your individual style will tie both looks together in and of itself. For example, if you are a fan of old Hollywood glamour (a la Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, or Ingrid Berman), choose dresses that are inspired by this era. For the ceremony, wear a ball gown in satin, with a full skirt, lace appliqué, and long or cap sleeves. For the reception, choose a satin sheath dress with a deep V neckline and beaded detailing. When both dresses reflect your personal style, the wardrobe changes will flow together seamlessly.
Include your culture in both looks.
Couples may choose to have a wedding ceremony in their families' culture in which a very specific type of wedding garb is required. Hindu brides wear a sari in luxurious red silk with gold embroidery, while Korean brides wear a hanbok, a traditional dress in vibrant colors with curved, simple lines created by the abundance of material. If you choose to honor your culture by wearing traditional ceremony attire, carry this theme through to your reception dress.
If you change into a traditional western wedding dress for the reception, incorporate elements of your cultural costume. For example, Hindu brides could leave on the splendid gold jewelry worn with the sari, use accessories to add pops of red or gold, or even wear a red or gold cocktail dress. Incorporating your culture's auspicious color into your reception dress is a great way to keep your culture included throughout the whole event.
Fabrics and beading.
If your wedding ceremony is a grand display of pomp and circumstance and you dream of wearing a formal ball gown, take this opportunity to wear a gown and accessories that are elegant and extravagant. In order to continue this glamorous look into your reception, bring the most exquisite elements from your formal gown into your next dress. For example, if your ceremony gown is adorned with intricate, heavy beadwork, look for a reception dress in a modern, sheath silhouette with beaded cap sleeves, sash/belt, or neckline that will hint at the opulence of your formal gown, but be more conducive to dancing the night away.
Two for one.
Some designers are creating dresses that are made to satisfy two looks. The full skirt can be removed to reveal a short, cocktail dress underneath, the long sleeves can be removed to reveal sexy, off the shoulder straps, or simply removing a bolero to reveal a strapless, sweetheart neckline. By wearing a dress with one or all of these elements, your transition from ceremony to reception is automatically cohesive since the main body of your dress is the same.
Changing dresses is a relatively new trend, so you are not confined to a specific set of fashion rules or expectations. Therefore, you can take advantage of this opportunity to be creative with your dress choices and use them as an opportunity to surprise and wow your guests, and most of all, your new partner.
And remember, you do not have to change at all. If you find your dream dress, wear it through the entire day and night... and into the next day! Why take it off?