Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
-Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
While he most likely was not talking about buying a wedding gown, Robert Frost’s middle school classic poem still does help to illustrate one of the biggest choices in bridal gown purchasing most brides don’t even know they’re making! While we absolutely love working with a bride who has been shopping around to a few different stores and looking for the perfect dress, I absolutely love helping a first time bride figure out what kind of a look she’s going for. Unless you’ve spent hours and hours surfing Pinterest, the Knot, and Instagram, coming into a bridal store with no idea what you’re looking for can feel like staring down a long, windy road that disappears into a forest. Heck, even if you have spent every waking moment flipping through photos, it can be kind of daunting!
While there are many different categories of styles in the fashion and bridal worlds, for first time brides I like to describe two main directions to chose from: what I call the “soft and romantic” look, and the more “elegant, high glam” variation. Naturally, these two categories cover a lot of ground, and there can still be some overlap between the two, but I find figuring out which general trend you’re going for can help immensely, and can save you time and the frustration of trying on dresses you don’t end up liking.
Two great options are shown above, both beautiful a-lines with very different final looks! While there are of course exceptions to every rule, what I describe as the soft romantic look generally includes lace, soft fabric, beadwork in the ivory and clear color families, and is much more likely to include dresses that come in alternate lining colors, like your blush pinks and champagnes. These warmer hues generally soften the look, as well as generally being a more flattering color for our blonde brides, and those with warmer skin tones. Fabrics also tend to be softer and more flowy, so you’ll see a lot of chiffon, soft English net, and lighter weight lining fabrics. You’ll often find dresses like these under the “boho” descriptor. They’ll tend to be less full, have fewer (if any!) layers of crinoline underneath to give shape, and much lighter weight, leading to many women with beach or destination weddings to chose dresses in this style category.
On the other hand, dresses that I would consider to be more elegant and high glam are usually plainer fabrics, usually with more body and volume to them. Beadwork is more likely to be in cooler, more silver tones– most dresses with heavy rhinestone beadwork count in this category. While “vintage” can have many meanings in the bridal world (and that’s a topic for a whole different post!) Art Deco dresses, often also referred to as either “Roaring 20s” or “Great Gatsby-esque” dresses with high detailed beadwork in more linear patterns are found in this category. Lace, when present, is usually minimal and/or heavily beaded.
As I mentioned earlier, there absolutely can be quite a bit if overlap in styles, I find that when working with a bride who is our on her maiden voyage, so to speak, that a pattern and general trend will absolutely develop as towards the look of the dress she’s going for over the course of an appointment. You may not know what silhouette or if you want a sleeve or not, but most women will absolutely start to find a look she’s going for! Sometimes, plenty of Pinteresting will answer this for you before you come in to visit us, but it’s definitely helpful to get an idea early on in the process.
One thing to consider as well if you’re not sure which style you want to go with is your venue. While it is your special day and you can wear whatever dress you please, many brides are concerned with having a dress that matches her venue. Getting married at the Crystal Tea Room downtown? A bride focused on a dress to match the location will likely end up choosing a high glam gown with plenty of sparkle over a lacy creation. Conversely, a bride tying the knot at the Tyler Arboretum in Media might go with a softer lace in a warmer undertone with just a hint of delicate sparkle. Transporting a 20 pound ballgown to a beach in Mexico might end up being a bigger hassle then a bride is willing to deal with for her dream wedding. While our number one priority is for you to find the dress of your dreams, sometimes the practical concerns can guide your hand a little bit too.
Whichever path you end up picking, Le Bella Donna will be with you every step along the way to find the dress of your dreams! Our collection of over 200 gowns in a wide range of styles, designers, and looks is sure to have the perfect gown for your perfect wedding. Call us at (215)690-4018 to schedule an appointment today!