Wedding Gown Guide
By Annette Burden
Whether you’re getting hitched in Hawaii, eloping to Vegas or saying “forever”in a sleepy wine country town, you want your wedding gown to match the mood of your big day. From the fabric to design to packability, our experts reveal the elements of form and function that let your dress rise to the occasion.
You’ll be wearing your wedding dress for many hours-through the ceremony, photo shoots, dining and dancing. Don’t let a heavy fabric or overly stiff construction cramp your style. The Dessy Group’s Vivian Diamond, who designs a line of destination wedding gowns for Sandals and Beaches resorts, favors chiffon or stretch charmeuse with a knit lining. “Charmeuse is incredibly lightweight, sheer and drapey,” she says. “It molds to the body but doesn’t cling.” Michael Shettel, head designer at Alfred Angelo, says not to worry if you have your heart set on a full-blown traditional wedding dress, however. Today you can find gowns made of modern featherweight taffeta that is light enough for any type of destination wedding.
Look for a gown that’s travel-friendly, one that will fit in a suitcase or a reasonably sized garment bag you can carry on to the plane. And once you’ve reached your destination, you don’t want to worry about steaming, ironing and adjusting. You’re looking for something you don’t have to fret over the moment you touch down. Shettel’s Destiny Collection for destination brides includes several gorgeous knee-length confections. He says the length is as fashionable as it is practical for outdoor brides, who can show off their legs and not worry about sand or surf soiling the hem. No matter what the length, Shettel recommends lightweight chiffons for their ease and beauty. “They breathe, flow and have graceful movement to them, providing an ethereal effect.” The ultimate travel fabric for destination brides? Crinkle chiffon, he says. No matter how tightly packed, a light steaming will freshen it in no time.
Consider a design with minimal layers and a slim silhouette, especially if you’re marrying somewhere warm or tropical. Most destination events are all about the natural beauty of the setting. It makes sense for your dress to be naturally beautiful, too. “You want to wear the dress, not have it wear you,” Diamond says. Winnie Chlomin, who designs for Winnie Couture, features mostly sheaths and moderate A-lines in her Destination Bridal Collection. But simplicity goes just so far. Kristin Jenkins, a company spokesperson, cautions brides not to skimp on structure. “The bride will look her best in something that flatters the figure, something with boning and bra cups sewn in if it’s strapless.”
Most likely your dress will need to work for both the ceremony and reception. Don’t forget, you’ll be walking, standing, sitting and dancing for hours. You may even want to wear it for other occasions. For post-wedding wearability, Diamond recommends a non-yellow ivory shade over white-white. “Remember, everything-even trains-can be hemmed after the wedding,” she says. “You might even shorten it to the knee, slip on a contrasting jacket or shrug and have the perfect little cocktail dress.”