What a Time to Be a Bride

Explore the latest and greatest trends in wedding wear

By Mariah Kline

Countless details go into planning a wedding, but no choice is more important than the dress. We checked in with Sher Stemler, owner of Sher’s Bridal, and Laurie Robertson, owner of the Bridal Suite of Louisville, both of whom shared their insight into what’s big right now and why it’s so fun to be a bride in 2019.

Justin Alexander gown with detachable sleeves.

The Ball Gown Bounces Back

“The romantic traditional look is being redone a lot,” says Robertson. “(It’s) almost a nod to the 1990s if you will. We’re seeing a lot of lace and crystal detail on a ball gown with an extra long, exaggerated, cathedral-length train. Think of your great-grandmother’s wedding or Kate Middleton.

Eddy K. Milano gown with sleeves.

“The updated traditional gowns are featuring a lot of texture,” she continues. “Designers have been using multiple laces from Venetian to Alençon. …The full skirts on these ball gowns have also been updated with a more structured look to them and more defined lines than your traditional predecessors. Many brides are also looking for the relaxed ball gowns that have the same kind of cut but have been deconstructed on the inside.”

Justin Alexander gown in mikado fabric.

Let’s Get Sleevy

Gone are the days of seeking a strapless gown to show off one’s arms. Now, sleeves are having a big moment.

“We’re seeing more covered shoulders,” says Stemler. “Fewer strapless dresses are on the market and sleeves – long sleeves and cap sleeves – have made a comeback. They’ve all got something on the shoulders or a halter.”

Ball gown and cathedral-length veil. Photo by Maggie’s Photography.

“Designers from haute couture to mainstream designers are all showing detachable sleeves,” says Robertson. “The beauty of these is that it can create two different looks for a bride. She can wear them for the ceremony, creating a more modest look, and then remove them for the reception, creating a whole new look.”

A-veil-able Now

Justin Alexander gown with plunging neckline.

Combs, tiaras and headbands are still around, but they’ve got nothing on the veil. Cathedral veils in particular are making a huge comeback, according to both Robertson and Stemler.

“We’re doing a lot of court cathedral veils, which are about two yards past the standard cathedral,” says Stemler. “They’re made with a lot of heavy, beautiful lace with appliques on. They’re not coming all the way up around your face like they used to. The trim starts at the elbow so it’s very pretty.”

Up to Your Neck in Allure

“We’ve been seeing plunging, exaggerated necklines for the past year,” says Robertson. “These and cut-outs in the dresses with some shear areas are not going anywhere any time soon. High necklines are also on the rise though – think Jackie O, Princess Grace Kelly and Meghan Markle. These necklines will always fit the classic, timeless bride and that will never go away.”

Minimalistic Justin Alexander gown.

Minimalism and Megan Markle

“Another look hitting the bridal industry strong is the Meghan Markle effect,” says Robertson. “This probably doesn’t come as any surprise because not only is she now a duchess, but she’s the first American duchess over in the United Kingdom and I think brides find her very relatable. Her style for her wedding was also relatable and approachable while remaining regal.

“The minimalism of Meghan Markle is in high demand,” she adds. “Designers are using the beautiful mikado fabric like her dress. Crepes, matte and satin are strong this season. Minimalistic silhouettes can be seen in fit and flare, A-line and ball gown silhouettes, and all of them are done without a single applique or bead on it.”

Fab Fabrics

Having been in the industry for 47 years, Stemler reflects on the days when high-quality fabric options were few and far between.

“When talking about the ’70s and ’80s, we didn’t have good fabric back then,” she explains. “Everything was polyester before. A drastic change was made when the Chinese silk market opened, and for that we are fortunate.” 

Thankfully, options abound now. Robertson says what many brides are seeking this year is the heavier weight of mikado.

“Mikado is high on every bride’s list,” she says. “It looks like satin at first glance, but when you look closely, it almost has a weave that looks like twill. It used to be the kiss of death to a designer when they’d put a dress on the market in mikado, but not any more. It lends a very tailored look, and it drapes beautifully but with a more structured look, which is very on trend right now.”

English net and soft tulle fabrics are also in, especially in our area where country affairs are as big as ever. 

Photo by Maggie’s Photography. Hair and makeup by Southern Bridal Styles. Shot on location at Bridal Suite of Louisville.

“Many people are still having barn weddings, at least here in Kentucky,” says Robertson. “Even with the rise of more formal weddings in churches and more formal reception venues, barn weddings are still very relevant, and that’s where the English nets and the soft tulles are still strong players along with lace. They’re ethereal, they’re rustic, they’re bohemian.”

Express Yourself

“Brides are probably having more fun now than they’ve ever had in the past. So many options are offered a la carte from designers now so you can customize your dress,” Robertson says.

However, she adds, “The one thing we always remind our brides of is ‘Your day, your way. No matter what the runway dictates, it’s still imperative that brides stay true to themselves.” V