Sparkle & Shine

Dress: Justin Alexander 2020.  Photo by Laurie Robertson

Saying “I do” to the leading looks of 2020

By Laura Ross

‘Tis the season for  engagements. As the holidays approach, professionals in the wedding industry arebusy gearing up for the spring wedding season, which begins deep in winter’s cold. Planning for brides starts the minute they answer “yes” to the big question, and in the eyes of wedding professionals, that’s not a minute too soon.

Locations, wedding attire, flowers and more all take months to reserve, order and plan, and the savvy bride fills her calendar quickly. Style mavens like the editors of British Vogue have already weighed in on 2020 trends, and American designers and buyers agree wholeheartedly.

The look? According to British Vogue, it’s all about a new decade and a new look. Brides are encouraged to choose their own adventure and not necessarily follow the traditional rules of wedding planning.

As local wedding professionals return from market and prep for 2020, specific trends are rising for the coming year. While high glamour is a focus, soft colors and earthy tones are creating the palette for spring.

Cameo Lace over Chantilly Lace.  Dress: Justin Alexander 2020

“At the top of my list is sleeves,” said Laurie Robertson, owner of The Bridal Suite of Louisville. “Sleeves could be seen in every designer’s collections – from long-sleeved to off-the-shoulder to three-quarter-length sleeves. Brides asked and our designers listened.”

While strapless gowns have been the rage for several years, the sleeve is ready for a renaissance. “We’re not talking about your mother’s long sleeves,” said Robertson. “We’re talking about sophisticated sexiness – sleeves that drape off the décolletage creating an incredible portrait neckline and sleeves made of beaded, illusion lace extending down to below the wrist.”

The quality of the lace is key as well. “Lace evokes images of vintage wedding dresses from years past. This season’s interpretations of the classics are no exception,” explained Robertson. “We are seeing an incredible influx of some of the most exquisite laces we’ve seen in decades, from oversized floral patterns to cameo-shaped embroidery to burnout jacquards. Designers are pushing the envelope further than ever, layering multiple types of lace to create a multi-dimensional visual effect.”

The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, popularized high glamour and minimalism in her stunning wedding gown, which became prominent in the past couple of years. Robertson noted that designers at market were showing luxurious Mikado silk, crepe and matte satin fabrics in every designer collection, many with creative cutouts in the fabric. The minimalistic silhouette is well-suited for fit-and-flare and A-line gowns.

Floral arrangement by Susan’s Florist. Photo by Amy Streeter.

While minimalism is still popular, all that glitters is still knocking at the church door. “Many designers showcased a range of glittering beauties, from striking to subtle,” said Robertson. “The one feature that stood out prominently was the layering of sparkle tulle. Designers have taken to adding a layer of sparkling tulles or sequined silks and strategically placing them under the outer layer of lace, thus creating a shimmering effect as the bride moves.”

That sparkle translates to bridal jewelry, said Brian Merkley, president of Merkley Kendrick Jewelers. “We are seeing more interest in fancy-cut diamonds, like cushion-cut diamonds,” he said. “Round diamonds are still the favorite and most traditional of the shapes because round diamonds sparkle more than any of the other shapes. In my eyes, when I think of diamonds, I think of brilliance and sparkle and light dancing. That’s what you get with round stones.”

Traditional solitaire engagement rings are back in style but with a contemporary spin. “Super ultra-thin bands are popular, as is styling on the shoulders with patterns of smaller diamonds or colored gems,” Merkley said. “I’m seeing yellow and rose gold return along with different finishes like brushing, edging and engraving, and certainly, vintage style is a strong influence.”

Merkley admits to watching awards shows not for the stars but for the jewelry designs. “I don’t know any of the stars on the screen, but I know their jewelry,” he laughed.

Dress by Justin Alexander 2020

“When I started in this business, if your engagement set was yellow gold, you wore yellow gold for everything,” he added. “Now, everyone likes their jewelry to be customized to themselves. It’s all about the individual, and all the fashion rules are out the window.”

Dress by Kenneth Winston Photos by Laurie Robertson.

Showing love not only for your sweetie but also for the environment is a factor as many couples plan for more natural and sustainable weddings. Amy Streeter, owner of Susan’s Florist, notes many brides are looking for a natural and organic design. “Bouquets used to consist of one focal flower, and that bouquet would be 90 percent roses with a collar of greens,” said Streeter. “Now, a bouquet may have four roses, two hydrangeas, three bells of Ireland, two Veronica, ranunculus and much more.”

Jessie Smith, lead wedding designer at Susan’s Florist, added, “A lot of brides like the wild and free design. Bells out to the left and a snapdragon swinging out to the right, with a few garden roses or dahlias tucked in tight as a focal point. It is much more random, but we consider it beautiful chaos.”

The top five wedding color schemes for 2020 are neo-mint, purist blue, cassis (a deeper blend of purple and pink), cantaloupe and mellow yellow, said Streeter. In addition to the soft, muted tones, couples are turning to herbs as well, including lavender, sage, rosemary and eucalyptus.

Center, clockwise from top: 1.31ct fancy light yellow radiant diamond platinum engagement ring set in a pave halo filigree consisting of 80 (0.56ct) round brilliant cut diamonds. $16,485, available at Merkley Kendrick Jewelers.
2.14ct engagement ring set in an intricate handmade platinum setting including 24 (0.33ct) single cut diamonds. $20,160, available at Merkley Kendrick Jewelers.
Three stone engagement ring set in 18kt white gold featuring a 1.60ct round center diamond positioned between two emerald (0.68ct) gemstones. $18,675, available at Merkley Kendrick Jewelers.

Feeling rebellious? There’s something for the adventurous bride, too. White, embellished tuxedos – for the bride – and bouquets of all green foliage and ornamental grasses might be your choice. “For the bride who isn’t afraid to take a fashion risk and have a little fun, feathers add a delicate and feminine touch to many of the gowns we saw at market,” said Robertson. 

Expect 2020 brides to be stunning and creative. The sky is the limit, as brides say “I do” to new trends. V