A light-hearted fashion manual to guide you through the most instrumental elements of wedding attire
In the words of fashion legend Christian Dior, “The less you can afford for your frocks, the more care you must take with your accessories.” Gloves, veils, headpieces, jewellery, shoes and bags all fall under the bridal accessories heading. The trick with accessories is to ensure that each piece complements your overall look, not competes with it.
As what will probably be the most photographed day of your life, it’s important to take care of your beauty regime in the months leading up to the big day. Professionals recommend a series of facials for that bridal glow and regular hair masques for luscious locks. For those not so keen on the various lotions and potions, be sure to drink lots of water and try to get a full eight hours’ shuteye each night.
Recent years have seen a dramatic spike in colours being introduced into bridal wear as an alternative to the traditional white, one of the most popular choices being blush. Gwen Stefani was a pioneer for this look back in 2002 with her dip-dyed hot pink Dior gown designed by John Galliano. One of the first to rock a coloured gown, the rock star bride paved the way for many exquisite coloured designs.
The most important and expensive item of clothing you will most likely ever buy, this is not a decision to be rushed. When it comes to dress shopping, go with your gut. Be sure to bring open-minded people whose opinion you value and trust, limit the number of people you bring with you to each bridal appointment to two, you don’t need a whole host of conflicting opinions. Also avoid making too many appointments in the various boutiques too close together, it will confuse you to see so many white dresses in such a short period of time. And when you are in that hour long appointment, make the most of it by listening to the assistants in the boutiques, they do this for a living so they know what they are talking about. Dresses can look completely different on a hanger than they do on, it’s no harm to try it on, you may even be pleasantly surprised!
A symbol of your love and devotion to each other, solitaires have become the customary gem used in engagement rings over the centuries but other gems can be chosen if desired. The circular nature of the ring represents eternity, renewal, wholeness and perfection, perfect for the bringing together of two lives. Although normally worn on the second last finger on the left hand, this is then transferred to the second last finger on the right hand for the wedding day, leaving your ring finger free for the wedding band.
Florals and weddings go hand in hand, not just for décor but also for the overall bridal look. The incorporation of 3D florals into gowns has been prominent in recent years, and this year we have seen an introduction of colourful stitching of floral designs onto gowns (such as this stunning gown from Monique Huillier Fall 2019 collection). For a more boho approach, brides also have the option of a floral crown, and of course, your bridal bouquet is also an integral part of accessorising your overall look.
There are a few different beliefs surrounding the tradition of the bride wearing a garter. It was believed that owning a piece of the wedding dress was good luck which resulted in guests ripping the gown during the reception. As the majority of brides were unsurprisingly unhappy with this attack, the garter was introduced as an alternative and could be thrown to the crowd to bring luck to one of the guests. The garter also symbolises the consummation of the new marriage. Some brides opt for a blue garter and this can double up on traditions, fulfilling the role of ‘something blue’.
A decision about hairstyle and whether to incorporate a headpiece should be reserved until after the dress has been chosen. Bring a picture of your dress to your hairstylist and see what suggestions they may have, for example, hair worn up is a good option for showing off a backless gown. If you plan on wearing a headpiece this should also be brought along to your hair trials as it may affect your chosen style.
When it comes to trends it’s important to bear in mind your signature style, be confident that looking back in 30 years’ time you will still be able to identify with the style as your own and not what was popular at that time. Put your own stamp on the outfit, whether that be through accessories or a distinctive gown.
When it comes to choosing your jewellery for this special occasion, many brides like to incorporate a special piece from their own collection or a family heirloom. Whether it be a necklace your hubby-to-be gave you for an important anniversary or a priceless pair of earrings which your grandmother wore for her wedding, the sentimental element is invaluable. It’s the perfect way to add that personal touch and can also count as your something old or something borrowed.
A pair of killer heels automatically make us ladies walk taller, instantly feeling somewhat sexier. Once you have your dress chosen, take time to shop around for the perfect pair of shoes to accompany. Be sure to find a balance though, don’t invest in a pair of designer heels which you know will leave you crippled after two hours, it will be a long day so choose wisely and be sure to break the beauties in also. If your dress is a sleek satin silhouette style, avoid any shoes with embellishments which could snag the bottom of your dress.
Long considered a staple of bridal wear, lace comes in many different types such as Alencon, Chantilly, Guipure, Honiton, brocade and embroidered. Its delicate nature makes it a popular choice when it comes to designing wedding gowns, and the different variations can cater to all styles from vintage to current day fashion.
Made to measure
Some brides opt to have a custom made gown created specifically for their own shape and style. This involves the bride having her exact measurements taken and the gown created to hug her individual figure. Brides who choose this avenue should bear in mind that it will make it harder to sell after the wedding or if they wanted to pass it down to their own daughter. A made to measure gown will also most likely take longer than ordering a gown off the rail.
Looking after your hands, and particularly your nails, is one of the more important aspects of your bridal beauty regime. From the second you have that ring on your finger, people will be asking to see it and trust us, nothing dulls the sparkle quicker than dry, chapped hands with chipped nail polish. Invest in some good quality hand cream and cuticle oil to keep them in prime condition, by booking regular manicures you can ensure that you’re always ready to flash your rock.
Over the top
When it comes to your bridal attire, take a step back and envision the overall look with each individual decision which you make. There are an array of different accessories, make-up looks and hairstyles which you can choose to individualise your look but be careful that you don’t overdo it. While you may aim to present the best looking version of yourself it’s important that your groom will still recognise the same girl he fell in love with. Sometimes the old saying of ‘less is more’ needs to be adhered to.
A bride’s posture and how she carries herself is crucial to the overall look, the image of a slouched over bride shuffling down the aisle doesn’t exactly inspire the most graceful of entrances. Refining your posture doesn’t necessarily mean resorting to the outdated concept of walking across the room with books on your head. Practice your walk down the aisle with your wedding shoes on and be mindful of keeping your chin up, chest out and shoulders back. The straight, elegant silhouette will also boost your self-confidence as you walk tall down the aisle to your future husband.
This royal was responsible for the introduction of several bridal trends, but predominantly the tradition of the bride wearing white for her wedding day. Queen Victoria was also the first modern monarch to wear a veil as she made her way down the aisle. The bride wore a gown created with white Spitalfields silk satin, trimmed with Honiton lace and accessorised with a matching lace veil. To ensure that the lace pattern was unique to the queen, the patterns were destroyed once the dress was complete.
As wedding gowns can be somewhat bulky depending on the style, some brides opt to have a change of dress on hand for their reception, allowing them to put on their dancing shoes and join their guests partying the night away. Whether it’s a shorter dress, a skirt which you can match to the bodice part of your dress, a silhouette gown or simply bustling up the skirt of your original wedding gown, this allows for a change of style which grants greater freedom to mingle through the reception without having guests trampling on your precious gown.
When it comes to second marriages, some brides find themselves unsure of what the appropriate attire is for the occasion. The answer is whatever you are comfortable in. Some brides choose demure evening wear as opposed to bridal wear but this is their prerogative, they may prefer a more laid back approach if they have been through the big white wedding the first time around. A wedding is a celebration so wear whatever you are comfortable in whether that be a knee-length blush pink cocktail dress or a full-skirted white ball gown.
Traditions have long played a role in the bride’s outfit with perhaps the most well-known being “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” which sees brides try to incorporate one of each into her ensemble on the day. These are seen as small tokens of luck with each representing something different. Something old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue stands for love and fidelity.
The idea of seductive, barely-there lingerie is great in theory but is best kept for the honeymoon or wedding night. On the day of your wedding, you will require underwear which fits and flatters your shape, this is the foundation of your overall look so it’s important to invest in the proper items and build your look from there. We’re not saying you have to go full Bridget Jones knickers but the seamless nude hot pants may not be exactly what your new husband will be expecting….
One of the oldest elements of traditional wedding attire, the veil outdates even the formal wedding gown. Concealing the brides face behind her veil was thought to symbolise the delivery of the bride as pure and innocent to her new husband. Veils were also seen to protect the bride from any evil spirits who may try to destroy her happiness. These days, the veil is seen as a dainty and romantic addition to the bridal outfit.
The colour most commonly associated with brides and weddings, white was the chosen colour for wedding gowns due to its symbolism of purity, innocence and virginity. As white was expected to be reserved for brides who saved themselves for their wedding night, the introduction of gowns in shades of cream, ivory and oyster increased in popularity as the expectation of no sex before marriage dwindled over time. Nowadays brides can choose whatever colour takes their fancy, whether that be traditional white or a bold shade of blue or even black.
The most extreme and expensive wedding dress ever made was a collaboration between Martin Katz Jewellers and designer Renee Strauss back in 2006. The dress was valued at an eye-watering $12 million dollars and was embellished with 150 carats’ worth of diamonds. Meanwhile, the world’s longest veil was recorded as recently as December 2016 in Taitung County, Chinese Taipei measuring 19,921 ft 11.73 in. The veil was a gift from the bride’s father for her wedding day and took a team of three people over three months to handcraft.
According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the average ages of Irish brides and grooms have risen significantly in recent decades. Compared to just thirty years ago in 1977 where the average groom was aged 26, the CSO showed this rise to 36 in their 2017 findings. Similarly, the average age of the bride rose from 24 in 1977 to 34 in their latest figures released last April.
There is not much point in investing in a dedicated skincare routine if you are not looking after yourself and spending hours lying awake every night thinking about wedding planning. Sleep is one of the most important parts of your beauty regime so be sure to try and get your full eight hours each night. Not only will it help your appearance, but it will also allow you to have a clear and more focused mind when it comes to tackling your planning!