Trend is to have more than one dress on wedding day
The trend toward extreme gown shopping ties in with rise in destination weddings
It seems that more is more in the world of weddings this year, as brides have stopped searching for “the one” in favour of “curating ” entire wedding wardrobes. Where once a woman bought a single statement gown for the ceremony, possibly slipping into something slinkier for the reception, weddings have now been extrapolated to encompass all manner of new sub-events — rehearsal dinners, after-after-parties, international blessings and post-wedding brunches — each requiring a bridal look to match. When singer and gemstone heiress Victoria Swarovski married property investor Werner Murz in Italy last month, she wore different dresses to get married, to cut the cake, to perform, and to host a unique red colour-themed dinner for her guests. They were all designed by Dubai couturier Michael Cinco and featured a blitz of her family’s crystals, but she ultimately used the big day to trial every bridal silhouette on the block. And Swarovski is not alone. The trend for extreme dress shopping matches up with a rise in couples booking destination weddings and the desire to extend the party for as long as possible. The quest to do something unique and memorable is also in line with the impending death of the Pinterest wedding, as guests are becoming fatigued with the copycat twinearound-jam container setups that are shared prolifically on the site. “Wedding season can get quite repetitive so a lot of people now want to give their guests a different experience,” says Nausheen Shah, the New York-based stylist who recently outfitted DJ and fitness blogger Hannah Bronfman with no fewer than eight bridal looks for her nuptials in Morocco. “Destination weddings are productions — if you’re expecting your guests to fly somewhere and spend money on a hotel, then you want to make it worth their while.”
Shah advises clients who are planning a multi-faceted (and therefore multi-dress) wedding to make a storyboard of the key events, times, weather and locations that will make up their celebrations, before finding an outfit for each phase.
“It’s really nice to do a buildup with the wardrobe and to have each section be unexpected,” she says. In Bronfman’s case, this involved a Cucculelli Shaheen dress (hand-beaded with that night’s constellations) for the rehearsal dinner, a custom sweetheart Vera Wang gown for the ceremony, a change into feathered Elie Saab for the breakfast, and a vintage Chanel for dancing. The following day, Bronfman chose gold, yellow and black gowns, with varying degrees of embellishment, to host a pool party and desert disco. As prices for one gown from Wang’s bridal collection can start at $8,600, you can see how quickly the cost can spiral.
While most things about this new movement buck tradition, the main ‘wow’ moment, Shah says, is still the exchanging of the vows. “Most women still like to make the main ceremony their grandest (dress) and most women still like to wear white for that. But the rest of the events are a chance to show yourself in as many lights as possible,” she says. “Shopping for several events is time-consuming, but it’s exciting to express your personality and take people on a journey,” she says.
If you think all the costume changes sound excessive, bridal designer Charlie Brear sees them as a sign of these Instagram-focused times. “Absolutely, it’s all about the pictures,” Brear says, adding that the eponymous label she founded in 2010 has been booming as clients now request second, third or even fourth ensembles from her. Brides on a budget are also keen to maximize their styling options, she says, buying mix-and-match skirts and tops from her Styling Additions line, and choosing bridal jumpsuits and separates for more affordable extra looks. “The market has exploded since Instagram launched,” she says. “For a lot of people, this is their red-carpet moment, their chance to be at the centre of their world — and enjoy planning every detail.”
Alexandra Edwards, public relations manager for luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo, says that she found planning her destination wedding to be “the most fun” and felt it was only fair to match her schedule of events with suitably exciting dresses. She kicked off her wedding to Carlo Carello, owner of Albert’s Club, with a 1950s-style Esme Vie dress for her London civil service, then wore gowns by Valentino, Naeem Khan and Georges Hobeika for her ceremony and post-wedding garden party in Italy last month — all paired with custom Choos.
“I always wanted a big wedding and I wanted to drag it out for as long as possible,” Edwards says. “Carlo is from Italy, so it made sense for us. Families and friends move all over the place so going to a wedding in Europe isn’t so much of an ask.”
When asked if having several gowns dilutes their sentiment in any way, she says: “I would like to think that I will keep all of my dresses because I put so much effort into choosing them. I want them for the memories.”
And for the gorgeous photographs, naturally.
Nausheen Shah, a New York-based stylist, tells brides who are planning multi-faceted (and therefore multi-dress) weddings to make a storyboard of their plans — including times, weather and locations that will make up the celebration — before finding an outfit for each phase.
Asked if having several gowns diluted the sentiment, recent bride Alexandra Edwards said: “I would like to think that I will keep all of my dresses because I put so much effort into choosing them. I want them for the memories.”
DJ and fitness blogger Hannah Bronfman had no fewer than eight dresses for her recent wedding celebrations in Morocco.
The main “wow” moment of the wedding, says Nausheen Shah, is still the exchanging of vows between the bride and groom.