So you've met The One, said yes, and now you're planning what's sure to be a fabulous wedding. Congratulations! At this point, many brides turn to a top item on their checklist – finding The Dress.
Some want a classic number. Others are on the hunt for 2016's daring, haute couture looks, like crop tops and dresses embellished with milky opalescent beading. The options can be both exciting and overwhelming. Fortunately, a few local wedding gown experts who understand the significance of the dress and shopping experience can lead the way.
At The Bridal Boutique by MaeMe, customers browse beneath glamorous chandeliers. Owner Melissa Estess says florals are popular, used as a pattern on the dress or incorporated in a lace overlay, along with plunging necklines, sometimes paired with a transparent material such as tulle.
"We're seeing brides take more of a risk than they had in the past," she says, noting that full skirts also are in vogue. "For a while, we just saw fit-and-flare with sweetheart necklines. Fuller skirts and textured skirts are definitely making a comeback."
The sprawling collection at Pearl's Place showcases a variety of styles, ranging from laid-back, delicate boho looks to glam sequined versions. Owner Courtney Schulman says gowns embellished with opalescent beads are in demand this year.
"It used to be just rhinestones and stuff, but now (designers) are going toward these iridescent opal beads, which has been fun," she says.
Warm-hued dresses rather than stark white ones have been a big hit on the wedding gown scene. Claudia Adamcewicz, owner of Bustles & Bows Bridal Boutique, believes that blush and bashful (two shades of pink) are 2016's signature colors.
Each boutique owner mentioned a trend that may raise eyebrows: two-piece outfits that reveal a sliver of belly. These customizable outfits, some more conservative than others, are popular for tropical destination weddings.
"It's definitely something new and something for the moms to get used to," Adam- cewicz says, laughing. "You can throw a veil on and make it come together as a more traditional look but, yes, the midriff showing ... has been a big sell."
Fashionable accessories include dramatic cathedral veils, dainty floral headpieces and statement shoes decorated with glistening rhinestones.
Estess says sashes are still going strong, but are no longer a go-to source for extra pizzazz. Now the emphasis is on the dress.
"This bohemian-chic look that's coming incorporates a lot more beading, plunging necklines and illusion," she says. "We're still seeing sashes, but that intricacy is more in the bodice of the dress."
Estess' shop is expanding its selections of sizes and currently offers about 50 gowns in sizes up to 28.
"It's bringing that bride what she wants to wear and not what the industry is saying a fuller-figured bride should wear," says Estess, who encourages clients to arrive at the boutique with photos of the dresses they like. That way, sales assistants can get the gown search moving in the right direction.
Many customers won't know what they want until they see it. Schulman, who has worked for Pearl's Place for 25 years, suggests brides stay flexible regarding styles.
"When someone comes in and says: 'Oh my God, I have to have this,' the look may not even be flattering on them," she says. "To be open-minded is the best kind of client because we can then look at them, see what looks good on them and do well with that."
Adamcewicz will gently make suggestions, if the client is amenable to hearing them.
"I tell them to trust us and trust that we're going to make them look beautiful," she says. "I think (the dress) has to fit their personality — that's the most important thing. You have to look beautiful and feel beautiful for yourself, and that will radiate to everyone else."