"A frequent comment I hear from brides and their mothers is that, since the bride spends most of the ceremony with her back to the guests, you want the back of the gown to be as impressive as the front, if not more," says Mary Sides, co-owner of Wedding Belles (3640 Magazine St., 891-1005; www.weddingbellesneworleans.com.)
Although your average bride may not begin the search with an idea for the back of her gown, sometimes when she is trying on dresses, once she discovers one with a back that has a strong visual appeal, it easily becomes a focus.
In terms of back-baring dresses, Sides says that the cut her customers select is often dictated by the location and type of ceremony: "While they may not feel comfortable with so much exposure in a traditional church ceremony, they often feel it is appropriate and just the right style for a courtyard or tropical beach ceremony."
So, what's "in" for the posterior view? Sides sites the long, colored sashes that have been very popular over the past few years and reports seeing more gowns that have a unique bustle built into the design of the gown and train.
Custom wedding gown designer Suzanne Perron (6063 Magazine St., 899-6895; suzanneperron.com) says she gets more requests for fine detailing on the back of the dress rather than for elaborate trains and that many of her clients prefer designs where the veil, not the dress, is the train.
But sometimes what a bride wants the front of her dress to look like doesn't always gel with what she has in mind for the back. Having worked for more than a decade in New York designing gowns for Carolina Herrera, Anna Sui and Vera Wang, Perron became adept at making slight adjustments to what often were two very disparate concepts for either side.
"I'd find a way to capture the essence of what they wanted, to modify the two concepts to make them work together," says Perron.
For some women, being a bride is all about the drama of the dress.
"Lots of girls are asking for a corseted bodice," says Linda Lee of Linda Lee Bridal Boutique (3829 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 889-1889; www.lindaleebridal.bigstep.com), "and over the past year, we've had more requests for cathedral-length trains, which measure about 5 feet total. Back interest is very important."
Lee says her customers are showing more interest in hand-beading than in appliques.
"It's beading all the way around the bodice or along the edge of the dress," says Lee. "They just want an all-around good look."
That means a dress that looks good coming and going -- kneeling at the altar and spinning around on the dance floor. * Suzanne Perron custom bridal gowns start at $5,000. Individual pricing is available upon request.