Spring and summer wedding styles in Delaware and on the Main Line are simple and slim—for everyone in the wedding party.
By Eileen Smith Dallabrida
This season, brides will stun in gowns that are elegantly simple. Grooms will await them in tailored, slim-fitting suits, many decked out in bright colors befitting peacocks.
Tactile satin, organza and crepe, as well as a resurgence of traditional lace, take the place of last year’s sequins and elaborate beadwork. Whispered patterns and subtle hints of color spring up in sweet, embroidered flowers.
Amid the romance, there’s an emphasis on pragmatism, a vestige of the protracted COVID-19 pandemic. Imported fabrics are in scarce supply due to glitches in the supply chain. Wedding parties are smaller. Many bridal shops are operating by appointment only.
Then again, some things never change—or at least not much. Brides have been wearing white since 1840, when Queen Victoria set the trend during her marriage to Prince Albert. Today’s whites aren’t snow-white; the hue is softer, like French vanilla ice cream. Think summery clouds, parchment stationery, vintage pearls.
“Overwhelmingly, our brides ask for off-white, natural white and ivory,” says Pattie Lamantia of The Wedding Shoppe in Wayne.
For some, demure pastel accents complement these softer whites. The exuberance of spring and the joy of being outdoors is reflected in a line by Monique Lhuillier that features three-dimensional embroidered yellow buttercups, pink dahlias and Queen Anne’s lace. Billowing poet’s sleeves are detachable.
“There’s that hint of color—gorgeous prints, blush pink organza, pink-and-green lace veils,” Lamantia says.
After more than 20 years, brides’ affinity for strapless gowns still holds up. Ashley Justin is showing a form-fitting strapless dress with a mermaid hemline and voluminous embroidered overskirt. Francesca Miranda interprets strapless in romantic bodices and skirts in tiers of lace. Ines Di Santo updates a strapless bodice with underwire cups and a large fabric rose at the waist. Van Der Velde is almost strapless, with off-the-shoulder sleeves or spaghetti straps.
Most of Lamantia’s brides are older than 30, she says. “They are used to wearing strapless dresses—and they want to have their arms free for dancing.”
While many are giving their maids free rein to choose their own dresses, Lamantia recommends creating some guidelines.
“Establish a color guide and a fabric [you like],” she says. “Bridesmaids are there to support the bride, not make an individual fashion statement.”
Before hitting the dance floor, many brides change into a LWD—little white dress—to celebrate in fashionable comfort. Jennifer Lopez wore a white lace minidress on the red carpet to promote her movie Marry Me.
Industry analysts say twice as many weddings are planned for Spring 2022 than the same season last year, when COVID-19 knocked major social events off the calendar.
David Ferron, a designer working out of his eponymous design firm in Unionville, Pennsylvania, is grateful for new technology that lets him create virtual avatars that replicate client’s actual measurements. This allows him to create one-of-a-kind, special-occasion garments. The technique greatly reduces the number of fittings required for couture fashions.
“I usually ask for at least three months to work on a piece, but we have done gowns in less than 30 days,” Ferron says.
His garments are known as much for what you don’t see as they are for their stunning visuals. A silk wool gown is defined by a hand-pleated cotton mesh overlay. The skirt has strategically placed oversized pleats, a hidden slit for comfort, discreet pockets and a horsehair hem for structure.
Ferron created an ethereal chiffon wrap for a bride who wanted a fresh interpretation of her mother’s wedding dress. “She wanted to update it, so we made her a very elegant robe,” he says.
He says mothers of the bride and groom are increasingly breaking with tradition and splurging on custom-made outfits they plan to wear again for special occasions beyond the wedding. Separates, such as a sequined body shirt worn with a full skirt, are on the upswing.
“We have these sophisticated moms who want a beautiful top that they can wear again out to dinner with fabulous pants,” he explains. “It’s rare these days that the mother of the bride wants a full-length gown, unless [the event is] black tie.”
One mom wore a button-down blouse with a big, pleated skirt for her daughter’s casual nuptials. Six months later, she wore a black tuxedo for her son’s wedding in New York. “It was so cool,” Ferron says.
For the groom’s suit and those of his men, hues of blue have surpassed black in popularity.
“Navy is extremely popular, as well as brighter blues: French blue, cobalt blue, royal blue,” says Norma Locke of Formal Affairs in Newark. “In the summer, we are seeing a lot of tan and light gray.”
Cummerbunds are out, but suspenders are showing staying power. Many grooms are also buying rather than renting formal suits. Plain dress shirts supplant pleated tuxedo shirts. Regardless of the shirt, all the guys are sporting cuff links.
How to differentiate the groom from his men? Check out their ties.
“We’re seeing a trend toward the long tie for the guys, usually the same color as the bridesmaids’ gown, and the groom with a bowtie,” Locke points out. “And most guys are in lace-up Oxfords. We don’t see many loafers.”
Pants are a little shorter, just above the shoe. Jackets are slim-fit, with tight shoulders, regardless of the size of the man sporting the suit. “We have up to size 70. You don’t have to be a slim person to wear a slim-cut suit,” she says.