Best Dressed: For the Bride

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2000

Most bridal gowns could correctly be called formal, but the shape, style, fabric, trimmings, and accessories make some more so, others less so. The distinction between day and evening attire is usually subtle and subjective: Jeweled accents, for example, often lend an evening feel, but just a sprinkling of sparkle may be fine for daytime. In addition to the level of formality, a bride must consider the location of the wedding: Daisy appliques will look out of place in an urban hotel, but right at home in a garden.

A bride's hair and makeup also influence the overall effect. A ball gown of silk, satin, tulle, or lace with a cathedral-length train and veil is a romantic choice for any formal wedding. A ball gown with a chapel or sweep train and complementary veil is also appropriate for a somewhat less formal event, as are other silhouettes, such as the A-line, Empire, and sheath. Elaborate detailing, like beadwork or embroidery, often make a gown more formal.

Gloves may be worn for formal or semiformal weddings. Velvet and fur should be reserved for winter months. Simply styled dresses in traditional silhouettes worn with short veils or none at all are appropriate for semiformal to informal events. Modern designs, such as halter and slip dresses, and dresses in a color usually fall into the same category, but are occasionally more formal. For an informal wedding, a bride might choose a long dress in a fabric like pique, Swiss dot, or jersey, or she may wear a chic suit or short dress.

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