HOW TO CHOOSE A WEDDING DRESS,

ADVICE FROM BRIDAL EXPERT JADE BEER

Your wedding dress is one of the biggest fashion choices you’ll ever make, and for the modern, fashionable bride, the choices are seemingly infinite. If you’ve decided that the classic, formal white gown isn’t for you and you want to opt for something with a fashion twist – or even a totally non-traditional wedding outfit – we’re here to help. Well, with a little guidance from bridal guru Jade Beer. As the former editor of Brides magazine, she knows everything there is to know about weddings, wedding dresses and bridal chic in general. Here, she shares everything you need to know about being a the most fashionable bride…

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Woman in workwear clothing

“Women have so much more confidence now in styling their wedding day, and themselves, exactly how they want to. That might mean banishing the color white or inviting twenty friends to join them on their honeymoon. If it makes them happy, they’re doing it.”

“Nowadays, a wedding dress can in fact be a tailored crepe suit, high-waisted shorts, a jumpsuit worn with a cream leather jacket, a bias-cut slip you’ll wear long after your wedding day. It’s just as likely to be a kimono-style dress as it is a strapless ball gown. Or it could be blush, blue, pale green, red – or scattered with multi-colored blooms…”

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CHOOSING YOUR WEDDING DAY OUTFIT

Budgets, locations and styles can vary wildly – do you have any general golden rules on creating a stylish wedding?

I think it needs to be honestly done. If you’re not the sort of person who would wear bold colour, don’t choose your wedding day to experiment with that. If you’re not comfortable with public speaking, don’t feel pressurized to give a speech. If your budget is raging out of control, return to the guest list, since reducing those numbers will be the easiest way to cut costs across the day without impacting on your overall vision. Try to keep the day as close to you as possible so that you don’t wake up on your wedding morning in a location that has no meaningful connection for you, looking at an outfit you feel intimidated to wear and a day full of compromises that you felt obliged to make.

If you don’t go down the traditional wedding dress designer route, which luxury fashion brands are good at creating dresses suitable for brides?

If you would like to buy something with maximum wearability beyond your wedding day, then you can look to collections from Simone Rocha for modern vintage; Stella McCartney for soft feminine tailoring, Dolce & Gabbana for ladylike structured silhouettes, Valentino for delicate couture vibes and Galvan for beautifully-cut simplicity. This being said, there are hundreds of designers that do exceptional dresses perfect for different bridal tastes.

Blue cashmere sweater

HOW SHOULD A MODERN BRIDE APPROACH FINDING THE RIGHT DRESS?

Start with the dresses in your everyday wardrobe. What’s there? Lots of florals? Second skin? Tailoring? Color? Are you someone who favors simplicity over ruffles and flounce? Do you like full length? Volume? Embellishment? You’ll probably see some preferences emerging and this should form the basis of at least the first dresses that you try on. If you are someone who leans towards understated French chic, that will lead you clearly to one set of designers. If you’re more about the bling, then you’ll be looking at another.

JADE’S TOP TIPS

Do have an open mind? I would always say try on something on the border of your comfort zone, if nothing else so you can reassure yourself that you were right, and it’s not just ‘you.’

Have a clear view of your wardrobe budget up front. Far from being restrictive, this will simply help to define your try-on list.

Consider your venue. Aside from the practical considerations – like whether there are lots of steps to navigate and the width of your aisle – you’ll also want to make sure the look you love is in keeping with the setting. A giant, embellished ballgown in a field in the middle of Devon might look a little out of place.

HERE COMES THE BRIDESMAIDS

THE REST OF THE BRIDAL PARTY

With the average age to get married creeping up, how do you go about dressing adult bridesmaids who are likely to be in their 30s or older, with their own defined styles?

It’s much more popular now to simply chose a color palette and let your bridesmaids select something of their own style in that shade. It means you’ll have a line-up of women in entirely different looks, but that often looks more natural and unforced and makes for more interesting photographs. I’ve also seen quite a few bridesmaids do mixed florals which looks really pretty. Whatever way you decide to play it, it’s worth remembering that the very last thing you want is a miserable looking maid all day long. Never fall into the trap of thinking if you are paying you get to dictate the look. It just isn’t worth the potential fallout.

Blue cashmere sweater

WHAT OTHER WAYS ARE THERE TO INTRODUCE FASHION ELEMENTS TO THE WEDDING?

Couples are having much more fun with their wedding dress codes. Some of the more unusual ones I’ve seen recently have been ‘irreverence’, ‘medieval’, ‘sports day whites’ and ‘What would Beyoncé do?’ It can be a great way of uniting a crowd that probably don’t all know each other and a fun talking point over the introductions and dinner. But beware the trickier ones like ‘do not disappoint’, ‘couture’ or ‘your finest FROW attire’, which would scare even the most fashionable guests before they even make it to the big day. And accept that not everyone will conform. If you try to insist that everyone ‘wears white’ you need to be sure that it isn’t going to destroy your big day when Auntie Lynn turns up in fuchsia pink.

For more wedding planning inspiration take a look at our Q&A with Laura Jackson.

Jade Beer is the author of two novels, The Almost Wife and What I Didn’t Say, and the former editor-in-chief of Conde Nast Brides.