Small Wonders

Whether your aisle style leans toward tradition or the cutting edge of fashion, the right accessories can


Whether your aisle style leans toward tradition or the cutting edge of fashion, the right accessories can enhance your gown and complete your Big Day look. From the jeweled hairpin woven into your tresses to the tips of your shoes poking out from beneath your gown, subtle accents add personality to formal style. After all, every last delicate detail counts.

Understated Elegance
For head-to-toe style, adorn your ’do with subtle touches of sparkle or color. Lately, brides are looking for the less-is-more effect in hairpieces. “We’re seeing smaller accents—miniature tiaras, combs or crystals that twist into the hair,” says Melissa McCourt, accessory buyer for Jay West Bridal in Haddonfield.

Got cropped locks? Don’t think you have to forgo hair accessories. “We see hairpins on girls who can’t do a tiara because they don’t have enough hair to support it,” says Pattie Lamantia, owner of The Wedding Shoppe in Wayne. Embellished with rhinestones, crystals or pearls, the pins come in sets of five or six and can be scattered throughout the hair. “That way, when the veil comes off they feel their hair still has adornment,” she says.

Brides can wear hairpins with small colored accents, such as a little blue stone among white pearls or rhinestones to add some soft color. “It gives a touch of color very delicately throughout the hair,” says Lamantia.

Those who aren’t donning a veil can wear more intricate adornments, such as hair sticks, which are tiny crystals fastened to a bendable wire. “They twist and accent an up-do as opposed to a crown or tiara,” says Lamantia. “They catch the light and look beautiful.”

Unveil Your Style
From delicate mantillas à la Grace Kelly (see “True Grace” on page 56) to the mile-long cathedral train of Princess Diana, veils can change the look of your gown. And they aren’t just for princesses.

The style of the gown usually determines the style of the veil. “With straighter, more form-fitting gowns, girls go with the cathedral length,” says McCourt, referring to veils that flow past the hem of the dress. “The long veil makes it more dramatic.” With full ball gowns, brides tend to wear fingertip or waist-length veils. “Some leave these shorter veils on for the whole night, and some take them off and just leave their hair jewelry in,” she says.

Veils may be embellished in some way. “Usually there is something on them, whether it’s a satin trim or beading along the border,” says McCourt. Some are even hand-embroidered. Materials range from lace and tulle to sheer silk organza.

“Lace mantillas are very popular,” says Lamantia. Sheer tulle with a lace hem, like the traditional Spanish style, can be customized at The Wedding Shoppe in any length, giving your wedding day look a touch of Old World glamour.

Dare to Sparkle
Rhinestone, crystal and diamond dangles are setting ears ablaze with sparkle. “Many are wearing a long and full chandelier earring,” says Marina D’Angelo, manager of Jenkintown’s Nicole Bridal & Formal Shoppe. Intricate, glittering earrings draw attention upwards, softly illuminating the face. “There’s a romance about the whole look. They’re long, flowing and delicate,” says Renee Lesicko, manager of Priscilla of Boston in Wynnewood.

When donning your shoulder-grazing dazzlers, be sure to tone down the rest of your jewels. “You have to make concessions,” says Lamantia. Choose one accessory to be the main focal point. If you opt for dramatic earrings, tone down any hair and neckline jewels to avoid accessory overkill. For brides who want to lighten up on their lobes, diamond studs add a touch of simple, elegant sparkle.

With many brides choosing earrings as the focal point of their look, a bare neckline is becoming increasingly common, says McCourt. If a necklace is the main focus, brides tend to choose a bigger piece that will stand out and change the look of the gown. “Many are going for the antique look with the layering of necklaces, rather than just a single pendant,” she says.

Modern bridal neckwear nods to tradition as well. “Some girls will take an antique or heirloom brooch and have it made into a necklace,” says Lesicko. “A lot of times the piece will have a touch of sapphire in it. It’s something old, and it’s something blue.”

For those who still have a penchant for pearls, the classic accessory is making a comeback. “Brides on a whole are going back to traditional pearls,” Lesicko says. “It’s classic elegance.”

Timeless Traditions
Whether they’re family heirlooms or more recent purchases, brooches are bringing back vintage flair with a twist on placement. When accenting a very simple dress, some brides choose to pin the brooch onto the dress itself. “They can be pinned either at the waist, maybe at the side of the bust, and some are doing it at the back of the waist, so it looks like it could be an appliqué,” says Lamantia. “It adds a touch of jewelry without adding beading to the dress.” Some even pin brooches to the stems of their bouquet (see “Putting on the Glitz” on page 122) or to their shoes, adding sparkle in unexpected places.

Whether or not they’re century-old heirlooms, most brooches look the part. “The [new] brooches now have a very antique, filigree style,” says McCourt. “Nothing too modern-looking—they could almost be your grandmother’s brooch.”

To Have and to Hold
Gloves have been an aisle must-have for decades, but recently brides have been baring their arms, allowing glowing skin to complement the pale shades of their gowns. Some still yearn for the traditional glamour of gloves, proving that while skin is in, gloves still have a place on the aisle. “It’s all going back to the romantic era,” Lesicko says. “We even have a bride who has chosen to wear black gloves to give that more dramatic, Audrey Hepburn look.” Most brides opt for opera-length silk gloves that hit above the elbow. “They feel wrist length is too cute,” says Lamantia.

Or, instead of gloves, brides can wear a bracelet to accent their new ring-finger addition. “Most wear elegant, thin pieces—very small and minimal,” says Lamantia. Take care in selecting any pieces for the wrist. “A lot of bracelets can damage the dress—it catches when they walk or when they put their arms down,” she says. Choose bracelets that have covered clasps and smooth surfaces, such as pearls.

Every bride should be armed with a small purse to hold day-of necessities such as lipstick, tissues, face powder and aspirin. Though these bags won’t make an appearance on the aisle (most brides leave them in the limo or with a family member during the ceremony), they should still be just as stylish as you are.

Once slouchy, drawstring pouches, brides’ bags have grown up. “Wedding purses are more of a tailored clutch,” says McCourt. “It’s a more sleek and sophisticated bag.” Smaller styles are perfect for stashing the must-haves. Grasp a beaded bag to accent a simpler dress, or try a solid satin clutch if you are wearing a heavily embellished gown. (For an inconspicuous purse that is aisle-friendly, see “Sweetly
Discreet” on page 25.)

Supporting Roles
From hosiery to corsets, choosing what goes beneath the gown is almost as important as the dress itself. “Most get corsets because it helps make the dress feel more secure,” says Lamantia. Steel-boned corsets offer more structure, while backless styles give support but remain out of sight.

Cups can be added to your gown and “will help mold the look of the dress, but they don’t do anything to support you,” Lamantia says. “If you’re a full cup, you need to have a bra on.”

As for stocking styles, “bare leg is in,” says Lamantia. If you prefer to wear hosiery, choose a nude color. “It’s much sexier,” says Lesicko. Footless Spanx are another popular option. Hitting below the knee, they cinch and smooth, but can be worn with open-toed shoes.

Well Heeled
For years, aisles only felt the clunky heels of sensible shoes, but this season’s trends toward higher heels and sleeker silhouettes are letting brides-to-be step into marriage in style. “Brides are definitely going for a sexier shoe,” says Lamantia. Open-toed, strappy shoes are most popular, with a tall, thin heel. “The average height is two-and-a-half to two-and-three-quarter inches,” McCourt says.

If weather doesn’t permit exposed toes, most brides choose a closed-toe shoe with a point, which peeks through the hemline more than a rounded toe, says D’Angelo.

If you tend to teeter in heels, look at the new and very pretty ballet-style flats which combine comfort and style. Remember, on your Big Day, comfort is key. Says Lamantia, “If you’re not used to wearing a three-and-a-half-inch heel, don’t wear one on your wedding day.”

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