Oscar de la Renta bridal style patterned gown

The Ultimate Bridal Style Guide

Wedding Stylist Samantha Levis Breaks It Down
Photo by Cass Bird, Dress by Oscar de la Renta

Your Bridal Style Trend Report

Bringing an editorial-lens to bridal wear, LA-based bridal stylist Samantha Levis tells all on what to wear down the aisle this year. From tea-length gowns to ultra-chic bridal suits and fanciful feathers, we can’t wait to see what bridal trends make their way from the runway to the wedding aisle.

Bridal style Pallas Couture gown with feathered train
Photo: Greg Lewis; Dress: Pallas Couture
Bridal style Jenny Packham gown with feathered wrap
Photo: Jon Gorrigan; Dress: Jenny Packham

Fanciful Feathers

Not only do feathers add glamour, but they also add playfulness and theatricality. Your wedding is essentially your red carpet moment, and feathers are synonymous with glamour. There are so many magnificent ways designers are introducing feathers to exude a glamorous look, whether it's detailing a train to add movement, enhancing a full skirt for shape, or delicately woven throughout for dimension.

The Pros:

Feathers are luxe and can take a traditional gown to the next level by making it that much fancier. After 2020, I think we are all ready to amplify fantasy and dress to the nines as it's been quite some time. Lean into it.

Where to Wear:

A personality-packed elopement, ballroom affair, or black-tie soiree.

Bridal style Markarian suit
Photo: Oriana Layendecker; Dress: Markarian
Bridal style Adriana Madrid suit
Photo: MC Weddings, Dress: Adriana Madrid

The Bridal Blazer or Sharp Suit

Assertive, polished, sophisticated, modern, and very much fashion-focused. Often bridal can be interpreted as sweet and girly—sometimes too expected—and a perfectly tailored suit changes that. If you've had to postpone your special day, adding a suited option for a new event is a great opportunity to expand your bridal story. It can be a great contrast or complement to your wedding day look. You can also get a lot of wear out of this look by mixing and matching separates and different accessories.

The Pros:

A great bridal suit is adaptable to so many situations throughout life, so this is an investment piece you can wear again—a white or cream tux (of any kind; suit, floor-length dress, mini-dress, skirted, etc.). You can make it what you want!

Where to Wear:

I love this look in a completely juxtaposed setting outdoors—somewhere really organic. It's also an obvious choice for the likes of City Hall or a smaller outdoor gathering with a cityscape backdrop such as a rooftop.

Bridal style Galia Lahav beaded mini dress
Photo & Dress: Galia Lahav
Bridal style Naeem Khan lace mini dress with train
Photo & Dress: Naeem Khan

The Over-the-Top Mini

A bridal staple, there are natural breaks throughout your wedding to slip into a fun and flirty mini-gown, such as after your first dance, after the cake cutting, or your after-party.

If you are hesitant to wear something trendy, the mini is your chance and a fun way to add to your bridal style story. Let your hair down, let your shoes show, maybe even change up your hairstyle! Utilizing a mini-gown as a polar opposite look to your wedding dress can add another fashion element that your wedding dress might not have captured. Were you too nervous about wearing feathers down the aisle? I get it. Have them on your mini!

The Pros:

My brides have a mini for one of three reasons: To add another look entirely to your day because there is so much to love in bridal, to add in a trend or element that you weren’t able to with your wedding dress, and pure comfort (a wedding dress can be heavy, hot, and a tad restricting). I love seeing brides start their wedding weekend in a mini gown for their rehearsal dinner—a little tease of the fashion and storytelling of what's to come for the big reveal!

Where to Wear:

An over-the-top mini can work in any bridal setting since it's as fancy as you make it. Top off with a cape or veil, and you're good to go for a ceremony, dinner, or dancing.

Bridal style Monique Lhuillier high-low dress with train
Photo: Kyle Martin, Dress: Monique Lhuillier
Bridal style Viktor & Rolf high-low dress with tulle train
Photo: Marijke Aerden, Dress: Viktor & Rolf

High-Low Hem

Think traditional with a twist. Perfect for a grand entrance, the sheer volume of this gown's skirt can't be missed. Thanks to a blend of modern and dramatic, a high-low hem is not only fashionable, but it’s also functional because you are getting the best of a ballgown with half the weight! Because of the contrast between the fitted bodice and full skirt, it's especially figure-flattering. A gown like this is quite functional and can handle nearly any setting.  

The Pros:

Ideal for a fashion-forward bride, not only do you have a gorgeous gown, but this silhouette is perfect for being able to fully see and showcase your bridal style shoes—heels are a must with this one! I like to think of this as the “Carrie Bradshaw Bridal Moment.”

Where to Wear:

I love this for a garden party fete or estate setting.

Bridal style Monique Lhuillier patterned gown
Photo: KT Merry, Dress: Monique Lhuillier
Bridal style Oscar de la Renta patterned gown
Photo: Cass Bird, Dress: Oscar de la Renta

Colorful Patterns

This 2021 trend turns heads and will brighten the entire atmosphere of your wedding day. Fashion has always reacted to societal change. After this year of somewhat isolation and rules, we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and see colorful patterns emerge into the bridal world. Classic and billowy silhouettes are being shown in colorful hues exuding both softness and elegance.

The Pros:

Keeping the rest of your wedding neutral? Have your dress bring the subtle pop of color to your celebration. The pattern trend also makes any colorful dress choice multifaceted.

Where to Wear:

Hello, future black-tie event.

Bridal style Oscar de la Renta tea-length gown
Photo: Brett Warren, Dress: Oscar de la Renta
Bridal style Brock Collection tea-length gown
Photo: Kristopher Brock, Dress: Brock Collection

Tea-Length Gowns

A bit more playful than a traditional wedding gown, this shorter (yet ladylike) silhouette is showing up by various prominent wedding designers for 2021.

The traditional shape highlights a fuller skirt with a fitted bodice, which makes it undeniably romantic, flirty, and exudes an elegant air of casualness. We see a new age of the tea-length dress with a fitted bodice complemented by modern details such as puffy sleeves or exposed boning.

The Pros:

It's captivating and fresh as the traditional style hasn't been seen in quite some time and is making quite the comeback by the likes of many modern designers. It is a definite showstopper and will still allow your original wedding gown to take the stage.

Where To Wear:

City Hall nuptials, an intimate backyard wedding, or elevated garden party fete.

Bridal style Christie Nicole Bridal over-the-top gown with sheer lace bodice and jeweled collar
Photo: Sara Eshu, Dress: Christie Nicole Bridal
Bridal style Inbal Dror over-the-top gown with puffy accented sleeves
Photo: Alon Shafransky, Dress: Inbal Dror

Magnifying Maximalism

Bigger is better now in bridal—Victorian sleeves, layers, ruffles, bedazzlement, collars, and bows. Your fiancé probably won't get it, and that's ok.

Think New Age feminine. You don't need to put a bow on it to scream girly, but if you do, make sure it's big. There are now many modern and unexpected ways to bring that extra (feminine and editorial) style to your wedding day look.

The Pros:

Combining sophisticated and modern cuts with lace and other unique fabrics and elements such as oversized bows, jumbo soft ruffles, and jewels provide beautiful and contemporary juxtaposition. Over-the-top trimmings combined with a more modern cut will do the trick, or go with a sexy, fitted exposed boning corset with a sheer collared topper—finished with jewels!

Where to Wear:

A scene-stealing ceremony, ultra-chic micro wedding, City Hall I-DOs, or just about anywhere you can create a moment to shine.