Bridal Bliss

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NBM_29_Wedding Trends_Dress Jewelry_By Jody Tiongco-205-Recovered
Ball gown with Swarovski crystal detailing, at Casablanca Bridal; emerald and diamond earrings and ring, at Traditional Jewelers

As summer approaches, white weddings emerge with colorful and vintage-inspired ensembles.

By Bria Balliet | Photos by Jody Tiongco


It’s a scene often pictured in films: A little girl passes a white gown in a shop window and begins to daydream of the day she’ll meet her fairy tale prince, have a lavish wedding and ride off into the sunset, the train of her ivory dress trailing behind her.

With such a sense of importance placed on the traditional wedding dress, it seems as if the frock has been a wedding day staple since the beginning of marriage itself. But the white wedding gown, popularized by Britain’s Queen Victoria when she chose the style for her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840, did not become mainstream in Western culture until the 1900s. Despite its relatively new surge in popularity, wedding fashion has seen many ups and downs in the last century, from the elegant tea-length ensembles of the 1950s to the puffy-sleeved, high-necked ball gowns of the early 1980s.

Though the styles have fluctuated across the decades, the overall bridal look remained consistent for some time—a white or ivory full-skirted gown, dramatic veil and simple jewelry, offering little flexibility to accommodate individual style. Luckily for the modern bride, there has since been a harmonious marriage, so to speak, between tradition and taste, and the latest bridal fashions allow women to easily create a look that is as timeless as it is a reflection of their personal style.


Layered gown, by Hayley Paige, at Mon Amie Bridal Salon; Tahitian pearl necklace and ring, stud earrings, at Jewels by Joseph
Bride: Ruched mermaid satin gown in blush, at Casablanca Bridal; diamond drop necklace, cuff, stud earrings, ring, at Black, Starr and Frost Bridesmaid: Black ponte gown, by Alice and Olivia, at Neiman Marcus, Fashion Island; pearl earrings, at Black, Starr and Frost

Haute Hues

Brides looking to brighten up their big days have been turning to color in new and unexpected ways. From the gown to the engagement ring, they’re taking it upon themselves to add vibrant accents to wedding day attire.

Kim Stuart, vice president and global sales manager of Casablanca Bridal, which has a flagship salon at Crystal Cove Shopping Center, says the company’s designers are just as eager to experiment with color as its clients are.

“… We are coming at it from a very thoughtful place,” she says of Casablanca’s designs, noting that the brand’s use of rose gold thread and layers of tinted tulles offers a unique and subtle way to add excitement to a dress without departing too much from tradition.

Many brides are drawn to the softer blush and Champagne colors, which are now being offered more widely—but other shades are gaining popularity as well. “I am seeing a huge trend in blush and ombre-colored gowns, and also a little blue,” says Jennifer Kelley, owner of Jennifer Renee Weddings & Events in Newport.
Those who wish to wear white to their weddings don’t have to forego unexpected hues altogether, however.

“Colored gemstones have been popular for engagement rings in Europe for centuries, and here in the U.S. they provide a great option for the bride who prefers a personal expression,” says Marisha Van Dyke, a bridal expert at Traditional Jewelers at Fashion Island.

In fact, Kate Middleton’s deep blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring inspired many women to depart from the traditional diamond center stone. Sapphires and other stones can be found in hues like peach and blush to please more subdued tastes, while bright gems such as emeralds and rubies are gracing the fingers of more and more brides-to-be. Marisha also points out that colored gems can be cost-effective alternatives for those who desire a large center stone but may not want to pay the price for a diamond of similar size and quality.


High-neck gown, by Lazaro, at Mon Amie Bridal Salon; earrings, canary diamond cuff, yellow gold ring, at Swiss Watch Gallery
High-neck gown, by Lazaro, at Mon Amie Bridal Salon; earrings, canary diamond cuff, yellow gold ring, at Swiss Watch Gallery

Golden Age Glam

For the bride who wishes to pay homage to the past as she steps forward into her future, vintage-style gowns and jewelry prove to be popular choices. Lindsay Geisler, event designer and wedding coordinator with Newport’s Sugar Branch Special Events & Design, says that what’s old is now new again. “The wedding industry is seeing a resurgence in styles and elements from the golden era of the 1920s,” she says. “Brides and designers are being seduced by the glitz and excitement of such a socially opulent time.”

Channeling the Roaring Twenties, brides are opting for sheath silhouettes that mimic those of the era. Intricate beading and elaborate lace details throughout the gown are must-have details. “Dropped waists, cap sleeves, Chantilly lace … all pay homage to a romantic and decadent time,” Lindsay shares.

One of the most beautiful and unforeseen ways that designers are utilizing this trend is in a dramatic, backless style. “We are seeing a lot of open backs,” Kim says. “So as [the bride] walks down the aisle, it appears that she is very proper … and the big surprise is that as she passes everyone walking down the aisle, she has a very open keyhole back.” Whether the bride decides to don a completely open back draped with diamonds or a stunning “illusion” back that utilizes nude colored tulle with crystal beaded overlay, she will surely make a splash as she says “I do.”

In addition to gowns, the jewels of this decade were unmistakable. Today’s brides are taking note and working these pieces into their modern celebrations. To add a touch of glamour and nostalgia to their wedding day accessories, brides are donning bejeweled headpieces in lieu of the traditional veil. Crystal-encrusted headbands worn low across the forehead—like a flapper—are being seen on more aisles than ever, according to Leyla Finkle, general manager of Swiss Watch Gallery in south Orange County. The shop’s customized headpieces offer the perfect accessory for the vintage-inspired bride. Another possibility is to use hair combs to pin back tresses—long strands of delicate pearls are a foolproof option. “We can do anything from feathers to diamonds and everything in between,” Leyla says of the store’s headpiece selections.


Mermaid silhouette dress with tulle skirt, at Casablanca Bridal; kunzite pendant diamond necklace, ring, at Mark  Patterson
Mermaid silhouette dress with tulle skirt, at Casablanca Bridal; kunzite pendant diamond necklace, ring, at Mark Patterson

Romantic Notions

It’s no surprise that brides-to-be are electing to don softer, dreamy looks for their nuptials—arguably the most romantic day of their lives. As far as wedding gowns are concerned, the romantic theme manifests itself in many ways. From subtle flower appliques to airy chiffon skirts, brides are choosing details that let them feel like the princesses in their own personal fairy tales. With this call for romance, a classic silhouette is coming back, but with modern adjustments.

“Brides nationwide [are] asking for ball gowns again,” Kim says, noting that the trend had fallen off the radar in previous years. Layers of tulle offer the full-skirted look that women want while maintaining a softer appearance that satin gowns of the past lacked. Brides are also gravitating toward mermaid silhouettes—the curve-hugging style that’s become popular in recent years—but are choosing fuller chiffon skirts, sometimes with cascading rosettes or other delicate features.

As with their wedding gown counterparts, romantic jewels and adornments are all about making minor tweaks to timeless styles to evoke a sense of femininity and grace. A simple strand of pearls, a diamond solitaire necklace or a set of teardrop earrings all pair beautifully with the ethereal look of a romantic gown. In lieu of traditional platinum or gold, however, Lindsay Longacre, owner of LVL Weddings & Events in Costa Mesa, suggests a dreamier option for the romantic bride: rose gold. The pink-hued metal, which many brides are choosing to use for their engagement rings, couldn’t be more feminine and suggests a look of modern romance.

Lindsay also notes that choosing an alternate style to a classic veil is an easy way for brides to create a dainty look for their big day. “For example, [try] a soft sheer veil with a floral headpiece,” she suggests.

Layered gown, by Hayley Paige, at Mon Amie Bridal Salon; Tahitian pearl necklace and ring, stud earrings, at Jewels by Joseph
Layered gown, by Hayley Paige, at Mon Amie Bridal Salon; Tahitian pearl necklace and ring, stud earrings, at Jewels by Joseph

A Touch of Whimsy

There has never been a more exciting time for the quirky bride with an unconventional style. Couples are becoming more comfortable adding their own twists to traditional looks, from short gowns to statement jewels, and the result is unexpected and wonderfully whimsical.

Not every bride is comfortable in a floor-length gown, for example. Certain styles can be heavy and cumbersome, and for a gal who isn’t a fan of dresses in the first place, it can seem like a daunting ensemble. In lieu of a dress, some are opting for a wedding jumpsuit.

“[It is] fashion forward for a daring bride who enjoys less girly wedding options,” Lindsay Geisler says. Designers such as Monique Lhuillier, Viktor & Rolf and J.Crew have embraced this unexpected trend, offering the one-piece pantsuit in lace, silk and other fabrics. Alternately, the bride who finds herself caught in the middle—not wanting a full-length dress but not wanting pants either—may find the renewed trend of tea-length wedding frocks appealing. The chic style, characterized by a length that’s past the knee but above the ankle, allows for more movement and is a creative and playful alternative to customary attire.

The exciting thing about whimsical jewelry is that there are no set rules for self-expression. In that sense, there aren’t specific trends to follow and brides are free to be as original and unusual as they’d like. Many brides are embracing their inner trendsetter by choosing bolder pieces like dramatic earrings or a statement necklace. Garden-themed pieces are popping up in many weddings, with glittering flowers or insects serving as the focal point of pieces. To top off the look, Lindsay Longacre says that the whimsical bride won’t be as interested in a traditional veil. “But what you might see is a bride’s spin on a more dramatic veil,” she shares. “For example, [one style might be] a gold birdcage veil.”

With such diverse possibilities when it comes to wedding day attire, the modern bride is well equipped to make her wedding day memorable and fashionable for herself and her betrothed.


Etiquette 101

Newport Beach wedding experts weigh in on some of the more puzzling social dilemmas that brides encounter,
from the engagement to the dessert table.


Can I tell my fiance that I don’t love my ring?

“To avoid this scenario entirely, I suggest that the fiance focus solely on the purchase of the diamond; then I have it set it in a simple platinum mounting and the happy couple can come in together to choose the ring of their dreams. It relieves a lot of pressure and worry for both parties and gives them a wonderful romantic story to share with friends.”

—Marisha Van Dyke, a bridal expert at Traditional Jewelers at Fashion Island


Do we have to get a cake?

“Absolutely not. In fact, a big trend over the last few years has been [to offer] alternative sweets. Some fun and unique ideas include cupcakes, an organic ice cream cart … or—if you are getting married in Newport Beach—Balboa Bars are always a personal touch.”

—Lindsay Longacre, owner of LVL Weddings & Events in Costa Mesa


Is it rude to include our gift registry with the invitations?

“Never, ever, ever do this. … It looks like you are asking for gifts, which is distasteful and makes guests feel like that’s all you care about. [Instead,] on your save the dates, include the link to your wedding website, which has a place to share your registry information. If one of your guests would like to find out where you are registered, they will ask your friends and family.”

—Lindsay Geisler, event designer and wedding coordinator with Sugar Branch Special Events & Design in Newport Beach




Vow-Perfect Venues

From a casual family affair to a grand extravaganza with 600 of your closest friends, Newport Beach has a space to fit every wedding and every couple.


Balboa Bay Resort;

Wedding by the Bay

For the twosome that desires a nautical yet elegant setting, the Balboa Bay Resort offers two beautiful outdoor ceremony venues that overlook glistening Newport Bay and can accommodate up to 400 guests. Brides even have the option to enter their ceremony via yacht for a truly one-of-a-kind walk down the aisle. Afterward, two reception halls provide enchanting spaces for the new couple to celebrate with friends and family. (855-894-2788;


Wedding With a View    

The Resort at Pelican Hill offers couples unmatched views for their big days. Perched 300 feet above the water, the event lawn boasts panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island in the distance. One of the venue’s other draws for couples is the privacy of the location. Completely separate from the rest of the resort, the most pristine overlooks are reserved especially for brides and grooms to say their vows. To top it all off, included in all wedding packages is a wedding butler to attend to all wedding day needs and emergencies, as well as a complimentary bridal bungalow for the newly united pair to spend their first evening as husband and wife. (888-507-6427;


: Environmental Nature Center;
: Environmental Nature Center;

Eco-Friendly Wedding

As a venue, the Environmental Nature Center is a wonderfully meaningful place for couples to say their vows while expressing their appreciation and respect for Mother Nature. The award-winning and eco-friendly location features recycled materials throughout the venue, water-efficient systems and energy-conserving climate control, which allow the space to produce more energy than it uses. Its 3.5 acres of outdoor space includes a butterfly garden, redwood forest and 15 different California plant communities for the happy couple and their guests to explore after the ceremony. It’s the perfect location to hold a stunning celebration and simultaneously support a worthy cause. (949-645-8489;


Large and Lavish Wedding

For the duo with a large circle of loved ones, the Island Hotel provides one of the most grandiose venues in Newport Beach. With a new wedding site and 600-person ballroom, there’s no need to trim down the guest list when you say your vows at this AAA Five Diamond property. The romantic outdoor terrace is covered and heated, so wedding parties can enjoy the space without having to worry about unexpected weather. (866-554-4620;

 Crystal Cove
Crystal Cove

Wedding on the Sand

The bride and groom hoping to get their feet a little sandy should look to the Beachcomber Cafe at Crystal Cove. From fall to spring, ceremonies can take place at Crystal Cove State Beach or Moro Canyon, with a reception to follow at either the Beachcomber or the “Beaches” cottage. The Beachcomber Catering team will attend to food and beverage needs at either location, and the venue can accommodate up to 200 guests. (949-376-6900;

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