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From left: Ivory embroidered silk dress by BCBG Max Azria,  $399 at NV Boutique, Newark; Gold boatneck with empire tuck waist by Max and Cleo, $110 at  Bel Boutique, Dover; Evening gown with cowl neckline,  crystal rhinestone beading and wide waistband.  Mermaid-style skirt with slight train by Marchesa,  $4,785 at Style Bug, Wilmington. Photograph by Thom Thompson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 2: The Boutique Alternative | The gown of your dreams might be easier to find than you think—as easy as a click of the mouse.

 

Erica Sorrentino of Newark found her dream gown and bridesmaids dresses online—and all at bargain prices. Photo by Thomas W. Lunt The Boutique Alternative

The gown of your dreams might be easier to find than you think—as easy as a click of the mouse.

 Erica Sorrentino, 29, knew what she wanted for her September 2008 wedding at the Judge Morris Estate in Newark. The dress was “impossible” to find, but she knew the line was carried at a boutique in New York. There on vacation, she popped in—and popped right back out.

“The woman said, ‘We don’t even stock that dress,’” Sorrentino says. The woman’s attitude turned her off, and for the rest of her planning, she didn’t step foot in another boutique. So where’d she get her dress? J. Crew’s wedding line.

“I had a formal dress from there before and loved it,” Sorrentino says. The gown she chose fulfilled her wants perfectly at a fraction of the price. Her experience was so stress-free—as opposed to the “endless fittings, high-pressure sales and crowds”—Sorrentino scored her bridesmaids’ dresses there, too.

“I didn’t want [the girls] to be in floor-length silk, since I would be, and I wanted espresso chiffon to go with my casual-level-of-formalness theme,” she says.

Saving her girls money was paramount. Her bridesmaids spent about $50 each on the dresses. As most former bridesmaids can attest, their gowns are often relegated to closet clutter. Sorrentino’s girls, however, have a different story. “One of my bridesmaids just got married and took the dress to wear on her honeymoon,” she says.

Try these: Brides-to-be interested in fun bridal shopping alternatives should know that most lines are online only. Besides J.Crew, Issac Mizrahi has a bridal line for Target, as does Ann Taylor. But they don’t have to be classified as “bridal” to get the job done beautifully. Search the racks at outlet stores such as Banana Republic. You’ll be surprised at the amazing dresses you can find in unexpected places.—Amy Kates

Page 3: Tiers to You | Layers of organza and lace add shape where you need it, diminish shape where you don’t.

 

Tiered gowns were a hit at the wedding of Meredith Knorr and Fran Camardella of West Chester, Pennsylvania, at the Hotel du Pont last summer. Photo by Alicia Cohen PhotographyTiers to You

Layers of organza and lace add shape where you need it, diminish shape where you don’t.

Tiers have made their way from wedding cakes to wedding gowns. Skirts layered with tiers of organza, satin and lace are a fashion-forward, figure-friendly option for brides. “The way the dress bells out shows off how small the upper part of the waist is,” says Hope Mitchell, of Candlelight Bridal Shop in Millsboro. Candlelight carryies tiered gowns from designers such as Maggie Sottero and Mori Lee.

Tiered gowns are also new to Anastasia’s Bridal Salon in Greenville. Owner Luba Cawley had a few styles in the fall and is expecting more options in the winter and spring. Cawley says the style is flattering to almost any bride. “Tiered gowns are somewhat forgiving,” she says. “If you are curvy, they help. If you are not curvy they give some shape.”

There are a few things to consider when selecting a tiered gown. Mary Jaymand, a designer at Fantasia Bridal in Wilmington, says, “The number of tiers is a factor. On a shorter woman, you want fewer tiers. Also, the distance between the layers matters if the bride wants a floaty, romantic effect.”

If the gown’s skirt is tiered, is there a preferred bust line and torso? Jaymand says no. “Strap, halter—it doesn’t matter. But all of the factors have to flatter the bride’s figure.”

“If you are small on top,” Cawley says, “tiers add interest to the skirt and take the eye away from the bust line.”

Do tiered gowns look good on women of all heights? “As long as the gown is fitted properly,” says Mitchell. “It shouldn’t be too full at the bottom. If it is, we take out some crinoline so the bride is wearing the dress instead of the dress wearing the bride. You want to see the bride, not just the dress.” —Melissa Jacobs
 

Page 4: Tailor Made | A custom gown might be just what you need.

 

Tailor Made

A custom gown might be  just what you need.

Christy Olin looked for a wedding dress for months, to no avail. “I went to a bunch of bridal stores and just didn’t see anything,” she says. “There wasn’t one dress I was really crazy about, and if I did see something that I really liked, it wasn’t in my budget.”

But Olin knew exactly what she wanted. “As I was looking at dresses in magazines or in stores, I saw bits and pieces of the things that I liked, but nothing with everything in one dress,” she says.

A friend suggested Olin look into getting a dress made for her. “I hadn’t really thought about it,” she says. But she couldn’t be happier that she did.

Olin went with Elaine’s in Newark. She says it’s important that whomever is making the dress—be it a seamstress or a friend handy with a sewing machine—really understands your vision.

“A good thing to do is sit down and give [the person who’s making the dress] all your ideas,” she says. “When I did this, my seamstress put together a little drawing, and we went over what I could expect to pay for fabrics. After the meeting, I knew this was the right option for me.”

From start to finish, the process took about six months, “but I think it takes less than that normally,” Olin says. “We just spaced it out so it would be in time for my October wedding.”

An obvious benefit is the individuality of the dress. “It was very me, very girly with the lace, satin and bow on the back,” she says. “But it was a great experience, too. It was really fun. I got to go to the fabric store, help pick out my fabrics. And I saved so much money.”

Olin estimates her custom dress was one third of the cost of something off the rack.

What more could a girl ask for?  —Amy Kates

Page 5: Bedazzled | The right necklace for your dress depends on its neckline. Some advice.

 

Lacy Williams of Georgetown wore a dazzling necklace during her September 19, 2009, wedding. Photograph by kate Callahan.Bedazzled

The right necklace for your dress depends on its neckline. Some advice.

Congratulations on finding your dream dress. Now comes the task of deciding what jewelry will complement it best. According to jewelers and designers, one of the best ways to decide what works for your outfit is by looking to the neckline for inspiration.

A general rule is to mimic the shape of the neckline with a necklace. For example, a V-neck dress looks best with a Y-shaped necklace or pendant that creates a vertical on the body. Brett Morris, of A.R. Morris Jewelers in Wilmington and Greenville, recommends a necklace that comes to a point above the bust, or a simple pearl pendant to hang in your décolletage.

For a scoop neck, a classic string of pearls perfectly reflects the rounded shape of the neckline. Sayers Jewelers of Smyrna specializes in pearls, and it offers various shades of pale pink and cream.

Halters are difficult to outfit with a necklace. “Necklaces tend to get twisted in the fabric of the dress and irritate the back of the neck,” says Amy Macheska of Forney’s Jewelers in Dover. She recommends leaving the neckline open and opting for large chandelier or drop earrings to frame the face.

When it comes to strapless dresses, anything goes. “Simplicity is in,” says Macheska, who finds that most brides go to Forney’s seeking single diamond pendants or journey necklaces. Sayers Jewelers has created custom pieces such as diamond-encrusted flower pendants and 6-foot strands of pearls. Morris sees many brides gravitating toward lacy scrollwork and swirls, which give a simple dress a feminine, vintage feel.  —Sarah Spagnoli

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