Wedding Dress Trends 2023: 6 Looks That Balance Timeless & Trendy
Once upon a time, wedding season was a term designated to describe the temperate weekends from May through September. For bridal parties and wedding guests, a four-month time period was expected to be spent interpreting dress codes, navigating gift etiquette, and hoping the chicken option on the menu wouldn't be too dry. Lately, however, it seems like the fairytale season has been extended to an ongoing year-long occurrence. Winter and “off-season” weddings are becoming increasingly popular (likely a result of the influx of delayed weddings post-Covid) and with a change in timing comes a change in trends—the upcoming wedding dress trends for 2023 reflect a renewed celebration of grandeur, the rise of the untraditional bride and prioritize all-season silhouettes.
As I write this trend story, I'm sitting in a coffee shop in a small town in Pennsylvania to attend the first of two consecutive November weddings on my calendar. Because I have yet to go through the process of choosing a wedding dress for myself (though I definitely look forward to it happening eventually), I'm always eager to see the wedding fashion at each ceremony. These November weddings fall right after Bridal Fashion Week and I'm excited to see if any of the upcoming trends detailed below will make an early appearance. Even though I may not know the bride well (I'm still in my “plus one” era), I think the wedding dress a bride chooses always gives great insight into their style and personality.
To get a better perspective on the process of choosing a wedding dress and navigating bridal trends, I brought my dear friend and upcoming bride, Mary Grace Scully, with me to preview the 2023 bridal collections. Scully works tangentially with the fashion industry as the Head of the Creator Program at The Nate App and has an incredibly refined understanding of her own personal style—she plays into trends but is never defined by them. Scully was raised in the south, currently resides in New York City, and is planning on getting married next January in Los Angeles. Needless to say, she's on the hunt for a dress that captures the influence each location has had in molding her personal style—no easy feat! Luckily, Scully seems to have a game plan.
“I describe my personal style in 3 words: sporty, sparkly, and preppy. (Thanks to stylist Allison Bornstein who talks about the 3-word method on TikTok!) This means I really enjoy classic & conservative silhouettes, but like to layer and accessorize in surprising ways that balance feminine and masculine energy. Therefore, going into my wedding weekend (because let's be real, it's more than just one day), I want to balance traditional silhouettes with a modern flair,” Scully explains.
Based on aesthetics, I believe Scully walks the line between a classic and non-traditional bride—a combination that may have been difficult to shop for five years ago but is now the focus of many designers as brides look to balance trendy and timeless. Designers like Viktor&Rolf, Elie Saab and Peter Langner all presented classic silhouettes in their 2023 collections but added trendy details like oversized bows, sheer detailing, or dramatic evening gloves to give brides an optional twist.
Scully says, “It's absolutely possible to balance trendy and timeless! For example, feathers are obviously huge in fashion, and have made their way into bridal. I've had my eye on a white satin bias gown from LAPOINTE, it has long sleeves and detachable feather cuffs. I also noticed a lot of tulle in Andrew Kwon and Lela Rose's collections, which made me think about different ways to include it, aside from a classic tiered skirt.”
The (literal) clearest indication that Scully is strategically approaching her wedding shopping is the gorgeous aquamarine and diamond engagement ring sitting on her left hand. The emerald-cut ring is the perfect representation of Scully's commitment to adding her personal flair to her wedding day and serves as the cornerstone of all design decisions.
“I want to really lean into the “something blue” tradition. I've already purchased aqua crystal Manolo Blahniks (a classic with a twist) and will likely wear them with my wedding gown and for the reception look. I also recently found a vintage aqua sheer robe to wear while getting ready the morning of, and plan to invest in a special aqua party dress for the reception,” Scully explains.
Scully's vision is right on the money when it comes to 2023 wedding dress trends—I can attest that she gushed over the delicate long-sleeve silhouettes presented at Lela Rose and was immediately drawn to a dramatic blue evening dress (complete with gloves and a bow) at Andrew Kwon for a reception look. If you're similar to Mary Grace Scully and are a bride looking for the best of both worlds on your big day, 2023's wedding dress trends will fit the bill—and if your bill allows, you'll want to wear multiple looks. Keep reading for the trends you're bound to consider.
Go Big Or Go Bow
Bows are the hottest (or sweetest) built-in accessory in bridal wear for 2023. Whether they are making a singular oversized statement or appearing in multiples, the feminine detail is on the rise in designer's collections. A bow can be incorporated into a wedding look without being the entire look because it works with a variety of dress silhouettes. For example, Viktor&Rolf sprinkled an otherwise simple sheath dress in tiny bows while Amsale Bride had a bow double as a sleeve on a mermaid dress. A bow can also be easily incorporated by adding a removable belt or a hairpiece.
Florals are already a big focus on a wedding day and designers are encouraging brides to incorporate them into their wedding wardrobe. Floral motifs, embroidery and beading have grown in popularity for 2023. Unlike many of the other 2023 trends, floral detail is emerging as the main focus of the garments instead of just a detail. For example, Enzo Miccio covered a princess-style gown in large embroidered roses. The flowers on most dresses match the gown's white shade and therefore add lovely texture without distracting from the rest of the look.
Brides Of A Feather
At this point, you probably own an item of clothing that features feather trim (or at least have worn a boa to a Harry Styles concert). Feathers immediately add a fun flair to occasionwear while simultaneously elevating the ensemble's elegance. Designers are catching on to the increasing popularity of changing into a reception look and are adding flirty feather mini dresses to their bridal collections. You can either go full-on feather with a heavy feather skirt as shown in the Badgley Mischka collection or opt for feather-inspired fabric as shown in the Sareh Nouri collection.
All Over Opera Gloves
Opera gloves fit both the “something old” and “something new” traditions for bridal wear. The classic eveningwear style is having a massive resurgence with celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Zoë Kravitz and Blake Lively wearing them for red-carpet events and the look has translated into bridal. Opera gloves can be added to any dress silhouette (as long as it doesn't already have long sleeves) and is a chic way to create a stylized moment. Gloves are also a great accessory for a rehearsal dinner, cocktail hour or just to cut the cake.
Some Like It Sheer
Warning: the sheer trend may NSFGP (not safe for grandparents) but boy, is it fun. A sheer dress, also known as a “naked dress”, is the trend for a daring bride and preferably an evening ceremony or reception. Sheer dresses are everywhere right now and designers like Jason Wu have done an excellent job of creating realistically wearable versions of them. While you may not want to sacrifice your big white dress for a sheer slip, I think it's an excellent option for an afterparty if you're planning multiple looks throughout the evening.
Tulle Is The Rule
This trend is for the maximalist brides—tulle is the “bigger is better” of wedding trends and makes the best statement when incorporated in dramatic layers. Andrew Kwon created a standout strapless dress with a tulle skirt. The gown creates the illusion that the bride is floating as she walks across the room because there are that many layers.
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