After a year of postponements, cancelations, mini-weddings and too much Zoom (in all aspects of our lives), wedding planning can commence again. This time has definitely pushed us all to reach new levels of creativity and resourcefulness — same goes for the bridal designers and entrepreneurs that are offering fresh, innovative and exciting ways to celebrate your long-anticipated big day.
Whether you're looking for modular layers for versatility and self-expression, festive ensembles for outdoors (from garden to beach), a playful 'fit for a second look or a full-on, seize-the-day ballgown, the below eight brands and retailers have options for you. (Be sure to click through the galleries to see the full collections, too.)
After custom-designing wedding dresses for two years, Pennsylvania-based Sheila Frank launched her first bridal collection of then-revolutionary mix-and-match pieces in 2018. For her 2022 collection, she made her debut on the official CFDA calendar with a capsule conceived specifically for today's wedding needs.
"I wanted to create ready-to-wear-inspired pieces that could be worn again. I reflected back to times of war where weddings still happened, but dresses weren't elaborate," explains Frank, who referenced and updated style elements from 1918, the '40s and the '60s for the modern bride.
Her nine-piece collection features interchangeable slip dresses, overlays, puff-sleeve blouses and A-line skirts, handmade in Frank's Mechanicsburg studio using matte satin and delicate dotted Swiss and sheer plaid mesh to easily incorporate into your existing everyday wardrobe. "I enjoy the idea of sustainable fashion and maybe even 'upcycling' the pieces into something fresh for the next season by dyeing or altering the silhouette," suggests Frank.
General price range: Blouses from $206, dresses from $415, coat-dresses from $596.
Size range: 0 to 26 (with pieces up to size 30 in the upcoming October collection).
Delivery time frame: Typically within 16 weeks of order date. (Rush fees have been waived due to the pandemic.)
Customization options available: Garments are made-to-order, so customizations include bodices, skirt silhouettes, lengths, overlays, fabrics, colors, sleeves and more. "The possibilities are endless since we're a smaller business," says Frank.
More at sheilafrank.com.
Fifth & Welshire
Kai Petty launched Fifth & Welshire for the "non-traditional bride" last October in the midst of the pandemic, when wedding planning became anything but traditional. The founder and creative director envisioned the contemporary ready-to-wear bridal line — which is named for her mother and grandfather — for civil or less formal ceremonies, plus events surrounding a wedding: rehearsal dinner, engagement party, second look, etc.
The Maryland-based brand's second collection, also making a CFDA calendar debut, focuses on mix-and-match pieces such as architectural pleat-paneled gowns and jumpsuits, plus crisp suit separates. Petty dedicates this collection to couples moving forward with their big day, even in the uncertain landscape, with a focus on flexible separates.
"We were in awe of the women that traded in their dreams of the fairytale gown for a chic pant suit or a modern dress off-the-rack," says Petty. "This collection was an homage to their bravery, style and perseverance."
General price range: $275 to $545.
Size range: 2 to 14.
Delivery timeframe: Three to five business days from order date.
More at fifthandwelshire.com.
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For the aspirational and literal beach bride, Brazilian ready-to-wear label PatBo debuted its first swimwear-inspired (and infused) bridal edit in April.
"This collection was born out of the seemingly endless requests to make the brand's most beloved signature styles in all-white," explains founder and creative director Patricia Bonaldi.
The vibrant, celebratory line features bridal versions of the brand's cut-out beach dress, fringed mini and long-sleeve swimsuit, which are already popular for bachelorette outings and wedding celebrations. It also speaks to all the beach honeymoon and destination wedding planning in our futures, as the world begins to open up again.
"You will see references of the ocean with acrylic seashell-shaped hardware and metallic mesh fabrics that shimmer in the sun," Bonaldi adds.
Price Range: $295 to $750.
Size Range: XS to L, with some styles in XL; 0 to 12.
Delivery: Next day ground shipping.
More at patbo.com.
After losing his PR job in 2019, Charles C. Dieujuste pivoted to designing a bridal line based in New York City. Inspired by Dieujuste's multicultural background (and debuting on the CFDA calendar), Scorcesa meets the needs and tastes of today's confident and individualist bride with bold and polished styles that bridge contemporary and evening-wear — think a streamlined silk-satin pencil skirt suit, an Old Hollywood glam gold caftan, a playful iridescent strapless ballgown, high-neck crop top and wide-leg pants set.
"With this collection, I decided to really break away from the notion of a 'traditional bride,'" says Dieujuste, who also designs bridal pieces to be worn and restyled for future special events. "This current bridal season has put traditional brides and that notion in the rear. Brides today have become modern in every sense of the word."
General price range: $340 to $1,400.
Size range: 0 to 30+.
Delivery time frame: Four to five weeks.
Customization options available: Upon request.
More at scorcesa.com.
The 2021 "WeddingWire Report: Covid-19 Edition" predicts a rise in outdoor weddings through next year. Just in time, Brenna Simmons launched her direct-to-consumer bridal line, Nordeen, which is designed for outdoor weddings.
"With adventure elopements gaining popularity within national parks and public lands, I felt something was missing from the market: attire that would harmonize with, and at the same time, respect the surrounding landscapes," explains the founder and creative director.
Inspired by the Californian Redwood forests, the interchangeable 15-piece debut collection features dreamy slip-dresses, cool-bride separates and inventive (and outdoors-referential) layers, like a cozy mock-neck shrug and an oversize sweater with a cut-out back to showcase a long detachable train or a gown's bow-detail. Also in celebration of nature, Nordeen works with materials made of natural fibers and sources and develops environmentally-friendly textiles. The brand also vets and collaborates with ethical vendors, manufacturing locally in New York City and Los Angeles.
General price range: $395 to $6,000.
Size range: 0 to 12.
Delivery time frame: Four and a half to five months, with expedited production available upon request.
Customization options available: Available upon request and at the designer's discretion.
More at nordeenbridal.com.
Melissa Sullivan is an FIT graduate, a luxury wedding planner and an avid vintage collector, and she channeled these experiences into Maison Sully, a bridal atelier offering reimagined vintage wedding ensembles and accessories.
Sullivan launched the concept earlier this year as an outdoor, appointment-only service in Silver Lake and expanded to traveling pop-ups as the country began slowly reopening. Maison Sully aims to streamline the vintage wedding dress shopping process with personal styling and guidance from Sullivan herself, as well as with a guarantee of high quality.
"Part of what makes Maison Sully unique is our hands-on approach to tailoring and customization — bringing old pieces back to life — and of course, we have plenty of collector designer pieces in great condition, too," says Sullivan. She packed her debut offerings with circa- 1960s and 1970s treasures by Valentino, Gene Shelly, Mary McFadden and Thierry Mugler, plus sublime finds from the '30s.
"The collection is indeed glamorous and unique, but also versatile and generally very practical," Sullivan adds. "I feel that brides are looking for practicality; pieces they can move around and function in without needing an entire team to help them go to the bathroom."
General price range: $600 to $3,000.
Size range: 0 to 14 (in modern sizes).
Delivery time frame: Immediate, plus additional time for tailoring and customization, if applicable.
Customization options available: Upon request, when possible. "Brides send 'modern' inspiration images in advance, and we pull pieces with that in mind, geared with suggestions for how to enhance or customize a piece with the same essence, in a unique way they might not have considered before," says Sully.
More at maisonsully.com.
Thom Browne alum and Broadway costume designer Jackson Wiederhoeft expanded his theatrical, avant garde and fun — Lady Gaga is a fan — aesthetic into bridal last season and is now debuting on the CFDA bridal calendar
Wiederhoeft's sophomore wedding collection pays tribute to an eclectic mélange of muses: goddesses, nymphs, cherubs, music boxes, Eartha Kitt, Anna Pavlova, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Jean-Baptiste-Camille-Corot, William-Adolphe Bouguereau and John Singer Sargent. The 23-piece line features innovative corsetry with draped cups to mix-and-match. Plus, there's more versatility than ever: "We're offering three skirt options, so that one can be worn for reception, another for ceremony, or the corset can just be worn by itself, even after the wedding," notes Parsons grad Weiderhoeft.
The brand also introduced a "tailored capsule," featuring a jacket, trouser, skirt and blouse in a fabric it refers to as a "beach-y jacquard." A high-infusion cotton percentage in textiles helps keep the wearer comfortable and the sculptural shapes intact throughout the festivities.
"As a designer, it's my job to design clothes for a world that doesn't yet exist," says Wiederhoeft. "So I feel this collection speaks to the world that I hope we will inhabit in the coming month or year. I think we will see a huge return to joy, a celebration of life and an appreciation for the little things."
General price range: $900 to $18,000 for pieces within the Muses custom collection.
Size range: 36 to 48; clients can work directly with the designer to custom-fit for any size.
Delivery time frame: From eight weeks for simpler styles to 30 weeks for fully embroidered pieces. Lead times are listed, per style, on the website.
Customization options available: "We're able to do pretty much anything from changing details and fabrics, to fully custom looks with custom patterns and embroideries," Wiederhoeft says. Subject to additional development charges, based on styles.
More at weiderhoeft.com.
After establishing his self-named bridal line in 2020, Parsons graduate and Supima Design Competition finalist Andrew Kwon debuted on the official CFDA calendar for Spring 2022. The collection features sculptural interpretations of ruffling, ethereal sheer layers and floral appliqués of your fairy tale dreams.
The Korean American designer looked to a multitude of inspirations, including one that's very relatable for our stay-home year. "I listened to the generation's most gifted composers, like Max Richter for 'The Leftovers,' Carlos Rafael Rivera for 'The Queen's Gambit' and Johann Johannsson for 'The Theory of Everything,'" he says. He also drew from his vivid memories of attending his mother's wedding when he was a teen: "It moved me so much and showed me the resilience that my mom possessed as a bride, and I was sure that all brides possessed the same resilience.
"This upcoming bridal season is a moment dedicated to pandemic brides who deserve to have something different and incredibly special," he adds.
General price range: $5,000 to $10,000 for gowns; $1,000 to $2,000 for veils.
Size range: 0 to 18.
Delivery time frame: Minimum 12 weeks.
Customization options available: Upon request.
More at andrewkwon.com.