By Sally Deering
photo Source Bing.com
Wedding dress designer and owner of La Belle Boutique, Virginia Calabrese of Jersey City says brides are going elaborately traditional and the hottest dress color for a 2012 bride is Ivory. For bridesmaids, the bright, bold â€œTango Mangoâ€ is this seasonâ€™s hottest color and for the maid of honor, itâ€™s not the color but the style thatâ€™s hot. That elegantly simple yet divine dress Pippa Middleton wore as she carried her sister Kateâ€™s train â€“ and stole the spotlight — at the Royal Wedding is a big trend for 2012.
Valentineâ€™s Day is just around the corner and you know what that means. Lots of guys will be bending to one knee to ask their best gals to marry them and as they do, theyâ€™re usually opening a little velvet box with a beautiful diamond ring. If the gal says yes, then itâ€™s time to plan a wedding. And then, well, as Cole Porter once wrote, â€œAnything Goes!â€
Brides-and-grooms-to-be seem to be taking all sorts of routes to their altar of choice. It seems some are planning traditional, elegant affairs while others are going non-traditional: walking down the aisle with robots; carrying bouquets made of jewelry and personal mementos; wearing brightly-colored sneakers with their gowns and tuxes; hiring their favorite food truck to serve their favorite curbside dish; installing candy buffets where guests bag their own treats to take home; and putting up photo booths for guests to dress up in costume and record video messages.
Â When dressing the 2012 wedding party, elegance and tradition are still the trend, says Virginia Calabrese whose mother opened La Belle Boutique bridal salon on Danforth Avenue in Jersey City back in the 1940s. With her years of experience, Virginia reads brides like a psychologist as she helps them find the perfect dress and sheâ€™s attuned to whatâ€™s popular and where trends are headed by her customerâ€™s choices.
â€œWe are seeing a trend for a more elaborate dress,â€ Calabrese says. â€œStrapless is still a trend. Soft materials, the softer materials for the spring and summer weddings, like a softer organza, chiffon, and then thereâ€™s the silk and satin which are very pretty. Thatâ€™s your bridal standard, more or less. Dupioni silk is becoming a little more popular. People like the silk satins. Beading is coming back. Â And for veils, weâ€™re selling a lot of Mantillasâ€ like the Flamenco dancers wear.
And brides are not wearing stark white dresses this year but instead are going for ivory â€“ hues that are warmer and softer whites. Â And surprisingly, the style of wedding dress worn by Kate Middleton when she married Prince William in 2011 is not so popular with todayâ€™s bride. Instead, Pippaâ€™s dress is the star.
â€œNobody asks for the princess dress, but we sell a lot of the sisterâ€™s dress for the bridesmaid,â€ Calabrese says.
And as for the mother of the bride, Calabrese says those old frumpy dresses are out. Todayâ€™s mother-of-the-bride is looking for very elegant styles with a little sexy, too.
â€œThe mothers of the brides want to we have elegant dresses,â€ Calabrese says, â€œmore fitted silhouettes, lower necklines â€“ dresses that are sexier.â€
Calabrese says there have been a few times when she was asked by the bride to create some custom adjustments to her gown: Many years ago a bride asked to put pockets in her bridal gown and she wanted them for her cigarettes. We gave her what she wanted.â€
Then there was the time she had to deal with a brideâ€™s mother who was extremely superstitious of pearls.
Superstitious of pearls?
â€œThis beautiful gown was covered in pearls,â€ Calabrese says, â€œand the mother was superstitious and we had to take every single pearl off and replace them with rhinestones â€“ and every pearl was sewn on.â€
Calabrese designs her own line of wedding gowns and looks at all the brides-to-be who come to her store to try on gowns as fashionistas she gets to dress up for their special day.
â€œI think of them as my Barbie Dolls,â€ Calabrese says.
Diamonds are a Groomâ€™s Best Friend
You know that Marilyn Monroe hit â€œDiamonds are a Girlâ€™s Best Friend?â€ Well, when it comes to engagement rings, the diamond is still a groomâ€™s best friend. According to Anthony Lenardo, owner of Hoboken Gold & Diamonds on Washington Street in Hoboken, brides-and-grooms-to-be are looking for engagement rings with traditional cuts like the round and cushion cut.
Couples also want a custom ring thatâ€™s unique. Many couples come to his store with a design in mind. They bring in photographs of diamond styles and settings and Lenardo uses computer modeling to create the ringâ€™s casting.
â€œWomen are looking for more delicate looks in engagement rings and wedding bands,â€ Lenardo says. â€œWomen want a traditional diamond and everybody wants certified diamonds. That means the diamond is certified by an independent company. Itâ€™s like the fingerprint of the diamond. It tells you the quality of the diamond and itâ€™s an independent source certifying the diamond, not us. Thatâ€™s what we sell.â€
As for wedding rings, men go for the plain white-gold band. They keep it very simple, Lenardo says. And some couples engrave their wedding dates inside their matching bands; some donâ€™t.
â€œItâ€™s about 50-50,â€ Lenardo says. â€œSome engrave; some donâ€™t.â€
Lenardo has been selling engagement and wedding rings for 30 years and he has had some unusual requests.
â€œBig unusual rings were being done in the 1980s and 1990s,â€ Lenardo says. â€œThe last big crazy engagement ring we made was a double sapphire. It had two sapphires crisscrossing each other and it came out beautiful. Everybody was happy.â€
And even though weâ€™ve gone through tough economic times, engagement and wedding ring sales are still going strong. Lenardo says 2011 was one of his best years yet. And Calabrese agrees the tough economy has not affected her bridal business.
â€œPeople are still going to get engaged and married,â€ Lenardo says. â€œThe tough economy hasnâ€™t hurt us. In fact, our engagement ring and wedding band sales have gotten better the last few years.â€
Hi-Tops, Robots and Wacky Ways to Get Married
If youâ€™re planning your engagement and wedding and you want to take an alternate route to the altar, surf the internet and youâ€™ll find lots of unique ways to say â€œI Do,â€ like the couple who had a robot walk them down the aisle and another couple that had a food truck serve their favorite sandwiches. Couples have had photo booths at the reception stocked with funny costumes where the guests can videotape messages to the bride and groom; post wedding-cake coffee bars with donut pops as stirrers and candy buffets for kids of all ages. Brides and grooms can host post-reception karaoke parties with live bands; and to go with their wedding gowns and tuxedos, can choose footwear like cowboy boots and bright-colored hi-tops. And instead of flowers, some brides are carrying bouquets of jewelry, treasured mementoes and other keepsakes that can be passed down to future generations.Whether youâ€™re traditional or whimsical, planning an engagement and wedding can be lots of fun. And isnâ€™t it great to know that on these bumpy financial roads weâ€™re traveling, it seems there are still optimists out there who believe in happily ever after with a twist.
La Belle Boutique
154 Danforth Ave.
Jersey City, NJ
Virginia Calabrese, Owner
Hoboken Gold & Diamonds
115 Washington St.
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Anthony Lenardo, Owner