The Dresses You Need For Every Bridal Occasion

Possibly the most fun item on your endless wedding to-do list: shopping.

By: Alicia Cesaro

If you’re a betrothed person with a wedding in your near future, a lot of other things are probably happening all at once (besides, you know, being super excited about spending the rest of your life with your best friend..!!!), such as choosing calligraphers, dress shopping, following all kinds of sometimes (okay, almost always) dated etiquette, and, of course, actually planning the damn thing, which I’ve waxed poetic about here and here. The never-ending to-do list and Pinterest black hole of overly cupcake-y bridal stuff can get overwhelming, so with months to go to my own nuptials, I’ll be writing to you weekly with a little bit of what I’ve learned, mostly from Google and firsthand experience—like that time Fedex lost my wedding invitations.

During this whole wedding planning journey, I’ve learned that in the grand scheme of to-dos, the easy part* (*easy as in months of searching and dealing with fussy bridal ateliers, but still more fun than seating charts) is choosing your wedding dress. As much as it’s nerve wracking picking *the one*, it’s also something that, no matter what—whether you go full-on dramatic cupcake in an A-line gown, or low-key in a sleek embroidered sheath—you’ll 100% look amazing because it’s your wedding dress, and you’re the effing bride. But I’ve realized recently that choosing the rest of your wardrobe is where the difficulty lies. I mean, there are so many options—not to mention the personal pressure to wear something unique, while not wanting to wear all-white all the time, while still appreciating that it’s a wedding. Add that to the hours spent in the black hole that is online shopping, and you might just end up with months to go (hi!) and nothing to show, while fielding texts from relatives showing off all the outfits they’ve already purchased.

So I enlisted the help of Cynthia Cook Smith—wedding stylist behind Cynthia Cook Brides and former assistant to Anna Wintour—who puts together outfits for the types of brides whose hashtags we’ve stalked to the umpteenth degree on Instagram. Smith and her clients choose looks for a variety of wedding celebrations, from that first welcome cocktail, to the late night reception dress and everything in between. They most definitely aren’t your typical pieces: they’re on trend yet classic, and there’s no shortage of color or prints involved. Case in point? A dusty pink Gucci ensemble she picked for pre-wedding festivities in sunny Positano, or a gold jacquard Stella McCartney number for a New Orleans rehearsal dinner. Suffice to say, Cynthia's got the Midas touch, and thankfully, she was game to round up her three picks for various wedding-related events. If you’ve got upcoming spring or summer nuptials, it’s time to go shopping. 

 

Bridal Shower

 

“A bridal shower is the perfect occasion to wear a feminine day dress with a floral print or textured lace. Think having tea with the Queen—it’s the time to be more traditional and classic, rather than modern or edgy. All of these dresses could be re-worn with a blazer or sweater and shoe for a day at the office.”

 

Rehearsal Dinner

 

“I have two schools of thought for the rehearsal dinner. Either go classic and clean with a dress that feels modern and fresh to juxtapose your wedding dress. Or...go bold with color and shape to start your wedding weekend off with a bang. If you are looking to buy an investment piece, pick a colorful dress that you can re-wear to the 20+ weddings you have next year.”

 

After Party

 

“The late night reception dress sets the mood for dancing and should be playful and fun . Short and sequined or romantic and silky—think Edie Sedgwick or Gretta Garbo to dance the night away. This is a dress you can wear again on New Year’s Eve or birthdays to come!”

 

Farewell Brunch

 

“For the going away brunch, comfort and fit accompanied by oversized sunglasses is key so you can enjoy rosé and reminisce about the night! Silk or a cotton poplin will do the trick. And you don’t have to wear white, everyone knows you are the bride!”

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