Season of the bride

Okanagan summers are made for sunny get-togethers with friends and family, so it’s no surprise that June, July and August are the busiest season for weddings.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can expect to see a lot of white.

“White is over,” proclaims Cristina Graziano, co-owner of Bliss Bridal. “Now, it’s ivory or champagne, and often with blush or cafe underneath lace to highlight its pattern.”

Walking past Bliss’ windows is a feast for the eyes, with gorgeous gowns featuring tulle and embroidery in all pales hues, plus colourful special occasion and prom dresses.

Other trends in bridal wear include separates, back detail, and retro bohemian silhouettes.

“Separate tops and skirts have become popular as a way for brides to have more options, mixing various tops and bottoms for a personalized look,” says Graziano.

She also explains how many brides are looking for unique features on the back of the dress where most guests gaze during the ceremony.

Bell sleeves with a casual, carefree feel are also proving a big seller this season.

These looks fit with the Okanagan lifestyle. Brides don’t want to feel stiff and serious,” she adds. “And these styles are much more comfortable in the Okanagan heat.”

Bliss recently moved from downtown to a new space on KLO Road in the South Pandosy area. Graziano and her sister, Maria, have been helping Okanagan brides find their dream dress for over eight years.

Many are surprised to find how easy and affordable the process can be.

“It’s not supposed to be hard. Some reality TV shows and movies perpetuate this stereotype that it’s stressful and all dresses cost thousands of dollars.”

I was shocked to find several beautiful gowns on their sample sale rack in the under $500 range, and Graziano says that the average Bliss bride finds her dress for between $1,200-$1,800. 

Some engaged ladies opt to order special occasion attire, typically worn by bridesmaids, in ivory or cream. These dresses retail for significantly less because they usually don’t have the intricate embellishments and train of a bridal gown.

“We carry 13 designers and everyone here is trained to help you find the colour, size and silhouette that you will love,” she says.

For newly-engaged ladies, her advice is to start the process a year before the wedding. This is because each gown is made to order and typically takes about six months to arrive, and then will likely need alterations or customization.

With intricate embellishments and costly fabrics, it doesn’t make sense for designers to keep a large stock of pre-constructed dresses, but rather wait until orders come in. 

Graziano suggests brides-to-be check designers’ websites to get an idea of what shapes they like before coming in, such as ball gown, sheath, mermaid, or fit-and-flare.

Although it is not uncommon for women to change their minds once they actually try on some dresses.

Typically, brides will stick with the tradition of not allowing their fiancés to see their gown before the big day, so they bring family or friends to provide feedback on what looks best.

“Bring your decision-makers, whoever that is for you,” Graziano advises.

“But think about how much input do you really want. Don’t dress for others. After all, you are the bride and this is your day.”

There are also options for more spur-of-the-moment brides, such as purchasing from their sample rack, using the in-house seamstress for any customization and adding unique accessories.

As for accessories, belts have become a popular adornment as a way to add sparkle to the look. 

“Cathedral length veils are making a comeback thanks to Meghan Markle,” she says.

Long veils can add drama and interest to a simple gown, just as the new Duchess of Sussex demonstrated, without a lot of cost. 

Wandering through the boutique, I couldn’t help fantasizing about trying on dresses and picking a glittering belt and necklace to go with it.

Despite saying “I do” more than once, I’ve never worn a bridal gown. Well, there is always the option for a lavish renewal of vows ceremony...


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About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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