Unique expression

Central Coast wedding planners and dress shop owners say wedding fashion is both classic and changing

Courtesy photo by Lacey of Lovelace Photography
COLOR POPS: Moving away from wearing the same dress and color, brides have embraced different styles and shades to best complement those in their bridal party.

Weddings are about fashion, style, and individual expression as much as they are about bringing two people together. Every person getting married wants a unique wedding—and part of that personal expression comes alive through fashion. 

“I love how many different styles there are because there really is something for everybody,” Moondance Bridal store manager and lead stylist Courtney Kent told the Sun. “It’s so exciting to see what different personalities match with different gowns. … Everything is so different, that’s what’s so fun about this.” 

While wedding dresses take center stage when it comes to outfits on the big day, grooms also select their suits months in advance and have them tailored; wedding parties are dressed and accessorized to complement the day’s aesthetic; and guests have to find appropriate attire for any RSVP requirements. 

From pops of color to customizable dresses, wedding planners and wedding dress shop owners are seeing new fashion elements emerge in the wedding aesthetic.

While a lot of people still lean toward white or ivory dresses and a classic, timeless look, brides are also picking out dresses with cat-eye necklines, drop waists, or longer trains to give their look a twist, Kent said. 

“It’s something different for everybody; every girl comes in with their own vision, but typically that would mean not a lot of lace and sparkle,” Kent said. “But [there are] more silk or crepe or moscato gowns that just look like you could see them in a picture from 50 years ago and still feel like today I would completely wear that,” Kent said. 

click to enlarge Unique expression
Courtesy photo by Lacey of Lovelace Photography
LASTING ELEGANCE: Long trains, among many other elements, have been incorporated into timeless looks that elevate a bride’s style.

Moondance Bridal is based in SLO has served residents on the Central Coast for the past eight years, carrying a variety of designers and sizes to meet each person’s needs, she said. Stylists will meet with clients individually by appointment to help them browse the store and pick a few dresses to try on. 

“It’s a full experience; you can bring your family, have that moment,” Kent said. “It’s so fun, it’s a really fun atmosphere. We’re super happy helping girls have the best day ever. It’s a really great job.”  

Along with timeless pieces, nude or blush dresses with white lace have also grown in popularity because they give the dress more dimension and color, she added.

“We do have a dress that has all these different colors of bright florals, and that’s been really fun to see,” Kent said. “One major thing is we never saw girls wanting ball gowns in the past couple of years, and in this past year that very classic ball gown—maybe with a slit—became super popular and that was surprising to a lot of people, especially the designers.” 

While the transition to ball gowns was surprising, fitted gowns are still very popular, she said. 

“Another thing I’ve definitely noticed is there’s still tons of girls that wear a traditional veil, but more girls want to be unique as well and will wear a cape instead of a veil, or wings. … It’s almost like a veil, but it attaches to your shoulders.”

click to enlarge Unique expression
Photo courtesy of Moondance Bridal
BEYOND THE VEIL: Rather than wearing a traditional veil, some brides have opted to wear a cape or wings—which attach to their shoulders.

Detachable sleeves, addtional outfits, and other changes between the ceremony and reception add a surprise or “shock factor” to the day, she said. 

Bridesmaids are tending to wear different dresses in different shades, adding a pop to the day, said Danette Castillo, owner of wedding planning company Perfect Timing by Danette Castillo. 

Castillo, a North County native who grew up in Guadalupe and moved to Orcutt in 2021, launched her wedding planning company three years ago and provides everything from full-planning services to basic wedding management. 

“My only goal is to make their vision come to life and for their day to be as smooth as possible,” Castillo said. “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t want to see because every wedding is different and clients come in with so many different visions; very rarely there are couples that are the same. My only goal is to exceed their expectations of my work.”

Castillo said she likes seeing brides give their bridesmaids more flexibility with their dresses, allowing them to wear different styles that complement the individual and correspond with fellow bridesmaids through color shades—rather than every person in the same style and color. 

“What’s really popular right now is a lot of patterns and colorful floral, not so much the basic white and neutral colors. It’s eclectic; it’s not at all the same,” she said. 

click to enlarge Unique expression
Photo courtesy of Moondance Bridal
FLORALS AND PATTERNS: A wedding dress with a few pops of color brings a nice contrast to the traditional white dress and is something not typically seen on wedding days.

Grooms and their attendants  are also leaning toward custom suits, rather than rentals or just picking one out in a store, Castillo added. 

“The design is just different; it’s not the average suit you see,” she said. “It’s more customized to fit the personalities of the groomsmen.” 

Fellow Santa Barbara County-based wedding planner Brenda Cali added that the wedding’s location is important to consider when picking out a dress or suit. 

Cali spent the last 10 years in the wedding planning industry as owner and creative director for events and weddings for Gatherings for Good, she said. Similar to Castillo, Cali’s services range from full to partial planning, but a portion of her proceeds go to Santa Barbara County nonprofits. 

“I think people pick their dress based on venue location and climate. In Santa Barbara, there’s obviously a lot of Spanish-style architecture, and if your venue has that look, it’s nice to have a dress with a Spanish flare to it,” Cali said. “There’s a lot of beach weddings and people are choosing simple gowns. When you’re standing in the sun and the sand, you don’t want something super heavy.” 

Churches and religious venues may have dress codes for wedding ceremonies, and it’s important to check with the venue before making any purchases, she said. 

“I don’t have opportunities to go shopping, but I’m just surprised when I see them on the day,” Cali said. “A lot goes into it emotionally and mentally; there’s a lot of preparation and details and things you do along the way. Seeing that vision come together, seeing that experience is really rewarding and satisfying.”

Reach Staff Writer Taylor O’Connor at [email protected].

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