TAMPA – It used to be, Kate Campbell said, that when a woman got married, she wanted to hold the wedding in a huge, exotic location and invite as many people as possible, regardless of the cost.
And while women are still spending a good amount on their wedding, what they’re spending their money on has shifted quite a bit, Campbell added.
“That is absolutely true,” she said. “Even though overall spending on weddings is down, they are finding different ways to cut down on those expenses. They may do a wedding at their own home or maybe they have a lovely garden and this will be a small second marriage. But they are definitely not going to cut expenses on the dress or the whole pageantry of it. As far as the pomp and circumstance and the dress, they are not cutting back on that.”
Campbell is the department chair of Fashion & Retail Management at The Art Institute of Tampa, and she follows trends in bridal wear. Although the latest Brides American Wedding Study shows the average cost of a wedding in 2010 was $26,501 – which is down 5 percent from 2009 – weddings, not surprisingly, remain big business, even in a weak economy.
But as Campbell noted, couples these days appear more willing to cut the guest list rather than big ticket items like those wedding gowns.
The study showed the average wedding gown cost $1,289 in 2010, a 20 percent increase over 2009.
Campbell said it’s easy to see that enthusiasm reflected in the fact that millions of people worldwide were glued to their television sets last April to watch the most talked about wedding since the 1981 royal wedding of Lady Diana to Prince Charles. And since then, more than a few brides have opted to emulate the elegant lace gown worn by Catherine Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge.
“I think the industry is becoming even more customized than ever,” Campbell said of the highly profitable wedding industry. “Brides are far more involved in designing not only their wedding, but their dresses.”
Part of it is the way celebrities have made this a popular trend, she said.
“Last night I was watching an interview with Jennifer Hudson,” Campbell said, adding that the actress and recording artist had a fairly elaborate wedding gown that she had designed for herself.
“It comes apart in three pieces, and is transformed into three different looks — very elaborate,” Campbell said. “I think that’s what we’re seeing, is more customization. People want to make it more personal. I think the bride will work more closely with the designer today, and I think that’s a pretty recent phenomenon. Look at the how many bridal magazines there are out there now.”
Women, she said, don’t want to look like every other bride any more. That’s a new trend.
“I think they’re looking for something unique, something that makes a statement,” Campbell said. “This is one thing they won’t sacrifice on, if it’s a good quality and something they see as an heirloom. It needs to be unique and very personal.”
There are other trends going on within bridal wear. Lace, for example, is quite popular, whether it’s Chantilly, Alençon, Duchesse, Guipure, or ribbon. Lace, Campbell said, has become one of the hottest trends this year, with collections from designers at all price points showcasing lace used in traditional and modern ways.
“There are two trends that we’re seeing a lot of, and one is lace and lace sleeves, which is of course inspired by the Duchess of Cambridge,” Campbell said.
The use of color in wedding gowns is also growing in popularity. Some brides are choosing soft pastel colors, such as blush, rose or skin-tone, while others opt to wear vibrant hues of lavender, green and deep pink.
Less bold brides, Campbell added, are more likely to use hints of accent color on sashes, bows, embroidery, hems, necklines or beading.
“Blush is a very popular color,” she said. “We are seeing some colors creep into the pallet. We’re seeing more of the peach and lavender hues.”
Short Gowns have become a trend, especially for brides choosing destination and beach weddings, and designers have also introduced soft, romantic sleeves, including traditional cap sleeves in florals and tulle, modern silhouettes using vintage elements, sequin fringe and flutter sleeves, and romantic off-the-shoulder versions.
“You also have illusion necklines, where it seems like you’re showing a little bit of cleavage, but you’re not because you have a silk overlay, and it’s tasteful,” Campbell said.
Second-hand and vintage dresses have also increased in popularity, as well as the use of Earth-friendly fabrics and materials.
The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design, is a part of The Art Institutes, a system of more than 45 education institutions located throughout North America.
The Art Institute schools provide a learning environment for design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.
At her department, Campbell said, students can follow the trends in the wedding industry – a potentially profitable field to go into, since it can be recession-proof. No matter what, couples still want to spend and spend and spend on their weddings.
“We definitely look at the trends,” Campbell said. “We teach a class about trends forecasting and tons and tons of market focus for us, looking at what’s developing tin the marketplace, and several of my students are particularly interesting in bridal wear. We try to look at all segments of the industry.”
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