The Best Wedding Ideas from Bridal Fashion Week

Wedding fashion that actually excites us IRL ?✨??

model wearing wedding gown from designer Naeem Khan

Dress by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Even though I’ve been working at APW for two years (yay!) and my previous job was running my own fashion line, the twice-yearly New York Bridal Fashion Week was never something I attended, for a multitude of reasons, including the following seven.

  1. I was never in town.
  2. None of the runway dresses are available anytime soon.
  3. We aren’t in the business of telling people which “trends” they need to adhere to.
  4. Most events only cater to an (super) affluent engaged person.
  5. The industry was largely white and straight.
  6. A wedding publisher with the name “practical” can get overlooked when Fashion Week invites get sent out.
  7. Just how many cupcakes can a human really eat in a week?

Just kidding about #7. Obviously the answer is, “As many as you serve us.”

BUT, as always, times are a-changing. This year, we got an email from Make Up Pro NY offering us backstage passes to their designers, one of whom was Naeem Khan. Naeem. Effin’. Khan. You may not have heard of him, if reading about high fashion isn’t your thing. But he’s one of my personal couture heroes: an Indian American designer who is always avant-garde, yet wearable. Plus, the wedding industry is finally getting with the program, from diverse models to POC designers and businesses to a range in price (though, curvier models are still few and far between, so hey, let’s #dobetter).

Once upon a time, it didn’t much matter what was showed at Bridal Fashion Week, if you weren’t say, Kim Kardashian. (No shade, remember her killer flower wall?) Because no matter what designers dreamed up for the wealthy, everything else labeled “bridal” was nothing but warehouses full of strapless cupcake dresses. But these days, what starts on the runway rapidly works its way down to mass market, and more and more wedding retailers are willing to push the envelope (and more and more non-bridal retailers are selling wedding dresses). So this year, we decided to head out to see some fashion and show you what to keep an eye out for, because all of these trends are coming to a store near you, guaranteed. (And if you can afford Naeem Khan, obviously send us pictures stat.)

So, along with Advertising Manager, Keriann, I went forth to eat as much sugar as my body could process, sip on tons of artisanal beverages, and report back with what’s exciting in the wedding ecosystem right now… alongside a few personal favorite ideas.

pink floral wedding shoes from BHLDN

Shoe by BHLDN, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Where we went:

Francesca Miranda: Due to a massive train failure, me and my camera were stuck underground this entire show (Keriann made it though!). Francesca Miranda is a fantastic Colombian designer who has everything made in her studio in Barranquilla, and the majority of her staff are female head of households. Feminist and frilly, yes please.

Naeem Khan Bridal: As if I didn’t say enough above, Naeem Khan is an Indian designer who has become an ornate eveningwear legend. Michelle Obama has worn his designs to ten different events, and since he launched his wedding line in 2013, he’s been pushing the boundary of what “bridal” can be.

make-up from make-up pro NYC

Makeup by Makeup Pro New York, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Food52 Wedding Registry Cocktail Hour: Food52 is major food publisher that’s all about what to cook, who’s been cookin’, and how we can cook more. A few years ago they started a shop of home goods, and during #NYBFW they opened their studio to a live curated registry event, complete with sweet treats and booze.

Bhldn Brunch: APW favorite BHLDN is known for curating wedding-friendly dresses are that both fashion forward and easy on the budget. They showed the next season’s finds while plying us with smoothies very, very, early in the morning (okay just 9:00 a.m. but it was VERY FAR AWAY from my home office).

Wedding Salon* (NY edition): We’re media partners with this wedding event (read all about it here!) and I headed with a few engaged friends to get the full “no I’m not engaged I’m with the media” experience of meeting with incredible local vendors (and eating a metric ton of desserts including nitro Kahlua ice-cream…).

And without further ado, here’s a bunch of things you can drool over, if fancy is your jam. (Or not, your call.)

Wedding Dress Trends For 2017

Wedding Dresses With Sleeves

OMG, SLEEVES. There was a time (a long time, in fact) where it was nearly impossible to get a wedding dress with sleeves. Things were so bad that if you mentioned say, wanting something on your arms when you got married, bridal salons would offer to sort of tack on a little piece of lace onto the top of your shoulders on a strapless gown. That is A) not sleeves, and B) not a good look for anyone.

But suddenly, sleeves are so totally where it’s at that not only can you get affordable wedding dresses with sleeves, but fashion shows were showing a whole variety of sleeves. We saw a lot of dropped sleeves (which according to the almighty Pinterest is a wildly popular search term right now), mesh sleeves, lace sleeves, beaded sleeves, big sleeves—all of them are what it’s ABOUT right now. Here are some of the coolest examples we saw.

model wearing wedding gown by designer Naeem Khan

Dress by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

model wearing long-sleeved open shoulder wedding gown from Naeem Khan

Dress by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Dress by Francesca Miranda, Photo by Dan Lecca

model wearing long-sleeved wedding gown by Naeem Khan

Dress by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

short off shoulder wedding gown from BHLDNDress by BHLDN, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

long sleeved turtleneck glittery wedding gown from Naeem Khan

Dress by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Wedding Dresses With Capes

Not all heroes wear capes, but are all brides who wear capes heroes? MAYBE. Not only do capes add a certain… majesty… to any outfit, they also can add a tiny layer, and photograph well. BOOM.

Dress by Francesca Miranda, Photo by Dan Lecca

model wearing wedding gown by naeem khan

Dress by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

back of a wedding gown from naeem khan

Dress by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Wedding Jumpsuits

At APW we’ve been way into wedding jumpsuits from the very beginning, so it was truly excellent to see that this was the year where wedding jumpsuits really truly took off. Now there isn’t just one or two on the market as an oddity, but there are tons. And when High Fashion gets into things, affordable options will follow. Why jumpsuits? Other than the fact that they are clearly awesome, they are fun, easy to move in, and great for people who aren’t that into wearing dresses, but also not that into wearing a suit.

Also jumpsuit with the most possible tulle? ALL. IN.

Jumpsuit by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Jumpsuit by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Embroidered Wedding Dresses

Though often prominent in the bridal outfits of other cultures, colorful embroidery is just hitting the U.S. market, and it’s a fun alternative to beading work. Because it’s new here, it also lets you feel and look super edgy, while still rocking something classically beautiful.

floral embroidered wedding gown from naeem khan

Dress by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

floral embroidered wedding gown from naeem khan

Dress by Naeem Khan, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Rainbow bridesmaid dresses

Just like wedding dresses lived in the land of strapless cupcake for way too long, bridesmaids dresses lived in the land of pastel and bad fabric for… nearly ever. We never think pastel and floral bridesmaid dresses are a bad idea (at least if you can get them in halfway decent fabric). But suddenly you have the option to have your bridal party dressed in full-on saturated color (in complementary tones!). And we’re feeling it. It has a modern feel (goodbye and good riddance cornflower blue), but it also increases the likelihood that people will actually wear the dresses again, because they don’t scream BRIDESMAID.

Dresses by BHLDN, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Dresses by BHLDN, Photos by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

And Beyond The Dress….

Brunch Wedding

In urban centers, brunch has always been an institution (love it or hate it). And these days, brunch weddings are on the rise. (Remember how our EIC had one in 2009? Now they’re going mainstream.) Morning weddings are the jam because they can be slightly more casual and flexible on the budget, and they share a charm with the more modest church wedding and luncheon style receptions that were once the norm.

Food by Poppy’s Catering, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Food by Poppy’s Catering, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Innovative registry items

So while it’s awesome to add linens and pots for Aunt Lucy to gift you, there’re other creative wedding guests who might want to buy you something with a touch of pizzazz. For those people we recommend these rose quartz drink crystals (freeze them and pop them in your cocktail for a fancy bevvie) or a subscription (to wine, tea, or, like below, wreaths) that keeps gifts coming to your door way past your wedding day.

Wreath from Food52, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Drink crystals from Food52, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

Succulent Desserts

To be fair, our APW Instagram favorite Alana Jones-Mann had some cactus cupcakes that went totally viral a ways back, but we were excited succulents move solidly from florals to food this season. Succulents have long been the wedding décor en vogue, but now you can EAT the decor at the end of party. Most excellent.

cactus and succulent cupcakes for weddings by sweet garden creations

Desserts by Sweet Gardens Creations, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

cactus and succulent wedding desserts by sweet gardens creations

Desserts by Sweet Gardens Creations, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

succulent wedding drinks by sweet gardens creations

Desserts by Sweet Gardens Creations, Photo by Najva Sol for A Practical Wedding

There you have it, a few of our favorite things (cue: Sound of Music). After nine years in the business, the team at APW is thrilled that the wedding industry is finally evolving. I mean, maybe we’re not there yet, but wedding dresses with sleeves (and capes) and red lace bridesmaid dresses are for sure worth celebrating.

What New Wedding ideas are you into? What are you happy to say goodbye to? And Are there any other wedding trends you’ve seen recently that we all should know about? Is there something you’d never in a million years be into? Discuss!

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  • Amy March

    That is some impressive piping work on those cupcakes.

  • rg223

    SO here for dessert succulents!

  • Katharine Parker

    Love the embroidered dresses–gorgeous. I would say I’m over cupcakes (although the succulent frosting is cute). I’m not that into cake, though, and the wedding cake is not a tradition I’m attached to.

  • Jessica

    I started tearing up while looking at some of those dresses. Holy. Shit.

  • Essssss

    Colored bridesmaid dresses from BHLDN?! Be still my heart! What a fun thing to get to be a part of, Navja, thanks for the amazing pics!

  • Kaitlyn

    Ahhh I’d love a wedding dress with sleeves, glad to see they’re becoming more popular!

  • Emily

    The Naeem Khan turtle neck with sparkly stripes number is my Winter wedding dream dress.

  • Her Lindsayship

    I was definitely screaming internally for a large portion of this post. 1) I want to add a cape to my wedding look SO BAD. I have already way exceeded my clothing budget but GOD. 2) Jumpsuits!! 3) Floral embroidered wedding dresses!!!! and 4) Najva, you are killin it with that camera.

    • Eenie

      Follow her on Instagram!

  • I love the look of sleeves but when I tried some on while wedding dress shopping, I found them to be SO itchy!!

    • penguin

      I’m definitely looking to get a dress with sleeves, but all the ones I tried on in bridal stores were tight or stiff or itchy as well. Some of them straight up hurt immediately, usually because of beading. Now I’m looking at soft dresses made out of things like lace – I’ll have to get more creative with it but it’s worth it to me to be comfortable on my wedding day.

      • Scalliwag

        I was so set on getting a dress with sleeves, but all of the ones I saw when I was shopping for my Fall 2015 wedding made my (admittedly not slender) arms look like sausages and feel so tight/cut off. Some of the looser varieties might work better. Comfort is definitely key, and to ended up going with a strapless dress!

        • penguin

          That’s my problem too! I would love to find a dress with those long sleeves that are really loose and airy and silky but come in at the wrist, like:

          (Also that took me way longer to find than I expected haha. Thanks Google!)

          • rg223

            Hmm, that’s kind of a 70s look, right? Maybe try vintage stores? I realize that’s sending you down a possible rabbit hole, but just a thought!

          • Eve

            It may be more difficult than what I’m thinking it’d be, but you might consider if you find a dress that has the ungathered fluttery sleeves trying to have a tailor gather them at the wrist. You might need to come up with extra fabric though. I’m pretty sure the ungathered sleeves aren’t cut long enough to be able to do that without some extra fabric.

          • Lexipedia

            Hayley Paige has a couple but they are like, a bajillion dollars. Take a look at the Lumi (sparkle explosion, basically my idea of a fairy princess dress) and the Winnie (sheer with lace appliqué).

        • I wanted sleeves at first, but had the same problem. As a plus sized bride, I couldn’t imagine wearing something sleeveless in daily life, so assumed that was what I wanted in a wedding dress, but actually all the sleeves were super unflattering, while sleeveless looked (and felt) so much better. It’s going to be a winter wedding, so I’ve splashed out on a super fluffy wrap instead.

          I think if you’re a slim bride, sleeves coming back in is great news, but if you’re not, it’s not actually giving you much more choice than you had before, due to the specific sleeves that are in fashion.

      • I’m really into the big overstated sleeves that flutter, and drop sleeves. I’m really into the shoulder/collarbone areas and love showing them off! And I hate feeling restricted <3

    • I like the look of sleeves but tend to find them uncomfortable. In my everyday life, I usually wear a sleeveless dress or tunic as a base layer then a sweater or top with sleeves. When my baselayer has sleeves, I tend to feel a bit restricted because I can’t take a layer off if I get hot, and in these last years I love that freedom of being able to add and remove layers to stay comfortable… So basically I wear pretty similar clothes in summer and winter (despite HUGE temperature differences) and then add more layers to stay warm in the winter.

  • Kalë

    I really, really need that bejeweled, pearl encrusted, beskirted jumpsuit. Like, probably more than I need to pay rent + eat for the next year, right?

    • we’re thinking along the same lines, clearly.

  • Brynna

    We just had a brunch wedding with rainbow bridesmaids, so I guess we’re right on trend! News to me! :)

  • Kelly

    We had a brunch wedding in 2014 AND I wore a dress with sleeves. Can’t wait for my official trendsetter pin to arrive in the mail..hopefully along with one of those cupcakes.

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  • Engaged Chicago

    – OMG need those BHLDN shoes!
    – also want that red bridesmaid dress
    – attended Wedding Salonon Monday and had a BLAST; thanks guys!
    – I can not get enough of wedding dresses! The options rock. After buying mine last week 60% off on EBay (never worn! Under $1000!), I keep wondering if the cost savings means I can maaaaybe justify buying another lol. Or just a cape.

    With all those pretty options, I love wedding dress shopping! Maybe I can say it’s for a fancy shower?

    Thanks for sharing all the pretty things ?

  • Rose

    Oh, I just completely fell in love with the first dress with the cape. Wow.

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