1. Comfort counts — Carylin Stickney, co-owner of A Bride's Design in Westlake, says comfort should come first. "As you're trying on shoes, think about how you'll feel wearing them all day long," she advises. "If you are used to wearing a pump, which has a closed toe and heel, then stick with what you're familiar with. Also, wear your shoes around the house and during your fittings to make sure they feel good on."
Most brides opt for a 2- to 3-inch broad heel, silk-satin shoe dyed to match the color of their dress. However, some boutiques have designers that can affix extras such as lace, pearls or rhinestones to plain shoes so they mimic the dress.
Brides should purchase their shoes two to three months before the wedding to ensure they have them for their first dress fitting, when heel height and dress length go hand-in-hand.
2. Long and luxurious — Long, sheer veils that add softness and a little bit of whimsy to the aisle walk are making a comeback. But these cathedral- or chapel-length wonders only work if the dress train is simple without a lot of beading, says Donna Pickett, owner of Brides by Donna in Chagrin Falls.
Brides who want the best of both worlds should go with an elaborate train and then a fingertip veil that hits at the hips and still provides that long look. "Another option is choosing a very sheer veil with just a simple edge to it, so as not to take away from the dress' handiwork," she says.
Pickett warns that, many times, designers run out of a specific material or discontinue making certain items. "So if you fall in love with a veil early on, it's best to order it right away rather than risk disappointment later."
3. Bits of bling — Obviously, long, trendy veils that are elegant for the church won't survive dance-floor disco, so many brides opt for a hairstyle underneath that includes some bling in the form of tiny picks with sprays of beads, pearls, crystals or rhinestones.
Though they are still trendy, tiaras are shrinking in size. Pickett says more brides prefer a 1-inch vs. a 2-inch tiara, but much of this depends on a bride's height. "A bride who is less than 5 foot tall won't want a tiara that's overpowering," she explains. "But a bride who's 5 foot 7 inches can wear a bigger, 2-inch tiara."
For a perfect match with the dress, look at the obvious items, such as the beadwork, in addition to the not-so-obvious points such as the neckline of the dress. "If the dress has a V-shaped neckline, a tiara with a point in the center will look much better than one with a rounded shape," Stickney notes.
Also, Pickett says some jewelry designers make pearl and crystal tiaras that they can turn into a necklace or bracelet after the wedding for a small fee so brides can get more bling for their buck instead of just a one-night crown.
4. Chandelier charms — These 1- to 2-inch earrings often include crystal or pearl beads and tend to steal the show from other jewelry, Stickney says. "If you're wearing your hair up with bits of beads, these earrings really drip with elegance," she explains. "But most brides opt not to wear a necklace or bracelet, so the earrings take center stage."
5. Borrowed basic — Grandma's pearls are still a sentimental favorite when it comes to wedding-day necklaces, Stickney says. However, three to five thin strands of varying lengths come in a close second since they keep the look light and airy, Pickett says, adding that chokers are also popular.
The same rules apply when adorning your neck with jewels. "If you have an ornate gown, maybe earrings and a headpiece are enough," Pickett observes. On the other hand, a simple gown with little or no beading usually leaves the canvas more open for crystals and pearls.
6. Monogram mania — For brides who want to add a little more personalization to their ensemble, Pickett recommends a monogrammed handbag, veil or train. These swirled letters are usually done in monochrome colors to match the accessory and include the bride and groom's first initials around the initial of their new last name.
Pickett says some brides have their names and wedding dates sewn inside their dresses — invisible to guests — so that as the dress is passed down to each generation, more names and dates can be added to the list.
She adds that, instead of a corsage, many brides are buying their mothers a monogrammed purse with three or four water vial-sized openings in the back where the florist can insert fresh blooms to last throughout the day.
7. Hidden secrets — Though a bit of color might be nice for exterior accessories, Stickney says nude is best when choosing lingerie. Think smooth and comfortable.
"You don't want anything gouging at your waistline or cutting into your legs," she adds.
Pickett recommends slips to most of her brides to keep the sun from shining through certain gown materials and revealing more than intended.
Also, for strapless and backless dresses, many brides will ask boutiques to sew brassieres into their gown or incorporate Velcro on the outside edge of the bra and inside the dress so they fit nicely together and so "brides aren't showing too much when they bend over or doing the €˜hike-up' dance," Stickney says.
8. Glove affair — The opera-length glove, which extends just past the elbow, meshes well with a strapless dress and adds instant glamour. For shorter ballerina gowns, which are increasing in popularity this year, Pickett says wrist-length gloves are a good complement.
9. Beauty budget — Though most brides remember to set a budget for their dress, many forget that they must do the same for their accessories. Stickney points out that a bargain look in a headpiece can be quite evident when paired with a couture gown. "You don't want to diminish what you spent on the dress by choosing an accessory that is off-key," she says.
Before you dish out the dollars for accessories, though, make sure they match your dress. Stickney says some bridal boutiques let brides borrow pieces for 24 hours for this purpose.
For brides with budgetary concerns, it's better to buy simpler, less expensive dresses and jazz them up with more expensive jewelry, Stickney advises, adding that many brides borrow jewelry from close family members to maintain a formal, graceful look while decreasing wedding costs.
10. Overall appeal — When choosing wedding-day attire and accessories, it's important for brides to remember to go for an overall look, Stickney says. "Some brides get excited about one piece but don't realize that this same fabulous piece doesn't go with the other accessories they've picked out. Before you start shopping, take the time to think about how you want to look that day — how you want your wedding-day memory preserved — and then don't stray from that visual."