photo: bridal designer Claudine

Adding International Flair to Wedding Gowns

(What, you don't want ducks in your wedding procession?)

photo: Brideworld magazine cover

Reprinted with permission from Brideworld magazine. More articles…

Throughout history brides have worn furs and skins, hand-embroidered fabrics finished with threads of silk or gold, hand-woven fabrics utilizing traditional weaves and designs, or simply the finest dress they owned. Wedding-attire designs have incorporated fashions of practicality like the suits of the 1940s to the elaborate velvet and brocade robes of medieval Italy.

The color of bridal gowns also varied throughout history covering the gamut of the rainbow, even black, each signifying its own meaning and or traditions. You may want to work with in these color customs and traditions or simply select a color that looks best on you.

Whether you are having a local or a destination wedding, you can incorporate an international flair, utilize cultural traditions or add Hollywood glamour to your bridal gown selection.

multi-cultural weddings

Since the Victorian era, the traditional white wedding gown has been the gown of choice in most modern cultures. Now days we have moved away from the prim and proper Victorian styles and gained an endless spectrum of designs and color selections for the wedding gown. Today's designers use their expertise and talents in creating a delightful range of styles to accommodate the theme of almost every wedding, fulfilling the fashion conscious and sophisticated desires of today's bride. Many resources are readily available to find traditional gowns, haute couture designs or any gown you could ever dream of for your wedding day.

Celebrating your heritage

ethnic weddings apparel

Delve into your family history and you may find a style in an old family photo that inspires your design selections. Reviewing styles of past centuries may be your inspiration. The wedding location, season or even Hollywood can take your imagination on a fashion ride you never dreamed could have inspired your wedding gown. Whether your entire wedding carries a cultural theme or your gown alone carries a hint of a distinct cultural fashion element, on your wedding day you can wear the wedding gown you have only seen dancing in your dreams.

The romantic Korean tradition of including ducks

Because they mate for life — does this sound like something you would like to include on your wedding day, but live ducks are a little over the line for you? Consider having a flock of ducks, or maybe two, embroidered on the lining of your wedding gown and share the symbolism with your new husband during a quiet moment after the ceremony.

An old German tradition

The bride carries salt and bread in her pocket on the wedding day; the salt and bread symbolize wealth and good fortune. This tradition can be incorporated into any gown by having a pocket added to a seam in your gown.

Having a winter wedding?

Consider a gown with faux silver ermine; the real thing was popular with Ladies of high financial and social standing in the Middle Ages. Want a modern version, have fur or feathers added to a contemporary strapless gown. Want to be a bit dramatic? Wear a hooded fur trimmed cape half way down the aisle then remove the cape assisted, by a handmaiden, reveling a dazzling gown created of gold cloth. Your guests will gasp with delight at the sight of it all.

Christian and Hindu ceremonial traditions

Honoring traditions from both sides of the family can be included in your wedding ceremony as was accomplished at Nina's wedding. Her mother wanted her to wear the traditional sari but being the modern fashion diva she is, she wanted to glisten in a gown screaming haute couture. Her gown was designed as a two-piece; the fitted spaghetti strap bodice was embellished at the neckline and dropped waist with silver embroidery, rhinestones, pearls and Swarovski crystals. This embellishment is duplicated at the hemline of the tapered double-layered straight skirt and the uniquely squared sweep train. The two-piece design allowed her mother to drape her in a modern hot pink sari (red is the traditional color) for the ceremony.

Kimonos worn during the Japanese Shinto ceremony

These date back centuries to era of grand Emperors. Beautiful authentic ceremonial kimonos are quite costly even to rent, want to honor the tradition without being traditional? Consider having a modern version of the kimono made to go over your strapless gown. If your gown has a full A-line or ball skirt, have a bolero length kimono designed of vintage silk, and instead of the traditional obi use flowing cords to wrap and secure the kimono. Allow enough length to have the cords gently drape down the back of your gown adding an interesting flair. Shopping for the right piece of silk can be a fun outing with your mother and or bridesmaids.

Hoping for an island-themed, tropical ceremony?

multi-cultural theme weddings

In Samoa it's traditional for the wedding dress to be constructed of tapa cloth made from mulberry bark and decorated in block-printed geometric designs. Not your cup of tea? Try a bias-cut gown with a tropical, tone-on-tone motif. Can't find one? Purchase a draped, bias-cut gown; have it shortened to mid-calf or higher in the front and ankle length in back. Wear a ginger lei and tie a sarong of local design and fabric around your hips (see sketch); or have a delicate pastel, tropical-print chiffon overlay made to be worn over a straight-silhouette gown.

If Rome is the setting…

For your wedding simply add a chapel length mantilla style veil of chantilly lace to finish off your look or have a lace border added to your blush and fluffy double-layered waist length veil reminiscent of the wedding of Apollonian and Michael from the movie The Godfather. Be sure to wear the veil during the dancing of the tarantella.

Having a Greek wedding abroad or locally?

Perhaps you have always dreamed of being a Greek Goddess on your wedding day, this was the dream of Jennifer S.. She was married on the beach in Malibu in August of 2003 in a custom designed gown of silk chiffon depicting the flowing essence of Hellenic beauty.

Want a bit of Hollywood?

For glamour in the theme of your wedding gown rent some movies from the era of preference anything from Cleopatra, Bride of Frankenstein, Funny Face or Father of the Bride, relax make some popcorn and get inspired. The movie industry designers have created some of the beautiful, charming and unique wedding gowns.

Whether your entire wedding carries the theme or your gown alone carries a distinct meaningful cultural element, allow your imagination to run wild. Do not limit yourself in the selection of your wedding gown. Visit the library and browse through the many fashion books available or search the web for inspiration. Find a unique piece of antique lace or fabric and have a gown designed around your precious find to complete your personal look. Wear a family heirloom or drop in on a few unique second hand boutiques and try on a vintage gown.

More articles by Claudine…