Every bride wants to look her best on her wedding day, but there's so much more to the bridal look than focusing on just the big day.
From an engagement party to the wedding day and every wedding-related event in between, a bride should dress and accessorize for every occasion.
"Anywhere a bride is going to be recognized as a bride, she's going to want to be in the spotlight," says Adrianne Harris, an event specialist with Blessed Events Inc.
Fashion stylist Melinda Tarbell says a bridal look is an extension of a woman's daily look, just stepped up a notch. "You definitely want to be true to your personal style," says Tarbell, who suggests a bride ask herself what styles she identifies with, such as a classic bride, a vintage bride or a trendy bride.
*Create a Plan
Map out your style in advance. Tarbell advises brides to build a look around upcoming events. For example, "wear the same shoes to the bridal shower and the rehearsal dinner," she says.
"Spend more on key pieces," Tarbell says. "It gives you consistent, personal style."
Brides and grooms need to make sure they dress on the same level. The look should be coordinated but not too matched.
"Feel like a team," Tarbell says. "Keep it clean and classic."
Still, a bride never should worry about overdoing it. "It's OK to be a little overdressed for your event, because it's your day," Tarbell says.
Abby Larson of the wedding blog "Style Me Pretty" suggests accessorizing with texture and dimension, e.g., having "a great clutch or a really cool headpiece."
Another option is for the bride to wear vintage items from her mother or grandmother.
"You can't go wrong with great old jewelry that has sentimental value," says Tarbell, who also recommends stylish footwear. "Especially with shoes, you can invest in a designer pair and work them with different looks."
*Head to Toe
"Curly trellislike hair is popular," says Harris, who also sees lots of semi-updos with a focus away from tight styles. "It is innocent and demure and has a very carefree feel, but it doesn't look messy."
Picture-ready nails are mandatory, but they shouldn't be distracting. Save the bold colors for your honeymoon.
"From the detail shots of the ring to those of the bouquet, your perfect nails will find their way into so many photographs," says Larson, who recommends pale pink polish, neutrals and French manicures.
*Engagement Parties and Showers
These gatherings can be casual or formal, so your look will vary based on the place.
"A flirty cocktail dress is the perfect choice in most cases," Larson says.
Celebrate your rehearsal dinner with a pretty dress and some sassy accessories.
"I love to see brides wear all white during the days leading up to their weddings," Larson says. "A cute white cocktail dress or even a short wedding dress would be a fabulous rehearsal dinner frock. If your rehearsal is all about the fun, don a great dress in a bright, bold hue."
The ceremony and reception combine to be the main event.
Many brides wear stylish yet conservative looks for the ceremony and then add a few touches to the look "to doll it up for the reception," Tarbell says.
Brides aren't changing gowns between the ceremony and the reception anymore.
"Bustle up that gown; take off your veil; and have some fun," Larson says. "You can even swap out your shoes for a bold, fun color!"
A generation ago, brides wore going-away outfits after leaving the reception. Surprisingly, that's still an option.
"The party ended late, and the bride and groom disappeared and came out in full vacation gear," Tarbell says of a recent wedding she attended where going-away outfits were a highlight of the event. "It was really cute."
After the reception, many newlyweds and their friends go clubbing.
"They want to be a part of the scene," Harris says. "They're all a part of one big party. The bride and groom are no longer the focus, but they're the reason behind the party."
From parties to the big day, the bride will look her best. "Your wedding day style should simply be you -- at your most beautiful," Larson says.