This story originally appeared in the 2015 Kitsap Wedding Guide.
With many years of experience behind her, Lynanne White is ready for another season of weddings.
She plays an important part. She dresses brides.
White is the owner of American Rose Bridal in Poulsbo. The store offers a wide range of bridal gown styles and sizes and has everything needed to dress bridesmaids, grooms and groomsmen, mothers of the couple, and any children who have parts in the ceremony.
This year White anticipates the more simple, elegant styles to be popular.
“It’s not so much the poofy ball gowns that brides are wanting,” White said. “They are going for the fitted, mermaid-style gowns, with lace and keyhole, or open low backs that are jeweled.”
As for color, brides are opting for neutrals, ivory, creams, beige and champagne, not pure white.
“A lot of brides come in here thinking they want white,” she said. “But not a lot of people look good in pure white. Once they try it on, they realize that.”
That also goes for styles.
“Sometimes, brides have seen a dress in a magazine that they like and they come in here to try on one like it,” she said. “But once they get it on, they can see that it’s not the style for them.”
Bridal gowns in her shop range in price from $200 to $1,000. Most her brides aren’t shopping for a designer-named dress as they are looking for a particular style.
She said the English Downton Abbey-style dress isn’t something that she’s finding to be popular, mostly because of the cost.
“Weddings around here aren’t usually the $30,000 wedding,” she said. “Those dresses can be upward of $10,000.”
She did have a dress similar to what Princess Kate Middleton wore, but even it didn’t sell.
“People came in and when they saw it they’d say. ‘Oh, that’s Kate’s dress,’ ” White said. “But they didn’t want to wear it.”
For bridesmaids, soft pinks and blush seems popular this year. The bright colors aren’t so popular as they have been, White said.
In recent years, brides will pick a color that they want for the bridesmaids’ dresses and then have the women wear a dress that fits their body type.
“Gone are the days where the bridesmaids all wear the same style dress,” she said. “Brides realize that the bridesmaids want to look good in what they have on.”
Other trends include unusual footwear.
“I don’t sell many shoes anymore,” she said. “Brides and bridesmaids are wearing Converse tennis shoes or cowboy boots. That’s one of the ways they are personalizing their weddings.”
She does outfit grooms, too, and has a full range of rental tuxes. Black remains the most popular.
“Shades of gray, sand and silver are used as well as navy,” she added.
Long tails aren’t common, and she’s only seen them worn once by the groom in a couple who was from England.
She dresses about 100 brides a year and has had the shop for 10 years. Prior to that, she worked from her home hand-making wedding gowns.
“I found it less expensive to buy gowns, especially when you consider the hours spend in doing fine hand-beading,” she said. “I use to pack up dresses and go to these shows to sell and after a few years I decided having a retail location made more sense.”
She can alter a dress as a bride desires and she often will work with a bride to change aspects of a dress that the bride wants to appear a bit different than it does store made.
Some brides come in to buy a year in advance, while others are more spur-of-the-moment.
“I had a bride come in on a Wednesday night to find a dress,” she said. “She was getting married on Friday.”
That happens most often when one or the other -— bride or groom — are in the Navy and shipping out unexpectedly.
She hasn’t had to deal with many “Bridezillas.” But she’s seen some “Momzillas.”
“Brides come in knowing what they want,” she said. “But their moms sometimes have a different idea. That’s when the problems come about.”
She suggests not to bring a lot of people with you when you come to try on dresses.
“Just bring one or two people who you really trust,” she said. “Otherwise it can get too confusing with too many opinions.”
It’s common nowadays, too, for brides to take “selfies” in front of the mirror as they try on dresses and then go home to think about what dress they’ll buy.
“Sometimes they’ll send pictures out to people who live out of the area and ask for advice,” White said. “That’s particularly the case when trying to decide bridesmaids’ dress styles.”
White also warns against buying a wedding dress online.
“People like to shop online,” she said. “But they’ll bring the dress in here and tell me it doesn’t look like it did online and it doesn’t fit. Many times the dress shown online is a designer dress and what they get in the mail is a cheaper version.”
Those brides often start all over and decide on another dress from her shop.
“We’re here to fix their mistakes,” she said.
About half her business is for weddings. She also outfits women and men for military balls, chamber galas, cruises, proms and other formal events.
For more go to www.americanrosebridal.com, or go to 19045 Highway 305, Suite 160, Poulsbo. Call her at 360-697-9100.
The vintage option
Many brides are opting for the vintage look. And the Meli-Melo Island Vintage Boutique is a great place to look for vintage wedding dresses.
Karen Mar has been a collector of vintage fashions all her life. It was only after moving to Bainbridge Island with her husband four years ago that she decided she had to share her collection with others.
That’s what prompted her to open Meli-Melo, a French term that means “a little bit of everything,” in downtown Bainbridge. The boutique includes nine vennine vendors who show vintage items, home decor (including some antique and shabby chic furniture), handmade jewelry and gifts.
“It was always a dream of mine to open a vintage store,” Mar said. “It just seemed like the time was right.”
Mar has designed custom bridal veils selling them online and directly to customers through bridal salons since 1995.
Meli-Melo has a booth dedicated to wedding attire with vintage gowns and Mar’s handmade veils. She even stocks some more up-to-date bridal fashions which she gets from bridal salons.
But nothing in that booth is more than $499.
“My passion for vintage clothing, especially wedding attire, is because vintage looks classy and timeless,” she said.
“And people who want vintage appreciate that they are using something that has a history. It makes them feel good to wear something that otherwise may not be used again.”
While the Downton Abbey style and the 1920s vintage look are popular right now with weddings, Mar said her favorite look is the 1970s.
“In fact, my husband and I did a 1970s theme when we got married,” she said. “I had some stuff, but I had to make him a white suit with bell bottom pants because I couldn’t find any.
“Everyone who attended the wedding wore ‘groovy’ outfits and the wedding cake had peace signs and smiley faces on it.”
While some young brides want all new when it comes to wedding fashion, others think wearing a re-purposed gown is great, a statement about giving new life to once-used things.
In most cases, with vintage gowns, brides opt for a cream, ivory, or antique white. “Mormon brides are the only ones that say they have to have pure white gowns,” Mar said. “Otherwise, pure white is not that popular.”
Some of the vintage gowns are displayed just as they originally were made. Others have been made by Mar using vintage fabrics. Styles also include the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Her hand-beaded veils come in both short and long lengths.
“Destination brides like the short veils because having a long train and transporting it can get tough,” she said.
Depending on the design and length of a veil, Mar can invest from five hours to days to complete a veil. “I sit with a veil and bead and just lose track of time,” she said.
As for dress styles, young brides prefer off-the-shoulder styles, she said, whereas older brides prefer to cover their shoulders and arms.
Just as important are the accessories that a bride wears, and Mar has some of those, too. Making sure that a bride’s jewelry matches the style and era is important.
“We have some nice vintage pendants with pearls and gems that are just the perfect accents,” she said.
Meil-Melo is located at 162 Bjune Drive SE, Bainbridge Island. Call 206-780-6700, or go to www.melimeloivb.com.