When it came to dressing for her May 6 wedding, Ashley Oliver-Thomas had a hard time narrowing down the many options available, while simultaneously working at a new job.
“At first, the entire wedding planning process, including the stress of finding the perfect dress, intimidated me,” said Oliver Thomas, 35, director of diversity at a Cincinnati headhunting firm.
Her wedding planner, Brittany Sharp, owner of Sharp Standard, a wedding and event design company based in Atlanta, Ga., suggested her. , that Mrs. Oliver Thomas, of Lexington, Kentucky, is hiring a wedding dress designer to help customize the dresses she’s already chosen for herself and her bridesmaids. “My wedding planner made it clear that the stylist would be my wedding concierge, personal shopper, advocate and advisor all in one,” she said. “I immediately felt comfortable with the idea of having this support.”
Dame Oliver Thomas has hired Selina Howard, creative director of Vainglorious Bridesa bridal stylist in Atlanta.
Upon receiving Mrs. Oliver Thomas’ wedding mood board (think Pinterest inspiration), Ms. Howard and her team went to work sourcing accessories for the bride, bridesmaids, and mother of the bride.
“It was much easier to search through a list of 12 pairs of wedding shoes at my price point curated by my designer than to search through the thousands online,” said Dame Oliver Thomas. “Because Selena knows the lingo of the industry, she saved me a lot of emotional work by reaching out on my behalf to dress vendors, calling for alterations I wanted to make to my wedding dress and offering suggestions to elevate my look.”
Much like a planner who oversees the creative aspects of a wedding, a wedding stylist coordinates the various elements of a wedding outfit. And the designers say business has increased dramatically since the pandemic.
“Many brides whose dresses were locked up in stores have reached out to get replacements,” she said. Annie Choi, a New York-based fashion designer, adding that revenue jumped 47 percent from 2021 to 2022 alone. “Couples are now having large or multi-day events that they need clothes for,” she added. “And a lot of brides have started going the unconventional route by wearing vintage, ready-to-wear, or couture, so they need help from an expert who can get their dress on.”
The grooms also showed more interest in elevating their wedding day look. “Grooms also want to be styled and catered to, and sometimes grooms have more demands than brides,” Ms Howard said.
For many couples looking to document their wedding on social media, wedding dress designers often top the vendor list. “People think designers are only for red carpet events, but it’s interesting to see how that has changed in the past two or three years,” said Ms. Choi. “Now I see brides who hire a stylist as soon as they get engaged, even before they book another wedding planner or vendor.”
Costs vary widely, with some stylists charging by the hour and others offering packages. According to Ms. Howard, “A designer wedding dress typically costs $1,500 to $8,700, depending on whether you book a virtual, part-time, or full-service experience.”
Full service usually means shopping for a wedding dress and all accessories, along with hair and makeup suggestions. Partial styling may include services such as shopping for accessories only, as well as alteration advice and assistance in choosing a look for wedding-related events.
“You can pick and customize your options based on your wedding dress needs and how involved you want to be your stylist,” said Ms. Choi.
One of the advantages of hiring a bridal stylist is having insider access to what’s new and popular. “A good bridal stylist will attend all the shows during Bridal Fashion Week and will have relationships with designers and boutiques, so they need to be well-informed about what’s coming out next season, what the stores are currently offering and what will work best for the individual client within that range,” he said. Julie SabatinoNew York bridal stylist.
Hannah Johnston said she hired Ms. Choi, a former fashion editor at Vogue, to help her step out of her comfort zone for her June 24, 2023 wedding. “I’m more conservative when it comes to styling myself, and I wanted someone who could help me perfect my style and make me feel my best over the weekend for my wedding,” said Ms. Johnston, 28, founder of Ladder, an edtech company in Palo Alto, California.
Stylists often work as part of a team of vendors building a couple’s vision for the wedding day and events surrounding it. “We spend a lot of time talking with the couple’s wedding planner, and sometimes the floral designer, about the overall look and feel of the wedding, so we can make sure what we propose coordinates beautifully with what is being planned,” Ms. Sabatino said.
When choosing a wedding dress designer, choose someone whose aesthetic aligns with yours and who you feel you can trust with their opinion. Gabriel HorowitzNew York bridal stylist.
“You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your stylist, so find someone to get along with,” she said. “Wedding dress shopping can be a truly intimate experience as insecurities arise and the influence of family dynamics arises. You want to work with someone who will be on your team and support you through any stressful situations so you can enjoy the planning and shopping processes.”
Mrs. Horowitz, who is paid by the hour, She says she spends about 30 hours, on average, getting ready for an entire weekend of events.
Because wedding dress designers are so different from the average fashion designer, it is crucial to know that they understand wedding dresses and the entire fitting process, including alterations. Jackie Avramsonanother bridal stylist in New York.
“Find someone who will be clear from the start about how they will work with you to manage your expectations,” she said.