Original sketch by Mark Brower, designer of VINEYARD Collection at Priscilla of Boston

For many brides, one of the most difficult parts of planning a wedding is choosing what she should wear. We asked Mark Brower, the designer for the VINEYARD Collection at Priscilla of Boston, about trends and traditions in wedding gowns.


1. For the bride over 40, how should she balance the elements of cutting-edge trend, what she personally likes and what looks good on her when choosing a dress?

The bride over 40 should accept what looks best on her over personal likes and cutting-edge trend. Good fit and simple flattering lines are best for this bride.

2. Are there any rules that shouldn’t be broken by the bride over 40? For example, can she still wear white or should that be avoided?

She may definitely still wear white or ivory, but not necessarily too sweet or too formal.

3. What are the newest trends when it comes to color in wedding gowns? Are there particular colors for dresses or accents that the older bride should consider?

Color may be an element that accessorizes an ivory dress: color sash, color embroidery/embellishment, jewelry with color. She may also opt for all-over color — pale colors (again colors that look best for her). She can even go more sophisticated with neutrals and even dark, such as navy.

4. For the bride who wants to avoid white or ivory, are there bridesmaid dresses that can serve as nontraditional wedding dresses?

There are many options available today. Her best bet is to research and investigate what is available and, as always, choose what looks best on her.

5. Many wedding gowns are strapless. Is there a certain age at which a woman should think twice about a strapless gown?

I know many women who have worn strapless beyond their 40s. Again, the strapless option depends on what shape she is in and what looks best on her.

6. If a bride is not going strapless, what are the current choices for sleeves?

They range from cap sleeves to three-quarter to full length as well as a variety of cover-up pieces: shrugs, bolero jackets, shawls and wraps.

7. What about length? Is shorter better for the bride over 40? Or are there other factors to consider when it comes to choosing a length?

Short can be really refreshing, especially on an older bride. If short fits the formality/informality of the actual event, the bride can look very current and contemporary — again what looks best is key.

8. What pitfalls should brides try to avoid when choosing a dress?

Too many opinions from others — she should rely on her own instincts and look with one one or maybe two friends/family members — no large groups of magpies with opinions.

9. When you design a dress, what factors are you weighing as you draw?

The needs of certain silhouettes and body types, but mostly I enjoy exploring my instincts when sketching.

10. What trends are emerging in bridal fashion?

For me, classic and clean continues to emerge as an ongoing trend — pure shape, form and good fit. And I offer a lot of styles with minimal embellishment — thus the focus is on the bride — no being overwhelmed by the dress.

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To see a video of the VINEYARD Collection’s runway show for for the Fall 2011 Collection, click here.

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  • G.E. Masana November 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I photograph the weddings of many women in their 30’s and 40’s (because I’m more of a modern classic photographer) and find myself agreeing with Mr. Brower’s points. Except perhaps with the premise of #2 in that there are no “rules.”

    Being her own woman, the 40-something bride can certainly make her own rules.