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Those Parisian women. How do they always manage to look stunning without being too “done”?
Embrace your own French-girl style with a wedding-day vibe that’s feminine, not fussy. European gowns appeal to brides in search of a simple, unconventional look. For sure, less is more.
Mews New York, owned by mother-daughter team Gail and Lauren Crispin, is a bridal salon that attracts women looking for beautiful silk and lace gowns with a certain “je ne sais quoi.” The Chelsea boutique is making headlines because it exclusively stocks gowns by sought-after Parisian designers like Rime Arodaky, Laure de Sagazan, Margaux Tardits and Donatelle Godart.
“The French do it so well,” says 26-year-old Lauren. “They balance timeless looks with a modern edge. French brides favor styles that are more relaxed and effortless. You won’t see beaded, strapless or corseted gowns. It’s important for the bride to wear the dress—the dress should not wear the bride.”
Lauren also says that most French weddings happen in two parts. Every couple is required by law to marry at town hall in front of the mayor. Usually a short bridal dress fits that bill. Then, for the church wedding, which often takes place on a different day, a long gown is preferred. And, because it’s not unusual for a reception in Paris or the countryside to last until 5 a.m., brides choose very comfortable dresses rather than billowing or form-fitting styles.
You’ll find no meringue ballgowns in a Provençal wedding. And no body-hugging mermaid gowns. Think free-flowing styles, easy A-lines, delicate details and a little backless action, Lauren adds.
Another interesting fact about French women: While they, too, spend time browsing ideas, it would be atypical for a Parisian woman to walk into a bridal salon with a photo of a bride she found online or in a magazine, and say, “I want to look just like her!” Instead of emulating someone else, a French bride will stay true to herself because she prefers to look natural, just as she appears every day—only more radiant. Strive for styles that are not too casual, not too serious—that’s how to be a boho beauty.
Here’s a bit about three of our favorite French wedding dress designers:
1. Rime Arodaky. Her gowns are made exclusively in France, with signature details like plunging necklines, pockets and peek-a-boo cutouts. Showcasing her rock ’n’ roll style, she designs for edgy, modern brides.
2. Laure de Sagazan. Her hip, ’70s-inspired collection includes drop-waist gowns, pantsuits and separates in soft French Calais lace in fluid silk. This designer infuses West-Bank elegance into her statement separates, boho silhouettes and delicate lace details.
3. Margaux Tardits. This original designer burst onto the bridal scene by adventurously exploring everything from the bold and wild to dreamy and romantic. Her signature elements are stunning lace bodices, open backs and flowing skirts.
Collections from all three of these designers can be found at Mews in NYC.
And here are 10 steps to a French-style wedding:
—Choose a feminine wedding-day look that appears like you just got out of bed, shook out your locks, slipped on a simple, ethereal dress and headed for the wedding chapel.
—Rather than just one flower girl, consider a small procession of children, all spreading flower petals as you walk down the aisle. (In France, instead of bridemaids, they dress little girls identically.)
—On the way to a Paris reception, the couple and their guests walk down the streets making lots of noise and fanfare.
—At the party, a tower of empty Champagne glasses awaits, ready to have bottles of bubbly poured over it by waiters.
—Try serving Francophile faves such as canapés, cheeses and grapes, paté, baguettes, sorbet and sparkling water. Bon appetit!
—For dessert, consider a traditional Croquembouche wedding cake—a pyramid of fresh cream puffs adorned with spun-toffee lace. Keep refrigerated until after dinner and then reveal with sparklers popping out of the cake. Serve colorful macarons on the side.
—For wedding favors, create small bags of Jordan almonds wrapped in silk and tied with a chic satin ribbon.
—Serve a late-night snack to fortify guests in the wee hours of the morning. Rather than the traditional French onion soup, offer any type of simple, nourishing snack to ward off a hangover.
—Celebrate “le charivari” by inviting raucous revelers into your bridal suite for late-night Champagne and treats in exchange for a peaceful, private wedding night.
—Plan your honeymoon trousseau with special clothing, lacy lingerie and other personal items to enjoy on your wedding trip. Bon voyage!