There are about as many reasons for having an overlay or jacket with a wedding gown as there are fashions for them. Like everything else about your wedding dress, personal preference trumps all, with weather, location, venue and time of year being factored into decisions. "Some of our brides fall in love with a dress for its fit, but it's a little too plain," Jen Molle of Molle Bridals observes. "This is the perfect scenario to introduce an overlay or jacket extension of the entire ensemble."
- Overlay refers to one fabric over another, like lace or organza laid over the primary bridal gown material. It likely comes from or parallels table top design where lace is often placed over a plain tablecloth to dress it up and/or create a cool color pattern. In wedding dresses, the overlay is most commonly the same color, usually shades of white or cream. The overlay can add a style component not present in the wedding gown, soften a large bust cleavage or camouflage an imperfection.
- Jackets with wedding gowns are short like bed jackets and provide a unique style though generally not much warmth. Their shortness makes them an adorable, charming accent piece.
- A shawl or simple wrap has an elegance in its length and fabric, some with fringe or lacy edging. It's very easy to drape over arms, take off, set aside and ask someone to place again around your shoulders. Cashmere is especially exquisite, while lace and brocade fabrics make a glamorous fashion statement just by being there.
- Bolero is a dance and type of slow-tempo Latin music, and the bolero in fashion is a very short jacket without buttons, characterized by rounded edges that may hug a bust line. Many boleros do not even meet in the middle, but simply adorn a wedding dress or gown.
- The ubiquitous scarf is not the most popular wedding gown accessory, but an upscale white scarf in luxurious fabric, with or without fringe, can be worn to hide a flaw or add a little drama to the bridal appearance.
- The once-popular mink stole has evolved into beautiful, non-animal skin fabrics as accessories which can be found in winter weddings on both the bride and her bridesmaids. These are as functional for warmth around the shoulders moving between locations as they are beautiful.
- Capes and cloaks have no sleeves, hook in the front and ~ with or without a hood ~ can add a stunning over-the-shoulders warmth and appearance as the bride moves between venues or buildings.
From overlays and shawls to stoles and capes, these accessories can take your bridal appearance -- in reality and in photos -- from average to amazing, from simple to striking, pretty to provocative, regular to ravishing. "We are always excited about the overlay styles which come on the market every year," says Kayla Nieves, one of the professional bridal consultants at Molle Bridals.
Sometimes color enters the design of a bride's overall look when she really craves the white dress, but wants to tone it down because she's older, formerly widowed, previously divorced or has lived with her husband-to-be for a long time. There are no set rules, and that alone puts all the fun and frolic in the wedding dress ensemble creation at every age, for every bride.