The fast-moving world of fashion, where hemlines change every season and a neckline is out as soon as it is in, is a distant relative of the realm of bridal wear. Yes, there are trends that fashion conscious brides can pick up on, but the world of the wedding dress is strangely timeless - a girl can wear her grandmother's dress without worrying about how edgy the cut is.
But even in a world of Prince Charmings and fairytale carriages, there are some guidelines which a smart bride should follow.
Bridal designer Claire O Connor offers her advice...
Georgina Heffernan: What are the key looks for brides this season?
Claire O'Connor: Less is certainly more this season. The style and line of the dress is quite simple with the emphasis on sumptuous fabrics.
For brides that want to make a unique style statement - what do you suggest?
I have always said that the person makes the clothes. The most important thing about a wedding dress (and any other type of dress for that matter) is that it reflects 'you'.
What's the most unusual wedding dress you have ever been asked to create?
I can't say that I have had 'unusual' wedding dress requests. However, I have had many a request for dresses that are needed for a month’s time.
When it comes to the big day I think brides still want to keep in traditional. I do find people drifting away from the strapless fitted dress with a train, and going for something that they will be able to wear again. I am finding that I am making wedding dresses which are more like evening dresses, which makes perfect sense.
Have you any advice for brides who want an incredible dress - but on a budget?
You don’t have to have a strapless, white, satin wedding dress with a 6 foot train in order to get married. All you need is a little imagination and think outside the box to get just what you want on a budget. Giving yourself plenty of time is crucial. Almost all department stores and boutiques will have white and ivory dresses that are suitable for any occasion, including a wedding. If these are accessorized in the right way - no one need know your secret.
Some people cringe at the thought of second hand, but the reality is that most 'second hand' wedding dresses have only been worn once and their owners tend to take care of them. Why not call up a friend or relative who may have one in storage. Again if you put your own twist on it no one will recognize it. I think the best way to do this is to add some embellishment to the dress.
Every store, be it bridal or department store, have sales. The key to sale shopping is having patience, a good eye and a little imagination.
What wedding accessories are hot for spring/summer 2012?
You can't go wrong with a long veil with a lace edging. If you’re not one for veils then a delicate head piece or hair accessories worked into the hair. For shoes a heel is always a must. If 5 inch heels are not quite your thing then something that gives you just that little bit of a 'lift'. Your posture will thank you for it! Trust me! Belts are also starting to trend, which is ideal if you are borrowing a dress, you can change it up without having to alter it. Best to keep jewellery to a minimum too. Don't go overboard with accessorizing. I'm with Coco Chanel who always said: ''Take one thing off before you leave the house''.
Are coloured wedding dresses ever acceptable?
It depends on your style. I personally would advise to go with the white, cream, ivory etc, one of which in bound to suit you. Sometimes going too avant-garde does not necessarily work out the way you thought it would.
Are Irish brides still quite conservative when it comes to their big day - or is that changing?
I think they are, which is not necessary a bad thing. Your wedding day happens once in a lifetime and I think brides still like the idea of a fairytale wedding and want to look every bit the princess regardless of how much the wedding costs. Remember! Your wedding photos will be on a lot of people’s mantelpieces, for years to come. Do you want to cringe every time you go into your in-laws living room because you wanted to take a style risk? There are plenty of other occasions to do that.