Soft colors are in vogue: This mermaid-fit Watters gown is...

Soft colors are in vogue: This mermaid-fit Watters gown is in whisper pink; price on request at Bridal Elegance in Huntington. Credit: Handout

Love is in the air for spring 2013 bridal fashion, where each dreamy gown echoes the sweet love story of the woman who wears it. "This season is all about romance, delicateness and sensuality. Girls are looking to bring in tradition, with modern flair," says Cristina DeMarco, vice president of the wedding salon Bridal Reflections in Carle Place, Massapequa and Manhattan. Designers are infusing classics -- the glamorous ballgown, elegant embroidery, demure lace details, a detailed back -- with a fresh, contemporary take.

"Brides are all looking for that special take-your-breath-away dress; romantic, dramatic and dabbling into fantasy," says wedding planner Cassandre Snyder. "Bridal fashion is using the once-classic look as a base and moving it into the fashion-forward arena with ultramodern twists."

The result? A wedding-day look that's equal parts on-trend and timeless.


The bride wears blush

Move over, white. Soft colors, from icy blue to pale lavender, are making a show in wedding wear, but blush is now the star shade for brides. "Blushes and pastels are really making bridal fashion new, romantic and honestly sensational," Snyder says. Even Hollywood is on board: Actress Jessica Biel was pretty in pink at her Italian nuptials to Justin Timberlake -- a choice that's soft, romantic and unexpected. "Brides are risk-takers -- ours are because they're very much into fashion," notes Nancy Aucone, co-owner of The Wedding Salon of Manhasset. But nearlyweds who aren't quite ready to embrace the rainbow can still look au courant in a more subtle shade. Beyond blush, bridal gowns are getting an update in new hues of ivory, says designer Junko Yoshioka, whose collection plays with clever color twists like "candlelight" and "diamond white."


Lovely lace

This is not your grandmother's lace. While Chantilly and Alençon evoke Old World elegance (perfect for the vintage-

inspired, rustic weddings currently en vogue), the latest incarnations of this delicate, ladylike fabric has just a hint of tradition, yet feels very 2013. "It's all about romance," DeMarco says. If an allover lace style feels too precious, incorporate the textile in an eye-catching detail like soft, sheer lace on an illusion neckline (which gives a sensual allure while remaining appropriately covered up) or an eyelet-

scalloped back to feel ultra-feminine and fresh. "It's very airy, very frothy, but grand," Aucone notes.


The new wave

Past seasons have played up the idea of a belt, sash or bow, but this season is all about the oh-so-trendy peplum. Taking cues from haute couture, it's what's hip for your hips: This flirty flounce can be architectural and structured, delicately tiered or draped to create sleek curves. Bolder brides may opt for voluminous flair, while others go for a simpler flounce. To experiment with the waist-cinching silhouette, try a detachable peplum, which gives the essence of a full ballgown (for a formal ceremony, perhaps), then the ravishing ruffle can be removed to reveal a fitted sheath (perfect for dinner and dancing).


The back story

Eyes are on the bride from behind: Sheer tulle, panels of lace and keyholes are showing just enough skin to be sexy, but still modestly modern. Rather than the plunging, open backs of past seasons, well-placed details are giving drama. "I have seen women gushing over the dramatic back," Snyder says. These back-revealing styles "are most definitely part of that take-your-breath-away look," she says. "We love the unexpected response -- moms first cry in the dressing room when their daughters walk out, but when their daughters turn around, the moms are just blown away by the intricate details of the dramatic backs." Beyond the initial response, an interesting back is key, because that's where guests' eyes are focused during the ceremony, Aucone explains.


Belle of the ballgown

The big, beautiful ballgown has made a comeback, but the typical poufy satin number has been replaced by softer silhouettes with whimsical layers of tulle and delicate layered embroideries. "It's very different than what the ballgown was a few years ago," Aucone notes. To transition from vows to cocktails, dresses may come equipped with details like removable trains or capelets. "Brides are looking for gowns that can be accessorized to create different looks throughout the day, such as overlays to create coverage for a religious ceremony and then removing that to reveal a very different gown for the reception," says bridal designer Ines Di Santo.