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Bold looks for brides of all ages

Mark Zunino for Kleinfeld chandelier crystal beaded halter

Mark Zunino for Kleinfeld chandelier crystal beaded halter with silk crepe skirt, $11,000; at Kleinfeld stores.

Katie Couric calls herself a "wannabe bridezilla." Try as she might to get revved up about an over-the-top wedding, she just can't. The journalist, talk-show host and mother of two announced her engagement to financier John Molner in September. He popped the question over Labor Day weekend in East Hampton, and that's the last question about weddings she apparently has a quick and ready answer for.

"Dress! Cake! When! Where!" Couric, 57, exclaimed in a "diary" post on "The answer to all is ... I'm not too sure!"

Since then, she's come up with the when -- she recently revealed they're having a small, family-only ceremony this summer. And a big party after. Other deets are still a big question mark.

It's tough. Rules for the so-called "older bride" -- women, say, in their 40s on up -- don't exist anymore.

Couric's first husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998.

Take a look at the advice Couric's fans offered online for her second wedding.

"Wear the full-on wedding dress." Or, "Keep it tasteful and simple. And not white." Or, "Forget what people say and choose any color you want." Or, "A beautiful ivory sheath," "cream-colored suit," "sweetheart neckline," "capped sleeves," "tea length."

Got it, Katie?

To make things more confusing, some wedding experts have seen an increase in the number of older and second-time brides opting for ceremonies, receptions and dresses once reserved for 20-somethings -- big, big, big.

Bridal shop owners around Long Island haven't seen many requests for over-the-top gowns, but they have seen a change in attitude. They say older brides today seem stronger, unapologetic, take-charge.

"She's not feeling obligated to invite the third cousin she's never met," says Cristina DeMarco, senior buyer for Bridal Reflections, a popular boutique in Massapequa, Carle Place and Manhattan.

"If it's a second wedding, she's perhaps been through some tough times. But now she's confident, and plans to have the wedding she's always wanted."

Sophisticated ladies

All brides are individuals, of course -- and even the term "older bride" seems misleading, if not insulting, in an age when 60 (or is it 70 now?) is the new 40. But in general, brides who are more Katie (Couric) than Kate (Middleton) tend to go for dresses that look "more sophisticated, structured and clean," says DeMarco.

That usually means less beading, fewer frills. A 6-inch sweep instead of a full train. Simpler fabrics, like silk Mercado and charmeuse. Maybe one statement piece, like a jeweled or beaded sash.

Dennis Basso for Kleinfeld, for instance, offers a sleek ivory sheath with a cowl back and three-quarter sleeves. Stunning in its simplicity.

Australian bridal designer Johanna Johnson, who began making a splash in the U.S. market last year, has an eye for exquisite detail and a contemporary take on elegance all her own.

"Some of our clients who are remarrying often tell us their first wedding was modest, due to financial restraints," says Johnson. "This time around, they have the funds to have a more lavish event -- and, of course, a bride's main focus is her gown."

Johnson's gowns appeal to women of all ages looking to make a statement. The Cohen (looking like a column of gold lamé) and Wagner (ivory silk satin with a silver beaded cape -- straight out of Carole Lombard's closet) are pure Hollywood drama.

Color her world

A colorful wedding gown is another great option, especially for a second wedding, as it's likely "so different from what most women wore the first time," says Michele Von Plato, senior vice president of product development and design for David's Bridal. "Pale colors have a beautiful softness that can complement the skin tones of older brides."

She points to a pale pink Oleg Cassini strapless with champagne embroidery on the skirt, or a White by Vera Wang concoction, in blush or Champagne, with "an amazing cascade ruffle down the back" -- both at David's Bridal.

DeMarco likes Romona Keveza, a designer who manages to create gowns with enough drama and sophistication to satisfy older -- ahem, Couric-y -- brides, yet glam enough for younger types.

One Keveza gown from the Spring 2014 collection is a simple, cloudlike swirl of draped, Champagne tulle; another from last fall is all sleek satin with a dramatic bell skirt, in eye-catching celadon.

Sexy, not sweet

The shape and spirit of the bride are much more relevant than age, notes Sania Recupero, manager at Wedding Salon of Manhasset. "Does she work out? Is she a larger size? Does she need something more structured? All of these factors should be addressed first."

Recupero's older clients tend to opt for more tasteful, elegant -- even sexy -- looks rather than sweet. For these women, she says, Naeem Khan is perfect.

The eveningwear designer this year launched a new bridal collection, featuring eye-catchers like the strapless Geneva, with oversized lacy appliqué. Sensual, sculptural -- not saccharine.

Awaiting Katie

As for Couric, we probably won't know her preferences till she walks down the aisle.

"[I'm] picturing something tasteful -- sorry, no Cinderella gown!" she wrote on her website. Maybe something blush, she mused later in an interview with Wendy Williams.

Whatever she wears, it will no doubt have an impact on a generation of brides. And, of course, her groom.

"[There's] nothing like the look on his face when he sees you step through those doors," wrote one Couric fan. "It really is priceless at any age."


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