Most brides launch their gown search knowing just what they're after: Give me a sweetheart neckline, they say, or a plunging V-neck, or maybe a delicate bateau. Sure, they'll ask for a bow here, a bit of ruching there, or a glittering bauble worked into the waist. It's the rare woman, though, who announces, "Give me a killer back."
Maybe more should.
Bridal gowns are all about the 360, so a striking front should be paired with an equally stunning back - or maybe one that's even more so. Of course, the front of your dress creates a dazzling first impression as you glide down the aisle. But from the moment you stand by your groom to say your "I-dos" to the second you wave your final goodbyes, your fashion exit lines should say as much as your entrance.
If you want to get traditional, think about a train - this royal wedding season is certainly the perfect time to try one. After all, the statuesque Princess Diana drew gasps with her sumptuous (and record-setting) 25-footer. A generation later, it's a good bet that Kate Middleton will be less encumbered when she walks into Westminster Abbey to marry Prince William. But latter-day princesses can find lots of modern variations on the theme, including this season's elegant cathedral train by Jewel for Priscilla of Boston or Claire Pettibone's ultrahip chiffon Watteau style.
Still too much fabric? A cascade can dramatize the back without the bulk. Attached to the shoulder, it flutters behind you as you walk down the aisle and can be removed before you hit the dance floor. And for an edgier bride, the ever-evolving Vera Wang offers a provocative corset back with oversized grommets - lace one row and leave the other open to the imagination.
Finally, there are backs that are barely there. Pnina Tornai's plunging sheath with a jewel- encrusted butterfly makes a sexy statement. So does Elizabeth Fillmore's spaghetti strap Lily gown, which features a single flower at the shoulder - it's one of the surprise elements she loves. "It's like the suggestion of a romantic tattoo without having to get one," designer Fillmore says.
Whatever you choose, it's the perfect season to tell your back story.