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I’m not going to lie, I’m a little exhausted from last night’s fabulous after-party at Music Farm, but I have no idea what a bridal couture show is going to entail, so I arrive at the tents a little earlier than normal to scope things out. The main tent’s bar area has been transformed into a elegant lounge with pink lighting, chic chandeliers, white couches, and tables decked with fresh flowers and candles. The mood is soft and romantic, quite a change from the fast-paced, energetic atmosphere the previous night. Time to sneak backstage!
Backstage is a sea of white frothy fabrics, sparkling rhinestones, and flowers... with an overlaying haze of hairspray. The models look gorgeous and ethereal, but there is an overarching atmosphere of paranoia due to having so many white gowns in the presence of so much makeup. Given my tendency to trip over trains this week, backstage may not be the best place for me today!
I take my place in the photographers’ pit as the audience sips mimosas and listens to bridal advice from Brides.com Senior Editor Anne Chertoff, who is both insightful and absolutely charming. Charleston Weddings Editor Melissa Bigner takes the stage briefly to raffle off some prizes for lucky brides-to-be, and it’s time for the shows to begin.
The Belle Couture Bridal show begins, and I get chills. The theme is Couture Masquerade. The CFW models walk slowly and purposefully down the runway in dramatic gowns before posing with embellished, white masks. The mood is theatrical yet quietly and beautifully composed. I wonder briefly if I can pull off that mysterious, masked goddess look... but my friends will probably refuse to claim me in public if I try!
The models for the White show are making their way down the catwalk in variety of stunning powerful yet simple gowns and sprigs of flowers in their hair. The look is natural yet utterly unforgettable, and the audience is captivated.
The Bella Vista Bridal show begins, and the models are sporting colorful, exotic flowers and subtle, eastern accents, including a painted parasol that I am in love with. My favorite gown by far is a spunkier, short dress rocked by CFW model Monica Compton.
Time for a break. I join the crowd in the bridal lounge, and spot my favorite... lots of little food! There are tiny cupcakes with heaps of icing, perfectly shaped little tarts, and cookies, but the only problem with little food is that I look like a total glutton sneaking off with four cupcakes (or was it five?). Oh well. I check out the Accessories and Style Lounge while I devour my pile of sweet things, and fall in love with the arrangements in the Gathering—Floral + Design booth and the necklaces on the Nicholas Lane tables.
The Charleston Formal Wear and White Label joint show is underway. Charleston Formal Wear leads off with a variety of sophisticated, dapper suits in a stylish range of tones, and then it’s time for White Label. The transition look between the two shows may be my favorite: a female model takes the catwalk in a sexy, feminine tuxedo. Then it’s the gowns from Jodi Moylan’s White Label, which feature black detailing and a rock-and-roll attitude. It was definitely an unexpected twist for a bridal show, but I loved every moment of it!
The Gown Boutique of Charleston show leads off with the cutest little flower girl, and the audience is smitten. She is followed by a beautiful collection of gowns, the most memorable of which is a full, floor-length gown that apparently converts to a chic mini, as the model abruptly whipped the skirt off mid-catwalk!
I’m just going to go ahead and say it now, “Hopeless romantics, brace yourself.” If you thought the flowing gowns, fresh cut flowers and miniature cupcakes were ridiculously cute beyond words, you’re really going to freak out... Ok, here goes: the most adorable and swoon-worthy moment at the Bridal Couture show may have taken place on the runway, but it was 100% reality. Ayoka Lucas and Melissa Bigner bring out a CFW model, ostensibly to discuss her gown with the audience, and the next thing you know, her boyfriend is on the stage. He drops to one knee, pulls out a ring, and the rest is a flurry of hugging, kissing, applauding and “YES!” See, I told told you you’d freak out. Let the count down to the Emerging Design Finalists’ shows begin!