The library’s Periodicals and Electronic Resources department subscribes to a several bridal magazines. We subscribe to these for their presentation of many items, not just pretty gowns, so we thought we should point them out to you.
If you’re curious to see the whole list, you can find it here:
Brides (American edition):
This is the oldest of our current bridal titles. It is America’s big, mass-market bridal glossy. Like most bridal mags, it’s chief purpose is to provide some text between the vast amount of advertising pages devoted to gown sales. And bridesmaid dress sales. The graphic design of this title hasn’t been updated much in 30 years, though, and the layout looks just like every other middle-market glossy (probably because they are mostly published by Conde Nast).
It is a well-rounded title, including articles on honeymoons and travel, some bridal-show runway coverage, trends in bridesmaid’s gowns, some coverage of beauty trends (with a column by Drew Barrymore, no less), a basic calendar for wedding planning, even some discussion of the couple’s future relationship. We often recommend this title for the men’s formal-wear and tableware, as well.
Formal-wear styled for a younger menswear market, ad by Vera Wang. This ad campaign also shows up in Martha Stewart Weddings.
Christian Lacroix plates headline an editorial feature on tableware in the April/May 2015 issue.
And some bridesmaid’s dresses from the editorial:
Very Conde Nast feeling to that page, and not in the best sense. All images shown here are from the April/May 2015 issue.
Their web site is more detailed and looks a bit fresher:
Martha Stewart Weddings:
Even though this magazine shares a lot of mid-market advertisers with Brides (American), it stays true to Ms. Stewart’s goals. This title attempts to bring a “beautiful” DIY lifestyle to anyone who can cut a piece of paper.
Among the standard gown and ring advertisements, the magazine includes plenty of hands-on tips to make keepsakes, invitations, and favors. The editorial focuses more on the domestic details of both wedding and married life, with suggestions for table decorations, household appliances, and flower arrangements along with the usual makeup and jewelry tips. Likewise, the design of the magazine and the tone of the editorial is younger than Brides (American).
The gowns in the editorials are fashion-forward but affordable, more ‘Vera Wang for David’s Bridal’ than Vera Wang. While serving its middle-class audience, Martha Stewart Living holds on to its aspirational, trend chasing, and lifestyle roots. All images shown here are from the Spring 2015 issue.
One more note: the layout pictured here on the left includes the only model who wasn’t pale-skinned and Anglo-featured in any of the bridal magazines discussed here. (“Scanning the Spectrum”, featuring Madisin Bradley, Spring 2015 issue, pp. 292-305) Surely you can do better, publishers?
This is also a Conde Nast product, and includes similar features to its American counterpart: hundreds of gown ads, month by month to do lists, bridesmaid’s dress ads, housewares, mother-of-the bride tips. Despite these similarities this title has a lighter tone than Brides (American).
The difference springs from several sources. The clothing sales pitches are not aimed just at the bride. The editorial and ads include a lot of items for children, grooms (lots of menswear!), and bridesmaids; and it includes regular articles and advertising aimed at chic mothers of brides.
Being a British publication, there are also great hats, of course, as the layout above shows.
Maybe it’s that more actual weddings are depicted in this title, or maybe it’s the cheekiness of the English ads, but in this mag, weddings seem to be less serious business and more fun for the whole family.
This saucy dress is a great inspiration for the FD Draping 2 Stripe Project!
We recommend this title if you need references for men’s formal-wear or current hat fashions. Also, English designers are featured prominently throughout.
Town and Country Weddings:
Town and Country has always targeted the American country-club set, an audience known for their traditional tastes. Yet this magazine is more forward-looking in graphic design, layout, and in gowns shown than others reviewed here. The photography layouts are so minimalist they are suitable for mobile consumption.
This title depicts some fabulous weddings of “real” people in it. Well, ok, so the super wealthy/famous, but still. The style spots use the snappy “Style Spy” tag to highlight wedding pics full of pretty, tasteful ideas. The (larger) amount of space devoted to men’s clothing and grooming is a nod to old-school style not seen in Brides (American) or Martha Stewart Weddings.
The editorials are pared down and elegant. While many of the styles are very simple, they aren’t necessarily traditional, as this cropped-top bride (Spring 2015 issue) shows.
Its focus on old money brings Town and Country Weddings some very upscale advertisers, so it surprised me how much more funky their products were, more so than even Martha Stewart Weddings‘.
Some of the ads and some of the layouts showcase these very hip products, like this invitation.
Plenty others contain more traditional goods, elegantly styled, like this grouping of rings or this lace gown.
The invitation and rings pictured above are from ads, and the lace dress from editorial. All these images are from the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of Town and Country Weddings.
The internet has given people many more and more-diverse options for researching and designing their weddings. One of the biggest competitors to Brides has been The Knot. While this began as a website, it has also become a successful magazine (which we do not carry, sorry.) Here are some other websites I’ve found for interesting takes on the wedding industry:
The library also has tons of books with historic looks at wedding fashions. If you search StyleCat using the word “bridal”, you will get pointers to 95 other sources for images and research on the bridal market. Watch this space for Pt. 2 of this article, where I’ll show you some of the market resources for researching this classification.
Happy spring, and may all your romantic dreams come true!
The talented Shannen Lindsey (FMM) helped with the ideas and images for this article.