Designers / Diamonds / Industry / Pearls / Retail / Weddings

A Weddings Expert on 2024’s Prevailing Bridal Trends


Four years and an age since the start of the pandemic, the wedding industry is back in full swing. To understand how modern couples are approaching the big day, we spoke to Rachel Leonard, editorial director of the Bridal Council, a New York City–based nonprofit membership organization serving the industry.

One big takeaway for jewelers? “Pearls are huge—actual embellishments on wedding dresses were really big this past market,” Leonard, who served as the fashion director of Brides magazine for 18 years, tells JCK.

Rachel Leonard
Rachel Leonard

Read on for a clearer sense of the shifting tastes and trends impacting the bridal marketplace in 2024.

Which trends stood out during bridal fashion week in the fall?

Layers of sheerness and also the big blooms, like one exaggerated flower on the bodice. Three-dimensional lace, lots of texture, almost like appliqués of lace on top of each other. Pearl embellishments on the veil or a dripping necklace on the bodice. Flowers are always a big theme.

Grace Loves Lace pearl vail
Pearl veil by Grace Loves Lace

And then you had quiet elegance: No embellishments but just a beautifully shaped dress, and that’s perfect for accessories. You still have classic styles, and you still have fashion pieces like crop tops with skirts and the belly showing (obviously, for a beach wedding).

The ’90s look has been around for a few seasons now: very clean and simple. That goes in the quiet luxury camp.

And color: Pale pink was big this past season. Pink looked the freshest because of Barbie. It’s a very flattering color for people. It could be an all-pink dress or pink and white. Bows have been around too. Think a pink detachable bow train.

Can you talk a little about the major cultural trends having an impact on weddings?

A lot of designers were focused on inner light and were doing transparency. The general story is personal style, as the world is now more celebrating of individuals.

You’re seeing forward accents like hoods, lace gloves, shrugs. Supershort dresses for the after-party. Slits and corsets are still out there. The all-in-one dress or three-in-one is still superpopular. They’re wearing multiple looks from ceremony to reception to after-party. And you could change your jewelry—that would change things up.

There’s always going to be sparkle and embellishments. The red carpet has always been an influence. And now that it’s back, it’s another place for people to study trends.

Are people spending money or are budgets being pared back?

They are spending money, but you have to pick and choose what your favorite thing is and what you care about. If you care about the dress, maybe you’ll cut back on something else. People are relying on vendors more for advice. It’s all about the vibe they want to portray. The younger generation, Gen Z, want less technology during the ceremony but they’re using QR codes to get info out.

Given our audience, I’m also keen to hear about any trends you think will affect the bridal jewelry sector and/or the retail experience this year.

It looks like the younger generation doesn’t mind lab-grown diamonds—you can get into a bigger rock because it’s more affordable. But it’s also about personalization. Not everybody is going with classic stones. It doesn’t have to be the classic. The ring should look right on your hand. You could have colored stones. I had a stack of rings and I loved it.

We’ve heard talk about a post-pandemic “three-year-bridal boom” that is just now picking up speed. Are you hearing the same thing? What can we expect from the category in terms of growth?

I think people are very optimistic and so excited to be out and about. I imagine people more than ever want to make connections. They’re optimistic about 2025. I think it’s going to be good.

[The bridal market is] always somewhat reflective of the economy and the times. People are going to get married—it’s just, Will they have a huge wedding or not? How do they feel about spending money? But they will do whatever they need to do to get married. They’ll save. And it starts with the engagement ring.

(Bride photos: courtesy of Grace Loves Lace)

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By: Victoria Gomelsky

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