Top Wedding Fashion Trend: The Bridal Cape

If there’s one fashion trend that’s rising to the top in popularity right now, it’s the bridal cape. What exactly is a bridal cape? Keep reading to find out.

By The Zola Team

Bridal wedding cape
Photo by JP Photography

Every bride loves the idea of being hip and trendy when planning her wedding and wedding attire. However, every bride is not always confident in just what constitutes hip and trendy. But that’s what we’re here for.

What Is a Bridal Cape?

A cape is essentially a sleeveless cloak that’s been in fashion for centuries. Bridal capes are a variation of a cloak and are a sleek, simple way of amping up the wow factor of your bridal look on your wedding day. And one of the best things about bridal capes is that they come in all sizes.

You can find them both short and long, in a variety of different materials and styles, and—when coupled with strategic embellishments—they’re an accessory that can satisfy even the pickiest of brides.

Why Wear a Bridal Cape?

For one thing, they look stunning. Bridal capes can bring a magical, other-worldly vibe to your enchanted forest-themed wedding dress or just as powerfully enhance the boho vibe of your vintage-themed wedding gown.

They also happen to be a perfect modern alternative to a veil. They are attractive for off-beat brides that love to buck tradition, but still appreciate a classic look.

Top Wedding Fashion Trend: The Bridal Cape Photo Credit // Gilbert Horst Photo

Another reason many brides love bridal capes is because of the coverage they provide. Some brides like to have their wedding in churches or other religious places, and this bridal accessory offers an easy way to cover up and retain modesty, without compromising style.

The great thing about bridal capes is that they can be used in many ways. They go well with almost all styles of dresses, from the dramatic and daring ones to the chic, simple ones.

For a more traditional wedding look, consider lace-trimmed capes. For a more modern look, consider a sleek, cloak-style cape.

Types of Bridal Capes

There are a few different types you can choose from when selecting a bridal cape.

Full-Length Capes

Some capes are full length. Typically they reach down to the ankles or even a little lower. It really depends on the shoes you plan to wear and personal preference.

Full-length capes look similar to cloaks, minus the hoods, with added style. A highly popular full-length cape is the one with panels at each side that covers the arms, clasps at the neck, and reveals the back.

Full-length capes come in a variety of materials and designs, ranging from sheer or solid colored to lace-trimmed or embroidered.

Full-length capes look equally good with short and long dresses, and can even work well with flared-out ball gown dresses, provided they’re fashioned from the right material.

Trailing Capes

These capes are a perfect veil alternative, without losing out on the dramatics of a trailing veil. They offer a classic, timeless style that many brides adore.

Trailing capes look especially fetching with form-fitting, sheath, and A-line dresses. Capes that are made from sheer material can help accentuate the shape of your bridal gown, as well as your figure.

Short Capes

For people who aren’t into capes for the dramatic look, short capes are an elegant solution. They can be knee-length or shorter, depending on your preference. They can work with all types of dresses—long or short—though they look especially good with shorter dresses.

Capelets

A capelet is a small cape, usually made with just enough fabric to cover the shoulders. The garment can be an incredible way of enhancing your wedding dress, while offering just the right amount of coverage.

From lacey to barely-there beaded capelets, they come in a variety of styles and designs. They pair extremely well with sleeveless or strapless gowns, as well as lower necklines.

Cape Dresses

Among many wedding dress trends, another popular fashion piece today are cape dresses. Instead of the cape being an add-on accessory that’s fastened to the dress in some way, or worn over it, these dresses have permanently attached capes incorporated into the bridal gown design. It can give your wedding dress quite a regal look that works well with both a traditional style of dress and a more modern, contemporary style.

Detachable Capes

For brides who want to take their cape off before the party starts, a perfect solution is a detachable cape. These can be fastened to the dress with ribbons, or even using embellished metal clips that are designed in shapes like flowers, butterflies, or something else that fits your wedding day theme.

Cape Embellishments

There are many different ways to embellish a wedding cape.

Pearls

Some brides like an embellished cape that’s pearl-studded for a classic look, especially on a trailing cape. The pearls will subtly catch the light as you walk down the aisle, mesmerizing everyone.

Diamonds

For brides that prefer a more glam look, you can opt for a cape that’s decorated with a scattering of faux diamonds like Zircon. The light that’s reflected by these stones is glittering and exciting.

Sequins

Capes decorated with sequins can give off a similar vibe as pearl or stone-studded ones, sometimes for a more affordable price. Sequins can be in the form of a small pattern, such as flowers, scattered throughout the cape, or even just studded across a particular area such as the shoulders or the wedding dress train.

Embroidery

For more contemporary brides, capes with colorful floral embroidery and sequined flowers work well on the trail or at the shoulder area. Embroidered capes look especially stunning for garden weddings or other nature-themed weddings.

Stars (Themed Embellishment)

Another popular cape design that many brides love is a wedding cape embellished with stars. These capes offer brides a magical look—something that pairs well with an enchanted wedding theme or even a quirky theme like a Star Wars wedding. Wearing a cape with stars is a unique way to really personalize your bridal look and stand out.

Top Wedding Fashion Trend: The Bridal Cape Photo Credit // Lyndsey Paige Photography

Things to Consider Before Getting a Bridal Cape

Before buying a bridal cape, there are a few things all brides should keep in mind.

Consider the Neckline of Your Wedding Gown

As most capes cover the shoulder and neck area, it’s important to consider the neckline of your dress before buying a cape. For dresses with high necklines or covered shoulders, look for capes made of lace or some other sheer material like tulle or organza.

If your wedding dress is strapless or sleeveless, or has a low neckline, consider a cape that has some embellishment or a design at the neck, such as a ribbon to fasten the cape or lace detailing.

Consider the Shape and Style of Your Bridal Dress

The wedding dress length and shape should be two factors to consider before finalizing the cape to go with it. Layering is good, but only if done correctly. You want to make sure the style of cape you choose is flattering with your wedding dress and doesn’t detract from it in any way. The last thing you want is for the cape to drape heavily over your beautiful wedding dress, which is the real centerpiece (besides you, of course!).

Consider the Material of Your Wedding Dress

Lace-trimmed bridal dresses look even more stunning when paired with capes embellished with lace detailing. If your gown or dress is simple and elegant, the look can be enhanced with capes studded with sequins or pearls.

Consider the Embellishments on Your Wedding Dress

If your wedding dress is already heavily embellished, opt for a simpler cape, so you don’t overdo it on the detailing. For wedding dresses that are unadorned, like a simple, satin sheath dress or silk slip dress, you can really go all out with your choice of bridal cape for your big day. It’s all about balance.

Consider the Venue and Season

For outdoor summer weddings or a wedding in the warmer spring months, light and feathery capes can help keep you ventilated and cool. However, if your wedding is during colder months, capes trimmed with faux fur are stunning and regal-looking, while also being cozy.

Whatever style or design you decide on, a wedding dress cape is extremely versatile and can complement just about any bride’s wedding dress when properly paired. If your dress is simple, your cape can be more ornate. If your dress is ornate, stick with a simple bridal cape. Either way, we have no doubt you’ll look stunning on your big day.

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