The talented designer Joanna August is in the business of dreaming up beautiful and innovative bridesmaid dresses. With a wide range of colors, styles and silhouettes, there’s something in Ceremony by Joanna August to make any bridesmaid happy (even jumpsuits!). Read on to see more dresses and some sage advice from the woman behind these pretty, romantic bridesmaid dresses.
Your journey into bridal designs began with your own wedding in 2008 because you couldn’t find dresses you loved for your bridesmaids. What was missing from the market and what defines the look and style of your dresses today?
In 2008, everything on the market for bridesmaids looked like a bridesmaid dress! Even the pretty ones would have some sort of detail, like a satin sash or satin piping–something that marked the dress “for weddings only.” Then, if you looked for “regular,” off-the-rack dresses, you would find the perfect dress but not in the colors you wanted. From the beginning, the look of my dresses has been romantic, ethereal and most importantly, wearable! Nothing about my designs limits the dresses to the bridesmaid category. The only thing real “bridal” about them is that they are available in many colors, so the bride is able to customize the look to achieve her overall vision for her wedding.
Now, in 2015, there are a lot more options for bridesmaids, so, while I continue to put out fashionable, wearable looks, I also focus on pushing the envelope and introducing new and unexpected options for bridesmaids. I was one of the first to design separates and jumpsuits for bridesmaids, and I continue to search for unique options for the fashion-forward bride to express her taste and creativity through her bridal fashion choices.
One of the signature touches of your line is chiffon. What drew you to this material, and what do you love about it?
I love everything about chiffon because it is truly so versatile! It covers so many great aesthetics—romantic, ethereal, classic, formal, relaxed, Grecian, bohemian. Depending on the color and style you choose, the same chiffon dress can be worn barefoot on the beach or to a black tie event, with a flower crown or with pearls! Not to mention, chiffon is so light and comfortable to wear. You can truly do anything and go anywhere with a chiffon dress—I can’t ever have enough of them in my closet.
What are your best tips for a bride dressing her bridesmaids?
Set parameters for your bridesmaids. So many brides these days want their maids to be happy, which is great! That is the idea! But that sometimes translates into saying, “just pick whatever you want,” and often so much choice can actually make it harder. Also, the bride may have preferences she may not even be aware of until she sees what her friends have picked—and then the backtracking and hurt feelings start. I recommend letting your bridesmaids choose their top three styles and colors (or rank their favorites in order out of a pre-selection the bride has made) and have the bride make the final assignments. Then everyone gets a say but the bride can ultimately cobble together the exact look and combinations she is after.
What advice do you have for selecting dresses for different body types?
I think it is crucial to have more than one style option if you have a lot of variation in body type in a wedding party. At the end of the day, one style does not usually fit all and the key to having a happy (and good looking!) wedding party is to make sure each girl feels good and is wearing a dress that offers the appropriate fit and coverage for her assets. I am going to go ahead and say it—one style for a whole wedding party is super old-fashioned! Your friends have different bodies, different personalities, different quirks. Letting them express all that through their dress choice is not only going to make for happier bridesmaids, but also for a more unique, modern and stylish aesthetic.
What’s your favorite thing about working in the bridal industry?
Where to start? I love working with so many women—both my clients and my wholesalers. I find that a lot of bridal boutiques tend to be female-owned and -operated. It is also amazing to get to work with brides towards achieving their vision on such a special day. Everyone is so excited about a wedding and to get to contribute to such a special occasion is extremely rewarding.
Bridal Fashion Week is going to be here sooner than we know it! What are you excited about and looking forward to this season?
On a personal note, I always look forward to connecting with all of the amazing people who sell my dresses, most of whom I only get to see face to face twice a year at market. The weddings business is fun, but sometimes stressful to be in, and it is great to have some face time with everyone fighting in the trenches with me! In terms of the fashion, it is always great to see what is new: More two-pieces? More cutouts and illusion styles? Jumpsuits? I can never wait to see what is next, and hope I’m the one who came up with it!