Even before I got engaged, I bookmarked numerous dresses, shoes, and jewelry pieces to make up my future wedding wardrobe. But one accessory I hadn’t premeditated was a bridal bag to go with it all. On my wedding day, I knew a simple but uniquely detailed gown would suit me most, with designs by Oscar de la Renta, Lela Rose, Danielle Frankel, and Vera Wang prominently fixed to my mood board. I’d long craved a bit of shimmer for my rehearsal dinner and after-party, eyeing brocade and metallic midis rather than purely white cocktail dresses. As for the jewelry and heels, timeless and minimal designs were sure to vibe with every bridal look. And yet, I hadn’t considered that I might need a bag at any point. For someone who treasures accessories (and works as a fashion writer and editor), it was a serious oversight.
You can imagine my frenzied state upon realizing I lacked an occasion-specific clutch or two while packing for my destination wedding. “While other accessories, like shoes and jewelry, are given a lot of time and consideration — maybe because they feature so prominently in photos — bags are too often left out,” Loddie Allison, founder and creative director of the emerging label, Porto tells me. Phew, I’m not alone.
Because the shelves in my closet are lined with minimal and quite versatile designs, I wasn’t without options already. However, I did wonder if keeping track of a bag day-of would be a bother. “When you think of the moments you would use a bag through the event of your wedding, it’s not actually going to be very visible,” Laurie Trott, Tradesy’s head of brand, tells me, affirming my bridal bag quandary. “You’re carrying flowers down the aisle, you’re not holding it during photographs, and most likely, a bridesmaid or maid of honor would be managing it for you,” she says. Adding, “You do want to make sure you’re looking pulled together when caught with a bag during those in-between moments.”
I opted out of the bridal party tradition and didn’t feel the need to pair a bag with my Oscar de la Renta gown (a secondhand but never-worn find from PreOwnedWeddingDresses). But the rest of my wedding outfits for my rehearsal dinner, after-party, and minimoon felt unfinished, each one being the type I’d typically have a bag in tow. “While you don’t often see a bride carrying a bag down the aisle, there are plenty of other wedding weekend occasions when it’s a necessity [like] the rehearsal dinner [and] bridal brunch,” Edie Parker founder and designer Brett Heyman, tells me. “Like for every day, a bag adds that extra punch an outfit often needs to take it to the next level.”
Allison makes another strong point, further substantiating my speculation and bag taste. “There are many one-off pieces that can make a wedding special, but also expensive. Brides today realize that there are certain items that can be looked at differently, as more versatile and classic and not so precious that they can’t be worn again. Bags are one of them. I think of a wedding as an excuse to invest in something you wouldn’t otherwise.”
Trott adds, “One tip when looking for the right bag is to make sure it’s simple, timeless, and plays off the jewelry you’ve [selected].” With a vintage Chanel bag and minimal drawstring Porto pouch as my bridal bags of choice, per Trott’s advice, it would appear I nailed it.
Keep reading for more insights into the current bridal bag scene, and discover the biggest trends, according to the experts. I’ve also included an edit to shop if you’re in the market for a wedding-specific bag or one that’s occasion-worthy.
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Transitional & Investment-Worthy Bags
More and more, brides view their wedding as a weekend event, often selecting a versatile bag to pair with multiple looks, according to Loeffler Randall founder and chief creative officer Jessie Randall. “We see brides pair the Rayne both for the wedding day itself but also with a shorter dress for the rehearsal dinner,” she says.
Trott notes another longevity-minded trend when it comes to building a wedding wardrobe. “We find brides look for a mix of both classic and wedding-specific styles when it comes to handbag shopping on Tradesy. I recommend looking for a chic and versatile handbag that you could wear for future moments in your life. Think investment and statement piece.” I paired my minimal white Porto pouch with my rehearsal dinner and post-wedding brunch dresses and teamed vintage Chanel with my after-party and minimoon attire, hitting on both Randall and Trott’s observations.
“I think the future of bridal bags are small and functional transitional bags that can be incorporated into everyday life as a fun way to elevate your outfit with a special, nostalgic touch,” Randall adds. “Muted blush tones and metallics are great because they can match a variety of looks from the wedding weekend and beyond.”
Simple & Timeless Style To Re-Wear
Randall says, “Brides now are gravitating towards the comfortable and timeless, like our pleated styles. These bags can be worn again but are special and look great in photos.” Adding, “We love when brides tell us they can’t wait to re-wear their shoes and handbags on anniversaries and on their honeymoon as a special reminder.”
Clutches are a timeless option to pair with occasion attire like a wedding wardrobe, according to Heyman. “So very ideal for a bride,” she says. “They also lend themselves well to life following the wedding — date night, a night out with the girls, etc.”
According to Allison, “Bridal bags specifically get a bad rap, I think because of their Victorian-esque beading, floral appliqué, and kiss-lock closures. They’re hyperfeminine to the point of seeming dated.” More often, she says brides are opting for the pared-back white or mini versions of their favorite bags and choosing to invest in practicality, ease, and quality. “While a bridal bag is necessary — as much as an everyday one is — it shouldn’t get in the way and should be something you’re excited to wear on your honeymoon and beyond,” she adds.
While some brides still love the classic white bag, like Edie Parker’s Oval Bag in white flat, Heyman says brides are more frequently opting for color. “Our Slim Jean in Tunnel Of Love is a chic alternative to a classic that offers that perfect pop of color so many 2021 brides are craving,” she says. “We offer a wide range of colors to fit any bride’s aesthetic because not everyone is looking for white or something blue.”
Randall tells me, “We’re seeing brides loving muted blush tones and metallics. These colors go with multiple looks and can be worn for years.” For someone looking to make a bit more of a statement, she adds, “Our Zelda is super fun, but its muted tone makes it wearable for additional occasions.”
Brides often purchase their dress and then their shoes, but there’s a decidedly earlier interest in handbags, according to Randall, “especially when the bride wants a matching shoe-bag moment.” She continues, “When brides who have chosen to wear Loeffler Randall see that our pleated Rayne Clutch matches their wedding shoes, they get so excited. Our fabrics go through two different pleating machines to achieve our signature ‘toothpick’ pleat’ — it’s really beautiful.”
While Heyman notes a mix of requests from bridal-focused shoppers, she says, “We see a lot of customized orders since bags are great gifts for the bride-to-be,” like the brand’s Slim Flavia Clutch, which customers can customize by color, font, name, or phrase.
Randall adds, “In terms of customization, we’re seeing a lot of interest in our new custom sock liners for shoes. At our 10 Prince store, brides can pick out a pair of shoes, and we will emboss the sock liner with the initials of the couple and the wedding date — it’s so special and makes for a great ‘getting ready’ photo.” For a similar look with a bag, brands like tde. and Mark & Graham offer monogramming. And never forget, Etsy is a customizer’s goldmine.