Bride and groom casually dressed kissing on the beach

Reality TV Star Monte Durham Reveals His Wedding Style Tips

Say Yes to Bridal Style

He’s entertained and educated you on all things bridal for nine years and soon-to-be 11 seasons of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. Who better to ask about bridal style than the show’s style director, Monte Durham? We sat down with the Jackie-O obsessed Southern gentleman to chat destination wedding tips and style trends.

Monty Durham, Wedding Expert on "Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta"
Monte durham, wedding style director, "Say yes to the dress: atlanta"

You’ve worked on wedding for more than 30 years. What has changed the most in that time?
The biggest change is the diversity within the wedding industry now. It used to be that couples were having religious ceremonies or getting married in religious venues, so there was a criteria for how they dressed. Now you have wedding by beaches, lakes, out in fields. And the selection of gowns is unlimited. Before, it was pretty much a few designers, and then Vera Wang hit the market in the ‘80s and changed all that.

Bride and Groom standing at the altar with the priest
change in wedding venue - "It used to be that couples were having religious ceremonies or getting married in religious venues..."

What’s the biggest mistake you see brides make when planning a wedding?
The No. 1 mistake brides make is listening to other people. Stay true to who you are. Write three points on a card of what you want your wedding to be and really stick with those. For example, I want my wedding to be elegant, understated, sophisticated. When you look at cakes, invitations, flowers, etc., set the card down in front of you and evaluate each one; consider if it fits with the theme.

What advice do you have for brides selecting a dress for a destination wedding?
Beach weddings are interesting because you want to make sure that everything is ready to go. When you land on the ground, you want that checklist and you want it checked off. You want to think about the fabric. Lace travels beautifully. You can fold it and then just hang it up and it will fall right into place without pressing. If you have a satin gown or an organza gown, which are beautiful on the beach because they flutter, they’re going to need to be steamed and tulle is going to need to be straightened.

Lace wedding dresses on clothes hangers
lace wedding dresses -  "Lace travels beautifully. You can fold it and just hang it up and it will fall right into place without pressing."

Any style tips for bridal parties for a destination wedding?
I always say for bridesmaids, it’s easier to do a long dress because then you don’t have to worry about pedicures. You don’t have to worry about somebody nicking their leg shaving. You don’t have to worry about the shoes. And chances are, with a destination, you’re going to be near sand or on sand. So, you want to make sure that when those dresses are hemmed, they’re hemmed to the shoe height because most groups will kick the shoes off to walk on sand. And when they come back from the beach, you might want to have a towel attendant so that everyone can dip their feet in a tub of water, dry them, and then put their shoes back on for dancing in the ballroom.

Bride and groom kissing on a beautiful beach
beach dress code - "... make sure those dresses are hemmed, they're hemmed to the shoe height because most groups will kick off their shoes to walk on sand."

What do you think about veils for destination weddings?
Veils are beautiful; the longer the better. When you’re outside, when it flips around, it just looks so pretty in the wind. You might want to keep your hair pulled back when you’re getting married outside because there’s nothing worse when you’re saying your vows than to have to pull the hair out of the corner of your mouth because the winds can blow it over you.

What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in weddings right now?
For gowns, people are liking coverage more than non-coverage. People are liking beading and embellishment as opposed to heavy bling. People are liking soft skirting and soft movement in their dresses when they walk and move as opposed to mermaids and tight fits. Buttons and bows are big. Brides want huge bows in the back. They are also looking for interesting lace, it’s almost like a revisit of the ‘70s. 

Bride with a beautiful veil blowing in the wind.
Are veils in? -  According to Durham, "Veils are beautiful; the longer, the better."

Weddings are becoming a little more formal, while still being relaxed and comfortable. Attention is going now to linens, tablescapes, flowers, entertainment. Whereas before there was a time when we were out in the barns with Mason jars having our drinks, that shifted.  Burlap is going away and damask is coming back. Hair will be a little more soft, a little more like the bride did it herself. Makeup is going the same way, with the concentration on lips or eyes, but normally not both. With cakes, fondant seems to be on the downturn and buttercream icing on the rise.

Any recent celebrity bridal looks you loved?
I thought Meghan Markle and Princess Charlene of Monaco looked beautiful.

Monty Durham with his husband Jack Evans and his "Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta" Co-Host Lori Allen
wedding bliss - Durham with his husband Jakob Evans and his "Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta" Co-Host Lori Allen.