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Short wedding dresses make the bridal cut

It’s the rise of short.

In fashion, hemlines rise and fall practically on a whim. But in the bridal market, where the full-length gown is king, the addition of short dresses and gowns for brides is practically blasphemous.

Yet at last week's bridal fashion showcase in New York, short options showed up in almost every important collection for spring 2012. 

“In bridal, we’ve seen short creeping in in the past three or four seasons,” Mara Urshel, owner of Kleinfeld’s, told TODAY.com. But this season, “every designer collection had a short dress in it, if not two. We’re selling a reasonable amount of them.”

Net-a-Porter’s U.S. editor Tracy Taylor believes the short trend is mirroring a celeb movement. “Short is the new long for red carpet dressing,” she told TODAY.com, “and for brides to look different, the short wedding dress is the way for her to be different, stand out and show off her best assets.”

On her site’s bridal boutique, “at this moment, 20 percent are short white dresses,” she said, citing designers like Lanvin, Roland Mouret and Jason Wu, all of whom have made short wedding dresses exclusively for Net-a-Porter.

Designer Amsale created a line of short dresses called “The White Dress,” priced from $1,200 to $1,800. On Urban Outfitters’ new bridal website BHLDN, three of the 15 bridal gowns offered are short.

And two months ago, David's Bridal started stocking 2-in-1 gowns, long dresses that unzip to transform into a more casual mini that's perfect, say, for dancing at your reception.

That's echoing a trend some brides have adopted, which is purchasing two dresses: one for the ceremony and photos, and another, often shorter version, for the after-party.

“Short dresses are great for an intimate wedding that flows seamlessly from a ceremony into dinner and dancing,” said Kimberly Lee Minor, chief fashion strategist at Priscilla of Boston. “It’s an unexpected look that brides can wear to mix things up for the festivities.”Bridal designers had any number of reasons for including these abbreviated looks in their collections.

“There’s great versatility to a short dress,” explained Tom Mora, wedding designer for J. Crew. “After the formality of the ceremony, it’s nice to have on something short so you can freely enjoy the rest of your evening without the restrictions and fuss that may come with a long gown.”

Then there's the cost perspective. “Brides have been looking for cost-effective options for their big day," said Dan Rentillo, vice president of design for David's Bridal. Just like less-formal weddings cost less, so does, well, less dress.

Another reason? The cost-be-darned trend of taking cues from celebs. Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, the mistresses of red carpet dressing, always include short options for their celebrities and brides. “We have included short dress options in our bridal collection for several seasons now,” Chapman said. “There are so many different types of brides and so many different styles of weddings to consider. We feel it’s important to offer a range of lengths and silhouettes to choose from.”

Ultimately, it's about answering the needs of customers — something Oscar de la Renta knows better than anyone. “I want my collection to appeal to many different types of brides who may have very different types of weddings,” he said.

No matter what, short is here to stay, predicted Urshel. “It’s become a staple in the collections — there will always be shorts with the long dresses.”

Let hope short dresses make for long marriages.

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