Behind the Veil with Designer Patrice Catan

Smaller weddings, nontraditional venues and a move toward ball gowns are a few trends Patrice Catan says are taking over the aisle in a fast-changing industry. By Kristen Hampshire

Patrice Catan is the entrepreneurial creative behind one of the country’s largest bridal boutiques, formerly Catan’s Fashions, which sold an average of 2,000 wedding gowns annually (not counting other formalwear). Having designed more than 220 different wedding dress patterns for sizes 0 to 30 and served as a speaker at national wedding industry shows, Catan now hosts a podcast, Tales from Behind the Veil on Evergreen Podcasts, Apple, Spotify, Pandora, Google Podcasts and iHeartRadio. Catan is truly Cleveland’s expert on all things nuptials.

Right now, the most dominant theme she’s seeing: anything goes.

“You’ll always have traditional weddings,” says Catan, “but life is changing and inflation and COVID have played a large part.”

Here, she offers candid answers to common wedding questions. 

Wedding dress fitting

Q: What is one key to success that helps create a smooth wedding planning process, no matter the size or cost?

A: Weddings are an investment and couples have different ideas about what they want and how much they can afford. So, sit down and take a good, hard look at the budget and come up with a bottom line for the event. Then, make a list of everything you need for the wedding, from attire to the reception hall and so on. Identify what is most important to you and direct the budget there. For some, it’s the music and for others it’s the food. It’s no different than decorating a home where certain projects are a priority and others are secondary. Budgeting is important because if you decide you can spend $2,000 on a dress but you overspend on the cake or DJ, then when you find the gown you really love you either have to stretch beyond what you can afford or settle for something less. 

Q: What wedding dress style would you like to see come back and stay?

A: What’s starting to come back in is the gorgeous Grace Kelly look, more ball gowns and higher necklines. From 2008 until about 2021, it was all about fit and flare, the straight gown that shows more of a bride’s shape. But the Grace Kelly look is timeless, and we are also seeing lace necklines and beautiful embroidery sneak back in. We saw this with the Naomi Biden and Pippa Middleton weddings.

Q: Speaking of gown selection, how many people should a bride include when selecting a dress? 

A: I’ve seen groups come in with paddles they make with “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. There are 10 bridesmaids and family members jammed into the room, and they all have an opinion. If possible, limit the “crowd” to a few guests in the dressing room and lean on the consultant to suggest dress fits and styles that you might not have considered. (Remember, they do this every day.) And another tip: Think twice about cocktails. After one too many mimosas, those opinions get louder and you can lose sight of what’s a great fit. 

Q: What can a couple do to avoid the wedding drama? 

A: The bottom line is, the wedding belongs to the bride and the groom. They should respect suggestions, especially from their parents, but the anxiety ramps up when the whole world has to know all of the details. You are putting on a story about the binding of a husband and wife. And that story should not be open to the public until the day of the event. Your wedding doesn’t have to be anyone else’s business. 

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