Isn’t it romantic? That’s what wedding guests are saying these days as they watch brides glide down the aisle.

Light, full, flowing gowns accented with lace, crystals and beads are turning the heads of brides-to-be and, no doubt, their grooms.

“We are seeing a continuation of brides wearing beautiful lace. It’s a lovely, fluid, graceful look,” said Helen Durham, owner of Gabrielle’s Bride and Occasion Salon.

Full-length ball gown skirts are becoming more popular, but the fit-and-flare design is also a favorite, and experts say is a better option than the hip-confining mermaid style.

“Fit and flare allows the bride to dance and enjoy the evening,” Durham explained.

Robin Gilley, manager of Bridal Boutique, said brides are paying a lot more attention to the backs of their dresses. Think plunging, sheer and lots of buttons.

“Most people see the back of the dress for most of the ceremony, so the back is just as important as the front,” she said.

Sheer fabrics and a line of buttons floating all the way down the back are elegant touches sure to garner almost as many oohs and aahs as the front of the dress.

Popular sleeve choices are the racer sleeve, where the bodice is cut in just under the arm, cap sleeves or three-quarter-length sleeves.

“It’s almost 50/50 now on strapless dresses versus dresses with sleeves,” Gilley said.

Nicole Bergeron, owner of Deshotels Dress Shop in Eunice, said ivory is the color of choice, with champagne a close second. Champagne or pearl with gold undertones are also popular.

“We still see crystals, bugle beads or rhinestones all over the bodice,” she said.

Lovely necklines, such as the Sabrina, which is similar to a bateau neckline but more curved, or a deep V beautifully enhance many gowns.

“We sell a lot of off-the-shoulder designs or illusion (sheer) necklines,” Bergeron said.

Belts add a splash of glamour and can show off the dress and a shapely waistline.

Handmade belts with pearls and crystals can run $300 to $1,000, but, according to Durham, are worth the investment as they can be used later on that little black cocktail dress or a Mardi Gras ball gown.

To finish the look, the veil is still a must for most brides.

“Depending on your dress, veils always need to be matched with the dress, as to whether it needs scalloped lace or beading,” Bergeron said.

Whether you’ll be wearing your hair up or down is another factor in picking your veil, although Bergeron advises brides not to make drastic changes in their hairstyle for the wedding.

“You want your groom to recognize you when you walk down the aisle,” she said.

Durham advises brides to determine the venue of the wedding before making a gown and veil selection.

“Is the wedding venue formal or informal? Is it outside? Day or night? Wind may be a concern when selecting a veil,” she said.

The consultants advise brides to select their gowns at six to eight months in advance to allow for production and alterations. Count back to when wedding portraits will be taken, not the date of the wedding.

Bring along only one or two of your best critics, experts advise.

“The more opinions, the more confusion. You don’t want to be influenced to select something you don’t really want. This is your day, this is your dress,” Gilley said.

Durham agreed, “There are no wrong wedding gowns. How you feel in that gown is the deciding factor. You want to say to yourself, ‘Wait ’til he sees me in this!’ ”