EVEN when romantic tradition is carefully observed, the changing profile of today's bride makes every wedding distinctly individual. Predictions are that the 1985 bride and her groom will be much more involved in planning their own ceremony than couples of the past, to ensure that their wedding is a reflection of themselves.
Significant trends in gown styling for spring and summer brides include off-the-shoulder necklines; short, full sleeves worn with matching mitts or gauntlets; elegant beaded treatments, and elaborate lace embroideries.
In fabrics, traditional silk organza, peau de soie, and tissue taffeta are favored. Satin, usually reserved for fall or winter weddings, is a surprise choice for spring. But brides contend it is comfortable in air-conditioned churches, and they like the way it feels.
The French Impressionists -- Degas, Monet, Seurat, and Renoir -- inspired the romantic gowns in the Alfred Angelo collection. Choices range from bouffant-skirted styles with cathedral- and chapel-length trains to slim, lace-trimmed long dresses and shorter tea-length styles, the latter definitely on the rise in popularity. Liked especially for garden and small chapel weddings, designer Frank Masandrea makes some of next season's prettiest shorter gowns. Lengths can vary from mid-calf to just above the ankle.
Because marketing surveys indicate most first-time brides today are in their middle 20s, with many established in careers, tastes in wedding fashions may be more mature and sophisticated. Such brides-to-be are confident shoppers, wanting to fulfill a lifelong dream for a bit of fantasy on this important day but not be carried away by it.
``The more mature bride looks for quality and exquisite details, but avoids excessive ruffles,'' one bridal buyer says.
Also, bridal consultants point out, brides who live and work some distance from their hometowns will plan smaller weddings because fewer guests are available.
Strong sentiment may dictate that the ``something borrowed'' in a bride's attire be a wedding dress worn by her mother, grandmother, or sister. As for ``something blue,'' designers made this easy by offering charming gowns of pale blue or pink, some overlaid with white lace.
Priscilla of Boston creates one of the loveliest of the pastel bridal styles, a frothy pink confection with pearl straps, a jeweled bodice, and a deeply flounced hem that ends in a sweeping train.
But color makes the deepest impression in bridesmaids' dresses. Spring attendants will wear, among other colors, rich magenta, plum, royal blue, lilac, and mauve.
Silhouettes include dropped-waist styles and a return to bolero jackets over spaghetti-strapped dresses, this last designed for lots of extra mileage. Prices average around $100.
Beautiful gowns for mothers of the bride and groom appear in these same jewel tones, but prices go higher, all the way to $800 and $900.
``Her choice and what she spends depends on how a mother feels about herself,'' says one bridal consultant. ``Some love the opportunity to really dress up and make an elegant impression.''
Headdresses vary from garlands of silk flowers to high fashion poufs of illusion crowning the hair and new, short, but very full veils that form a pretty cascading frame around the head. Picture hats still are worn at daytime weddings, while tiny jeweled Juliet caps are popular for evening.
Although a broad price range is available to this year's brides, stores report that the type of fabric, amount of yardage, elaborate trims, and delicate workmanship on many dresses put them in the $500-to-$1,500 price bracket. But it is possible to buy a memorable gown for around $200, while some breathtaking beauties go as high as $3,000.