Perched in the front row, Emily Ehehalt watched as flashes of ivory ruffles, creamy taffeta and eggshell lace swept by on a runway.
The recently engaged Ehehalt was attending a local bridal fashion show looking for ideas for her January 2012 wedding. But many of the trends being shown now, prime wedding-planning season, might be out of date come April 29, when Catherine Elizabeth "Kate" Middleton and Prince William of Wales are scheduled to tie the knot.
"I love her style," Ehehalt said. "I love her ring and dress that she wore to her engagement" announcement.
It follows that Ehehalt, a 27-year-old Federal Hill resident who works in community outreach for Johns Hopkins Hospital's department of neurosurgery, might take a page from Middleton when it comes time to choose her dress for the big day. She'll be watching the wedding, along with much of the rest of the world, looking for ideas.
The coming royal wedding is drawing attention from many quarters. Brides-to-be are living vicariously through the unfolding romance. And event planners, stylists and others in the wedding industry know this event will affect styles in areas including gowns, hair and flower arrangements.
Lerkia Lee-Tidball, a stylist at Modage, a bridal-styling business in Laurel, has been keeping in contact with her friends in London for whatever details emerge about the wedding.
"We have been totally following the trends," she said, adding that she expects a number of customers asking for things they might spot during the event. "There hasn't been a huge wedding of this magnitude in years."
At Cavallaro & Co., the Columbia hair salon, employees and customers have been talking about the coming wedding.
"Brides this year are going to be following that look," said co-owner Becky Wibberley. "It's in your face every day. Who doesn't want to look like her?"
Middleton — a brunette who has been listed on a number of "best-dressed" lists — has quickly become a model for brides-to-be. With her down-to-earth nature and her rise from relative obscurity, she has become a likable and relatable figure to many women.
"I think it is sort of every girl's dream that she is marrying a prince and she is a commoner," said Ehehalt, who also praised Middleton's "classy but fashionable" look. "It's very romantic."
Bride-to-be Crystal Jefferson also plans to watch the wedding for inspiration.
"I just want to see how the rich do it, and to draw some ideas from it," she said.
Jefferson, a registered nurse, has picked a church and pastor for her wedding, but she has yet to pick out the all-important dress. First, she'd like to see what Middleton chooses, even though they don't share the same body type.
"With her body, I see her doing a mermaid dress," Jefferson said. " I'm not sure that I fit in that mold." But she added that she'd likely follow Middleton's lead when it comes to selecting the material for her wedding dress.
But what will the dress look like?
Middleton is reportedly under pressure to "buy British," and dress designers such as Phillipa Lepley, Bruce Oldfield and Elizabeth Emanuel, who co-designed Princess Diana's wedding dress, are said to be early favorites. American designers, including Rachel Roy, have been rumored to have submitted dress designs. And with good reason. The designer whose dress is chosen is likely to see a huge spike in sales. Even the blue dress Middleton wore for her engagement announcement, by Brazilian designer Daniela Helayel of Issa, sold out within 24 hours, according to several media outlets.
"So many gown designers are really bidding on Kate's gown," said Drew Vanlandingham, owner and president of Vanlandingham Design Studio, a wedding event planning firm based in Ellicott City. "It's really a toss-up."
Ultimately, couples are going to base their wedding on their own tastes — even those emulating William and Kate, according to Vanlandingham.