Joy Abendmode Boutique Hosts Down the Aisle Bridal Fashion Show

The bridal shop sent couture gowns down the runway in support of development in Downtown Royal Oak.
Photograph by Alicia Frances Photography

Tucked away in an unassuming alley in Downtown Royal Oak, just steps away from their charming brick-and-mortar bridal boutique, Joy Abendmode’s equally as charming makeshift runway — or in this case, aisle — fills the narrow corridor from wall to wall.

Refusing to let poor weather (literally) rain on their couture parade, attendees of the Aug. 11 bridal fashion show shift their seats to dry areas surrounding the long black fabric runway as the voices of Sinatra, Bublé, and similarly vintage-sounding crooners reverberate off the buildings, filling the acoustics of the alleyway.

Sophisticated and voluminous white floral arrangements intersperse guests chatting excitedly with friends and tasting edible pearl-adorned cupcakes.

The event’s aesthetic is undeniably romantic and perfectly bridal — and that’s before even a single gown graces the runway.

As the minutes wind down to the show’s start, Joy Abendmode representatives raffle off wedding-themed prizes from local businesses: makeup lessons, an engagement photo session, florist gift cards, and more.

Sponsored by the Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority, the show aims to feature some of the city’s most popular shops and restaurants and incorporates them into nearly every aspect of the event, from the hors d’oeuvres to the after party. The event contributes to the Development Authority’s mission to “promote economic growth and revitalization” in the downtown area.

With the rain letting up and a couple of lucky prize winners in the crowd, the models begin their bridal fashion walks, exhibiting Joy Abendmode’s extensive collection of wedding dresses on a range of body types and skin tones, allowing any bride in the audience to envision herself outfitted in what could be “the dress.”

From bridal designers such as Milla Nova, Viero Bridal, and Berta, the gowns range from modern, minimalistic, and chic, to classic, intricate, and romantic.

For brides valuing simplicity, Milla Nova’s Phoebe gown — a spaghetti-strap fitted bodice, V-shaped open back, and straight skirt with subtle sparkle on the stark white fabric — is a perfect match. Style with the removable structured cape for a classy, elegant bridal look that doesn’t require a veil.

Minimalistic, yet with a very on-trend corset bodice, the Cornelia’s sinched waist makes the gown’s voluminous skirt with a high-slit look even more dramatic, which is ideal for brides wanting a ballgown that without the usual princess-like frills.

Also from Milla Nova, though contrasting the minimalism of the Phoebe and Cornelia, is the Emri, a nude, sheer dress with a plunging neckline, detachable tulle skirt, and glittery chevron-and-floral pattern. Brides with an aversion to white will love this unique take on traditional bridal styles.

Viero Bridal’s show standouts included the Vivian — an aptly named draped corset gown with a straight, strapless neckline peaking at sharp points — with clean lines and a fitted silhouette similar to those of iconic bridal designer Vivienne Westwood.

For detail-eyed brides with Pinterest boards full of close-up wedding day shots, consider the Celine — a sleek pearl-embellished, drop-waist dress with exposed corset boning and matching sleeve gloves.

From Berta, a sheer bodice, lace appliques, and a flowing train give the 19-103 mermaid-style gown a feel of classic romance that can be styled simply or accessorized with a long veil or lace shawl, as pictured on Berta’s website, for an extra-bridal touch.

To shop these designers and more, or to book an in-person appointment at the Joy Abendmode storefront in Royal Oak, visit Plus, find even more bridal tips and stories at