As brought up by Gertie, the hand embellishment techniques used by Alabama Chanin have the potential to be adapted for different aesthetics.
I checked out a copy of Alabama Stitch Book to flip through and I don't think I would've paid much attention if it weren't for Gertie's post. In its Alabama Chanin form, it would be a little too...homespun-y for my taste, but check out what Gertie's done for one of her dresses:
Another method that may be slightly less time-consuming (but probably not by much) is this vintage-style surface cording tutorial from Colette Patterns:
One of the benefits to cording versus beading is that I might be more comfortable with machine washing it. I think that's a goal I want to have, for this dress to be machine washable, so that I'll wear it often afterwards as a summer dress. Any fancy bits will either have to be detachable or part of a separate piece.