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Can there be too much white at a wedding?

Thursday, January 26, 2012
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White is the traditional color for brides, but many of them are surrounding themselves with white way beyond a head-to-toe look. (photo: Raymond Ham)
White is the traditional color for brides, but many of them are surrounding themselves with white way beyond a head-to-toe look. (photo: Raymond Ham)

Is it all right to go all white?

Of course, white is the traditional color for brides, but many of them are surrounding themselves with white way beyond a head-to-toe look. It's more like left to right and floor to ceiling, and everything in between.

"I do love an all-white wedding," gushes fashion designer Amsale Aberra , who uses her first name as her label. "I think it can be very beautiful."

But, in the next breath, Aberra says the look leaves room for error, with white-wearing bridesmaids and flower girls, white flowers, white tablecloths and white candles all potentially stealing the bride's thunder. "You don't want to need to wear the veil the whole day just to be identified as the bride," she says.

It takes a woman with a strong personality and sense of self to remain the belle of the ball, and she needs to embrace little tools to help her shine — things like a beaded waistband on her gown or choosing a dress that's just a slightly different shade of white than everyone else's, adds celebrity wedding planner David Tutera.

"I think the royal wedding will have an influence on brides for years, even decades, to come, and Pippa Middleton's white Alexander McQueen bridesmaid dress will most certainly be credited with sparking a trend," says Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings. She notes, however, that it's a long time tradition in Britain to have the wedding party wear white.

Miller says the look is sophisticated, too -- but more versatile than one might think. "The classic look of an all-white wedding is thought of as very traditional, but the clean, sophisticated palette can easily be transformed for modern venues so it is suitable for all types of brides. Whether you are getting married on the beach, at a country club, at a ski lodge or on a city rooftop, the look will translate, so you really can't go wrong."

Tutera, who hosts WeTV's "My Fair Wedding," still isn't fully sold. When white is done right, there's nothing better, he says, but there's still more of a chance that something could go wrong.

There are hundreds of shades of white, from bright, blueish diamond white to a creamy, more yellowed eggshell white, he notes. The color scheme of the wedding should all be in the same family, although not 100 percent matching, either.

Aberra encourages the warmer, richer shades, perhaps the eggshell, ivory or champagne. "That metallic white -- that's not flattering to almost anybody. A more natural white has a more pearl feel to it, it's not harsh. I'd stay away from a harsh white, especially in the daytime, which will just look brighter and brighter."

Seems like a lot of detail for a bride to keep track of, but Manhattan-based photographer Christian Oth says the results can be worth it.

"It's an established fact that brides look great in white -- it might even be why they do it! When you have a bunch of bridesmaids all dressed in white, that's a beautiful visual thing," Oth says.

He'd much rather see the parade of white coming at him than the bridal parties of a few decades ago, with the bridesmaids in pouffy-sleeve, fuchsia dresses and the groomsmen wearing ties to match. "Those typical bridesmaids' dresses are very hard to photograph well," Oth adds.

And the different shades of white that are apparent to the naked eye probably won't show up in pictures, he says.

Still, a little hint of contrast color does work well; Oth suggests white floral bouquets that have visible green stems.

Miller agrees that it's the small details that are key with an all-white wedding. Fabrics and textures will create the depth, she says.

She ticks off suggestions, including bouquets of white peonies paired with a cluster of dahlias, white orchids and snowberry branches, tied with satin and lace.

She likes white flowers on the table, but also suggests whitewashed papier-mache fruit piled on a cake stand and trimmed with silver millinery leaves.

White works on the menu if you serve hors d'oeuvres during the cocktail hour made with seafood such as scallops, yellowtail or crabmeat; veggies like cauliflower and parsnips; and even pasta.

The one place a bride and groom shouldn't see white -- unless they specifically request it -- is in the crowd, the experts say, with Miller saying the "common consensus" is that only the bride, or bridal party, wears white unless the invitation says otherwise.

Tutera says he recently worked with a bride for a year to find her perfect gown, but was upstaged by a guest. "This guest wore all white. She stood out like a sore thumb. You had to ask: What was that guest thinking?"

 
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