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Wedding Essentials

What's the right white for a blushing bride?

This traditional wedding colour comes in hundreds of shades. Let wedding experts show you how to make it work for you
The Straits Times - October 14, 2011
By: Samantha Critchell
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What's the right white for a blushing bride? -- PHOTOS ST ILLUSTRATION: ZULAIHA JUMARI

Is it all right to go all white?

Of course, white is the traditional colour for brides, but many of them are surrounding themselves with white way beyond a head-to-toe look. It is 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 her next breath, she 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 have 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 is just a slightly different shade of white than everyone else's, adds celebrity wedding planner David Tutera.

Kate Middleton pulled it off at the big British royal wedding, he says, but even so, her sister, Pippa Middleton, got her fair share of attention in her white cowl-neck gown.

'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's dress will most certainly be credited with sparking a trend,' says Ms Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings.

She notes, however, that it is a long-time tradition in Britain to have the wedding party wear white. 'It's very striking,' she adds, noting that singer Beyonce and reality TV star Kim Kardashian also opted for the colour - or non-colour - scheme.

Ms 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 palette can easily be transformed for modern venues so it is suitable for all types of brides.'

However, Mr Tutera is not fully sold. When white is done right, there is nothing better, he says, but there is 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 colour scheme of the wedding should all be in the same family, although not 100 per cent matching, either.

Ms 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,' she says. '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,' he says.

And the different shades of white which are apparent to the naked eye probably will not show up in pictures, he says.

Still, a little hint of a contrasting colour does work well; Mr Oth suggests white floral bouquets which have visible green stems.

Ms Miller agrees that it is 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 also likes white flowers in table arrangements, but also suggests whitewashed papier-mache fruit piled on a cake stand and trimmed with silver millinery leaves.

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

Mr 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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