Alternative Brides - When White Just Isn’t Your Color

If white isn’t the show-off color you’d pick any other day, why subject yourself to it on the day of all days? Maybe your complexion looks pasty next to any variant of white. After all, light, pale skin tones don’t look healthy and luminous next to a snowy hue.

You can still have the perfect gown with the appropriate echelon of celebration even if your dress isn’t white and poufy. Worried that your guests won’t be able to spot you? Come on - you’re the bride. All eyes will be on you even if you’re not wearing blinding white.

Since white is a color normally observed for before Labor Day and V.I.P. parties held at P. Diddy’s house, where did this tradition come from? And why has it held on so long? 

Truth be told, white wedding gowns are a somewhat modern trend. The person who started the movement was Queen Victoria in 1840. Some say her colorless choice was an ode to her personal commitment to purity. Others think it was mainly a statement of class and style. Instead of virtue, Queen Victoria was flaunting wealth. By wearing her gown, the queen was donning something that she could never wear again. Back then, white was so much harder to clean than it is now and the style was far too extravagant for even a queen to wear in her daily regime. As the wealthy population followed the queen’s lead, everyone else continued wearing their colorful, affordable wedding dresses.

In the 1920s, Coco Chanel introduced a knee-length, white gown with a lavish train. The popularity of the white wedding gown was reborn. During the Great Depression, women tried to keep up with the trend but had to opt for short, informal white gowns that they could dye after the nuptials in order to get more bang for their buck. From the 1950s onward, white became the norm. As more and more Hollywood stars, royals and members of high society wore white on their wedding day, the rest of the world followed suit.

Style and fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker wore a black gown on her wedding day in 1997. ‘Nuff said. Want a reference that’s a bit more modern? Jessica Biel just got married to Justin Timberlake and she wore a pink-and-white gown. More examples include Anne Hathaway, Amber Tamblyn and Elizabeth Taylor circa 1964.

Maybe you want a totally over-the-top wedding, like Gwen Stefani did when she went wild with her hot pink ombre gown. 

 

Check out even more ombre gowns...

Maybe you’re half of a totally unique couple, like Dita Von Teese was when she married Marilyn Manson. “Unique” may  even be an understatement, and Dita knew it. She wore a purple taffeta gown that showed shades of light purple and pink when the light hit it. The kicker? She had a hat to perfectly match. Maybe purity isn’t exactly the energy you’re going for, especially if you’re on your second marriage or one of your little ones is in attendance.

According to HuffingtonPost.com, when Cynthia Nixon was planning her wedding, she told Carolina Herrera, “Don’t think of me as a bride. Think of me as a grown-up woman who needs a dress to get married in.” *A-hem* - this is very similar to her Sex and the City character, Miranda, who was married on the show in a deep maroon ensemble.

Need more convincing? At New York’s Bridal Fashion Week in 2012, designers showed color for their 2013 wedding gown collections. Vera Wang didn’t even have a single white bridal gown in her entire collection. Now, a colored gown isn’t just your preference - it’s also fashion forward.

So, you wanna wear black… Plan for a night wedding and ask your makeup artist for smoky eyes to stick with the dramatic theme. Put your bridesmaids in white for a total role reversal. (Those black and white photos will look striking, too.)

Make your wedding dress your something blue.

Red may be even farther away from a white wedding gown than a black one is. If you want to go for this all out, totally bold color, remind yourself that red is actually the traditional wedding color for international brides. In China, red is worn to symbolize joy and good fortune. In Japan, it’s worn to represent happiness and new beginnings. Different shades of red are worn all over Europe for weddings and in the U.S., the color is associated with hearts and love.

Want to hop on the bandwagon without straying too far from the norm? You can still have color present without it being overwhelming. Opt for a super light pink or blush tone, like Reese Witherspoon did. 

Or, combine color with white instead of having all-over tint. You can also choose a light colored wedding gown and amp it up with stained accessories or accents, like a colored sash, bow, hemline or trim. Lastly, you can wear light silver to mix it up a bit while still staying close to tradition.

What shouldn’t you do? Take a fashion risk on your wedding day. Don’t wear a color you hate or that you know you don’t look good in just to join the ranks of colorfully outfitted brides. Don’t choose a fabric that’s itchy or a shape that doesn’t compliment your body just to be different or because that’s the only gown you can find in baby blue.

If you’re trying to make others happy or get a stamp of approval by sticking with good ol’ white, nip that thought process in the bud immediately. Remember, just because you envision yourself in a white gown, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you truly want. Picturing yourself in white could have more to do with conditioning than desire. Until now, you may not have even realized you had alternative options. Plus, when your bridal party, family and guests see how radiant and happy you look in your rare gown, they’ll forget about convention completely.

The real question is this: Do you want to wear a different color or do you just want to be different? If it’s the former, say “adieu” to white. If it’s the latter, find another way to stand out from the bridal crowd other than sacrificing your dream dress. Guess what - you get to make your own rules on your wedding day.