An off-white wedding … and other trends for modern nuptials

View a replay of the live chat with wedding planner Stacey Price of Marry Me Productions and Jasmine Craig, owner of bridal salon The White Dress, held from from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31 at

If you want a sneak peek at the stylings of wedding dresses to come, look no further than the red carpet at the Golden Globes and Oscars.

The recent Globes, for example, saw Angelina Jolie in a white Versace dress with a slash of red across the collarbones, while Sarah Michelle Gellar wore a voluminous white Monique Lhuillier gown with a blue “watercolour” effect. It was essentially a wedding gown with swirls of blue.

Brides are also choosing an accent colour, whether it’s a belt of emerald-green crystals, a sash in black organza, or daring red shoes.

Meanwhile, white is out. Cream, ivory, oyster — whatever designers call it, almost all brides look better in off-white than pure white.

While she sells designer gowns in “natural white,” Jasmine Craig, the owner of The White Dress, a designer bridalwear boutique on Preston Street, has almost none in bright white, which she says is unflattering to most skin tones. Designer gowns are silk, which does not come in a true white, while lace simply looks better in a subtle ivory or cream. Even mass-market bridalwear manufacturers are producing dresses in a multitude of shades of off-white.

Among the trends for 2012 weddings:


Sorry, Kate. While the new Duchess of Cambridge has been credited with a lace revival in bridalwear, few brides are opting for sleeves, although some choose to cover a strapless gown with a sheer lace shrug. The strapless still reigns supreme, says Craig. “It has a real elegance and regalness. It’s very sexy and very formal.”

Ottawa couture designer David McCaffrey is seeing a shift toward straps, which allow designers to create plunging V necklines and extremely low backs.

Look for Kate’s influence in dresses for bridesmaids. Kate’s maid-of-honour, her sister Pippa, wore a form-fitting off-white gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Both the colour and the silhouette are popular this year.


Removable belts and sashes are adding colour and texture to gown, says Craig. Black is popular, as are pale shades of champagne or soft taupe and belts embellished with beading and crystals. “They add sparkle, an accent colour and accentuate the waistline,” she says.


Mint green has been touted as the theme colour for 2012, along with blush pink, deep teal and navy blue, says Craig. “Trendy wedding colours tend to follow the red carpet.”

Budget chain David’s Bridal is predicting a Caribbean cruise array of “coral reef” colours will be popular as accents, with orange leading the way. Look, too, for shades of purple, from pale freesia to royal purple.


McCaffrey sees a strong trend toward finishes that are casual and unstructured. This includes raw edges, frayed fabrics and shirring that is not perfectly symmetrical. “Random is a word I use a lot,” he says.


Wearing a second white or off-white dress to the reception is also strong trend. Kate Middleton changed into a second Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen creation for a reception at Buckingham Palace, this time a strapless gown with a diamanté sash, worn with a cropped angora sweater. Carrie Underwood wore two custom Monique Lhuillier dresses, one a ball gown with a blush pink sash and the other a strapless cocktail dress with a frayed organza skirt, and Chelsea Clinton wore a second Vera Wang gown to her reception.

“It gives the bride another opportunity to wear a special gown,” says wedding planner Stacey Price of Marry Me Productions. “It’s another ‘reveal’ for the bride.”

One elegant option is a bustier with a ball gown skirt to be worn for the ceremony and early in the reception, replacing the skirt with a cocktail-length or shorter skirt for ease of movement after the traditional first dance, says Price, who points out that the bustier can be worn again at a gala or formal event, or even under a jacket at anniversary dinners.

McCaffrey’s new “Cass” dress is a fit-and-flare gown with a bottom tier that can be removed for the reception. He calls it a “two-in-one” dress.

At David’s Bridal in Ottawa, some brides are choosing a white or off-white dress from the bridesmaid collection and wearing it as a reception dress.


Wearing white in the months before and after the wedding is a trend among young celebrities like Vanessa Minnillo (former Miss Teen USA and MTV VJ), who last July married Jessica Simpson’s ex Nick Lachey. “A lot of brides like to wear white to all of the events leading up to the wedding,” says Julie Demole, manager of the Ottawa David’s Bridal store.


Brides are showing a flash of colour in their shoes, says Demole, who has noted that brides might be wearing white or off-white but they want shoes that reflect the colour theme of the wedding, One bride, for example, wore shoes in the same shade of apple red that her bridesmaids wore. Others prefer open-toed shoes to show off a pedicure in a signature colour.

For brides who prefer a little more subtlety, there’s the pale two-tone shoe. One popular choice at David’s is an off-white pump with the tips of the toes wrapped with a champagne satin bow.

McCaffrey says for many of his brides shoes are not an afterthought. Brides often buy their shoes before they order a wedding dress. Recent choices have ranged from Gucci to funky, comfy Fluevogs for an outdoor ceremony.


Price says about 60 per cent of weddings are still held in a religious venue such as a church, but more couples are choosing an all-in-one-location where the wedding can proceed seamlessly from the ceremony to cocktails to dinner.

A lot of couples are also asking that their ceremonies be held outdoors, but Price warns that it’s important to have a solid Plan B in case of bad weather. “When you have a wedding outdoors, you’re inviting Mother Nature to the ceremony,” she says. “If there’s not a backup plan, we try to steer people away from that.”


Slide shows of the bridal pair have been popular in the past decade. The latest trends is to have a slide show or video of the events of the wedding day — from casual shots of the bridesmaids getting ready to sequences from the ceremony — to play at the reception so guests can get an instant replay of the day before it’s over.

Be prepared to pay; it costs between $5,000 and $8,000 to have same-day images taken, edited and possibly even retouched, usually to a soundtrack chosen by the couple. “It’s like ‘the making of the wedding day,’ ” says Price.


Goodbye, stiff wedding portraits. Most modern couples want their weddings to be photographed documentary-style, which captures all the behind-the-scenes special moments instead of traditional posed photographs. Price estimates posed photos account for about 20 per cent of photographic assignments. “People love the candids,” she says.


Having the right chairs can make all the difference for table settings, and banquet hall table settings don’t cut it anymore. While white chair covers were all the rage a decade ago, the focus has shifted to renting chairs that match the mood of the reception, says Price, who has gone as far afield as New York and Montreal to rent the right chairs, including upholstered and mahogany chairs and more contemporary styles, such as transparent “ghost” chairs and elegant “Chiavari” chairs.

Couples also want sumptuous table settings, including table linens such as lace overlays and statement-making centrepieces. Price has gone hunting for special containers, including antique crystal bowls. She likes to “tablescape” the reception venue by having centrepieces of varying heights and shapes at different tables, all with the same colour or floral theme.


Placing candy in clear glass containers from apothecary jars to martini glasses is a popular trend. Couples often ask to have the candies colour-coded to match their colour scheme or they may prefer sweets that hold sentimental value, such as “vintage” candy from their growing-up year. Thrills gum, the one that “tastes like soap,” has been paired with a wedding with a purple colour theme.

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