Way Off White 1

More modern brides are adding a splash of color to their special day — here’s how you can, too

By Shelby Bouck

When it comes to finding that perfect dress, every bride is looking for her own, unique version of — wait for it — the exact same thing.

They want the “wow factor.”

Brides on reality TV use the phrase to denote a desire to stand out, to be memorable, and hey, maybe even to startle a little. And what better way to do that than to choose a gown with a hue that’s a bit truer to your own colors than the gleaming whites of yesteryear? For fearless brides whose weddings don’t need to be too traditional, colorful gowns are among this year’s most coveted trends.

There are as many reasons to pick a colorful wedding gown as there are brides who choose them.

Some want to look like their favorite celebrities: Jessica Biel’s bright pink wedding dress caused a stir at her 2013 nuptials with Justin Timberlake. Sex and the City alums Sarah Jessica Parker and Cynthia Nixon got married in black and green, respectively, and glamour queen Elizabeth Taylor wore a yellow dress at one of her many wedding ceremonies. Others just think they look best in rainbow hues.

Experts say there’s not a thing wrong with that, either.

“Our brides want to look and feel their absolute best on their wedding day,” shared Kristen Barstow, owner of Tallahassee’s Vocelles | The Bridal Shoppe, “and sometimes that means opting for a gown in a color that will flatter their complexion, exemplify the season of their wedding or be just plain different and fun.”

These vibrant brides wouldn’t be the first ladies to start new traditions at their weddings. For many years British practice dictated that upper-class brides wore silver on their wedding day. White only became the norm after Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in a white lace dress.

Many cultures outside of the West don’t see white as a traditional wedding color at all. In Asian societies, for example, brides have chosen for generations to wear bright red dresses in keeping with family and national customs.

When it comes to Northwest Florida, the number of brides who deviate from all-white ceremonies has been growing slowly but surely over the past few years.

“It started out slow, as in ‘we’ll do a little splash of color,’” remarked Destin-based photographer Mari Darr-Welch. “Or jewels. The most (common thing) I’ve seen is a split back, or the belt, or different-color beading on the dress.”

A word of caution on this colorful trend. From a photographic perspective, Darr-Welch shared that brides who are choosing to wear rich colors should be careful about their venue’s décor.

“If you’re going with a bold dress, then you really need to make sure your wedding colors blend with that dress,” she warned. “You can’t have opposing colors, because at some point you’ll be walking by (your décor), and maybe you’ll be kissing your grandma, but you’ll have a red dress on an orange background and it will ruin everything.”

With that in mind, while celebrities in New York and Los Angeles pick bright, in-your-face colors for their wedding dresses, bridal expert Barstow notes that even the most daring Northwest Florida brides don’t stray too far from traditional colors.

“We are seeing many brides do shades of champagne, and a few even go with very pale shades of pink,” she shared.

Don’t worry, there are a wide range of choices even within those two hues.

“Our designers at Vocelles are giving brides the options of colors that range from café to bronze in the champagne family and pinks that range from moscato to blush,” noted Barstowe. “We love it when brides combine traditional fashion with modern taste — and this could mean having a beautiful ivory lace over a soft champagne underlay.

For brides who have already had a white wedding, a different color on the second time around might be something to consider.

“Brides who are getting married at a more mature stage in life will consider finding a dress that is not a traditional white or ivory color,” explained Barstow.

Traditionalists, meanwhile, have no need to fear. For Northwest Florida weddings, white and ivory gowns are here to stay. However, brides willing to take the sartorial road less traveled will be rewarded with memories and unique photographs that will last a lifetime.