Vowing To Be Stylish

Today's couples are designing their own weddings, blending timely fashions with timeless rituals

Focus On Weddings


Talking about trends may seem beside the point with something as timeless as a wedding celebration. But couples these days are changing every detail of the white-rose-and- tulle wedding to make their big day more personal.

"Brides and grooms are adding lots of personality to their weddings beyond writing their own vows," says Charla Lawhon, deputy editor of In Style magazine, which covers many of the celebrity weddings where trends are made and broken.

Millie Bratten, editor-in-chief of Bride's magazine, agrees. "Today's weddings are all about fun -- unique, different, celebratory," she says.

Wedding trends, from the choice of dress to the kind of photography, often reflect current trends in fashion and couples' lifestyles. But the good news is that while certain styles are definitely In, not much is definitely Out. If you've always dreamed of layer upon layer of tulle and a cathedral train, so be it. This is your party.

Best dressed

You can find just about every style of bridal gown in the stores, but the newest looks are bare. Strapless dresses often come with sheer organza wraps. These are as much party clothes as wedding gowns. The body-skimming sheaths are more comfortable than last year's corset bodices, and pared-down ballgowns have replaced really big dresses.

Pure white is always right, but the palest hues of pink, blue and celadon look up- to-the-minute. And fashion's hottest color, gray, is translated to silver and platinum in forward-looking wedding fashions.

Also hot:

* Gold detailing

* Colored embroidery

* Bustles

* Liquid satin and other

flowing fabrics

* Sweep trains

* Tiaras

* Sparkly barrettes and

butterfly clips

* Lace mantillas

* Bridal handbags

Always a bridesmaid...

If the bride has decided on a color for her gown, her attendants can wear it in a deeper shade.

Another of the latest trends is to mix and match -- to choose a color and fabric and let each bridesmaid pick a different cut that flatters her. Conversely, the bride can select the dress and let each attendant choose a color that looks good on her.

Other news:

* White, aubergine and


* Separates

* Evening wear with

spaghetti straps or halters

* Hot pink taffeta is Out

A rose by any other name

The wedding bouquet, like so much else in today's weddings, has become a little less formal. We're seeing fewer big, cascading bouquets in favor of round, more natural shapes. The freshest look is hand-tied bouquets. But the real story is color: deep and rich, even for brides in all white.

More trendspotting:

* Beyond ivory roses --

unusual flowers like

miniature calla lilies,

hydrangea, black roses

* Herbs replacing green


* Metallic-decorated leaves

for shine

* Sharply contrasting blos-

soms in the same hue

* Wrapping organza in the


Let them eat cake

Wedding cakes, too, are becoming less imposing. Pillars between layers are falling out of favor. Couples want to personalize their cakes, often with whimsical toppers that mean something to them.

More cake news:

* Single-serving wedding

cakes are replacing one

large cake and a dessert


* Sugar flowers are back;

edible flowers are Out

* Cakes in the couple's

favorite flavor: hazelnut or chocolate, raspberry or

mocha buttercream

* Brightly colored cakes

Say cheese

Black-and-white "reportage" -style photographs are very much in vogue right now, although most couples opt for a mix of color and black and white. Candids and behind-the-scenes shots have replaced formal portraits.

Hot: Having guests take informal photographs with single-use cameras provided for the occasion.

Not: Making guests wait after the ceremony while the photographer takes endless posed shots.

The best of the rest

As Stacy Morrison, editor-in-chief of Modern Bride, says, "The great thing is that people are relaxing on the rules." Some trends just naturally follow from the fact that cookie-cutter weddings are out. Here are a few of them:

* Incorporating your

ethnic heritage into the


* Serving a signature drink

instead of champagne

* Designing your own

wedding rings

* Having a getaway

wedding at some


destination instead of a

wedding and separate


* Checking the Web for

innovative ideas or using it as a gift registry (Try www.theknot.com and www.weddingbells.com.)

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