Accessories can make a world of difference in the overall look of your wedding party. Learn how to incorporate them stylishly from expert wedding planner David Tutera of WE tv’s The Wedding Planner and author of My Fair Wedding: Finding Your Vision… Through His Revisions!
While bridal fashion is important, your accessories should never be overlooked, and that goes for both the bride and her bridesmaids. Accessorizing is all about embellishment — adding on that little something extra, the wow factor, to your bridal attire. It’s the fun part of putting your bridal ensemble together!
That said, these additions should complement the fashion, not overpower it. Shop for your “extras” only after you’ve selected the dresses. You’d be surprised how accessories can make a world of difference in the overall look of your wedding party.
One rule is to have all your bridesmaids wear matching accessories. Hairstyles can vary slightly, but accessories should be identical. Now let’s go over your fashion accessory options, from top to bottom.
Bride’s veil and hair accessories. Centuries ago, brides wore veils as protection against evil spirits or as a way to avoid the “bad luck” that came from the groom seeing his bride before the wedding. These days, the veil is used more as fashion statement than anything else. And the right veil — be it fingertip length or cathedral length — can make quite a statement. Just remember to keep your veil the same color as your dress and wear it only during the ceremony. Similarly, a beautiful tiara, comb, headband, or pin can be your showcase hairpiece.
Jewelry. Your wedding day bling — whether it’s your diamond earrings, pearl necklace, or gemstone-studded bracelet — should match your style and personality. The jewelry you wear as a bride can add another emotional element to your big day, especially if the piece was something passed down to you from your mother or grandmother. If the jewels are yours to keep, they will no doubt be among the most cherished pieces in your jewelry collection. However, be careful not to overaccessorize — which can happen if the bodice of your gown already has a lot of crystal embellishments or beading. Sometimes a simple pair of diamond studs or teardrop earrings will suffice.
Gloves. If you’re having the type of wedding in which wearing a pair of long satin gloves à la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s makes sense, then go for it. But these accessories are completely optional for you and your bridal party. It’s worth noting that you have plenty of options when it comes to gloves: fingerless, wrist length, elbow length, and the most formal, opera length (which extends to the upper arms). Just make sure the color of your gloves, veil (if you’re wearing one), and dress all match. No clashing shades of white, please! During the ceremony and just before exchanging rings, remove both gloves and give them to your maid of honor to hold. Also, as with the veil, gloves should be removed for the reception.
Shoes. Sorry, all you bohemian brides out there — these are a must! And flip-flops do not qualify. Even if you think they’ll be hidden beneath your floor-skimming gown, proper shoes must be worn. Be careful not to select a heel height that makes you taller — or significantly taller — than your groom. If you’re concerned about not being able to dance in high heels at your reception, then wear your most fabulous pair for the ceremony, and switch into shoes with a lower heel or an elegant pair of flats that coordinate with your attire for the reception. I personally love it when a bride wears shoes in a striking color — purple, red, or blue — because it’s a great way to be whimsical or bold, and express a sense of fun. A word of advice: Wear the shoes around the house — but not outside — a few times before the wedding to break them in. You can also purchase cushioned or gel insoles or inserts to make your dressy shoes more comfortable.
Personal flowers. Oh, yes, your bouquets and boutonnieres do count as accessories — and essential ones at that! You should never feel bound to the traditional all-white bouquet. In fact, I encourage you to have fun with your floral accessories. Be colorful, trendy, and creative about your flower selections. Choose blooms that match your personality. If you’re a classic bride, consider a bouquet of white stephanotis; if you love to make dramatic statements, opt for an exotic orchid bouquet; and if you’re avant-garde or daring by nature, then a bouquet of anemones, cosmos, and other untraditional flowers would reflect that perfectly. Just keep in mind that your bridal bouquet should not be a bundle of every type of bloom you can find. Nor should you look like you’re struggling down the aisle with something the weight of a bowling ball! In terms of bouquet styles, you have several options: a round hand-tied bouquet (the most popular choice), a cascading bouquet (which “spills” over the base), a teardrop shape (which is a combination of the round and cascading types), and the nosegay (a small cluster of flowers made with one dominant flower or color).
My favorite bouquet is the nosegay because it’s such a flattering style and shape for any bride or bridesmaid. You could also think beyond clusters of flowers. Accent your bouquets with crystals, beading, pearls, or a brooch, or tie ribbons or pieces of fabric from your dress alterations around the handles — you can create a beautiful crisscross pattern, braid, or other stylish design. And don’t forget about the boutonnieres! These accessories can add color and style to the men’s fashion. They should coordinate with the rest of the wedding party, so have the boutonnieres designed using one (or a few) or the flowers from the bridal bouquets. A single rose on the lapel is fine, but it’s much more special to make them as unique as possible — attach a simple family heirloom pin, or add pearls, crystals, or twine to add personality and style.
And don’t forget — accessories are the perfect way to find your “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue”! Any heirloom pieces (your grandmother’s brooch, or a swatch of fabric taken from your mother’s wedding dress and wrapped around the handle of your bouquet) fit into the “old” category. Your veil, tiara, or brand-new shoes count as “something new.” A purse or pair of earrings your matron of honor has loaned you for the occasion could be your “borrowed” item. And your “blue” accessory could be anything from a hairpiece with aquamarine gemstones or a pretty handkerchief with blue stitching to a single blue flower in your bouquet.