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The Unconventional Bride

By Nicole Lachance

What does being an unconventional bride mean to you?  This is such a personal question because the answer really depends on what kind of brides you saw growing up, and what types of weddings you attended leading up to your own big day.  Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word “unconventional” as meaning “not conventionalnot bound by or in accordance with conventionbeing out of the ordinary.”  To most people, an ordinary bride is a bride who wears the traditional long white gown, white shoes, white veil, and perhaps a little white jacket or stole if she’s a winter bride.  There is a range of what one could consider to be a departure from convention, and some aspects of bridal fashion can be a subtle departure from the conventional, while others can go all the way.

My earliest memory of an unconventional bride was when Sarah Jessica Parker married Matthew Broderick in 1997, and she wore a black wedding dress.  In 2006, she told Marie Claire that she regrets having worn black on her wedding day, explaining that their wedding was a surprise event, and she didn’t want to attract attention by shopping for a white dress.  Her choice was a black ruffled Morgane Le Fay gown, and she has been consistently quoted as saying that choosing to wear black is the one thing she regrets about her wedding day.  In fact, in 2009 she told Harper’s Bazaar that if she and Matthew were to renew their vows today, the one thing she would do differently is that she would wear a white wedding dress: “I’d wear a beautiful, proper wedding dress like I should have worn that day.”  That is a powerful statement, coming from an actress known for taking fashion risks both on and off-screen.

On October 23, 2021, another pair of actors tied the knot, this time in Malibu, and every detail of their goth-themed wedding defied convention, right down to the aerial view of the tables, laid out in the shape of crucifixes.  Courtney Hope, an actress whom I love to hate on The Young & the Restless, married Chad Duell of General Hospital in a brilliant red lace gown and veil.  Designed by Adolfo Sanchez, Courtney’s head-to-toe flame-red wedding gown had a fitted bodice and a full tulle skirt, which later converted into a sexy high-low dress with matching red lace leggings for the reception.  These bridal fashion choices were anything but subtle and were deliberate choices made by the bride to express her sense of self on her wedding day.

Dress: Private Collection by the Bridal Boutique; Leather Jacket- Dex, available at The Bambooballroom

 

Recently, Meghan O-Toole King, a former Real Housewife of Orange County, married United States President Joe Biden’s nephew Cuffe Owens in an ivory mini satin blazer dress by Rosario, cream Dolce & Gabbana lace gloves, a mini beaded veil across her eyes and forehead, and classic sapphire blue Hangisi pumps by Manolo Blahnik.  As she told People, Meghan “just decided to wear what felt most like ‘me.’” This being her third wedding, Meghan had more experience than the average bride, as well as more latitude in terms of the expectation surrounding her dress.  She pulled off a look that was traditional in the use of colour and fabric, yet of the moment in terms of style, and the blue shoes grounded her look in confidence.  This bridal look could be considered a happy medium between tradition and a departure from the norm, and people of an older generation might say that she had that latitude because this was not her first wedding, but in reality, any bride, first wedding or not, has the ability to defy convention.

Beloved actress Kaley Cuoco is another example of a bride who defied convention, for both of her weddings.  When she married Ryan Sweeting in 2014, Kaley wore a candy pink confection by Vera Wang, with a fitted strapless bodice, sweetheart neckline, and full tulle skirt.  Her dress conveyed youthful exuberance, innocence, and her sense of fun.  In 2018, Kaley again bucked tradition, but in a more subtle way.  When she wed Karl Cook, she chose two non-traditional yet fashion-forward ensembles: She walked down the aisle wearing a long ivory lace gown by Reem Acra, and instead of a veil, she opted for a lace cape that modestly covered her shoulders, and later she enjoyed her reception in an ivory lace jumpsuit by Tadashi Shoji with a plunging neckline, paired with classic, pointed-toe ivory leather pumps.

The romper and skirt wedding gown combination is another example of how brides can dress to reflect their individuality.  Take, for example, Amanda Kloots, who married the late Broadway star Nick Cordero in 2017.  Amanda had been a professional dancer, a Rockette, and she wanted her wedding gown to reflect this aspect of her identity, and of course to show off her incredibly beautiful legs, something she had never seen a bride wear before.  For the wedding ceremony, she selected a design by Lee Grebenau, which consisted of a sheer leotard-style bodice with lace overlay, and a diaphanous gold metallic skirt and train.  For the couple’s first dance, she changed into a white lace Mark Zunino romper with a light tulle skirt that floated open at the front to fully reveal her long, toned dancer’s legs.  Her bridal flowers were white, her wedding gown and romper were essentially white, yet the designs she chose were uncommon and interesting, becoming classic in their own right.

Dress: Private Collection from The Bridal Boutique; Coat from The Bambooballroom

What are some ways that brides can add a touch of interest to their wedding day looks without going as far as some of these celebrity brides?  Maybe today’s bride would wear a beautiful, traditional white lace and tulle wedding gown, then accessorize with a black leather moto jacket and chain-accented black leather motorcycle boots.  She might even put on a pair of thick black sunglasses to add that extra edge.  These are details that can be played up in some of the wedding photographs, then pared down in the more traditional wedding photos, should the bride so desire.  Another very of-the-moment accessory is a fake fur chubby in a pastel hue, such as lavender.  A little jacket like this can be practical and add a sense of youthful fun to the big day.  Perhaps the bridal party could all wear a little matching jacket to complement the bride.   The possibilities are endless because there is no exact and perfect wedding dress code for today’s modern bride. 

What does Caroline Vazzana, New York City’s style maven, clothing designer, and author of Making It in Manhattan have to say about the unconventional bride?

“For me when it comes to bridal style, I’m trying to remind myself to let go of the “rules” we’ve been taught all of our lives. I truly believe there are no rules when it comes to fashion and the same should be applied to bridal fashion! Whether it’s wearing a pink shoe, a light pink dress, a short dress, a sequin dress, or even glasses to your wedding like me- this is your big day so do whatever feels best to you!”

This is great advice.  Where was Caroline when I was getting married?  If I were to get married again, I would probably choose a knee-length ivory silk slip dress and a gently oversized ivory blazer, with my hair in a loose and gentle updo.  Then again, I might wear a slim-cut ivory pantsuit with a camisole top, satin trim and impossibly high pointy-toes shoes, plus a vintage tiara.  I might even risk it all and wear the blazer backwards like Celine Dion, with nothing underneath.  Or maybe I would wear a lace dress and a white leather moto jacket, because why not?  Better yet, if I were to get married on a boat or on a beach, I might even wear a white and gold bathing suit with a floaty tulle skirt over top.  The possibilities are endless, no matter what the bride’s age and irrespective of the venue.     

Today’s brides have choices available to suit every price range and every body type.  Local designers are easier to find, thanks to social media, and online shopping can facilitate choosing accessories for brides who live in smaller urban centres.  Let’s be clear: There is something to be said for tradition, and classic bridal gown shapes and colours will never go out of style.  However, brides today have license to choose bridal fashion that reflects their individuality, that conveys their ethos, in a way that was not always possible.  If a bride wants to wear a pastel fake fur chubby, she can.  Why not?  The bride wants to walk down the aisle in a pair of naughty-looking studded motorcycle boots?  Who is going to stop her?  She wants to incorporate a giant blue bird into her updo à la Carrie Bradshaw in the first Sex and the City movie?  We dare you to try and stop her.  Those motorcycle boots are going to dance up and down the tables at the reception, and when she’s done dancing, the bride is going to swing that fake fur jacket and toss it into the crowd of female guests instead of a garter.  And seriously, the bird?  Today’s bride dares you to say no to that bird.    

Photography and Videography by Katherine Kingston

Model- Kimberley Marr of Mode Models

Creative Director- Jon Harmon

Hair and Make up – Aurore Kolesar, Propr Hair featuring Kevin Murphy Hair Products

Styling- Jon Harmon, Paige Gordon

Flowers by Local Roots Floral and Design

Location: Pablo Cocktail Lounge

https://www.modemodels.com/edmonton/556-katherine-kingston-photography/

https://bambooballroom.ca/

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