It’s debatable whether six years ago Pippa Middleton stole the limelight in her stunning white bridesmaid dress at the royal wedding of her sister, Catherine, now the Duchess of Cambridge. (It’s also debatable if it was the Alexander McQueen-designed dress or her impeccable backside that touched off the media frenzy.)
Even so, the threat of being upstaged isn’t stopping brides them from embracing the trend of outfitting their bridal party in shades of white, creating a chic and clean look for their big day. Along with the Duchess, celebrities have cottoned to the non-color. Solange Knowles’ all-white wedding to producer Alan Ferguson in 2014 was an instant favorite with her bridesmaids donning different white dresses – some short, some sleeveless – while Knowles wore a gown, cape and gold cuffs to gloriously stand out from her posse. Her mom, Tina Knowles, followed suit with her wedding in 2015.
“We’re seeing an increase in brides purchasing white bridesmaid gowns,” says Lindsey Bennett, lead designer at Azazie, an online special occasion dress website. “It has a lot to do with the millennial bride. She’s thinking outside of the box and how to make her day different from all of the other weddings.”
It doesn’t hurt that the hue is flattering and is an ideal option for destination weddings. And, the monochrome look can make photos really pop because in natural, airy settings, says Xay Vongphachanh, creative director at Watters.
To ensure all eyes stay on the bride, however, experts offer up pointers to incorporate the trend without stealing the bride’s thunder:
Keep it simple
Outfit bridesmaids in sleek white dresses that don’t scream ‘look at me.’ Restraint is the operative word with minimal details for a fresh silhouette that elevates the elegance of the bridal party – without creating much of a distraction. Sheaths are an optimal silhouette for the occasion, such as Watters’ draped chiffon A-line gown with exposed shoulders.
Mix it up
Differentiation among the bridesmaids goes a long way in keeping the bride the star of the show. Bridesmaids can sport various hemlines, so they go short, while the bride wears a floor-length gown. Or brides stick to a halter neckline and her closest gal pals wear spaghetti strap or cap sleeve styles. Examples include Watters Lori gown, a one-shoulder sequin tulle gown or Azazie’s halter and v-neck looks.
Another difference is fabrications. Chiffon is the fabric of choice for bridesmaids for its soft, romantic feel and flattering fit. So brides should plan on selecting satin or organza gowns.
“You want a nice, cohesive look, but it should be obvious who the bride is,” Bennett says.
Fifty shades of white
There’s no reason bridesmaids need total matchy-matchy color schemes with the bride. If the bride chooses white or ivory for her day, her bridesmaids can pick a subtle variation from oyster to tan to beige to cream or champagne. It’s like picking paint colors for your home. You’re aiming for a pleasing palette or color story, say experts. The goal is that the “look is complementary,” Vongphachanh says.
Accent the accessories
Brides will rock their special day with accessories whether it’s Jimmy Choo heels, a flattering veil or baubles such as chandelier earrings or glamorous chokers. So, bridesmaids can veer in the opposite direction and wear flats. They can leave their hair long if a bride wants a braided chignon and they can keep jewelry to a minimum.
Last but not least is the bouquet. Bridesmaids flowers may reflect the wedding colors in bold or dark hues, while the bride sticks to a white palette or a grander floral affair.