Today a blushing bride sounds like something out of a Jane Austen novel—charmingly quaint but definitely belonging to another century. Women in the U.S. are waiting longer to get married (the average age is now 27 years), which means higher education, careers, and traveling before settling down. And yet the hottest trend in bridal fashion is wearing a blush-colored gown.
The trend burst into the spotlight with the weddings of several actresses. First Reese Witherspoon got married in September 2011, wearing a custom gown of blush hue by Monique Lhuillier—and we all got a good look at the pastel dress with Chantilly lace accents when it made the cover of People magazine. This fall Anne Hathaway, who often wears white gowns at red carpet events, donned a frothy pink custom Valentino gown for her wedding. The dress, with a long train, had a very pale tint except at the floaty tulle hem, where the pink was deeper in tone. (That ombre effect calls to mind one of the original blushing brides, Gwen Stefani, who in 2002 wore a John Galliano gown of graduated color, ending with bold pink petticoats peeking out.) And immediately after Hathaway, Jessica Biel wore a petal pink custom gown by Giambattista Valli at her wedding to Justin Timberlake. No mistaking the color here: Biel’s gown was a very girly pink.
Other actresses recently wedded have worn other colors: Julianne Moore in lilac Prada; Sofia Coppola in blush violet by Azzedine Alaia; Cynthia Nixon in pale chartreuse by Carolina Herrera, and Amber Tamblyn in bold yellow by an unknown designer.
As Brides magazine recently noted in an online article about the fashion in wedding attire, “the paradigm [for wedding dresses] is shifting.” The shift started when Vera Wang, probably the most influential wedding dress designer, sent 15 black wedding dresses out on the runway in 2011. The looks were goth and startling, particularly from Wang, who created the whole ballerina bride look (fitted bodice, full tulle skirt) 20 years ago. The black dresses sparked more thought than buyers, but Wang made her point: traditions can change. After all, no one wore white on her wedding day until Queen Victoria did it in 1840. Once white was right, but now pastel or sorbet gowns look fresh and exciting.
National retailer David’s Bridal and noted wedding consultant Colin Cowie have listed pastel wedding gowns as one of the current bridal trends. “We have filled a large number of orders for blush gowns,” says Laura Massie, consultant at Chicago’s Ultimate Bride, a boutique that specializes in bridal wear by designers like Marchesa, Badgley Mischka, Carolina Herrera, and Oscar de la Renta. “Our customers are having very positive reactions to the concept.”
The reasons, says Julie Adams, manager and designer at Mira Couture, a Chicago-based boutique devoted exclusively to bridal gowns, are varied. “Many women just don’t look good in stark white,” she says. “Also, brides don’t want to wear what everyone else has worn. They want an individual look. And they are more sophisticated than ever.” Adams notes that Mira Couture has seen an increase in the ordering of champagne and dark ivory gowns, as well as blush. “We even have a gorgeous light grey gown in the salon. No one has ordered it yet, but eventually someone will. The right customer will catch up with the trend.”
Brides who want the fashionable trend without the high-ticket price can now find multiple options for a blush-colored wedding gown, including Vera Wang’s own reasonably-priced wedding line titled—no small irony here—White.