Bridal Accessories

By Ginny Frizzi

October 29, 2010 5 min read

It's the little touches that can make something memorable, especially when it comes to accessorizing a bridal gown.

"We like to say, 'You shine first. Then comes the dress and finally the sparkle!'" says Lisa Sirlin Hall, a designer and boutique owner.

Event coordinator Melissa Phillips agrees. "Wedding plans begin with the style and the impact of the bride's attire and look in creating the mood," she says.

Carol Tuttle, author of "Dressing Your Truth," considers the bride's gown and hairstyle as the canvas for choosing accessories. "You don't want the accessories to compete with the gown," she says. "You have to ask, 'Do you see the accessories or the bride first?' If too much goes on the bride, you will see the accessories, not her, first. You want the full woman to be noticed."

Hall counsels brides to consider style and comfort first and then budget. "The brides usually come in stressed and are easily distracted by a million possibilities," she says. "They are not focused when they come in late; they are all over the place."

Hall helps brides focus by listening to them talk about themselves and the style of their upcoming weddings. "Whether it's formal, rustic, casual, outdoors or over-the-top, a wedding is all about the bride's taste. She can talk about what she wants. Then we discuss her budget," says Hall, who then can begin to design or locate accessories for the bride.

"A bride might say, 'I only wear gold,' so we will discuss using 14-karat gold versus 18-karat gold. If her budget doesn't cover gold, we might consider gold-filled. If she is allergic to certain metals, we will look for alternate materials," she explains.

Hall often designs bridal jewelry using semiprecious stones. She says more brides are choosing to have their jewelry made in mixed metals, including silver and gold, gold and oxidized silver, and brass and copper.

She recommends that brides looking for customized wedding accessories meet with a designer or start looking in shops at least two months before the wedding. If they want custom-made fine jewelry, Hall advises them to begin six months in advance.

Tuttle emphasizes the importance of the bride's being comfortable with any jewelry she is wearing. "If you're not generally a bracelet person, don't wear one," she says. "If you wear one, stick with a cuff bracelet -- no bangles. You must keep in mind the scale and balance of accessories when choosing them."

Pearls remain a popular choice for bridal accessories. A family pearl necklace or earrings can be the "something borrowed," but some brides are selecting costume pearls.

"With a simple dress, such as a sheath, big pearls are worn in a whimsical, fun way. In fact, any large necklace can make a statement," Phillips says.

Some brides incorporate the color palettes of their weddings into their accessories, perhaps in the stones in their necklaces or the ribbons on their bouquets. Another idea is to forgo a veil and wear a pin holding a feather in your hair, perhaps in your wedding colors.

"Many brides are skipping the full-length veil. They are choosing a small veil that sits on the head and is often paired with a hair ornament. It can be a very chic look," according to Phillips. "They may also make a veil change after the ceremony. A bride wearing a long veil might switch into a shorter one for the reception."

Some brides are opting for colorful footwear. "They are having fun underneath the dress by wearing brightly colored shoes, including ruby red, sapphire blue and emerald green," Phillips says. "Some winter brides are even wearing Uggs."

Brides often receive special wedding handbags as gifts from their mothers or other female relatives. Though they may have sentimental meaning, few are actually used on wedding days, according to Phillips.

"Most brides have the bags but don't carry them at the wedding or reception. The bag will usually get left on a chair," she says. "If you want a handbag, pick something on theme. If your dress is ruffled, get a bag that is also ruffled."

Tuttle, however, believes that a bag and a wrap can be practical and useful bridal accessories. "She can carry her lipstick in the bag and use the wrap if she gets chilly during the day," she says.

Tuttle sums up the role of bridal accessories: "If nothing else, you want people to notice what the bride is wearing, not that her accessories are wearing the bride."

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