Latest trend In Wedding Gowns

COLORFUL, CULTURAL AND CLASSIC

THE last brides of the century are choosing elegant Western dresses with ballgown, princess and sheath styling, contemporary styles with bold color and richly textured African gowns. Sisters who are jumping the broom in the last year of the 20th century are also patronizing Black designers and adding their own cultural touches to their special day. Bridegrooms, once only allowed a variation of the traditional black tuxedo, are breaking out of the wedding-cake-character mold with banded collars, high-cut vests and colorful ties and cummerbunds.

Even brides with a conservative bent are choosing wedding finery with an eve toward personal and cultural self-expression and reflections of their spiritual ancestors. There rarely have been so many choices for walking down the aisle.

There are, wedding experts say two conflicting trends. “In the weddings I have produced recently, I have found polar opposites, the `Princess Bride’ in a classical Western way and the flip side being couples who are going all out,” says Harriette Cole, etiquette consultant and author of two leading wedding books for African-American brides, and her recent book, How to Be–Contemporary Etiquette for African Americans.

Couples going “all-out,” adds, are choosing gowns in dramatic colors like magenta, red, black or African-inspired fabrics with bright colors and metallic threads. Although everything that glitters is surely not gold, gold is the bridal color for of these brides. “My dress was hand-dyed and it was red and gold,” Cole says. From a gold-colored wedding gown and accessories to gold thread embroidered in white cloth, many of today’s African-American brides are going for the gold which Cole says, “looks beautiful on brown skin.”

So when choosing wedding finery, make sure it is comfortable as well as cultural and that it will evoke the oohs and aahs as you walk toward your bridegroom in an elegant and unique wedding gown fit for a queen.

Jumping the broom in style is just one of the new cultural touches. Models (above) are pictured at the Wedding Pavilion in Walt Disney World Resort.

Sheryl Grace Ann Burton (above), daughter of veteran jazz singer Nancy Wilson and her husband, the Rev. Wiley Burton!, chose an elegant white, silk satin gown with sheer netting at the sleeves and neckline and a 3-foot train when she wed Lane Edward Wells. The gown was designed by Angels Dean for Deanzign. The couple is joined by members of the wedding party.

Dr. Raymonia A. Eddleton was resplendent at her wedding to Dr. Charles J. Hackett Jr. in a gown designed by Evelyn Bagala of Creations Bridal Boutique. Posing in front of a classic Bentley automobile, the couple, both Virginia dentists, took a chance on love after meeting at a dental conference in Las Vegas. Her gown featured an ivory silk peau de sole princess seam bodice that was embellished with gold and rhinestone braid and attached with thin satin straps. The full, diamond-white, sparkling, tulle skirt ended with a sweep train. The bride carried a tight cluster bouquet of red roses.

It was a 24-karat day for Philadelphian Lisa Michelle Miller (above) when she wed Crazy Cat Records president and hit music producer Deric Angelettie in a garden gazebo. Her golden Italian silk gown, by New York designer Jerald Loud for Andasimo, featured a 25-yard, gold-mesh train. The golden veil was sprinkled with hand-embroidered gold leaves. The bride and bridegroom met at Howard University. Singer Kelly Price performed for the 430 guests at their Voorhees, N.J., wedding, which was attended by music’s royalty, including music mogul Sean (Puffy) Combs.

It was a fairy-tale wedding for Natasha Denise Taylor and Minnesota Timberwolves center Dean Heath Garrett (right) when they wed in Birmingham’s historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The bride’s gown, made of white satin and embellished with Alencon lace, pearls, sequins and beads, was designed by Jacquelyn Bridals. With a Basque waistline and renaissance sleeves, the skirt was topped with a sequin-and-pearl peplum that flowed into a 24-foot, cathedral-length train. Her 19-foot veil was trimmed in white satin.

Cultural attire ruled the day at the weddings on this page. Having met while studying in Dakar, Senegal, and Accra, Ghana, Quenton Linyear and Susan Willis (above) chose an African-themed wedding. The bride wore a formfitting Nigerian/Senegalese-inspired gold-and-white gown made from ornate organza lace that was hand-woven in Nigeria. She chose that color theme because, she says, in Senegal gold thread symbolizes value and white, purity. Affrightment of Greenbelt, Md., and Hangable Bridal Design of Frederick, Md., created the bride’s gown. The bridegroom’s four-piece formal attire of white and gold jacquard was handmade in Nigeria. His attire was hand-embroidered in gray thread.

Thomas and Thelma Prince of Detroit had a traditional wedding 50 years ago, with a white dress and all the trimmings, but they celebrated their golden anniversary in Ghana, wearing traditional Ghanaian attire. The retired teachers have four children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Dwane Martin and Verona Mitchell-Wilson of St. Paul, Minn., chose ivory and gold wedding attire imported from Nigeria. Designed by Tope Ifonlaja of Renown Fashions of Cottage Grove, Minn., the bride’s wedding attire consisted of a four-piece wrap set, including a boubah (blouse), iro (wrap skirt), a gele (headpiece) and an iborun (scarf). The bridegroom’s agabada (long ceremonial robe)featured an intricately hand-embroidered crest of ivory and gold at its center.

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