NEW YORK — No bride has ever asked designer Mark Badgley, half of the Badgley Mischka duo, about incorporating a cold-weather look into her wedding ensemble. Coats and boots just aren't the stuff of fantasy wedding dreams, he says.
Reality sometimes doesn't set in until months later, when the forecast is real.
Ideally, though, it should be part of the initial conversation, and certainly by the first fitting, Badgley says, because being prepared for the weather affects other decisions.
"I'd suggest making sure the church or temple or wherever you are getting married has a room to get dressed in, so you don't have to worry about getting into the place," he adds.
Afterward — for the reception, photos and the goodbye — try a cape or certain coats.
Badgley and his partner, James Mischka, favor the cape or capelet, allowing that they won't keep you as warm, but they'll work with almost any dress silhouette. Carrie Goldberg, associate fashion editor for Martha Stewart Weddings, says it's possible to find a flattering coat, although a shorter shrug would be easier to work with.
The gown's neckline and hemline dictate the outerwear, says Goldberg, and a sleeker style allows more room for a coat. A ballgown or a gown with a long train is the trickiest, but there's a bubbling trend in ready-to-wear that works for weddings: satin evening coats. Many of these have bell sleeves and swingy trapeze shapes, both of which accommodate a lot of fabric underneath, but are fancy enough because of the fabric.
She'd probably choose something that isn't white — perhaps a heathered gray, blush pink or icy blue — but white is okay, too, if it has been well thought out as part of the look. In that case, the shades of the outerwear and the gown should match, but a metallic sheen or a bit of embellishment can camouflage subtle differences.
Still, don't go for too much glitz or overwhelming details on outerwear, Goldberg advises, because the focus should be on the face. It's the same advice she'd give about the dress.
Mischka worries about a full-length coat, however, because it can be bulky, covering up that gorgeous gown and jeopardizing the silhouette. A shawl can risk looking messy, he says.
And there's certainly no way to make boots delicate. But sandals or open-toe shoes are too far to the other extreme. Pumps are the middle ground.
Large indoor venues also can be cool in the winter. The easy fix, Badgley says, is a sophisticated long-sleeve gown, and there are many options out there now that are as romantic and sexy as a strapless. (Thank you, Duchess of Cambridge.)
Goldberg has also seen "convertible" gowns, noting a recent bridal runway look from Carolina Herrera with a detachable, reversible bolero that looks like a V-neck if you wear it one way, a boatneck if you wear it another. Both ways you get sleeves and more coverage. A short cashmere or angora shrug would add delicate texture — and could be worn again on a first-year anniversary as a sentimental statement, she suggests.
Also think about photos: Are they indoor or outdoor? Or does it depend on the day? If you're getting married in northern climes, a pristine snowfall makes a beautiful backdrop, says Mischka, but you can't count on it.
If you are lucky to get that winter wonderland, his advice to brides is to put on your best Sports Illustrated swimsuit model face, and grin and bear it. Goosebumps won't show up in the pictures, and you'll see the gown in all its glory.
And, he says, "You should have your new husband to keep you warm."