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Something warm: Brides cozy up to wedding sweaters

Andrea Ball Photography

Too cute: Carly and Andrew's outdoor wedding was the perfect setting for a bridal sweater.

By Jeesoo Park, TODAY contributor

Move over, bustiers; brides are now wearing wool.

From delicate cardigans to chunky pullovers, the sweater is quickly becoming the new, nontraditional bridal item. The cozy cover-up slowly encroaching on territory generally reserved for Swarovski-encrusted ball gowns is popping up on blogs, magazines, and boutiques all over.

So is the sweater the new “it”wedding attire?

When the October 2012 issue of New York Magazine Weddings hit the stands, it featured a first: a radiant bride displaying laid-back glamour in a cream-colored, cable-knit sweater paired with an ivory silk-taffeta skirt by designer Carolina Herrera.

New York magazine

New York Magazine Weddings features a bride wearing a cream-colored, cable-knit sweater by Joseph and ivory skirt by Carolina Herrera.

New York Magazine Weddings Editor Lauren DeCarlo, who favors fashion-forward and experimental style, said sweaters provide a warm and wintery look. “They add so much softness and texture, which I found to be extremely romantic,” DeCarlo told TODAY.com. The sartorial combination was a hit with readers. “I received emails from brides saying that they've been inspired to wear a sweater to their winter wedding,” she said. “I've recently noticed many more sweater-focused galleries on some bridal websites and blogs. I'm thrilled that people are inspired to think a little bit outside of the traditional box.”

One woman who happily deviated from the norm is Sarah Yates, a Los Angeles bride who donned a neon azalea cardigan from J. Crew atop a Monique Lhuillier dress immediately following her 2011 ceremony. I thought the bright pink would bring some of my personality to the outfit and some color to our photos,” she told TODAY.com. “It worked, I was so happy with how the pink sweater photographed, especially during the sunset photos.”  

Max Wanger Photography

Sarah Yates, shown posing with her groom, opted for a pop of color: a neon azalea cardigan from J. Crew atop a Monique Lhuillier dress.

It’s a unique trend that has many wondering about its origins, including questioning whether it’s simply a royal-inspired fad.

After Duchess Kate was photographed rocking a white angora bolero during her wedding reception, there was an increase in requests for similar styles. But Abby Larson, founder of popular wedding blog StyleMePretty, thinks this isn’t necessarily just a case of celebrity-copycatting – rather, a shift in the expectations of the modern wedding.

John Stillwell / AP

Trendsetter Duchess Kate, wearing an angora knit bolero, leaves Clarence House, London, with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, to travel to Buckingham Palace for the evening celebrations following the royal wedding on April 29, 2011.

Brides are really starting to bring a sense of casual into parts of their style,” Larson told TODAY.com. “It may be that they wear a stunning gown with a formal veil for their ceremony, though once the reception kicks into high gear, they swap their stilettos for flats and cozy up with a beautiful, more casual cardigan… Brides aren’t sticking quite as close to all out tradition as they used to.” And DeCarlo agrees that this look is very much in keeping with the times: “I'm sure some mothers out there don't quite understand it and may have an averse reaction to a trend like this, but I think this generation of brides is open to anything.” 

Braedon Flynn / braedonphotography.com

A fall bride shows off her sweet and cozy cardigan on wedding photography blog braedonsblog.com.

Many traditionalists, however, are not convinced. On WeddingBee, a reader took issue with the notion of a bridal sweater. “Not a fan at all. It just looks too casual with a fancy dress. There are plenty of formal cover-up options.” Another contributor declared the look the ultimate bridal don’t: “frumpy.”  

But on popular style blog A Cup of Jo, past and future brides dissected the rules involved pulling a sweater (or buttoning up a cardigan) over what is arguably the most important dress one will ever wear and most loved it. One reader commented: “Such a do for fall and winter weddings. It's all about finding the right color and fabric for your dress and theme.” 


Wedding retailer BHLDN jumped on the bridal sweater bandwagon, with several ladylike options for sale, including the Foxtrot Topper ($170) and the Colony Club Cardigan ($280).

Adding a sweater to one’s bridal look certainly keeps you warm and keeps it casual. And whether one’s budget is $100 or $1000, a bride can really personalize her look on her special day. What do you think? Are you a fan? Let us know!

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Peter Michael Dills / Getty Images

What will the most daring brides wear next season? Perhaps some dramatic pleats, a headband, or maybe even the color pink!