The Anatomy of a 'Vogue' Wedding

If your bridal cape doesn't require its own tailor — or its own car — why even bother getting married at all?
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Chantal Fernandez
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If your bridal cape doesn't require its own tailor — or its own car — why even bother getting married at all?

A wedding is a momentous occasion in any person's life. Some weddings, however, are more special than others — those being the ones covered by Vogue.

What separates a civilian wedding from one worthy of the fashion bible's attention? Here are some questions to get you started: Were one or more of the Courtin-Clarins sisters in attendance? Was the bride's veil longer than her entire body? Did she arrive at the ceremony by boat? Did Snoop Dogg surprise guests with a performance? Was Anna Wintour the mother of the groom? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the wedding has earned the right to immortality in the annals of Vogue's aspirational wedding column, conveniently available online for all to browse. 

In order to understand the distinctive characteristics of a Vogue wedding, we analyzed the 57 ceremonies profiled by the title since September 2010. Of this group, only two weddings featured a same-sex couple (those of Coach Creative Director Stuart Vevers and Joseph Altuzarra, respectively) and only eight weddings look place outside of Europe and the U.S. There are lot of Brits and Italians having fancy weddings, apparently, and Vogue is on the case. 

To simplify the project, we relied only on information included in the wedding profiles. These all varied in coverage and often did not make mention of every notable guest or family member that could have impacted Vogue's decision to cover the event in the first place. We also skipped weddings that were covered by the magazine but did not include interviews or access to personal images — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding, for example. 

Enough preamble. On to the cold, hard, lace-trimmed facts.

The Brides

Who are these women and how do they get chosen for such an auspicious profile? Sometimes the piece itself provides plenty of justification. Fashion entrepreneur and presidential granddaughter Lauren Bush's wedding to David Lauren, son of Ralph, is a match made in Vogue heaven, no question. But sometimes the bride is an "Icelandic former model" and the reason for coverage is a bit murkier. Of the weddings we examined, 13 brides were fashion, jewelry or furniture designers and six were models. Eighteen worked in some kind of creative field, from filmmaking to writing; four worked in PR or marketing; four worked in finance; three were in business development; two were stylists; one was a lawyer and four had no discernible occupation.

Eight people featured worked at Vogue or Vogue UK, either currently or previously, and two people were related to someone on staff — proving that working in the fashion industry or at Vogue is a big reason that couples get chosen. See former Vogue market assistant Mollie Ruprecht's three day wedding (#thebattwedding) in St. Barts, above. 

The Designer Gowns

The Vogue bride has extremely high tastes, of course. With the exception of a few brides who borrowed from mothers or designed dresses in partnership with independent labels, most wore haute couture or runway gowns by designers like Alice Temperely or Tom Ford. And usually, one designer gown is not enough: 19 brides changed into another dress for the reception and six brides wore more than three high-end dresses over the course of the wedding festivities. 

The most popular designer was Valentino, followed by Giambattista Valli and Oscar de la Renta. Dolce & Gabbana and Olivier Theyskens ranked next. (You may recall Lauren Santo Domingo's Theyskens-designed gown that famously appeared in the Sept. 2008 issue of Vogue.) Fabiola Beracasa — whose wedding Riccardi Tisci called “the best wedding I’ve been to in my life”— wore a custom Givenchy dress that required 1,600 hours of workmanship in the house's haute couture atelier (see above).

The Designer-as-Guest

Since designer gowns are a moot point at this level, the distinguishing mark of a truly sophisticated wedding is securing the designer's attendance as a guest — and 21 brides were lucky enough to pull it off. Examples include Molly Fishkin, whose dress was created by close friends Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen (see above), and Elizabeth Cordry, who had an extremely special visit from Oscar de la Renta shortly before he passed away on the day of her marriage (#thismasticmoment) to Anna Wintour's son Charlie Shaffer (see below). 

Multi-Day Programming

Another common thread among Vogue weddings is a long, drawn-out series of celebrations. Eight of the profiled weddings were three or four day affairs with multiple formal dinners, dances and scheduled events, such as surprise musical performances or scheduled water sports. Sabine Ghanem, for example, kicked off the weekend of her wedding (#joebine) to Joseph Getty with an elaborate themed costume party (see above).

Hoards of Cute Children

Since the tradition in Europe is to eschew bridesmaids for flower girls and boys adorably dressed in perfect little formal outfits, their presence is a mark of a high caliber wedding no matter the locale. Six weddings featured five or more children in the proceedings, and four weddings featured ten or more. Sofía Sanchez Barrenechea's wedding (#chongoswedding) falls in the latter category, and her little attendants wore silk organdy and traditional gaucho jackets and pants (see above). Another gorgeous example is Kate Moss's wedding to Jamie Hince, which covered the Sept. 2011 issue of Vogue, and featured a host of angelic flower girls, including her daughter Lila Grace and half-sister Lottie.

But what about the grooms?

The men get significantly less attention than the women in the Vogue profiles and are often reduced to descriptors like "financier" or "art dealer" — though that may be all we really need to know. Seventeen grooms worked in finance, commodities trading or private equity. Another 22 were in creative fields, including architects and illustrators. Six worked in business management or as entrepreneurs; four were restauranteurs or involved in events and nightlife; two worked in real estate and two were lawyers. 

The men who were sole representatives in their fields —  a prince, pro surfer, doctor, art dealer, comedian and publicist — were in many ways the most interesting in their specificity. Anna Wintour's favorite comic Seth Meyers is a great example (see above), though his human rights lawyer wife Alexi Ashe still outshined him on their big day. 

Celebrity Guests

Oh, you're super grateful Bono was able to make it out to your intimate celebration? Is that unidentified "friend" in a group picture actually Mary Kate Olsen? These are crucial elements of a Vogue wedding. It's hard to top Stevie Nicks stopping by to serenade the couple with "Landslide" (another highlight from Fishkin's special day), but royals from Monaco or England are also impressive additions to any respectable event. Or, at the very least, an appearance by Elisabeth TNT for some eyewitness reporting. See Snoop Dogg performing at Fabiola Beracasa's wedding in Dubrovnik, above. 

Don't forget the hashtag

Even though an element of intimacy is always alluring, a Vogue bride doesn't have to shy away from the Instagram hashtag. If you aren't going to post a slo-mo video of yourself walking down a street in Rome in your Schiaparelli Haute Couture hooded cape, as Sabine Ghanem did, then who will? It's extravagant, it's elegant. It's Vogue

Homepage photo: Instagram @chufy