So you’ve found the perfect wedding dress for your perfect day, but have you remembered the perfect final touch, the first accessory, that will begin that day?
In my experiences I’ve found that there’s always one key pre-ceremony piece that most brides forget- the garment hanger that the dress is unveiled on. The wedding gown and its accompaniment preside over the first wedding ritual the bride and her bridal party experience: getting ready before the ceremony. Thus both the dress and the hanger play a pivotal part in starting the day on the best possible note.
And nothing can cheapen the effect of that initiating ritual, the dress unveiling, quite like a plastic hanger.
Even with the added panache of a Neiman Marcus or a top designer label like Vera Wang or Priscilla of Boston, as seen in the cover photo above- I still prefer the non-plastic hangers used for the bridesmaid dresses here. Maybe I’m too old fashioned, but plastic really detracts from all of the other beautiful, rare, expensive fabrics, lace and detailing materials perfuming those early pre-wedding moments and later photographs. It’s a small aesthetic element but the detail can really complete the aesthetic of the day, and the photographs capturing that aesthetic.
Usually one of the first if not the first photographs to be taken by a wedding photographer on his clients’ big day, is the shot of the dress pre-lace-up and post-hair-&-make-up (or during). The still life shot has the potential to be a work of art in itself- imbued with all the anticipation, excitement, joy, nerves, and love the bride is experiencing in those pivotal moments as she gets ready.
After my first few years of being a wedding photographer, I got tired of letting such a little thing diminish ‘The Dress’ shot, so I went on a search for the perfect hanger. Eventually I found exactly what I was looking for at a vintage boutique- a deep wooden hanger with a long, dark bronze hook.
The nearly faded engravings on the hanger informed me that it originated from St. Francis hotel in San Francisco, and I was thrilled to have finally met the challenge of finding the perfect wedding dress hanger (both beautiful and versatile, stylish yet simple).
This hanger became part of my ‘gear’, I brought it to every wedding I shot, and every bride that hadn’t purchased a special hanger for the occasion, used and adored the hanger for their photograph of ‘THE Dress’.
Sadly, my assistant left it in a hotel one day, and I have mourned the loss ever since. Attempts to procure an identical, or even similar hanger, online, were fruitless, and ultimately only made me realize how precious the accessory really was (from the early 1900’s). And because I’ve not found it or its equal, I’ve not been able to bring myself to provide any other hanger for the brides I photograph.
Now I simply encourage all of the brides-to-be I work with to think about this oft-neglected aspect of wedding planning before the big day.
The bride’s wedding dress is practically the centerpiece of every wedding, a top priority in every bride’s planning list, and the single signature that belongs entirely to the bride, her style, and her personality.
But the hanger is the platform upon which that once in a lifetime dress is unveiled, and should thus be considered, and should ultimately complement the dress it is exhibiting and the woman that dress symbolizes.
If your dress is classic and elegant, you may want to choose a vintage inspired dark wood hanger (like the ones you can purchase here)
If you’ve gone for a more romantic and creative look for your walk down the aisle, an artistic filigreed metal hanger like this one-
-selected by one of the brides I worked with, might be your best bet. If your special dress is avant-garde and edgy, opt for something simple, timeless and monochromatic, like a white wood, to balance your piece and prevent clashing!
Fabric padded hangers are always a safe bet, as silk and/or lace wedding gowns are set off nicely by most luxury cushioned hangers, which come in a variety of styles and colors, from satin embellished with bows, to a rustic creamy linen you can browse options here:
Or if none of these options are quite right for you or your dress, do what my friend, wedding planner Francesca Bonds, did, and order a bespoke / custom-made hanger to complete your wedding prep package!