Navy blue and silver.

Fuchsia and gray.

Black and gold.

They’re the color combinations that have set the tone for countless wedding ceremonies. But trendy brides are leaving the old color combos behind for another effect: ombré, the gradual change of color shades from light to dark. It’s become one of the most popular design elements of weddings today, making a mark not only in ceremony décor but fashion and beauty trends, too.

Ombré, a French word meaning “shaded,” has long been a technique for home décor and interior design. It was only a matter of time before it made its way down the aisle.

And, brides can integrate the stunning effect in their weddings whether they’re using the talents of a professional wedding planner or taking the do-it-yourself approach.

The whole idea of ombré is to be very subtle with it. You need to pick and choose what’s going to make the most sense, [Ombré can] be a tribute to what your natural style is.

The key element in a subtle ombré design is the gentleness of the gradation. When done right, the color seems to float into the space with a very natural progression. Here are some popular ways the effect has been trending on the wedding scene.

Decoration

Infuse the popular scale of pale pink to deep red into a stunning wedding design. Floral arrangements, including the bouquets and petals that aligned the center aisle, featured the effect. Bridesmaid dresses, the centerpieces at the reception, and “unexpected areas” (linens and paper in the table settings) all featured gradation as accents to the overall color scheme.

Cake

One of the most popular cakes we done in ombré is the ombré ruffled cake,” says Amy Beck, a professional Chicago-based cake designer.

Each shade blends almost seamlessly into the next in her cake designs, and the ruffled effect adds sheer elegance.

“I happen to think that they look better when they’re taller,” Beck says. This is because the gradation can be smoothed out over more than a dozen shades, giving the eye more to pick up on.

Beck says the ombréd cake has become so popular in recent years because it’s a way of bringing in color, letting the color stand out but not overwhelm the cake, especially for dark colors.

Beauty

Ombréd hair took off in Hollywood a few years ago, draping down the shoulders of stars such as actress Drew Barrymore. But the effect has been around for ages because hair strands naturally become lighter at the ends with sun exposure.

Today’s techniques create more dramatic effects for a perfect touch of glamour for wedding ’dos. “Because of the ombré, you’ll see the texture better in your updo and even your typical style versus if it was just one solid dark color,” says Holly Kasprisin, hair stylist and makeup artist at Chicago Bridal Hair and Makeup. “It would be flat, and you wouldn’t see the definition or texture as much as you do with ombré.” There’s one caveat for women who covet the trend: it’s better for people with solid, dark hair.

Kasprisin also has seen the ombré trend grow in popularity for nail designs. Shading techniques have long been used in eye makeup.

Fashion

The ombré trend in wedding gowns heated up this fall. Actress Anne Hathaway married in a custom Valentino gown with pink ombré accents. At the 2012 New York Bridal Fashion week, designer Anne Barge showcased an ombréd wedding gown from her fall 2013 collection. The bottom of the dress was of a darker shade and it got lighter and lighter as it went up to the top ... It was a really subtle and beautiful way to incorporate the trend while still being bridal and classic and beautiful.

For brides who can’t dream of donning anything other than an all-white dress, ombréd accessories (jewelry, shoes, etc.) make perfect accents. Also, a popular trend for bridesmaids’ dresses is to have each be a unique shade of your wedding color rather than the same color and style of dress.

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