Weddings with Clinton Kelly: Invaluable Advice for Your Big Day

The fashion and lifestyle whiz talks planning, registries and the most important detail: staying true to yourself

As a recent bride (and one who's found a way to linger in the lovely world of weddings much longer than expected), I'm no stranger to the lengthy list of advice that seems to creep around every corner. "Purple is SO not my color. What about hot pink!?" "You should wear your hair up, it's much more regal." "Whatever you do, you can't sit Aunt Joan next to Uncle Marty...or Aunt Kathy." Sound familiar? Here, at the deepest depths of wedding planning, is where we look to the experts.

So, when I met with Clinton Kelly at the Seattle Wedding Show I was prepared to return with some serious expert advice, to lift you all out of the fog, and set you back on a decisive planning path. He has, afterall, made a name for himself as a fashion and lifestyle guru with shows like TLC's What Not To Wear and most recently as the stylish sponsor for Macy's Weddings. Well, my friends, return with advice I did. Refreshingly, Clinton's answers will do more than lift you out of the fog, they'll refocus you on the details that really matter (and in true Clinton fashion, provide us with a few laughs along the way). 

clinton kelly

You're well known for your style advice (as we've seen on TLC's What Not to Wear!). What are your "dos" and "don'ts" for a bride trying to narrow down her wedding day look?

There are so many factors that go in to creating the most fabulous wedding day look, that I would need to speak with each bride individually, to hear her story, get a sense of who she is and what she wants her big day to be like. Overall, you’ll probably be getting a lot of advice from many different people at this time, so I would encourage you to smile, nod and say a polite thank you to those who offer their opinions and then decide what works best for you.

On your wedding day, you’ll want to be the best version of yourself, not someone your family and friends don’t recognize. That means that your dress, hair and makeup should all be reflective of you at your most beautiful. Luckily, there are bridal, hair and makeup consultants to help you do just that.

For the bride who wants to be daring and different, how does she make a statement without overdoing it?

An easy way to show off and amplify your personality on the big day is with accessories. Try a colored or patterned shoe or bag instead of traditional white. Or look for a fascinator-style headpiece instead of the traditional veil. You can also experiment with your jewelry. There are no rules that say you have to do everything in traditional white. Just avoid doing anything so over the top that it doesn’t feel natural to you.

Is there a gown style that you feel is classic, it never goes out of style?

Who cares if your wedding dress goes out of style. The only thing that matters is that you feel like the most gorgeous creature on the planet that day.

clinton kelly

What about the groom? Any dos and don'ts for him?

The groom should also feel like the most gorgeous creature on the planet that day. This isn’t 1815. Men are allowed to feel special too. So he should wear what he wants (within reason). One man might want a dark, slim-fitting suit. It’s universally flattering and can easily be worked into the business-week rotation after the wedding. A trend that is turning heads right now is the midnight-blue tux. It’s a great in-between the classic black tux and a suit. I got married in shorts, so who am I to judge anyone. But, I do have amazing legs.

For brides, we know it can be challenging to make decisions regarding their own look, let alone a bevy of bridesmaids. In terms of bridesmaid looks, how can brides avoid the dreaded "What was I thinking!?", while still trying to please all?

I think women are nervous about this because you might be comfortable dressing your own body, but not five other bodies. My advice is for brides to go shopping with the bridesmaid who has the trickiest body. Maybe she has hips or a big bust or is curvy. If you find a dress that looks good on her body, then chances are the dress will look good on the rest of the ladies. In general, A-line skirts and empire waists tend to look good on all body types.

When it comes to color, it’s fashionable now to choose within a color palette versus one color for all. This way each maid feels special and also can find the hue that best fits her completion. Or consider choosing a color or a fabric and then letting each maid pick a style that will suit her.

Getting caught up in the tiniest details of the big day can be overwhelming. As a guest (and style consultant!), what are the first things you notice when attending a wedding?

That’s a great question because it allows me to give you one of my favorite pieces of advice: You set the tone for your own party. Weddings can be overwhelming and it’s easy to become stressed or upset about small details. If you’re relaxed and having a great time then your guests will, too. When I attend a wedding, I’m looking forward to having a great time and celebrating with the happy couple, their friends and family. So, don’t sweat the small stuff and save the drama for the honeymoon! My biggest pet peeve: Long-winded speeches. Ugh. They bring a fun party to a grinding halt.

clinton kelly

You recently partnered with Macy's to offer expert advice on everything weddings, so we'd like to pick your brain a bit about registries. With zillions of items and products out there, what advice do you have for couples trying to narrow down their registry list?

As you plan your new married life, you might decide that what you need most of all is a new bedroom set. But you might feel weird about adding two nightstands and a headboard to your registry – unless you’re pretty sure rich Uncle Charlie is gonna hook you up. You also might feel awkward asking your guests for cash, and quite frankly you should. While some of your friends and family might prefer to give you cash as a wedding present, asking for the green stuff is still considered a breach of etiquette in most parts of the country.

Macy’s Dream Fund is actually a smart way for you to get what you need the most, by letting your guests pitch in for big-ticket items. Think of it as a group gift card.

If you decide to register for a Dream Fund, I’d highly recommend that you describe for your guests (perhaps in your wedding invitation) what you’re planning to do with the money, so your friends and family know they’re contributing to your goals as a couple

Do you have any registry must-haves?

If you want it, then you should register for it! Even if you think you might not use some items immediately, you’ll be glad you have them in the future. Be sure to register for bedding. Also, cookware and I’m very into kitchen appliances that have more than one use, like a stand mixer, food processor or a toaster oven.

I also recommend registering for two sets of dinnerware – formal and informal. Some people think they won’t use fine china and I always say, I bet you have a fabulous sparkly dress (or a James Bond suit!) that makes you feel like a million bucks. Fine china is just like that fancy outfit—everyone should have it and everyone should use it!


Get more planning advice from Clinton Kelly at Macy's Weddings.