Emily Blunt and Jason Segel’s The Five-Year Engagement finally opens today, right in time for wedding season and a flurry of questions like, “Can I wear white to someone else’s wedding?” (The answer to that, by the way, is no.) But we sought out the movie’s costume designer, Leesa Evans, to find out the answers to more complex questions. Evans, who grew up the daughter of a fashion designer in Laguna Beach, CA, has become the go-to designer for directors like Judd Apatow and Paul Weitz. Costuming brides in Hollywood films in no easy feat; dresses are critiqued, emulated or vilified—think Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, or Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride—but Evans earned a coveted Costume Designers Guild nomination for her work in last year’s Bridesmaids. So who better to ask for tips?
ELLE: You’re constantly working on movies with weddings—what major trends have you noticed?
Leesa Evans: I have done so many films centered around weddings! In Forgetting Sarah Marshall we actually did about 30 different weddings during production, most of which weren’t in the film. It was such fun to try to design something special and unique to each wedding. I would say the trend I’ve noticed most in recent years has been towards individuality. Brides and grooms are looking to styles that feel authentic to them as opposed to the traditional idea of what a bride and groom should look like.
ELLE: In this film, Violet (Emily Blunt) laments bridal dress shopping, saying, “They are white, puffy and stupid.” How should a bride determine her look?
LE: I always start with silhouette: what shape makes you feel most beautiful? It really helps to try on different styles to begin to figure that out. I would take your best friend and go and have a girl’s day.
ELLE: And all of the satellite parties—showers, engagement parties, rehearsal dinners—what do you suggest on these occasions?
LE: I love a little bit of sparkle for a sparkly occasion. What makes you feel beautiful is quite different for each person. I always encourage my clients to see how the clothes make them feel as opposed to how they make them look…I encourage individuality and a focus on what makes you feel great. For jewelry, I always prefer something understated. When it comes to shoes, I recommend something stylish yet comfortable. Adding color can be fun, if done in a subtle and elegant way.
ELLE: What’s the number one tip for brides.
LE: Do a trial run on your hair and make up before the big day so you know what to look forward to [ed. note: and what to change!].