Using Feathers on Your Wedding Day

Using Feathers on Your Wedding Day

Recent years have seen an explosion in the use of feathers in virtually all aspects of wedding design. With feathers making quite a splash on this season’s runways, you can expect the trend to stick around a bit longer. Brides are incorporating feathers into nearly every element of their bridal ensembles, highlighting them in their bouquets and decor, and even choosing certain varieties as inspiration for their entire wedding vision.

When used properly, feathers imbue a sense of whimsy, opulence, and a hint of the unexpected. They can blend beautifully with any theme—from a Royal Wedding inspired celebration to a Country Chic themed affair, and anything in between. Whether you’re planning on using feathers as accents in the overall ambiance of your festivities, or you want them visible in every aspect of your design, learn the right ways to incorporate plumage into your wedding motif.

Common Types of Feathers

Different feathers offer different aesthetical effects. Typically, birds have several types of feathers covering their body. They all have slightly different structures and perform different jobs—hence why you often see a variety of feathers all purportedly from the same bird—so keep this in mind when shopping around.

Ostrich: The most luxurious of the ostrich’s feathers is the wing feather, or plume. It can be equated to the weeping willow of the feather world. It has a pliable, arched rachis (the spine of the feather) and has long, wispy barbs (the pieces that shoot out from the middle spine). It’s the feather royalty used in medieval times to sign important documents, and it comprises the centerpieces you often see in Roaring Twenties themed celebrations. In thin, tall vases, ostrich feathers look rather like feather palm trees and can add excitement to any setting.

Peacock: Peacock feathers are instantly recognizable, and due to their gorgeous color scheme, are often channeled as the inspiration for an entire wedding celebration. In iridescent teals, blues, greens, and browns, and with their signature “eyes” that seem to follow you wherever you go, it’s not hard to see why. The potential uses for peacock feathers in your celebration are endless, but they work especially well when paired with their coordinating color scheme.

Rooster: While you might think the most sought-after feather on a rooster would come from the beautiful tail that sets him apart from his female companions, it’s actually the saddle feathers—where the lower back meets the tail—that are in high demand. Long, thin, pliable, and often speckled or dyed bright colors, these feathers are most often used in jewelry and hair extensions.

Feathers in Wedding Fashion

Use feathers in gorgeous additions from head to toe. Brides can consider feather fascinators or hair combs to offset simple or elaborate hairstyles (think Carrie Bradshaw’s streak of teal plumage at her ill-fated first attempt to marry Mr. Big), as accents to birdcage veils, mini top hats, and headbands, or even as extensions clipped into their hair for an elegant touch or a rockstar addition à la Steven Tyler.

Feathers are also making a huge appearance in bridal accessories, and, more dramatically, on brides’ feet. From cute flats to sky-high stilettos, expect tufts adorning the vamp (top) or toe box, or even exaggerated or structured arrangements accenting the quarter (the portion behind and to the sides of the heel) of bridal shoes. Look for feather fans, bags, garters, or even jewelry to accompany brides down the aisle and throughout the reception.

Not to be forgotten, grooms and groomsmen might see feathers pop up in boutonnieres or even as inspiration for the color or design of their cufflinks.

Feathers in the Wedding Design

With feathers all the rage, guests can expect to find them present in virtually every wedding element. Feathers have found their way into wedding flower arrangements, bouquets, and centerpieces—from adding just a subtle flair to taking over the entire arrangement itself. They can accent ring pillows, flower girl baskets, chair covers, and linens, and even inspire the design or color scheme of wedding cakes.

Cruelty-Free Feathers

It’s worth noting that not all vendors obtain their feathers in the most reputable manner possible. A true cruelty-free feather is collected only after a bird has shed it naturally—a process that occurs (in most cases) annually—so you’ll need to do some research if you’d like to go this route. Don’t be afraid to ask your vendors where they obtain their feathers and how. Most will be proud to tell you if done properly, so be wary of vendors that are uncomfortable with your frankness.

Feathers are a fun and fashion-forward addition to any wedding celebration. From subtle accents to bold accessories, you’ll be as proud as peacock once you see how beautifully they can round out your ambiance.

Feather Boas Aren’t for Floozies

The rustle and ruffle of a feather boa has an undeniable appeal. Boas add a touch of whimsy and yes–even elegance–to your wedding-day proceedings. Whether you’re trying to evoke the swish and swirl of a mysterious lady in an old-timey Western flick, or your tastes run toward more of the pampered movie star variety, there are infinite ways feather boas can add fun to your celebration. If you’re worried about catching a chill on your way down the aisle, ditch the tired old cardigan and shawl. Feather boas are a fabulous way to keep warm and stay stylish, too.

Types of Feather Boas

It’s not as simple as running out to your nearest novelty Halloween shop and plucking a few straggly boas off the discount rack. If you’re going to work feather boas into your wedding, only the finest ones will do.

Look for luxurious boas that are long enough to wrap around your shoulders several times over, and don’t forget to check for thickness, as well. Feather boas should have a bit of heft to them. No one wants to wrap themselves in an anemic boa that looks like it’s mid-molt.

As with tissue paper, feather boas come labeled by “ply.” Whereas a one-ply turkey-feather boa will give you a bit of Vegas glitz, a 10-ply ostrich boa will make you feel like a countess at the royal ball. Be warned, however, that thicker boas come at higher prices, with deluxe ones costing over $100 each.

Marabou boas are made from soft, fluffy down instead of feathers, and are usually less expensive as well as more subtle than their larger counterparts. While thin marabou boas don’t achieve the same visual impact as a full ostrich wrap, they excel at edging and trimming. Use marabou to give a little pouf to your shoes or dress hemline. It can be sewn on easily as a DIY project if necessary.

Feather boas come in every conceivable color, and that’s great news for your wedding. Do you want a snow-white boa to match your wedding gown? Do you want to drape your venue in boas that echo your wedding colors?

Single feather boas are available in multiple colors, too, so you don’t have to make up your mind. A mostly-white boa interspersed with long, colorful feathers from exotic birds (even peacock feathers!) will guarantee every eye is trained on you during the ceremony.

Beautify Your Bridesmaids

Sometimes stubborn bridesmaids refuse to wear the outfit you’ve picked out for them. If your bridesmaids aren’t all wearing the same dress, how will people know they’re part of your wedding-day entourage? The answer lies in fun and noticeable accessories like feather boas. It’s nearly guaranteed that your ladies will be the only ones sporting feathery goodness around their necks for the reception, so they’ll stand out as the group they’re meant to be.

Fluff Up Your Fashion

Feather boas aren’t just fancy shawls. They also look wonderful when combined with dresses, shoes, purses, and other fashionable items. If you feel comfortable taking on a DIY craft project (or if you want to enlist the help of a talented alterations shop), adding portions of feather boa to your wedding look is a surefire way to achieve a unique and eye-catching effect.

Wrap a small feather boa around your wedding bouquet to give it some extra dramatic flair. You can also use feather boas to edge tables and doorways to make your entire wedding venue seem like it’s lost in clouds of softness.

If you don’t plan on wearing your boa again, you can even use a thin marabou boa to edge your wedding cake platter. The delicate appearance will set off the texture of your cake icing. Just be careful to remove the boa before you start cutting and serving the cake, as you don’t want to end up with a mouthful of feathers!

Care for Your Feather Boa

Over time, feather boas will lose some of their feathers and start to look a little “wilted.” Fear not–you can re-fluff your boa by running it lightly through the steam from a pot of boiling water. Careful not to get the feathers wet. Just ruffle the feathers with your fingers like you’re finger-combing long hair. Each feather should reanimate and open up within a few seconds of being exposed to the steam.

While this technique won’t bring back missing feathers, it will help your boa to fluff back up and achieve its former glory. Store it in a dry place where it can hang or loosely fold without being compacted, and keep it well away from moths or other insects that can invade a closet. A well-cared-for boa should last for years, so whip it out for a little fun on your anniversary!

The only downside to incorporating feather boas in your wedding celebrations is that any time feathers and fun are combined, the feathers seem to be on the losing side. Expect to see small snowdrifts of fallen feathers in the corners of your venue after the reception. (Don’t worry, it’s nothing a few sweeps of a vacuum won’t fix.)

The price of a few lost feathers isn’t much compared to the amount of fun you’ll have twirling around in your fabulous accessories, though. Grab your best friends and hit a few costume, craft, or lingerie stores until you find the right boas for you. If no local stores hold boas that excite you, you can also find gorgeous feather boas in all colors and sizes online. Pick your perfect plumage and get ready to fly.


Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.