(USA TODAY) These days, stars are whispering "I do."
Forget flown-in orchids and 400-person guest lists: They're padding down the aisle carrying locally picked wildflowers past 90 of their nearest and dearest (exhibit A: Kate Bosworth and Michael Polish). Scratch those made-for-TV spectacles: They're tying the knot so quietly that the world finds out only way after the fact, and even then there's a dearth of details (exhibit B: Kerry Washington andNnamdi Asomugha).
And sometimes, they're eschewing the aisle altogether (exhibit C: Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard and their $142 court house commingling).
Over-the-top productions are over, wedding planners and experts say. Even Kim Kardashian, whose $10 million union to Kris Humphries in 2011 epitomized bride-and-groom excess, told Ryan Seacrest she's planning a relatively intimate event withKanye West. And when and if Hollywood's other most-watched engaged couples —Brangelina, Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux — get hitched, there's no doubt that five-figure, 10-tiered cakes won't be served.
Celebrities are "picking up on the energy in the ether" that extravagance, especially public displays of extravagance, is out, says Brides executive editor Lauren Iannotti. "It's almost a status symbol to keep your wedding private. If you're that high on the A-list you don't need to get your wedding out there. You don't need to leverage this to aid your career."
"There's been a big affair backlash," says Elizabeth Graves, editor in chief of Martha Stewart Weddings. "We see how some celebrities have been, it's safe to say, trounced for the showiness of their event and the money they spent." That $10 million medieval fantasy staged by Napster founder Sean Parker last year? It was pilloried as "tacky" and "obnoxious."
Still, it's not just glossy Vanity Fair spreads that are spawning scorn. "Reality television is in some ways making such a mockery of the wedding," says Diann Valentine, who has planned "a few" TV "I do"s, including Real Housewife Tamra Barney's last June, complete with 3,000-pound gummy-bear station. "Because that is happening we are seeing more real stars saying, 'You know, this is just not how I'm going to share my love.' "
Stars are "realizing that these are private moments in their lives. Their wedding is not an opportunity to get more press" — or freebies, or Twitter followers, says David Tutera, who planned the '00s version of the Kim-Kris catastrophe: Star Jones' quid-pro-quo-crammed nuptials.
Privacy is all the more paramount these days because it's "gotten harder and harder to achieve," Graves says.
Thanks to the social media revolution, celebrities are followed "in so many ways, on so many platforms," Iannotti says. "There's so much opportunity for exposure in their lives on every front in every moment," something has to stay sacred.
Low-key couplings are in part a reaction to "living in a fish bubble," says celebrity planner Colin Cowie. "We live in this transparent world where we get to know every detail about you."
Ergo, "people have become much more careful about what they give out," says Marcy Blum, who designed LeBron James and Savannah Brinson's September affair. "It was a beautiful, regular-sized wedding," she says. And "you're never going to see" it.
Now, money is spent not on "chandeliers and Champagne," Blum says, but on ensuring security and preserving privacy.
Tamping down technology can prove challenging. "We're asking guests to give up cellphones," Blum says (Cowie does, too). "A real wedding has a very disparate guest list — you have cousins from wherever and you have your famous friends." The fear turns to "cousins bugging your famous friends for selfies, so you have to make an edict."