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Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager defend Olivia Culpo over wedding dress controversy

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager have weighed in on the debate surrounding Olivia Culpo’s wedding dress.

The former Miss Universe winner, 32, became the subject of controversy after she tied the knot with NFL star Christian McCaffrey in a modest Dolce and Gabbana gown. The nuptials, which took place in Rhode Island, were covered by Vogue in a wide-ranging spread showcasing her several bridal looks.

Culpo walked down the aisle in a long-sleeve white gown with a full-coverage crew neckline. Speaking to Vogue, the model said: “I didn’t want it to exude sex in any way, shape, or form.” However, as photos of her wedding dress circulated online, some internet users believed that Culpo’s minimal makeup look and modest gown emulated “pick-me vibes” – a term used for a girl or woman who seeks male validation.

“I have been a bridal creator for four years now, and I’ve never said this before, but I do not like this wedding dress,” said wedding stylist Kennedy Bingham, also known as Gown Eyed Girl, in a viral TikTok video. The content creator went on to claim that the “way that [Culpo] was talking about [her dress]” was “pushing this idea of what she thinks all brides should look like,” and alleged that Culpo’s comments about the dress appeared to be “marketing and pushing this conservative agenda.”

Meanwhile, content creator Jessica Weslie Arena also pointed out Culpo’s minimal makeup look for her wedding, which featured no mascara, lip liner, or eyebrow makeup. “For Vogue to even point these things out just gave me such weird vibes,” Arena said in a separate video. “Because obviously Olivia Culpo did something in order to not wear mascara, in order to not wear a lip liner, in order to not wear a pencil on her eyebrows. Be so for real, Vogue. Stop being a pick-me.”

While Culpo has since responded to some of the backlash, that didn’t stop NBC co-anchors Kotb and Bush Hager from coming to the model’s defense. During the July 9 broadcast of Today with Hoda & Jenna, the co-hosts described Culpo’s “classic” bridal look as “stunning and beautiful.”

“We think she looks beautiful,” Bush Hager said on Tuesday, as Kotb chimed in: “I don’t like reading negative comments from trolls, I really don’t. How about that?”

Bush Hager then questioned why online users believe “they get to comment on how [Culpo is] dressed” for her own wedding. “One of the most beautiful women in the entire world!” Kotb said of the former Miss Universe, while Bush Hager jokingly added: “People were down in their basement saying she’s too covered up. You can’t win.”

The co-hosts also noted that Culpo later “let loose and had some fun” during the wedding reception, when she changed into two more bridal looks. For the cocktail hour – which took place at Ocean House, a historic resort in Watch Hill, Rhode Island – Culpo changed into an off-the-shoulder, high-waist chiffon dress with a handmade silk flower on the neckline also designed by Dolce and Gabbana.

Her third and final bridal outfit featured a silk bodysuit with a mini cage skirt, both adorned with handmade organza flowers and accessorized with tulle gloves and a satin flower choker.

“Everything’s beautiful, live your life,” Kotb concluded.

In response to the online backlash, both Culpo and her newlywed husband took to social media to clap back at negative comments about her wedding dress.

“Wow what an absolutely evil person you are. I hope no one ever tears you apart in this way because it’s extremely hurtful. I love this dress and it was everything I wanted and more,” the model commented on Bingham’s video last week.

Her husband, the 28-year-old San Francisco 49ers player, also defended his wife in the comment section of Bingham’s post. “What an evil thing to post online. I hope you can find joy and peace in the world, the way my beautiful wife does,” McCaffrey said.

Meanwhile, under Arena’s TikTok video calling Culpo a “pick-me” girl for telling Vogue she “skipped mascara, lip liner, and eyebrow makeup,” the former pageant winner commented: “It was an interview….. they asked me what my makeup was………………………..”

Culpo and McCaffrey tied the knot on June 29 at Watch Hill Chapel in Culpo’s home state of Rhode Island. The ceremony was a star-studded event, with Prince Constantine Alexios of Greece and Denmark, Victoria’s Secret model Devon Windsor, and several NFL players all in attendance.

According to Vogue, her custom Dolce and Gabbana wedding dress took months to design. In addition to the modest neckline, long sleeves, and a 16-foot lace veil, the ball gown also featured a billowing skirt with a button-lined back and a dropped waistline. “I wanted it to feel effortless and as if it’s complimenting me, not overpowering me,” Culpo explained. “There’s so much beauty and simplicity.”

The couple sparked romance rumors in 2019 and announced their engagement in April 2023.


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