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Nontraditional Wedding Dresses
Have you begun looking for wedding attire and found that everything kind of looks the same? Whether you’re flipping through magazines, scrolling blog posts, or ravaging Pinterest—too many of the “unique” dress options marketed toward brides simply don’t stray far from the traditional white dress. Plus, not everyone looking for a wedding dress is a bride! If you’re struggling to find wedding attire that is as unique as you are, matches your individual style, or is representative of clothing that you’d choose for yourself in a world of unlimited options—keep reading! We’ve compiled a list of 14 different ways to expand your wedding dress options to include nontraditional styles, colors, and accessories. You deserve more options than white or ivory, tulle or lace, veil or no veil.
Below are examples of our badass past couples who chose authentic expression over traditional style on their wedding days:
MORE: The Difference Between an Elopement Dress & a Wedding Dress
- Make a Statement with a Colorful Skirt
We are of the opinion that no color is off-limits on your wedding day! Choosing a bold, colorful skirt can be the perfect solution for those who want a burst of color, but don’t want to embrace a fully colorful dress. You can wear a top of any color, or texture, and pair it with a skirt that matches or contrasts. We love the bright yellow skirt shown in the image here, and how it was paired with a white lace long-sleeve top.
- Feminine Floral Prints
Prints don’t always have to be big or bold. Sometimes a subtle nature-inspired print or texture as part of your attire can be an homage to the place you’ve chosen to say your vows. Floral prints will always be in style, and this is the perfect opportunity to embrace a pattern that makes you feel beautiful, feminine, natural, or free. You’ve already chosen to say “I do” out in nature, you might as well embrace the theme and buy the dress that looks like a field of wildflowers!
- Skip the Skirt & Wear a Jumpsuit
Who said this list of dresses had to only include dresses? If you haven’t caught on to this yet—we like breaking the rules. So why not skip the dresses and skirts altogether—you can replace this traditional style with a modern jumpsuit, or even a pantsuit that allows you to have a wide range of movement to explore your outdoors location.Whether you’d prefer pants because they’re comfortable, practical, or simply stylish—you’re sure to be elegant on your wedding day in attire like these brides pictured here!
- Red Will Turn Heads
It’s bold, it’s beautiful, and it’s one of the most flattering colors! There’s a reason red dresses make to every style blog for each holiday—you can’t go wrong wearing one of the hottest color choices around. From bright to burgundy, there’s a shade of red that everyone loves. Plus, because it’s an iconic timeless color, you can rewear your wedding dress again and again. The benefit of not wearing white (and this applies to all the other colors mentioned here), is that your dress can be reworn for other special occasions without looking like you’ve chosen to wear a wedding dress to your cousin’s big holiday party, or your aunt’s wedding. Red will also stand out extremely well in many environments—on a mountain, in a forest, on a beach, or even beside a little white church.
- Like A Morning Fog—Gray Dresses are Enchanting!
Is it gray, blue, or something else entirely? The color of fog captured in the layers of a dress is one of the most adaptable nontraditional color choices you can wear on your wedding day—depending on the light, and your surroundings, blue/gray fabric can reflect the warmth of a sunset, or the coolness of an overcast morning.
- Big Prints & Bold Statements
Color blocking, big patterns, or even dramatic textures can bring your wedding style to a place it can only be described as brave—we love it! If you want to do something extremely big color-wise, we’d recommend not having a busy background for your photos. Places like forests with a lot of undergrowth don’t look so romantic when there is a lot going on—but if you’re getting married somewhere equally bold, like a beach where there is a nice clean backdrop for your images, then prints will look incredible! If you have any questions about whether your attire will look good in your location, you should ask your photographer. We’ve seen so many different styles of clothing in all environments, and we definitely have opinions about which ones worked well!
- Keep it Cool in a Crop Top
A trend we’ve been loving is wedding dress separates—a skirt and top combo that can be matched to fit anyone’s unique style. The crop top version of this trend is an especially bold take, and might be the perfect solution for keeping you cool on a hot summer day. The last thing anyone wants out of their wedding dress is itchy fabrics rubbing against their midriff, so you might as well cut out the possibility entirely! We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this style for those who want to elope in the dead of winter, but then again—it would be the perfect chance to pair your dress with a cute coat.
- Wear Green & Feel Like a Forest Queen
Forest green, olive, or emerald—we love them all! There’s something especially elegant about this color that can take your wedding style up a notch. If you’re getting married somewhere especially wild, like the redwoods in California or the Hoh rainforest in the Pacific Northwest, green will suit your forested surroundings very well. Or if you’re eloping in the desert, green will contrast nicely against the reds and oranges of your surroundings.
- Mix & Match with Separates
Like the crop top mentioned above, separates of all lengths and styles are a great way to personalize your wedding attire. You could match a skirt with a top of a different color or texture, or pair a lace top with high-waisted trousers for a hyper-modern look. Choose pieces that match or contrast, and you’ll not have to choose a single look—this way you can have it all!
- Sheer Dramatic Accents
Add a sheer cape, see-through elements to your bodice or skirt & embrace the movement that comes with light, beautiful fabrics. This is the perfect solution for adding a little elegance to ANY dress—colorful, patterned, textured, or traditional. You could pair a tinted sheer cape or veil with a white dress underneath & totally transform your look in an instant.
- Pretty in Pink
Are you one of those who would argue that any shade of pink is the best color? We can understand why—pink wedding dresses stand out against the landscape like wildflowers in a meadow. Whether the color is subtle like strokes of watercolor painting the fabric of your dress, or bold and impossible to ignore, pink is timeless and feminine in all the right ways.
- Sometimes Tradition Is nontraditional
Does your culture or heritage have a traditional wedding attire style that doesn’t match modern western standards? Maybe your wedding day is when you should embrace that! The white dress & black suit we think of here in the United States when we say “traditional wedding” is totally different from the bright colors & bold patterns worn around the world on wedding days. There aren’t a lot of ways to embrace culture & history in our fast-paced society (to its detriment), so your wedding day could be the perfect opportunity to dig into those family traditions, learn more about your history, & embrace a style you might not get to celebrate in the day to day.
- There’s a Reason Black Will Never Go Out of Style
Black wedding dresses aren’t unlucky. In fact, wearing black on your wedding day is extremely practical—you have more dresses to choose from, at a wider range of prices. Plus, the dress doesn’t show dirt as easily if you’re having a particularly adventurous day, and you can wear it again for all the same reasons listed above with colorful dress options. Black wedding dresses also look incredible against certain backgrounds—think, the red rocks of Sedona, the white sands of the dunes in New Mexico, or even under the arches of Moab’s dramatic desert landscape.
- Yes, That One Works Too
Whatever you’ve been looking at online or at the shop down the street, that dress would be perfect for your big day! Any dress you wear on your wedding day becomes your “wedding dress.” No, it didn’t have to be marketed as wedding-specific attire, and it definitely didn’t need to have the marked up price tag. If you’re eying a beautiful cocktail dress that you can imagine wearing for holidays in the future—we say you should get it! As long as you feel beautiful, capable, and empowered—you’re wearing the right dress.
NEXT: How to Plan a Small Wedding or Elopement
Still at the early stages of planning your big day? We’d love to help! We have advice on more than just attire—we help couples find their perfect location, craft a customized timeline, and plan activities to make their elopement truly special.