Non-Traditional Wedding Dress Options

Capes, jumpsuits, and feathered gowns are just a few looks that turn the traditional wedding dress on its head.

By Maggy Lehmicke

Non-Traditional Wedding Dress Options
Photo by CMK Photography

The First Look ✨

  • The wedding industry is pivoting and nearlyweds are looking for creative attire options. This guide outlines some of the non-traditional looks that are growing in popularity.
  • Jumpsuits, two-piece sets, pantsuits, and short dresses are a few possibilities, along with capes, vintage looks, and pops of color.
  • Don’t be afraid to play around with unexpected textures like fur, feathers, sequins, and fringe.

Today’s brides, grooms, and the entire wedding industry as a whole have gotten more and more creative with just about every aspect of the big day—including attire. As a result, you’ll find a slew of shorter gowns, trendy textures, and unexpected silhouettes.

So where’s a modern bride to begin? Below are some of our favorite picks to consider if you’re in the midst of wedding planning and still looking for something to wear.

Jumpsuits

One of the bridal statement pieces of 2020, the jumpsuit has grown dramatically in popularity over the last several years. Whether you choose something soft and drapey or slightly more structured, jumpsuits are a great way to flaunt your shape while embracing the same elegance and romance that you get from a more traditional gown. If you’re looking for something even more dramatic on your wedding day, consider trying a romper with a sheer or removable skirt.

Two-Piece Sets

If flexibility is what you’re looking for as a modern bride, there’s no better option than mixing and matching two separate pieces for your bridal look. This could be as simple as a fitted top and skirt that show a little bit of skin or a lace bodice with a pair of flowy culottes. And if you want something that more closely resembles a traditional gown, there are even more intricate matching sets. If you’re tying the knot in the winter, try topping off a skirt with a cozy sweater.

Pantsuits

For the ultimate power look, the pantsuit is the way to go. Simple, structured, and beautifully tailored, a classic white or black suit can go a long way. Not only do you have the freedom to play around with the overall silhouette, but you also have the ability to pair it with some fun accessories and tops. For something bolder, consider a suit in a rich, vibrant color, such as wine or emerald. You can also experiment with fabrics and textures, including sequins, brocade, and velvet.

Short Dresses

A simple way to change up the traditional wedding gown look, short dresses are not only practical, but also look beautiful at an intimate gathering or courthouse ceremony. A simple lace dress works great in the summer months, while a more dramatic sleeved ensemble can be worn year-round. You can even combine this trend with other looks in this list (such as the two-piece set or suit) to come up with something slightly more daring.

Pops of Color

Zola - Non-Traditional Wedding Dress Options Photo Credit // M Hutchison Photography

From vibrant red gowns to floral embroidery and dip-dyed hems, there are plenty of ways to incorporate pops of color into your wedding attire. If you want something more subtle, opt for a pale pink or gold silk gown that doesn’t stray too far from tradition. Prints like florals, stripes, and polka dots are another fun way to incorporate some color into your look. Maybe you even want your wedding dress to be your “Something Blue.”

Capes and Ponchos

Another trend that has taken the wedding industry by storm is the rise of capes, ponchos, and other coverups. Whether you’re looking for a sweet tulle poncho with dainty pearls, a dramatic, beaded cape, or something more structured that’s built into the dress itself, these unexpected additions provide a lot of creative flexibility when experimenting with bridal looks.

Vintage

If you love the vintage vibe, there’s nothing that can take the place of an actual vintage gown or cocktail dress. Intricate beading, retro silhouettes, and elaborate details are just a few of the wow factors that vintage dresses bring to the table. If you found a gown you adore but have some things you’d like to change, you can also consider working with a custom dress expert to restore or repurpose it. This is especially true for brides who are looking to revamp their mother’s wedding gown to have a truly unique wedding dress.

Sequined and Metallic Gowns

From knee-length flirty gowns with metallic embroidery to dramatic ensembles with beading from head-to-toe, sequins and other sparkly details are a great addition to any traditional gown. They not only convey a sense of opulence (without necessarily breaking the bank), but they also let your personality and sense of style shine. For a glitzy look with a traditional twist, consider a simple silhouette with a high neckline and intricate beading. Nearlyweds looking for something bolder may favor a metallic number with gold sequins or opt for some added drama with a beaded cape.

Fur, Fringe, and Feathers

Beaded fringe, feathers, and other surprising features are starting to work their way into bridal looks. If you live for trends and are hoping to make a big statement on your big day, consider a two-piece set with some fur fringe or a fitted shift with a feather skirt. You can even incorporate multiple trends into your look by rocking a floral beaded gown with fringe details or a sequined cocktail dress with tiers of fringe.

Zola - Non-Traditional Wedding Dress Options Photo Credit // Kristina Staal Photoraphy

No matter what direction you’re leaning, there’s plenty of bridal attire options to explore, so take your time to gather some inspiration and find out which look suits you best.

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