Casual Wedding Dresses for Second Marriages: 9 Tips for Indie Brides
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
There are lots of good reasons to have a casual, informal wedding and to wear a simple wedding dress. Maybe it’s your second or third wedding, maybe you’re getting married quickly for the military, maybe you’re not an overly formal person, maybe you want to elope to an exotic destination, or maybe you just don’t want to spend a lot of money on something that only lasts 6 hours.
Well, not everyone has a casual wedding because of cost. Some women spend a small fortune to end up with their idea of a perfect, casual celebration… so I won’t say all casual weddings (or casual dresses) are cheaper than traditional ones.
Note: Most of my wedding articles are written for baby boomer women and brides over 40, but this post is for all casual brides of all ages.
The following tips are in no particular order.
Is a Casual Wedding for You?
Many people think of a small gathering of immediate family members when they hear the words casual wedding, but you can have 400 guests at a casual fete… at least… you can on the West Coast. Casual or informal just means you want to do your wedding your own way… in whatever manner sounds inspirational to you and to your groom.
Only the insecure middle classes follow formal wedding rules. And, one day… the people who write for wedding magazines will understand that some brides have NOT been dreaming (with big goo-goo eyes) about a big church wedding since they were five years old.
Some women have more important things on their minds and don’t care about having a huge, sit-down reception at the city’s most chi-chi hotel in order to impress a bunch of people they barely know.
So, if you are the kind of woman who prefers bare feet on warm sand to aching feet in high heels, you should have a casual wedding… and wear a casual wedding dress in which you feel comfortable.
Examples of Casual Wedding Dresses
So, what exactly makes a wedding dress a casual wedding dress? To me, a casual bridal gown (or outfit) usually falls into one of the following two categories:
- Simple lines, possibly tailored
- Unstructured fit, possibly loose and floaty
There are wedding outfits that have elements of both, but you don’t want to go too far into simple and unstructured or you’ll end up in bathrobe territory. I mean… I want you to be comfortable… but I don’t want you to look like you don’t care.
1. Simple Lines: My mind usually conjures up something tailored and structured, like a white suit, when I think of simple lines, but an unstructured sheath that’s not harshly fitted can also have simple lines. You might think of a straight mod dress as opposed to a frou-frou ballgown when imagining the shape of a casual dress.
2. Unstructured Fit: Loose and floaty dresses are perfect for boho hippie weddings and are the only style that looks right in many outdoor locations. You can wear unstructured, casual wedding dresses indoors… it’s just that you absolutely must have a dress with movement for a beach wedding (because of wind) or any destination wedding where the weather is unpredictable. In my opinion, you will look like you’re fighting Mother Nature if your wedding gown is too stiff and unforgiving.
3. Comfort is Key: I would say that whatever type of wedding dress you wear, it should be something that feels comfortable. If you already have a dress and it bothers you (physically) is some way -- it's tight in the arms, it's scratchy, it's restrictive -- you should wear your dress for the wedding ceremony and the formal photos, and then change into something soft and soothing for the reception. For one thing, your tummy is going to expand when you eat... and who wants to be uncomfortable (for the sake of fashion) at their own wedding. Being uncomfortable around evil family members... that's something I can't help you with.
4. Regular Dresses as Wedding Gowns: There is no reason you have to wear a dress from a wedding outlet if you can find a regular dress to wear as a wedding gown from your favorite store that fits your personal style. I'm not saying to avoid wedding stores. (I've walked down the aisle three times -- first dress was from Nordstrom's wedding department, second dress was from Bloomingdale's occasion department, third dress was from David's Bridal.) What I am saying is that you have more options if you also consider outfits from other sources. A regular dress worn as a wedding gown is fine as long as people can't see through it when the sun is behind you. (In other words, wear a slip if necessary.)
5. Colored Wedding Dresses: Any color dress is fine. We aren't limited to ideas from the 1950s, so go ahead and choose your favorite hue... even if it's black. You can wear anything from pale pastels to vivid brights. One good source for colored gowns is bridesmaid dresses, but you should search any store or website with suitably festive clothing.
6. Boho Wedding Dresses: You already know I love boho. Bohemian hippie dresses in off-whites or muted pastels look great in any wedding venue, but they are especially good in the mountains, the woods, the desert, the beach, a garden, or any natural setting. Most floaty, gauzy, unstructured, oversized, or girly dresses can be adapted to a boho theme, but there are styles (like the tunic dress - above on the right) that are indie but not frilly.
7. Wedding Dress Themes: You can go with any theme as long as you don't overdo it. If planning a theme wedding, don't hold to it too tightly or it will seem precious, cutesy, and contrived. The best way to avoid tipping your wedding into the realm of cornball, is to mix your theme with standard wedding ideas or with elements from another theme. Some ideas to incorporate into your wedding (as long as you keep things sane) are: Asian, Mexicana, tribal, western, gypsy, mod, hippie, modern folk, flapper, retro 50s or 60s, steampunk, etc.
8. Beach Wedding Dresses: You never know what the wind is going to do when your at the beach, so I recommend you wear a long skirt or dress -- or a wedding pants outfit - in case you don't want to flash your thong to the assembled crowd. And, if you decide to wear a short dress, test it out in the wind before making a final decision.
9. Glamorous Gowns for Casual Weddings: Remember how I said not to go overboard with a theme? Well, one way to mix things up is to wear a glitzy, sparkly, glamorous wedding dress at your casual wedding. You can even take the idea to the next level by going barefoot. (I'm not tall enough to go sans shoes, but I love the look... it's so hip and trendy.)
When you decide to go casual, there are so many options that open up for you. You can have a backyard barbecue wedding, a Maui beach wedding, a Sonoma winery wedding, or a fly-fishing in Montana wedding. Do whatever you love and you'll never regret it. Just make sure your wedding dress is comfortable and your groom is on board with your ideas.
More Wedding Fashion Articles for Women Over 40, 50, 60 and Younger Friends:
There are more articles. Just go to Love & Relationships category (near top) and click on Second Weddings to get even more tips from a woman who's "always a bride, never a bridesmaid".
Photo Credits: Prshots.com
- Main Photo: Glamorous.
- Short Boho Wedding Dress: House of Fraser.
- White Dress with Print: River Island.
- Simple Lines Casual Wedding Gowns: Monsoon, Monsoon, Navabi Plus Sizes.
- Unstructured Casual Wedding Dress: Miss Selfridge.
- Comfortable Wedding Dresses: River Island, Miss Selfridge, Monsoon.
- Regular Dresses as Wedding Gowns: Veramont, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins.
- Colored Wedding Dresses: Monsoon, Phase Eight (3).
- Boho Wedding Dresses: Miss Selfridge (2), Mint Velvet.
- Ethnic Folk Wedding Dress Themes: Topshop, East.
- Beach Wedding Dress Ideas: East, Mint Velvet, Miss Selfridge.
- Glam Bridal Gowns for Casual Weddings: Monsoon, Topshop, Lipsy, Phase Eight.
What do you think of my ideas in this wedding dress article? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page or check out bigger photos on Pinterest. Cheers, Tina Boomerina