Folk Wedding Dresses: 3 Kinds of Folkwear for Boho Brides, Plus Modern Wedding Wear
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
The new folk fashion trend takes its cues from folklore outfits worn by peasants. And, the newest boho wedding ideas come from these same traditional folklore costumes.
Many of these photos show ideas for younger brides, but every one of these looks can be adapted for older women over 40, 50, 60, or whatever. Peasant styles are worn in folk festivals by all shapes and sizes of women over 40. Just adapt the outfit to fit your figure.
Folk Tracht Costumes for Brides
If your family or your future husband’s family comes from another country, it’s nice to incorporate something from that culture into your wedding. Since I come from German (Bavaria and near Poland), English, and Scandinavian peasant stock, I’m going to stay with Northern and Eastern European folk fashions because these are the traditional costumes I know.
If you want to spend a lot of money on your wedding, you can find whatever folk dress you want or have it made.
If you want to save money, you’ve come to the right place; but, even if you aren’t getting married, you should read this article and look at the photos for ideas. Folk fashions are going to be hot for the next few years and most folklore outfits are flattering to women with curves.
1. Scandinavian Traditional Bride with Crown
Folk brides used to wear traditional festival outfits that represented the village where they lived. Traditionally, they didn’t wear white bridal gowns, so folk bride outfits are a great look for those of you who like wearing color. And, whenever I think of folkwear, I see colorful embroidery or floral prints in my mind.
The main photo, above (or at the bottom of the page if you're on a phone), shows 3 Norwegian brides from the late 1800s and the early 1900s. These women, or should I say girls, rented their bridal crowns and wedding outfits from their parishes. Most families could not afford to pay someone to embroider a fancy vest or to make a lovely bridal crown (Brudekrone). And, most peasant chicks didn’t own white dresses because white was an impractical color for someone who worked on a farm or who helped her family with fishing chores. Hey, they didn’t have dry cleaners or washing machines back then. (Note: I should mention that some sites say the bride on the left is from Brittany or France; however, I can say that these photos are definitely all from Northern Europe.)
If you’ve ever been to a Norwegian Independence Day parade, you have seen some amazingly elaborate embroidery on the women’s outfits. These folk costumes have been passed down for many generations, so if your grandmother hasn’t been embroidering a wedding costume for you since the day you were born, you’ll probably have to make do with what you can improvise from ready-made clothes.
However, you don’t really need a real bridal crown, even if you want to wear something that's authentically Scandinavian. As you can see in the lithograph (drawing), a traditional Norwegian bride is having a crown of real roses woven on her head. The bridal outfit she is wearing is similar to the outfits the other Norwegian women are wearing, however the vest in the lithograph is not embellished with elaborate embroidery, so this woman is probably wearing her own blouse, vest, skirt, and apron.
Floral head wreaths made of fabric are easy to buy on Etsy or to have made of real flowers by a florist.
2. Dirndle Style Folk Dresses for Weddings
Folk women in Austria, Bavaria, Switzerland, and other German-speaking areas used to wear dirndls, just like the ones you might see at Oktoberfest. Think of Julie Andrews singing, “The hills are alive with the sound of music…” in a dress made of fancier fabric.
A dirndl skirt is a “circular cut dress, gathered at the waist, that falls below the knee.” (Wikipedia)
The dirndl outfit is usually made up of a bodice, blouse, dirndl skirt, apron, and often a petticoat, which shows from below the skirt (if the skirt needs a bit of lift to make it stand out properly). A real dirndl is expensive, so unless your family has an heirloom hanging in their closet, you will have to put together your own look with a similar feel. Thankfully, updated dirndl outfits are hot, new folklore styles for everyday fashionistas, so you might be able to find the right thing in a regular store.
I am going to ask that you not have your sweetie wear lederhosen at your wedding unless you are in Europe and you know what you’re doing. You don’t want to embarrass your (future or current) children, do you?
3. Eastern European Traditional Folkwear
Traditional Eastern-European folk fashions involved a lot of wedding crowns and floral garlands. Check out the image above. The colorized photo on the left is a traditional Hungarian bride, the painting in the center shows a traditional Russian folk outfit, and the painting on the right is of a Ukrainian girl in national dress.
Modern Dresses with a Folk Fashion Feel for Boho Brides
So, what can you wear that will give you the same feeling as the traditional folk styles? The photo, above, shows some regular, white party dresses that have a few of the right details. Of course, you’ll have to punk out your wedding outfit by wearing braids and a hair wreath and, maybe, a shawl with some embroidery or with a floral print… or maybe a floral vest or an embellished apron.
Boho Wedding Dresses with Folk Details
The four modern dresses in the photo are very reasonably priced. Most of these dresses don’t come in plus sizes, so they are best for younger chicks looking for a folk wedding feel, however larger women can find dresses with the same details.
- 1. Asos Vintage Dress with Bird Embroidery: This midi dress has a lot of folk details, such as a tight bodice, a full skirt, a square neckline, and some gold embroidery. Wear it with a blue or white petticoat that hangs down a little further than the hem of the dress. Add a floral crown and you’re good to go.
- 2. Chi Chi London Lace Prom Dress with Off-Shoulder Bardot Neckline: This white dress looks like a dirndl waiting to happen. It has a lot of great folk details: a tight bodice, a sweetheart neckline, and a full skirt. All you need are braids and flowers for your hair. If you can add a colorful bodice or shawl, all the better.
- 3. Chi Chi Embroidered Prom Dress in Cream: The mirror (symmetrical) embroidery on this short dress is perfect for a folk style wedding. The dress has the right fit-and-flare silhouette... if you can fit into this type of style. And, you can add anything you want to give it more of a folk feel… a flowered cummerbund (waist sash), an embroidered apron, or a pink petticoat. (Note: If you will be wearing a short skirt with a petticoat, make sure you can twirl without your undies showing.)
- 4. ASOS Maxi Dress with Crochet Lace Yoke: This long white dress is under $100. Not bad. The flowered crochet, the tight waist, and the full skirt make this a practical folkwear wedding dress.
Colored Wedding Dresses for Modern Folk Brides
If this is not your first wedding or you just want to wear something different, you might want to find a wedding dress with more color.
- 1. Asos Petite Exclusive Jacquard Skater Dress: This metallic floral dress has the perfect silhouette for the modern folk bride.
- 2. Little Mistress Lace Long Sleeve Dress: This lovely black dress with cream lace is a perfect style for those of you who want to add your own colorful embellishments, like a colored, floral apron. Don’t go too corny. Keep it chic.
- 3. Asos Salon Floral Lace Shift: Even though this has a straight up and down silhouette, it has so many details that I wanted you to see it. I love the way the lavender lace is offset with gorgeous floral embellishments in hip colors.
- 4. Chi Chi London Prom Dress with Appliqué Detail: This royal blue and white dress is amazingly perfect for a modern folk bride. It has bright colors, mirrored embellishments and a great silhouette.
Wedding Bridal Crown or Folk Headpiece for Indie Brides
If you want to be a folk bride, you need to wear a wedding crown or a floral circlet crown to give your dress the right look. Many folk headpieces have streams of floral ribbons that fall down the back of the crown. These can take the place of a veil, and they can be worn with your hair up or down.
A folk crown or floral garland will turn any ordinary wedding dress or party dress into a full-on, folk-fashion wedding gown. I think the right headpiece is one of the most important elements. Whatever you wear on your head is a nod to tradition that will make your whole outfit feel like peasant folkwear.
So, look around on wedding sites and on ordinary fashion sites to find a dress that has the right details. A modern folk dress is best if it has a square or sweetheart neckline, a fit-and-flare shape, a swirling skirt, and a fun feeling. If tight waists don’t become you, a sheath can be used as a folk wedding dress, as long as you add the other folk-style wedding elements.
More Articles for Boho Women of All Ages:
Photo Credits: All photos are from Wikimedia Commons or prshots.com.
- Main Photo: Bridal Crowns of Norway (Wikimedia Commons).
- Russian Folk Dress: Konstantin Makovsky (Wikimedia Commons).
- Norwegian Rose Crown Lithograph (Wikimedia Commons).
- Dirndl Folk Fashion: All (Wikimedia Commons).
- Eastern European Folk Dress: Hungarian Bride, Ukrainian Girl by Nikolay Rachkov, Woman in a Russian Dress by Konstantin Makovsky (Wikimedia Commons)
- White Modern Dresses with Folklore details: Asos (2), Dorthy Perkins, Asos.
- Colored Wedding Dresses for Folk Brides: Asos, Dorthy Perkins, Asos (2).
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