Perhaps Vintage, At Heart

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

It’s funny, because I don’t tend to think of myself as one of those VINTAGE girls. I have always had my own particular taste, and I just sort of traipse along, knowing what I love and what I don’t like so much… and some of what I love is old fashioned, and that is fine. But when it comes to wedding dresses, I’m suddenly finding that I have very old fashioned tastes. Maybe it’s just that I don’t like what’s currently in vogue. Maybe it’s that I hate this age of weddings as conspicuous consumption. Tiaras? Not sober. Princess dresses? Uh-uh. Strapless? Ahhh! Aggressive sparkles? Ohpleasejustleavemealoneinthiscornerplease?

But let us look at dresses I do like:

I can’t seem to get away from loving the tea length, 1950’s dress. My mom is afraid I will regret a short dress (fair) and that it will look dated one of these days. Will it? Possibly. But I’m not sure that this counts has a full blown trend, since it is both delightfully retro, and totally impossible to find in a regular wedding dress salon.
Then, there are the long dresses. Since this picture makes me think Lovely! Long! Bridal! So I’m clearly still loving vintage. I love how this dress is long, but not froofy. I love how it has no train. I love how it is simple yet elegant.

What do you think, dear reader? Will I regret a short dress? Do you like the long and simple look? Can I go wedding dress shopping again without stabbing out my eyes? Stay tuned.

Pictures via Real Simple Weddings and {Furi Kuri} weddings

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit #NASTY

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  • i couldn’t decide on this subject either, so i am having two dresses. not very “practical”, i know… but i couldn’t see a) wearing a tea-length dress for my big church ceremony, or b) wearing a floor-length dress with a train for my picnic reception. i just felt like i would be missing out either way. i fell in love with the wedding dress audrey hepburn wore in “funny face” but wanted the train and the whole shebang too. to keep things at least somewhat reasonable, i bought my ceremony dress at the brides against breast cancer dress sale, and a friend who’s in fashion design school is helping me design and create my reception dress from scratch.

  • I had trouble at first – I knew I wanted tea length, but Mom thought I might regret not doing the full gown-with-train thing. So we tried a few on, and what do you know, I was right. I felt totally swallowed whole in the full length with train (even without the train) ones. It’s most important to me to feel comfortable and fabulous, so tea length was the right thing for me. But I wouldn’t have been sure had I not tried on some traditional, and some totally absurd ones, just in case….

  • this might be a little out there, but here it goes…i’ve noticed you and i have had a lot of the same tastes in terms of colors and wedding boards. i ended up buying a dress that was a bit of a nod to a vintage dress (lace) but still looks modern. my wedding is at the end of june and if you were interested, i would be happy to sell it to you at a very reasonable price. if you’re interested in checking it out, let me know:

  • Aimee

    Go with your gut! Listen to yourself. My guess is that after dancing around many other “supposed-to” options you will come back to what you love and know is right for you!

  • Jenna

    What is it about having your ankles showing that makes people think you will regret having a short dress? Isn’t that the only difference between a short and a long dress?

  • In a tea-length dress you can totally rock the SHOES!!!

  • I am not so sure your Mom’s comment of “it might be dated” is valid. What can you wera that won’t be dated? Time marches on, and fashions go in and out. You dress might look dated in 5 years, and then be all the rage in 10. Choose what you want.

  • oh baloney. if you’re going to regret it, than i am too.

    i don’t think there is anything to regret. i would be more worried about regretting doing what every other bride on the planet is doing and wearing a long dress for conformities sake.

    tea length is where it’s at. go with it.

  • this is a great site for older style tea length dresses:

  • Anonymous

    By the way, per Real Simple Weddings, that tea-length (gorgeous) dress is a Carolina Herrera.

    I actually think a style like that is never going to look dated. It’s classic. Check out:

    And my personal favorite (a Lazaro bridesmaid’s dress, per the bride’s comments on Offbeat Bride):

  • both of those styles of dresses were the kinds i looked at, too. i ended up falling in love with a long, simple, elegant silk dress (sample dress on sale for $200 – woohoo) while trying on both lengths. the material and some small details on it just won me over, but it could have easily gone the other way if i’d tried on the “right” tea length gown. so, i’d suggest to try on a bunch in each style and the right dress for will find you. also, you might realize that one style is more flattering on you than the other that way.

  • I seriously thought about going with a tea-length dress, and with no veil either. But then one of my close relatives pointed out to me that this is my WEDDING. The significance of the event demands more formality than a tea-length dress (you are forming a new unit in society… I think that’s a huge deal) and you’ll never get to wear a full-length white with veil dress again.
    So I personally went with full-length. I was able to still find one with a very classic look, not an icky princess poofy thing like everybody has now.
    I’m saving tea-length for some mad fabulous dinner parties I’ll throw when I’m married.

  • My advice is, try dresses on by yourself. And pick the one that makes you want to jump up and down like a little girl.

    Leave your mom, and the industry, and the bloggers (sorry ladies) the f*ck out of it ;)

  • But when it comes to wedding dresses, I’m suddenly finding that I have very old fashioned tastes. Maybe it’s just that I don’t like what’s currently in vogue. Maybe it’s that I hate this age of weddings as conspicuous consumption. Tiaras? Not sober. Princess dresses? Uh-uh. Strapless? Ahhh! Aggressive sparkles? Ohpleasejustleavemealoneinthiscornerplease?

    Oh yes, I could have written that paragraph myself!

    To your mother’s point, I would say that you’ll look a lot less dated in a tea length dress that most of what is out there. Fashions in wedding dresses will change and I for one will not be looking back cringing at a photo of myself in a a strapless A-line, covered in sparkles, just like everybody else. Ugh.

    Having said that (and I might be contradicting myself here) I love the idea of my wedding photos looking dated. Imagine being able to happily laugh, “look! We’ve been married since that was in fashion!” :-D

  • Meg

    Thank you all for your wise and kind words. I told my mom about them and she giggled, and seemed more relaxed. I’m sure she’ll be reading them at length later. You guys are the savviest most kick ass group of brides I know (and yes, I’m biased).

  • I had a tea length 50s style dress which I loved very much. Having just come back from a wedding where I watched the bride struggle to dance all night in a long gown (particularly after she took off her 4 inch heels and then made the dress too long) I reckon if you want to dance, you need to go short…

  • I’m in the same boat and with the same debate! The tea-length 50s style vintage dress is what continues to make me stop and drool. I definitely want a vintage dress and I’m loving tea-length more and more. But a part of me would, of course, love a long dress..oh the dilema!

    Good luck!

  • Meliza



  • Anonymous

    Where does one find that Carolina Herrera tea length dress from REAL SIMPLE Magazine(spring 2008)? I’m looking all over for “it”, as well as an affordable alternative. That dress embodies wedding simple, informal and fun. Ideas? Thanks.

  • Katie

    If anyone could possibly help me find that Carolina Herrera dress it would be greatly appreciated. My sister is getting married next year and she mentioned something about the dress. I would love to surprise her. Thank you!

  • Leanne

    There was no doubt when I first put my tea length dress on! You couldn’t have slapped the smile off my face, I was so full of myself! But after not being able to see the dress for some time, I began to have overwhelming second thoughts about the “conformities” like an elaborate of modern day weddings. Thanks to some realization – I agree go with what you feel, (and trust me if it’s right you’ll feel it!), not what other think.

    I also agree amy- you can totally rock the shoes in the tea length dress! I’m doing some cute wedge pumps for the ceremony in a pasture and then some cowgirl boots for the barn party!

  • Anonymous

    If anyone is still looking for the Carolina Herrera dress, I saw it for sale at “Once Wed” for $1100. I believe it is a sample, and missing a few buttons, but that is an easy fix for such a gorgeous dress.

  • midwestelle

    I want a tea length dress! If it looks vintage, even better. I love them. Now, my mom just informed me that all tea length dresses make everyone’s calves and ankles look bad. Everyone’s. Who knew? Fortunately, I have chicken legs, so that won’t be an issue…!

    MidwestElle @

  • Sarah

    I just re-read this. And I feel the same way about clothes. I got engaged on Christmas morning, and I’d been hoping and dreaming and plotting for months before that, and the only thing that stands out in my brain about dresses is that I want it made (because I have theswaybackfromhell), I want purple and I want a tea-length dress, fifties style. My mum wore a dress that ended above her knees when she got married nearly 23 years ago (with the 80’s headband to back that up) and she looked gorgeous, happy, and *her*. Neither of us are made to look like everyone else. (Neither is anyone, for that matter.)