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4 Wedding Dress “Rules” You Can Totally Ignore

As styled by the APW crew

If you’ve spent even five minutes planning a wedding, you’ve probably learned that there are a lot of rules. (Just last week, Meg was researching vow renewals and was rudely informed of twelve different things she could and couldn’t do for an event that isn’t even a wedding.) And there are few places those rules show up more aggressively than in your personal attire. Is it even a wedding if you don’t wear white? What if you don’t wear a dress at all? Quelle horreur!

Intellectually, I think we all know most of those “rules” are just inventions of the wedding industry. You don’t have to follow any of them. But emotionally, that’s easier said than done. You probably have some expectations about your wedding outfit, not to mention a lifetime of conditioning about what it means to look “bridal.” Then there’s your family and their expectations. It’s easy to walk into a wedding dress shop thinking, “I’m going to do me!” and then walking out looking like someone else.

So today, we’ve partnered up with Allure Bridals to help you push through the expectations, figure out what you want to wear to your wedding, and maybe to give yourself permission to have a little fun with your wedding attire.

A woman wears a madison james long sleeve lace gown holding a blue bouquet and wearing an oversized blue floral headpiece.

Madison James Style MJ462

If you’ve already been inside a wedding dress shop, you may have seen an Allure Bridals tag. They make these incredibly detailed, beautiful gowns that are already anything but boring. And I am low-key obsessed with their Wilderly line. So when they invited us to style some of our favorite dresses from their collection, we thought, “What better way to demonstrate how to make a wedding dress your own than to style them in two wildly different ways—and while we’re at it, break the ‘rules’ of bridal a little bit.” And that’s exactly what we’ve got for you today.

While you might not be ready for a full Met Gala-inspired wedding headpiece, or a wedding fedora, or a crazy-wild bouquet, my hope is that our tips can help you say yes to the wedding outfit you really want, not the one you think you should have. (And if the outfit you really want does happen to have an oversized crown, you know who to call first.) So, with that, here are a few wedding dress “rules” you can throw out the window.

A woman wears allure couture style c520 while standing against a pink and orange wall holding a pink bouquet and wearing a pink veil with floral appliques

Allure Couture Style C520

You have to look timeless: We’ve talked about this before, but the construct of timelessness is total BS. Your wedding is going to reflect the decade you got married in, no matter how much people tell you otherwise. And that’s a gift! No one wants to look back at wedding photos and not feel nostalgic. For example, this gown from Allure Couture is totally bringing back a ’90s vibe, when the ’90s were doing their take on the ’40s and ’50s. And, um, it’s working.

A woman wears allure couture style c520 while standing against a pink wall wearing a pink veil with floral appliques and pink fringe earrings

But we added our favorite pink veil from our pastel veil DIY project last month, because it’s exactly what we’re obsessed with right now.

A woman wears allure couture style c520 while standing against a pink wall wearing a pink veil with floral appliques

So who cares if your wedding dress is going to look dated in twenty years? That’s kind of the point. (Though I’m afraid for the late ’80s shoulder resurgence we’re about to see. Pray for all of us.)

a woman wears a madison james long sleeve lace gown holding a blue bouquet and wearing an oversized blue floral headpiece. Her hand is raised and there is graffiti in the background.closeup of a woman wearing a long sleeve lace gown from madison james holding a blue bouquet and wearing blue fringe earrings

Madison James Style MJ462

Don’t overaccessorize: When I was getting married, I really wanted to wear big earrings with my dress. And you’d be surprised at the scandal that erupted in my family with that choice. The warnings often come from a good place (We just don’t want you to regret it later!). But it can mean toning down who you are on a day that’s supposed to feel authentic to you—like if you’re feeling pressured to go full Kardashian glam with your look when you’re really a more minimal, jeans-and-t-shirt person. Or it can mean forgoing your favorite pair of earrings for something daintier so that your look is more palatable to the masses.

a model stands against a mural holding a large yellow bouquet wearing an allure modest gown and a yellow zip tie headpiece a model stands against a mural holding a large yellow bouquet wearing an allure modest gown and a yellow zip tie headpiecea closeup of the back of a woman wearing a detailed lace gown from allure modest standing against a blue wall holding a large yellow bouquet

Allure Modest Style M604

And then sometimes you’re the one holding yourself back, because while you love your day-to-day style, you also have a wedding vision in your head that’s a little more traditional. Well, here’s my hot tip: you can have it both ways. Pair a more classic dress with over-the-top accessories (like we did above), and then switch up your outfit midday. Maybe you keep things simple and understated for the ceremony, and then throw on a badass cape for your reception. Or maybe you wear a cool hat for portraits, but take it off during the party. And if you just want to go big and then bigger all day? Ain’t no shame in that game either. For example, this dress looks totally different with big bright earrings and a bold bouquet…

a plus size bride stands against a bright mural wearing a madison james gown and holding a bright yellow bouquet with flowing yellow ribbona plus size bride laughing against a bright mural wearing a madison james gown and holding a bright yellow bouquet with flowing yellow ribbon and wearing yellow fringe earrings

Madison James Style MJ404

…than it does with a more muted bouquet and a hat. (Side note: can we please make the bridal hat a thing? Asking for a friend.)

a plus size bride wears a madison james beaded wedding gown holding a pink bouquet with pink earrings, and gently holds a pink felt fedora on her headtwo brides wear intricate long sleeve wedding dresses from madison james in a white warehouse. They each wear a pink brimmed hat

Madison James Style MJ419 & Madison James Style MJ404

Dress for your body type: Much of the focus in wedding dresses is on finding a dress that’s flattering. And on the surface, I get it. I usually pick out clothes that make my body look good in my mind’s eye. But wedding dresses are a strange beast. How a dress is going to look on your body depends so much on the individual design, the cut, the fabric, and the internal structure. For example, I would never have guessed that this dress, which has a plunging neckline and no back (aka, no bra) would look and feel as good on me as it did (and hold up the girls to boot!). Or that this dress would look good on anyone with curves. So, if you’re headed into dress shopping, I recommend going in with an open mind about what you want, and ignoring anything you’ve read on the internet (except this).

a close up of a bride wearing a long sleeve lace gown from madison james and a pink wide brimmed hat with flowers and ribbons cascading a bride stands in a white industrial building wearing a long sleeve lace gown from madison james. She holds a pink wide brimmed hat with flowers and ribbons cascading

Madison James Style MJ419

Another word to the wise: completely ignore the size tag when you try on outfits. Wedding dresses can run the gamut from matching your street size (aka the size of your jeans) to more couture fashion sizing, which is usually much, much smaller than the tag suggests. For example, when trying on our Allure gowns, we found that some of their more intricate dresses were two sizes smaller than our street size. Whereas the dress I tried on was within a size of my normal range. If you’re in a store carrying Allure gowns, the salesperson should know how their collections run, but you can also find all of Allure’s sizing information right here. All of their dresses are available up to a size 30 or 32, and their plus size collection looks like it’s almost true to size (I’d go up one).

a woman wears a long sleeve lace and tulle gown from madison james while standing against a brightly colored mural. Her dress train is floating in the wind and she holds a purple bouquet.

Allure Romance Style 3154

a closeup of a bride wearing an intricate lace gown from allure modest and a neon yellow ziptie headpiece with neon fringe earrings and a bright yellow bouquet. She stands against a blue wall.

Allure Modest Style M604

It has to be a dress: Just in case you needed reminding, there’s still nothing that says your wedding outfit even has to be a dress. You can wear a stylish suit, or a cool jumpsuit, or low-key separates (see also: pants version), or a fun printed bridesmaid dress if it suits your fancy. There are, in fact, no rules.

Wilderly Bride Style F120 Rory

So, if you needed permission to screw expectations and do you, consider it officially granted. But now I want to hear from you: what would you wear to your wedding if you could choose anything at all? (Fun fact: I almost wore jeans to mine.) What outfit rules would you throw out the window?

Is there something you’re dying to wear to your wedding? Or something about your outfit that you’re struggling witH? Leave it in the comments for all the enabling you need.

This post was sponsored by Allure Bridals. With five very distinct collections, Allure Bridals covers everything from bohemian to classic wedding dresses (and lots in between). Plus all of their dresses are available in plus sizes, up to a size 30 or 32. Click here to find an Allure retailer near you!

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