Roundup: Non-White Wedding Dresses

Expensive, but man it’s pretty. Erdem Morwenna printed silk-crepe gown via Net-A-Porter ($2,225)

Last week, when we posted our Risky (White) Wedding Dresses roundup, a commenter said, “These are risky?? Holy smokes, then I’m the Evel Knievel of bridal attire. But seriously, it is really nice to see the stranglehold of strapless white lace loosened just a little bit.” Which, FAIR ENOUGH. In fact, the whole reason we started doing wedding dress roundups is because once upon a time, both Maddie and I would have killed for any help in the hey-I-don’t-want-a-strapless-dress department. Spoiler alert: after heartrending and agonizing adventures on both our parts, we both ended up in…strapless dresses. Mine was vintage, and I swear by it. Maddie’s was David’s Bridal, and she now swears by them. But I think both of us still wish, deep down, that we’d had some sleeves up on those dresses.

The problem with the wedding industry is that it has a way of presenting you with a very limited range from which to select from. And if you decide to go rogue, figuring out what your best options are can be…complicated. And as one of my friends who didn’t want to wear white said, “I didn’t want to wear white, but I also didn’t want to devote my life to finding a wedding dress. And that’s what finding a colored wedding dress seemed to require.” So today we’re diving into the world of the non-white wedding dress.

If you’re not planning to wear white on your wedding day, the wedding industry has…nothing for you. If you know you don’t want to wear white, but also don’t want to go awesome and corseted and red, you can feel a bit like a rudderless ship. Maybe you want something in the middle. Not badass and out there, but not strapless and white either. Maybe you’re not quite SURE what you want your non-white wedding dress to look like, and you want ideas. Maybe you just want a post to prove to your mom that it can be done with style. Whatever your reasons, this post is for you. Crowdsourced from last week’s comments and peppered with a few of our personal favorites, here are some of the coolest options for non-white wedding dresses we’ve ever seen. (And for those of you wearing a non-white wedding dress, I’m curious what your personal requirements were. The friend I mentioned above wanted something that didn’t seem like an everyday dress—something she wouldn’t just wear to any old party. I thought that was a fascinating way to think about it.)

But before we get started, let me answer that question that about fifteen someones are going to ask you (and you might be asking yourself). Are you going to look like a bride? HELLS TO THE YES! You’re going to look like the bride because you ARE the bride. And really, when people say, “She looked like a bride,” what they really mean is, “She looked really happy.” You owe it to yourself to wear what will make you the happiest. So do it, already. Let’s get shopping.

Maxi Green Dress with Slit by Nelli Uzun via Etsy ($170)

Lela Rose Draped V-Neck Chiffon Gown available from Shop Joielle ($290)

Antoinette Plus Size Gown in Lapis from Igigi ($250)

Jonathan Saunders Carlton Dégradé Silk-chiffon Dress available from Net-A-Porter ($1,610)

Zolotova Dress by Wai Ching ($1,989)

Cage Dress by Trashy Diva ($61)

Bali Eggplant Octopus Convertible Infinity Wrap Dress by Coralie Beatrix via Etsy ($99)

Cap Sleeve Sue Wong Lace Dress available from Bloomingdale’s ($428)

Sue Wong Mandarin Collar Dress available from Bloomingdale’s ($428)

Roberto Cavalli Printed Long Stretch Jersey Dress available from My Theresa (€1,125)

Lace Boatneck ¾ Sleeve Gown with Grosgrain Ribbon Belt in Flame/Nude by Tadashi Shoji ($428)

Catalan Dress by Wai Ching ($875)

Ok, this one is more not-totally-white, but it seemed to fit the spirit of the thing.
Flor de Mar Mexican romantic embroidered maxi dress from Aida Coronado ($290)

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  • cmm

    I’m planning to go with a colored dress. I wear a lot of color in my everyday wardrobe so it just feels right to me. Also since non-white dresses aren’t labeled “bridal,” they tend to be way cheaper!

    • MDBethann

      Go for it! One of my cousins wore a purple ballgown when she got married. She LOVED purple. And it suited her.

  • Kess

    These dresses are so fantastic. I especially love the Antoinette dress, the Robert Cavalli Jersey dress and the Catalan dress. To me they are perfect examples of how something can look totally bridal without being white.

    I’m not going that far out of the ordinary with my wedding dress shopping but I am really determined not to wear a strapless dress and not to wear a fit and flare. Every time I tell a poor consultant what I want they look at me like I said I wanted a dress made of unicorn tears.

    • meg


    • Sara

      As someone wearing a short, high/low hemmed version of the Catalan dress in orange, let me tell you it feels beautiful on. It’s light, simple and the satin is sooo soft. The only difficulty I’ve had with the dress is that I feel like the color (being shiny-ish satin) feels hard to match for shoes.

      • C

        Could you offer a reassuring review of your experience with Wai Ching? I don’t have my dress yet and my wedding is in early October. I’m starting to think I should shop for a backup, but I really don’t want to. Did you send in your measurements and if so, did you have to have it altered much?

        • Jessica

          I’d be interested in hearing more about Wai Ching. Heather’s comment to this post makes me concerned!

        • C and Jessica, in case it helps, figured I’d put my two cents in. My wife and I got our dresses from Wai-Ching (see pics at, and she did my mom’s outfit too (you can see it in green in a few of the pictures). Our wedding was in September 10 (2011) – we visited Seattle at the end of March, and Chrissy shipped our dresses at the end of June. So I would say no, you don’t need to shop for a backup dress. You do, however, need to send her an email and/or call her – one thing I found is that she is not a great communicator unless asked direct questions. (And I got a little worried when a month went by and I heard nothing from her at all.)

          In terms of what alterations needed to be done – like I said, we went to her studio because we wanted to take a trip, but we could just as easily have sent her our measurements. We did take both dresses to a seamstress in town to be altered – both needed a fine-tuning on the straps, and mine (the multi-colored one) needed a bit more nipping in the waist. Also, there was an ever-so-slight train on mine, which I had the seamstress take off altogether. But it wasn’t anything major – just little things. So as long as you have a competent seamstress lined up, and you get it within the next few weeks, I think you’ll be fine.

          We were both SUPER happy with our dresses – they were exactly what we wanted, very light and comfortable (important for Miami), and what we paid was a bargain considered the cost of many wedding dresses and the fact that they are hand-made. I stress again, though – email her, and if she doesn’t respond, call her.

          ‘Cause I’m curious…what dress did you order? We did the Zolotova and the Cubana.

          • Shiri

            Lady, your wedding? Gorgeous. The way you two keep looking at each other? Amazing.

          • C

            I ordered the Eucalyptus but with the Beria bodice. I’ll try to get an update and stop freaking out. Thanks for sharing your experience, it really helps :)

          • Shiri, it won’t let me reply to you for some reason – but thank you! It’s ’cause she’s lovely :)

        • Jill

          I’m not the OP, but I thought I’d also weigh in on my experience with Wai Ching. My wedding was in January of this year. We had a very short engagement, but I’d been eying her work for quite a while. I ordered the Catalan dress in a custom green without ever trying on any other gowns. I ended up paying a little extra for a rush order so I got the dress in December. I didn’t have any issues with the fit or the color. I live in Texas, so a trip to Seattle wasn’t feasible given the few months engagement. I ended up just emailing my measurements to her. She had me to go a website (Color Lovers) to pick out color swatches for the dress, which I liked because I wanted a very specific green. I did have to send my dress back for a slight alteration to the hem. It was too long even with my highest heels. I know she erred on the side of too long. I was nervous sending it back, but Chrissy got the dress done and back to me within 2 days! Here’s the link to my flickr if you want to see the end result of my dress.

        • Sara

          Now that my dress is altered, I will report in. I am sorry I just now saw that there was a request.

          My dress arrived in the 12-15 week window she recommends for custom work. It fit pretty well, just needed some fine tuning. I had the boning shortened because it made the fabric give my ribcage right angles and to close some gapping in the material at the top of the bodice.

          I always got a quick response when i asked about progress from Chrissy. She responds personally to emails, and that’s really nice. I asked for an in-progress shot, but didn’t get one, which sort of bummed me out, but in the end, its not a big deal.

          I am happy with her work, the dress was wearable out of the package, but the fine tuning that I had done locally really made me feel great in it. At first, I was really worried ordering a dress sight unseen and from at least 1000 miles away. However, between positive reviews and attentive responses, I felt like there wouldn’t be much room for huge errors.

      • Sara A.

        For an orange dress how about gold or bronze shoes? This way no matching problems and you get to do *statement shoes*.

    • Caroline

      Yes, this!! When I say I want a modest dress, they seriously are confused. “Okay, well, we could add some little straps…” Ummm no, the tops of my boobs still feel like they are showing! Hello, I haven’t worn a tank top in 5 years here, and only started wearing PANTS again two years ago, because before that, I felt naked with my butt clad in pants. You think a 1-2 inch, see through strap on this low-cut strapless dress is going to cut it? “Okay, well, we have these lace, see-through jackets which swallow your entire short neck and start to try to eat your chin……” sigh. No thank you. How about an real, honest to goodness, attractive modest solution?

      And on top of that, I want a twirly, not-sparkly, sort of ethereal dress with a long waist to accommodate my waist of a thousand miles and legs of two inches? You know, so the waist doesn’t break at my boobs/the bottom of my rib-cage but actually at my waist?
      Gah. I think they think I’m looking for a dress made of unicorn tears AND phoenix feathers.

      • Ali

        Are you familiar with the movie The Wedding Singer? Your description of your ideal dress made me think of Drew Barrymore’s dress in that movie! Maybe with a little bit higher neckline… but it’s fairly modest, has a long waist, and a beautiful ethereal skirt. It’s sort of vintage looking I think. Here’s a clip:

      • Rachel

        I know! We both found ourselves looking at Mormon wedding dress sites because no one else had actual sleeves.

      • Aubry

        OMG why are tiny sleeves considered “modest”. I am going custom made because of all the things above, well most. No price point yet, as we are in the talking ideas stage but my hopes are high! It will be an almost sweatheart neckline with less dip in the middle, covered by a wide boatneck lace over thingy to hide the cleavage and side boob explosion, or as we lovenly call it: the chicken strip. Custom semi-corseted to deal with my long torso and waist that is 14″ smaller than my hips (my waist eats plastic cheap corsetting for breakfast). And tea length cause finding a dress long enough to wear in heels when you start at 6’1″ is impossible. Plus, shoes! Plus, swirly! And I can dance in it!

        I’m trying to keep my expectations medium till I have some reality in front of me but I am just so darn excited I cannot wait to wear it!

      • Tamar

        PREACH. In my eyes, I just want a simple dress!! Just some flowy fabric to my natural waist, some little sleeves, covered cleavage, and some more flowy fabric making its way down to the floor. Maybe some lace if it’s not too much to ask. I don’t want stiff fabric giving me uni-boob and hiding the fact that I totally do have a waist! I don’t want a strapless dress highlighting all my least favorite body parts! I know this has all been said before, but seriously, bridal gown industry, get it together.

  • rys

    I generally disavow all things strapless, but damn, that Zolotova dress is incredible.

    • I got the Zolotova dress and had her put straps (real, substantial straps – not spaghetti straps) on it – I also had her change the back so that it was a fabric panel and lacing, not just lacing for my back fat to show through :) She can totally customize any dress any way you can think of.

      • rys

        I just saw your pictures — beautiful!

  • Jessica B

    I don’t know how my mom would have reacted if I told her I was wearing a not-white dress. She seemed shocked enough that I wanted a knee-length dress instead of floor length–no one else batted an eye. Pretty sure if she weren’t so involved in the planning I would be wearing a sky blue something or other.

    I really like green maxi dress and the roberto cavalli dress. Hearts forever on those ones.

    • Rebecca

      I think I need the green maxi dress just as a life dress. Like, I could totally practice my runway walk in the grocery store in that dress. Or be devastatingly sexy in my kitchen. Or something.

  • That Igigi CALLS to me!

    • Stephanie

      I’m wearing it in 1 month!!! It fits like a dream and is really, really gorgeous.

      • I need to attend something fancy, stat, just so I can wear that beauty!

  • Becca

    OMG the Robert Cavalli. I’ve already purchased my (mostly) traditional ivory dress, but now I’m having major regrets…

    This post really is for me. I’m one of those brides who wants something not “bride-y”, but not over the top, either, and looking for the right dress turned into a story of woe that I never saw coming. Though that Cavalli pulls at my heartstrings, I think I did okay with the one I ultimately have purchased.

  • Bubbles

    If they weren’t WAY out of my budget I would totally wear a Wai Ching dress. As it is, I think I’ve settled on dress that happens to be made out of cotton jersey. SO COMFY.

  • I can buy that first one for a 1st anniversary dress…right?

    • Paige

      I want to wear that first one to Every Occasion. It looks so comfortable, but still chic!

  • Heather

    Logged in just to say – never, ever order a Wai Ching dress. I made that mistake, and it was horrible. The seams were glued, the material and stitching quality was poor, the bust line was crooked. I could have made a nicer dress, and I barely know how to sew.

    Not to mention she shipped a $900 dress in a plastic mailer bag, with no padding, uninsured. It came halfway ripped open.

    • OK, that is interesting to know.

      • (Most everything I have read about her dresses and craftsmanship has been positive.)

        • Heather

          My guess is that she outsourced it and didn’t actually make it herself. When I confronted her about the quality, she didn’t say anything except that she’d give me a full refund, and didn’t ask any questions. Not entirely sure what happened on her side. It was a yowying, if that helps your decision. But it was still a huge disappointment.

          • Wow! Can I ask when this was? I put a summary of our experience with her up above (back in 2011), and we were very happy with the result (with the exception of less communication than I’d like). I remember being a little surprised about the lack of packaging. I wonder if she’s gotten busier in light of some of the increased exposure on OBB and APW and started outsourcing some of it, like you said? So not cool that you didn’t get a dress you loved, though.

          • Ok, this is a good data point to have. So far, it has been the only negative review I’ve seen, so I am hoping that your experience was an anomaly, and the full refund is comforting. But data points are good to have, positive and negative.

          • Heather

            That’s a fair point. It was back in 2009 (I was married in early 2010, old married here.) So maybe she’s gotten a better workflow sorted out since then. I hope so.

  • Laura C

    I’m looking for a non-strapless evening gown in…blue, or green, or silver, or champagne/gold, or maybe white if it’s the prettiest one I find, but I’m also open to other colors and recently tried on and rejected a pink patterned strapless dress. I figure it will be special enough because I almost never wear a full-length dress — even to a black tie wedding I’d wear a cocktail dress most of the time, and because I’m planning to spend three or four times what I’d spend on a dress any other time. But in theory I could be able to wear it again.

    To that end, I have in hand this green Badgley Mischka and I have ordered this blue Theia. The green one is a contender. We’ll see about the blue.

    If I don’t find anything I like enough, I’ll reduce my budget and get something from J. Crew weddings that I obviously won’t be wearing again. All of this has been my plan until this morning with the dress the author made herself and thought “do I want a knee-length twirly white dress?” But since I can’t sew and haven’t seen one I like so much, probably that won’t happen.

    • Kess

      Holy moly are those dresses ever gorgeous. There is no doubt that either of those will be special enough!

    • Martha

      Excuse me while I try to pick up my jaw.

      Those dresses are just beautiful. STUN-ING.

    • Both of those dresses are amazing! Woah.

    • quinners

      I absolutely love the green one. Enough that I probably would have bought it for myself if I hadn’t had my heart set on wearing blue.

      (The Theia dress is also quite pretty. Gorgeous shade of blue)

    • Jen

      The Theia gave me heart palpitations. Stun-ning.

    • Shiri

      I actually just said “oh my god, that green dress” loud enough for my coworkers to overhear.

    • C

      I might actually buy that green one to wear at my wedding. GORGEOUS.

  • The lace Tadashi Shoji in flame is just . . . wow. Gorgeous!

    I definitely wanted a white dress but resolutely did not want to go strapless. Finding something I could afford that was both vintage-inspired, tea-length and with straps proved impossible, however, and . . . well, I wound up with a strapless gown. Whatevs — I’ll rock the thing!

    • moe

      I’m praying to Baby Jesus right now that I will have an excuse to wear that Tadashi Shoji dress someday!!!

  • Corrie

    The Tadashi and Nelli Uzun dresses….PHEW! (fans self) Those are HOT.

    Also, I basically love everything by Sue Wong. Thanks for the sweet roundup, ladies.

  • Kestrel

    While I’m going for the fairly traditional white dress, I wish that I had a reason to buy that maxi dress with slit! And that I was confident enough to wear it! Uhng…

  • I had originally set my course towards having a dress made for me, but with a very traditional, classic look. Then I saw the Zolotova dress show up in a sponsored post of a photographer, and it has haunted my dreams since then. I’ve wrestled with it, but am 99% sure I am going with a shorter, blue version of that dress.

    And I am SO. Excited.

  • Katie

    I was really struggling with how to go about finding a dress that fit what I was looking for (not strapless, fun skirt, simple style and fabric, etc). I was excited to discover designers like Lula Kate, Anna Elyse, and Lynn Lugo who specialize in mix-and-match bridesmaid dresses, which you can totally order in white or ivory (or whatever fun color you like!) and wear as a bride. They all have some fun top and skirt styles, and when I went to a small boutique to look at samples, I found out I could even customize the length more than the website indicated and order a discontinued top style. I highly recommend this option if you’re looking for something unique that won’t break the bank!

  • I’m planning to wear a non-traditional dress, but I don’t think it’s tooo far out there. It’s a blush pink cocktail dress from Modcloth, with pleats, flapper-esque ruffles and a sparkly neckline. Oh well, I guess I could just get the link: I’m thinking I may want to see if I can find/make a sash to cover the black waistband, though.

    My must-haves were, in roughly equal proportion: 1. dance-ability. 2. sustainability, i.e., I must be able to wear it again, 3. affordability. 4. undergarment ease (though I’ll probs need a strapless bra)

    The sustainability factor is a major driving force for my general life, especially when making a major purchase. (I’m an aspiring bohemian.) Though Modcloth isn’t a source for sustainably-produced clothing, I’m satisfied knowing this dress will get more use at cocktail parties, other weddings, and formal dance events. Also, we haven’t actually started planning a wedding, so anything could happen.

  • I wore a non-white dress to my wedding and it was the best decision I made. It was a short, teal with ivory lace Betsey Johnson number, and I definitely felt like a bride.

  • veggiesattva

    I wore a non-white wedding dress! I’m still very proud of my decision when I think of it. I wore a kick-ass bright blue wedding dress from Bill Levkoff, style 167 in Euro Horizon Blue: They call them “bridesmaid dresses”, but the funny thing is when you wear it as a bride, it magically transforms into a real wedding dress.

    Went with my mom to RK Bridal in NYC, and had a great experience. We were all prepped to try dozens of options, but we when we asked a salesperson for a dress fitting my preferences – not strapless, knee length, big twirly skirt (so pleats or similar at waist), pockets preferable, bright color – she pointed us to this one immediately. It was perfect!!

    One additional note is that I didn’t bother referring to it to the RK Bridal salesperson as my “wedding dress”. We just said we were looking for a dress, which was accurate. I figured this would avoid any possible judging, which it did. Also, you have to book appointments in advance to try on the white dresses, while you can just snag a fitting room when you show up to try on bridesmaids dresses. I have APW to thank for the bridesmaid dress as wedding dress idea – I just went a step further by not getting it in white!

    • “the funny thing is, when you wear it as a bride, it magically transforms into a real wedding dress.”

      YES. Bridal means it has to do with the bride. Period.

    • ferrous

      Adorable, and I love the blue!

      I’m looking to wear a LBD myself (city hall chic), and as it says up above: “I didn’t want to wear white, but I also didn’t want to devote my life to finding a wedding dress. And that’s what finding a colored wedding dress seemed to require.”

      Thanks for posting the link, I’m going to go nose around that site!

  • I love seeing this. A week ago I bought my black wedding dress — nice to see other people understand that bridal doesn’t always have to equal white!

  • Amy

    I literally purchased my wedding dress at a boutique women’s shop in Las Vegas. My mother and I were strolling down, harping on the wedding industry for slapping “bridal gown” on everything and charging $$$$$ much more because of it. When we saw it. It looked like something I would wear, champagne in color with beads and sparkles, feathers and petals. It was short. It had sleeves. We joked that it would be perfect, but then, as mothers and daughters tend to do, we looked at each other and realized simultaneously that we weren’t really joking and the dress truly would be perfect.

    So that’s how I ended up with a short, body-hugging champagne dress adorned with beads, sequins, feathers, and fabric petals. And the best part – I can wear it again and be like “this old thing? oh its just my wedding dress….”

    • Do you have a picture you can share? That dress sounds DIVINE.

      • Amy

        I tried looking for it on the internet after I bought it (since it was shipped to my mom’s house 6 hours away I had no way to see it and I desperately wanted to be able to show my bridesmaids). I’ve never been able to find it. Boo.

        If I do manage to find it, I’ll come back and share the link.

  • Love love LOVE the Zolotova dress. Wow.
    I wore silver, in a traditional style. It was awesome. I had a dressmaker make it for me to a design I saw online. $1500 instead of $4k+ (since it was a coture design)

  • This was my dress:

    I loved it and I wear it all the time still. I had it made by a woman on Etsy. The shop name is HeartMyCloset. Loved it!

    • Jen

      Love that color, and those sleeves!!

    • Stephanie

      That dress is fabulous!

  • Amy March

    I’m still not understanding what makes these colored wedding dresses, as opposed to regular old evening gowns. I tend to think colored wedding gown when the rest of the details are over the top bridal- Kate Middleton’s teal Jenny Packham would fit the bill for me. Gorgeous these dresses, but if you’re just wearing a pretty dress, don’t you buy it the same way anyone else would? With cursing, tears, and 47 deliveries from Net-a-Porter?

    • I’m going out on a limb that what makes these colored wedding dresses is that you could wear them to your wedding?

      • Amy March

        But that’s my point exactly. You can wear anything to your wedding. But how is the selection process different than normal clothes if you aren’t diving into the insane world of bridal fashion. Buying “wedding jeans” would be the same as buying “jeans” but with added rear view anxieties. And maybe glitter. Because if ever there’s a time for butt bedazzling, it’s wedding jeans.

        • I think you’re spot on. To me, the round-up is more a solidarity fist-bump to those who wish to wear a colorful evening gown rather than white for their wedding (as opposed to “these qualify as a wedding dress”). Veggiesattva mentioned in her comment: what makes it bridal is that the bride is wearing it.

          And butt bedazzling a pair of “wedding jeans” sounds like an awesome activity :-)

  • Anna M

    When trying to decide weather to wear a non white dress I asked my mom what she thought. She said your grandchildren will look at those photo’s someday. It suddenly became clear as I imagined a grand daughter asking my daughter if it was common then for a bride not to wear white. My daughter will probably say no most brides wore white. I want my grand kids to feel like they can be break out of the expected if they like something as long as it does no harm. There are many wonderful white and cream dresses but choice is good too.
    As far as the dress requirements, I wanted something more formal then what I thought my guest would be wearing and I wanted it to be flattering to me and floor length.

  • Breezyred

    This is the dress I rocked my wedding wearing:

    The dress was nothing like I originally envisioned myself wearing, but ended up being perfect:

    -It was much more “white” than I had planned on wearing. I originally stalked the mall and online stores looked for a green sundress, but apparently that wasn’t a popular design last summer.

    -I also wanted a dress under which I could wear a regular bra, but this dress came with the tiniest of straps. I found a comfortable strapless bra, so it all went well.

    -Lastly, I was only searching the petite sections of stores, since I am 5’2″. This dress was a rare find in that it fit great in a regular size right off the rack. The bust area could have been a little shorter, but I lived with it without alterations anyway.

  • Ali
  • I had my very colorful dress made in Chinatown, then got some Wai Ching accessories (tie and hair clip) to match.

  • Casey

    I’ll put in a plug for Trashy Diva dresses. Most of the dresses I own are from TD. Their bridal selection was formerly better (in my opinion) as they made custom gowns and long ones too – primarily 1920’s style flapper column dresses. Those days are gone because they have gotten big enough to require mass production, and they now focus more on 1940’s and 1950’s styles – but the quality is still there. Their vintage prints are awesome too!

    Their Trixie Dress in particular fits nearly everyone due to the elasticized bodice. I have two Trixies – it’s an amazing dress.

  • Love this post. I wore a blue, on sale, J.crew dress at my wedding. I’m sure many people would say that it looked like “any old dress” because, well, it was! But I loved it. And you know what else I love? Wearing the dress to other weddings, parties, and gatherings. Every time I get to wear it again I think, “This is the dress I got married in!” And it makes me smile. The fact I get to wear it over and over makes it MORE special to me, not less.

    Many people told me I would regret my choice and that this is my one chance to wear a bridal gown, but they were wrong–no regret here! A traditional wedding dress felt… wrong. I know that I would have felt silly trying them on and wearing one, I could not justify the cost for even a “budget” gown, and I am confident my husband would have laughed if I had worn one (in a loving way, of course). It just wasn’t us.

    Thanks for making a non-white dress feel a little more “normal” (whatever that is!).

  • My absolute favorite non-white wedding dress is from this old Snippet and Ink post
    The butterflies! She had it custom made – and it’s not strapless.

    • Heather

      Oh my! The butterflies! That is so darling I almost want to order a second dress with a poofy tea-length skirt. I do love my non-white wedding dress though. When I was put in charge of helping my best friend pee at her wedding because she bought the most traditional, voluminous white dress in the history of ever (with that neck eating collar someone mentioned no less) I decided there had to be another way. I found my pretty vintage dress on etsy for fifty dollars, it’s blush pink, straight-skirted with soft gold tulle and embroidery and SLEEVES thank you very much. I feel like a glittery popsicle in it, in the best possible way. I seriously can’t wait to wear it, huzzah for colorful dresses! In the meantime, I may point my friend in the direction of this snippet and ink post. She’s getting married in a butterfly house, how perfect would that dress be?

  • Kate

    I keep obsessing over that green Nelli Uzun number. Muttering “my precioussss” over the pictures to be exact.

  • Bri

    In the spirit of this post, could we do a round-up of non wedding-y wedding shoes?!

  • Kari

    Could I suggest that with the rounds up of attire that we have an ethically made special, that is, dresses that we know haven’t been made in sweatshops or by underpaid labor? One of the sad realities of the wedding industry is that many gowns, including designer ones, aren’t made by people being paid a decent wage or in good working conditions, and it’d be lovely to have a post or round up that addressed that specifically.

    This is a respectful suggestion, not an attack on the post itself. I just don’t recall seeing anything similar on the site, although some wedding graduates have mentioned it along the way and obviously brides like the one featured today who made her own gown.

    • Well, Wai Ching dresses are ethically sourced – she makes them herself, by hand (which is why they’re very expensive…worth it, IMHO, not that I could have afforded one, but expensive).

  • ““I didn’t want to wear white, but I also didn’t want to devote my life to finding a wedding dress. And that’s what finding a colored wedding dress seemed to require.” …

    If you’re not planning to wear white on your wedding day, the wedding industry has…nothing for you.”

    I can see how someone might feel that way! Although if you don’t think about it as “wedding dress” but instead think of it as “what do I want to wear on a very special day” and go dress-hunting like you would for any other very special day (perhaps this one is slightly more special…perhaps), or think of it like “if I could have the dress of my dreams for one wonderful day, what would that dress look like” and then go looking for dresses like that – just as if you were shopping for a very formal event, ball, awards gala in which you were receiving an award, etc. etc., then I don’t see how it has to be such an existential crisis.

    As for the industry having nothing for you, YES AMEN to that.

    Which is why, as is nicely reflected in the options you presented, it’s perfectly okay to go OUTSIDE the wedding industry. You can buy a dress from WHEREVER YOU WANT. Need not be a “wedding” based company at all.

    But we know that, yeah, ’cause we’re practical :)

  • Caz

    You guys at APW. Seriously. You rock my English/American wedding planning boat!

    I’m planning on wearing a green wedding dress and absolutely agree with Meg’s friend “The friend I mentioned above wanted something that didn’t seem like an everyday dress—something she wouldn’t just wear to any old party.” which is exactly what I’m after too. I don’t wear dresses all that often, am 5″9 and have ridiculously pale skin so that, if I wear any kind of white, cream, ivory etc… I will look silly. I don’t want to look silly on my wedding day.

    I didn’t realise till I read this post that I had totally been worrying about whether I would “look” like the bride. I needed this: “You’re going to look like the bride because you ARE the bride.” And I’m going to rock my non-white wedding dress! Boom!

  • APW nails it again.

    I got a bit tired of people telling me I should wear a bridesmaid dress because in Ireland, they don’t come with a train. I might not want to wear white/ivory/champagne/oyster (why are all these colours acceptable but blue/grey is never an option???) but I still want MOAR DRESS than I’d wear to a fancy black tie thing. Also, I did try on some bridesmaids dresses and when I explained to the shop managers why, they still kept insisting that I could also order it in white… *facepalm* and while I was trying them on, the salesperson looking after me spent her whole time gawping at the girl trying on the poufy pricess dress in the main cubicle next to me :(

    If I had the chance to try on some Tadashi Shoji designs I may have gone with one of those but since it’s not really easy here, I’m going the custom made route. And I’m hoping that this post will encourage people who are a bit nervous about going non-traditional to doooo iiiiit!

    • Amber

      I’m not in Ireland, but I had the same problem as you! I really, really, really wanted a straight-up ‘wedding’ dress, but I didn’t want it to be white/ivory/shell. While I loved the idea of wearing a bridesmaid dress or evening gown or whatever because they are WAY easier to find in fun colors, I just didn’t get overly excited about any of the ones that I tried on. For those of you that this worked for, I think it’s awesome and I don’t discount it at all, it just didn’t make my heart sing.

      I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted, and it included a big train, at least one strap that was actually functional and served it’s purpose rather than just being decorative, and a pretty fitted bodice (I pretty much required boning and a corset back, because I had a probably irrational fear that without it I’d never be able to keep the dress up). And I have been in love with Wai Ching’s Catalina for like the past two years, but it’s just not the dress I wanted to wear for my wedding. I wanted a dress that screamed “I am a wedding dress!” but was in color. Yeah, it cost more than if I would have went to a department store or ordered online. No, it’s not very practical–the total opposite of how I usually am and how I thought this whole wedding thing was going to go down. But it was perfect.

      I went to multiple dress shops, a few of which laughed at me. I had a HORRIBLE experience at David’s Bridal. Horrible. One shop in particular was amazing. The owner was so.incredibly.excited about the whole “no white dress” idea. She had never had anyone want something other than white/ivory/variations of white/ivory. I had looked up a couple of designers that offered dresses in different colors, and she was immediately pouring through her books and calling designers about different color options. I wore a silver Maggie Sottero, you can also get some Maggie dresses in gold, pink, and I think black and possibly red. If I remember correctly, my second-choice dress was a blue Allure style. I think it turned out that you can order almost any Allure dress (and I think Casablanca too, though their colors stick a bit closer to the white/ivory/shell colors) in any of the fabrics/colors they offer. And I’ve been seeing more and more shimmery gold and silver-colored dresses lately, which I know isn’t bright red or blue or orange, but they’re definitely not white. Anyways, just my two cents. It is possible to get a ‘wedding’ dress from a bridal shop in color that is not a bridesmaid or party dress, but it is not easy. I spent a lot of time researching dresses and alot of time driving to bridal shops that would carry the designers I was looking for. For me though, it was totally worth it.

      • Yay! It’s always nice to find someone out there having a similar enthusiasm for something that’s regarded as very unusual :) I’m glad you found someone who was able to help you source what you wanted, Ronald Joyce and Maggie Sottero were mentioned as having some silver options but I found my dressmaker by then. I’m also being quite specific about the fabric so I made it 300% impossible to find, but hopefully we’ll both get our perfect dress!

  • Shanu

    I’ve been lurking here for awhile and am not actually engaged, but I had to come out of hiding because I’ve been obsessing over this dress lately and had to share it:

    • Ali

      Wow, that is great!

  • What about your guests? Ought you to give them a heads up?

    I ask because I’m a pretty fancy lady, and if I’m going to your NYC wedding on a Saturday night, it’s going to be a ball gown/silk dress thing for me. I will avoid white/cream/ivory/eggshell/etc. and, despite it being generally acceptable these days, I will also avoid black and red, but I would wear any one of these dresses to a wedding, and would be so upset to be wearing a dress that closely resembled the brides’ non-white dress.

    • Short version: I do think it’s nice to give the guests a heads up

      Long version: I had an NYC wedding on a Sunday, and wore pale blue. In the dress code section of our website we made sure to mention I was wearing light blue so that people would know and have a chance to wear their snazzy white or cream dresses (which I think one person did) and if they would feel self conscious wearing light blue they could skip it. I wasn’t too worried about anyone matching me though because:
      1. my dress was big and foofy and fancy (and yes, long and strapless with a lace up back. but i wear strapless dresses regularly because i look great in them)
      2. my dress was custom made for me by an amazing friend.
      3. I was the one in the veil
      4. It was a small wedding. The only people there who did not know me on sight were some Dutch cousins who knew I was the one with their cousin and 2 people who were dating people who knew me.
      5. I was the ridiculously happy one who just got married

      I did run into a stranger not at our wedding who had accidentally ended up in the bathroom there and she asked me if some big event was going on….I was like, yes. It’s a wedding? I’m the bride? I’m wearing a veil right now and a big foofy dress?

      (Pics, which sadly do not show the amazing back of the dress:

  • ART

    holy smokes, did you have to post that roberto cavalli amazingness? now i can’t get a $1,500 dress out of my head…THANKS A LOT! :)

  • Leigh Ann

    David’s Bridal has a new “Vera Wang” line that includes some beautiful colorful gowns. They are all ball-gown style and neutral colors (silver, taupe, pink, etc.) but they are BEAUTIFUL!!! They look liked “wedding dresses” while also being NOT white/ivory.

  • Meryl Anne

    Has anyone looked at Elliot Claire Limited? I head over to their site whenever I need a dreamy mental break at work. I’m in love with somanythings. Can’t pick out just a link or two: I love that they have a whole variety of dresses from more traditional (though I would hardly call them traditional compared to today’s typical standard) long, white, trained “wedding dresses” to interesting and bold (in color and/or design) evening/wedding gowns. I just. wow. I wouldn’t wear all the dresses, but I do love to look at them.

    • b

      Whoa! beautiful, different and affordable! Thanks for the tip!

      • MerlyBird

        I know! I’m really surprised more people haven’t found them!

  • Hannah B

    Ahhhhhh all these dresses! So pretty! And then I found these on accident whilst searching for the mythical bridesmaid dress that can be worn again…and none of them fit the bill but they are SO PRETTY:

    If I had 7000 extra dollars laying around I would totally put it towards my massive amount of student loan debt, but the purple Oscar de la Renta would call to me….

    I love this thread.

  • Jackie

    I too am ending up in a strapless, white (ivory) lace dress.

    But it’s tealength (which oddly felt like a big damn deal to me at the time I picked it out). AND I’m wearing a cardigan over it. I’m starting to see cardis in pics and am actually happy to see this trend originating (wanted to make sure it looked good). I also am top heavy and my upper arms are flabby and while some people say, “who cares?!” the answer is that I do, and when I look at my wedding pics I don’t want to be distracted by my flesh. I just want to see me feeling comfortable and happy with my groom. Plus it’s really, really cute that way (tied with a ribbon at natural waist + birdcage veil + kate spade pearls + d’orsay heels. So cute.


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  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Zolotova Dress by Wai Ching. What a stunning dress !!
    As a wedding photographer, it is lovely to see different dress designs, and the colours in this dress would come out beautifully in the photographs.

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