How to Crack the Code on Effortless Cool Girl Wedding Dress Styling

Maybe we’re not born with it, and that’s FINE, okay?

model wearing Maggie Sottero Raynda dress leaning up against a stone wallMaggie Sottero, Rayna

If you’ve ever been inside a traditional bridal salon, I’m sure you know the routine. You try on a dress, then the stylist goes over to the cabinet of curiosities and picks out some super blingy accessories covered in crystals or lace. And voila! You’re transformed into an insta-bride. Or at least, that’s what supposed to happen (if you believe TLC and every romantic comedy you’ve ever seen). In real life, it can be a little more complicated. Figuring out what kind of wedding dress you vibe with is often an exercise in trial and error, and even once you find something you love… you might not be into the traditional veil and sparkly things that live in the bridal shop’s accessories cabinet. So… then what?

Well, here’s the good news: I guarantee that you look good in way more styles than you think. And even better news: Wedding dresses always look better on actual people getting married than they do on models pretending to get married.

So let’s talk about the other challenge: accessories and style. Once you do have a dress, how do you translate the dress-on-model look and make it feel like you in real life? If you don’t want white silk shoes and a monster veil, how do you achieve that effortless cool girl wedding day vibe that all the brides prancing across blogs and wedding magazines seem to have figured out? Given that the APW team has a long history with this particular problem (Meg just gave up and wore her dress with basically no accessories), we’ve partnered up with Maggie Sottero Designs to answer just that.

If you’ve started dress shopping, you may have already run across dresses from the Maggie Sottero and Rebecca Ingram lines. (They’ll be the super pretty ones with lots of details that look like they cost twice as much as they actually do.) So we’ve taken five of our favorites and paired them with fun, modern accessories to give you ideas for styling your wedding dress to feel like you, not “Bridal Barbie.” And bonus, all of the dresses we picked below are under $1,200 and come in sizes 0–28. So if you’re still in the but where do I even start part of your search, may I suggest finding a local salon that carries these bad boys.

Vibe: edgy modern

style graphic featuring Maggie Sottero Tamar dress with painted leather jacket, high bun and black heels with pearlsDress: Maggie Sottero, Tamar | Jacket: Etsy | Hair Tutorial: A Practical Wedding | Shoes: ASOS

Tip: Now that I know about the gaffer tape bra trick, I am obsessed with a plunging neckline (and I particularly appreciate that the Tamar dress has a little bit of illusion fabric to keep you in place). But just because your dress is romantic doesn’t mean you have to go full tilt boho. If you want to make a flowy dress feel modern, pair it with a sleek updo, accented with bold modern accessories. Black heels take your look from soft to hard, and it doesn’t get any cooler than a hand-painted leather jacket coverup.

Vibe: updated boho

Graphic featuring Rebecca Ingram Juniper gown with metallic floral heapiece, bryr clogs, and fall cascading bouquetDress: Rebecca Ingram, Juniper | Crown: Mignonne Handmade | Shoes: Bryr Clogs | Bouquet Tutorial: AFloral

Tip: Boho weddings aren’t going anywhere, but the trick is to make your boho vibe cool-girl glam, not OMG SO MANY RUFFLES. Wooden clogs with metallic details win the comfy and modern award (plus you can wear them on the daily when the wedding is over). And if you’re done with flower crowns, but not totally done, a metallic floral headpiece is the happy medium between boho and bling.

Vibe: Classic glam

Graphic of Rebecca Ingram Lauren gown with bohemian headpiece, large pink cocktail ring, and pink velvet shoesDress: Rebecca Ingram, Lauren | Hair Comb: Nordstrom | Ring: Chloe and Isabel | Shoes: ASOS

Tip: You can’t go wrong with a simple lace sheath, ever. But how do you take a classic silhouette and make it feel a little fancier? Add pops of blush (ahem, Millennial Pink, sorry) for an alternative to the traditional white or gold shoe. And an edgy faux mohawk says updo with a twist. Bam. Insta glam.

Vibe: magic and whimsy

Graphic of Rebecca Ingram Maixne dress with burgundy heels, holographic clutch and crystal headpieceDress: Rebecca Ingram, Maxine | Shoes: ASOS | Clutch: Nordstrom | comb: Elemental Child

Tip: If I had a do-over, I would wear a pink wedding dress in a heartbeat. And this lightly sculpted tulle gown is the perfect balance between soft and structured. I’d also lean way hard into the crystal trend, and add either a crystal tiara or this amazing crystal comb. A holographic clutch is modern and fun (plus, the entire APW team wants needs it). And a bold oxblood shoe keeps the look from going too fairy princess. Basically, what I’m saying here is… sometimes the answer is all the trends all at once. No regrets.

Vibe: art deco chic

Graphic of Maggie Sottero Hazel dress with 20s inspired headband, gold cage heels and a feather capeDress: Maggie Sottero, Hazel | Headband: Etsy | Shoes: Imagine Vince Camuto | Jacket: Phase Eight

Tip: You can do decade-inspired without getting costumey. The key is accessories that hint at vintage, but with a modern edge. This ultra low-back Maggie Sottero dress is the perfect ’20s throwback, and a feather cape is… well, is there ever not a time for a feather cape? Finish with Deco-inspired shoes and a killer headband. It’s all just enough, without being too much. (Not that I know the meaning of too much.)

Just starting to look for a wedding dress? Be sure to check out the rest of the new Maggie Sottero and Rebecca Ingram collections online and in stores. Stop by the Maggie Sottero Designs blog and Instagram for more style inspiration, tips, and real wedding features.

How are you making your wedding day attire look and feel personal?

This post was sponsored by Maggie Sottero Designs. If you’re looking for gorgeous wedding dresses that you can afford, Maggie Sottero and Rebecca Ingram are the perfect solution. Click here to find a store near you.

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