Where to find a non-white wedding dress
December 26, 2016 11:40 AM   Subscribe

So my fiance and I have been engaged for two years, and have started the process of wedding planning. One thing I am putting my foot down about is to not have a "traditional" wedding, including a white dress like every other bride. No off-white cop outs like ivory or cream, either.

What I would like to know is where on earth to locate a solid color wedding dress (e.g. violet or blue). I am not skilled enough to sew a dress from scratch, so yes, it will have to exist already.

Should I turn to existing sections such as prom and bridesmaids, and utilize one of these for a wedding dress? Would it look formal or "fancy" enough?

Do most bridal outlets have options to accommodate non-traditional dresses? I would like to stay within a budget of roughly $300, so no designer dresses unless it is at a thrift store.
posted by Delia to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I did not wear a traditional dress (orange beaded Sue Wong). I wound up finding my dress at Nordstrom. I went to the fancy dress section and picked a handful to try on. my dress was even on sale and well within your budget.

David's Bridal carries a wide selection of bridesmaids dresses at a very decent price range. might be a good place to explore some options also.
posted by supermedusa at 11:52 AM on December 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do the footwork and visit stores and shops that sell dresses and formalwear. The idea here is to hunt around until you discover the perfect dress. You want a creative solution, dig in and look everywhere.
posted by jbenben at 11:54 AM on December 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

Macy's has always come through for me, both for my nontraditional wedding dress and other formal occasions. Don't neglect the sales racks. $300 should do you fine, and maybe much less if you hit a lucky sale item. The highly elaborate formal dress I recently bought there was on clearance for $68, marked down from ~$350.

(Personally I found David's Bridal's options extremely, um, underwhelming. To put it kindly.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:05 PM on December 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Jcrew (their site is apparently overwhelmed with Christmas sale traffic, so maybe look later?) usually has a lot of what I think of very pretty, simple bridesmaids' dresses in nice colors. Here is a link to an image search. As long as you're between size 0 and a large 16/small 18, they should work for you and they often come in at under $300 IIRC, also they are solid colors and not white.
posted by Frowner at 12:11 PM on December 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding Nordstrom, and also looking at bridesmaid dresses. If there's an Alfred Angelo near you, I've found their bridesmaid dresses to be higher quality than David's Bridal; they also have colored wedding dresses (in their Disney Collection, at least), but those look to be out of your price range.
posted by damayanti at 12:14 PM on December 26, 2016

I bought my wedding dress at a BCBG outlet store for about $150. I wanted white, but they have lots of formal and semi formal dresses in lots of colors. The outlet stores of fancy department stores like Saks and Nieman Marcus would also be worth a look.
posted by wsquared at 12:20 PM on December 26, 2016

Etsy is great for this! Just look around for "bridesmaid's dresses" and you can find someone (likely in China) who will probably make whatever you want. Surprisingly quick turnaround, too. I got mine this way and it was a great price, well seen and a good fit. I just got it altered slightly.
posted by mai at 12:23 PM on December 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I got married, I wore a gorgeous navy dress I got off the rack at Nordstrom from their fancy dress section. It was an Adrianna Pappell and was about $250 with tailoring. There were several other options in purple and green that I considered.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:28 PM on December 26, 2016

Have you seen Rent the Runway? You can get a beautiful designer gown in whatever color you'd like!

ModCloth also has some really great nontraditional gowns.

Of course you could always go with something from a major store, like an eveningwear gown from Norsdstrom or from Bloomingdales, both of which will likely offer you free or inexpensive custom tailoring if you go there in person. If you go that route, I highly recommend using their free (and incredibly awesome) personal shopper service so they'll have a bunch of things in your size and color lined up for you, with suggestions ready and waiting. Just say you're looking for an evening gown, not a wedding dress. ;)
posted by erst at 12:40 PM on December 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

I found a dressmaker and had my own lime green silk wedding dress made to fit. Total cost of materials and labor was around $400.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:54 PM on December 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

My wife got her blush wedding dress at BHLDN for around $300, I think. It was a bridesmaid dress that she liked better than the way-more-expensive actual wedding dresses.

(You have to be OK buying from an Urban Outfitters subsidiary, which we didn't love, but we made an exception because of our budget.)
posted by Beardman at 12:56 PM on December 26, 2016

Mrs. slkinsey wore a flaming red dress when we got married (our wedding was a cocktail party).
posted by slkinsey at 1:00 PM on December 26, 2016

Thank you, everyone! I will be checking out these links very shortly! I really like the idea of using a personal shopper, btw. :)
posted by Delia at 1:02 PM on December 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

My wedding dress was a white bridesmaids dress from a fancy bridesmaids line. I tried on a sample in a bridesmaid shop. Each one comes in many colors and a huge size range, some have options like sleeve or length. (Should say, I think it was more like $500 before alterations.)
posted by vunder at 1:50 PM on December 26, 2016

I asked a similar question a while back and found Whirlingturban from a mefite. Love the dress they made. I just emailed my measurements and the color I wanted and I got married in this green dress (I picked those colors years ago - love that they still have it up). Great group to work with. It's an old thread but I still use many of the suggestions to shop.
posted by dog food sugar at 1:56 PM on December 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you want ball gown style, but in color, try searching for quincineara dresses. Obviously, they are designed for teenagers, but if princess is your style, it's a great option.
posted by slipthought at 2:20 PM on December 26, 2016

If you want something a bit Victorian, I know a couple of brides who bought a custom corset and matching skirt. Most corset makers will do this--a skirt is easy-peasy compared to all the work that goes into a corset. I know one of these sets was about $600, but it was also silk, so it would cost a lot less in a different fabric.
I also like the retro options at Pinup Girl Clothing. Most of their dresses are between $100 and $250; a few are more, like this one, but none cost as much as a traditional wedding dress.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 2:35 PM on December 26, 2016

Even though you're having a non traditional wedding, it's worth exploring the bridal boutiques* in your town. I found a very nice bridal shop by visiting my local annual wedding expo. It's a shop that specializes in vintage gowns for special occasions, and I wouldn't have discovered it otherwise. Small bridal shops will also have personal shopping. If the dresses are too expensive there, it could still give you a guideline of the style you like and then you would have a baseline to search for similar dresses online or have a different gown altered to the look you love.
And if you like the poofier skirts, you could wait until right after prom season and get a discounted prom dress from a department store.
*not Davids Bridal, local shops
posted by areaperson at 4:17 PM on December 26, 2016

I also can vouch that this etsy store has some beautiful vintage gowns. Maybe you could do a search for your zip code to find a local etsy seller who would meet you to let you try a gown on first.
posted by areaperson at 4:23 PM on December 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

If black (or possibly dark red or maybe blue) might be your thing, I have seen several online shops that cater to goths that sell dresses specifically tagged as wedding dresses.
posted by diffuse at 5:04 PM on December 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Non-traditional wedding... I would go with vintage. Etsy will be your best option. Frankly, modern "evening wear" usually feels cheap to me. For a classier option, you have to seek out older stuff. I have no idea what size range you're looking for, but here are a few things I'd be happy to get married in:

posted by ortoLANparty at 9:16 PM on December 26, 2016

Part of the search will involve defining what "wedding dress" means to you. What's the difference between a blue formal and a blue wedding dress? The more you can articulate the kinds of details you're looking for, the easier it will be to find it. For example, the primary difference in styling I found between wedding dresses and white formals was that, because brides traditionally spend at least 50% of the ceremony with their back to the crowd, most wedding dresses have some kind of elaborate detailing up the back - a long closure of (real or fake) buttons, a laced corset back, beadwork or embroidery down the back of the skirt, etc - so that might be something to look for.
posted by aimedwander at 8:06 AM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wore this sparkly number from Adrianna Pappell for my wedding earlier this year. It's an amazing dress, clocked in around $300, and fit off the rack!

The best part is I've reused it for some fancy events (think posh fundraising galas) since my wedding, and every time I wear it and get compliments, I get to say THIS WAS MY WEDDING DRESS!!
posted by mostly vowels at 4:50 PM on December 31, 2016

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