Civil ceremony. Informal. At home. What does the bride wear?
June 13, 2007 4:01 PM   Subscribe

_Wedding filter_ Civil ceremony. Informal. At home. What does the bride wear?

I am the bride. We're both in our 30s.
The civil-only ceremony will be held at home. Going for a casual, family-gathering feel to it. No fancy decorations, no arranged seating - but not a hippie, indie house with posters on the walls, either.

What do I wear?

I'd like one or more of the following:
- Modern, urban
- Stylish, couture
- Slightly retro is ok
- Empire, high waist
- Knee length, but long may be all right
- Not necessarily white, but light

I don't like:
- Strapless, sleeveless
- Big round puffy things
- Too many sparkles
- Tight fit
- The omnipresent A-line dress

Not sure about:
- Wearing a head piece or veil. Most likely just a nice hair jewelry thingy.

posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think you should wear whatever you please. It may help if you have a theme wedding. It sounds silly but it may help you pick an outfit. I officiated at a wedding where there were two brides. Each wore cowboy hats, boots and jeans. It was a lesbian cowgirl wedding with an old-timey western theme. There was barbecue, country music, a sherrif's badge for me, and no one batted an eye that there was no wedding gown. If I recall correctly, one of the brides had a veil over her stetson, and she rode in on a hobby horse.

posted by mds35 at 4:19 PM on June 13, 2007 [4 favorites]

*ISYN = I shit you not.
posted by mds35 at 4:20 PM on June 13, 2007

i'm gonna have to go with: whatever you wants.
posted by violetk at 4:25 PM on June 13, 2007

Yes, wear what you want. If you're not sure what that is or where to get it, the wedding dress section of the forums is great for all sorts of ideas.
posted by krix at 4:27 PM on June 13, 2007

This seems like an opportunity to get a really nice dress that you will enjoy during the wedding but is classic enough to be able to wear for other soirees later. White or light colors are traditional, so if you go that route perhaps something that will work for a fancy daytime party later on. The veil is up to you, but it will make just about any dress look appropriate for a wedding.
posted by caddis at 4:28 PM on June 13, 2007

How about something from JCrew's wedding shop? I had considered the Sophia dress for my wedding. It's a nice, simple, elegant no-fuss dress. And it's on sale now! :)

If you'd like something shorter, check out the bridesmaids section. In fact, check out bridesmaids dresses in general. I found they are simpler and cheaper than an actual wedding dress. You can just get it in a light color to suit your needs.

Other websites that I love for lovely wedding wear:

posted by mileena at 4:33 PM on June 13, 2007

There's a couple routes you could go. You could look at Bridesmaids dresses, or you could look at summery dresses.

From JC Penneys:
Tea Length with high waistline and sash. It would look pretty casual without the poofy underskirt.
posted by muddgirl at 4:37 PM on June 13, 2007

Second the suggestion for JCrew.
posted by muddgirl at 4:38 PM on June 13, 2007

Oh yeah, congrats!
posted by mds35 at 4:40 PM on June 13, 2007

thirding jcrew. i like their seersucker beach dresses, but they might be too a-line.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:52 PM on June 13, 2007

Congratulations! I was about to third the JCrew suggestion, but since you don't want strapless or sleeveless, that sort of rules them out.

What about Watters & Watters? My dress came from them and I loved it. A quick glance at the Watters Brides section showed a few dresses with sheer/translucent sleeves, but the Watters & Watters section (bridesmaids' dresses) has a ton of them. Short sleeved, long sleeved, even some suiting styles. I really liked these, but the first one is my favorite, and all come in a ton of colors (I love color for a wedding, my own dress was gold):

Cool modern-looking coat dress
Jacket and skirt in interchangeable colors
Elegant suit
posted by justonegirl at 5:06 PM on June 13, 2007

You might also check out Ann Taylor -- they have quite a few nice, wedingish things in the "celebrations" collection.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:06 PM on June 13, 2007

I believe that my mother wore a Betsey Johnson dress to her wedding. They are expensive but look cool. However, definitely not traditional wedding garb.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 5:15 PM on June 13, 2007

I'm going with "whatever you want."

In fact I'll go a step further. Take your list of likes to Nordstrom or some other nice full service department store and say "Hi, I'm getting married in a casual civil ceremony and I need a dress. I'd like some help selecting a knee length, light colored, stylish dress...." etc down your list. Don't be afraid to say "No, I don't like XYZ about that one."

You might also drop by the MAC counter on the first floor for some makeup (only do that if spending $300 on a complete makeover isn't going to blow your budget for the month).

posted by ilsa at 5:35 PM on June 13, 2007

I too opted for the JCrew Sophia (short), with flipflops for a beach wedding with just the two of us.

Here are other dresses I considered when we were still planning a casual city hall wedding. Congratulations!
posted by cocoagirl at 5:39 PM on June 13, 2007

We got married in Vegas with Elvis. I knew I wanted something funky, but I didn't know what. I was walking through the mall a week before our trip when I had a vision. And that vision was of pristine white low-top Chuck Taylors. I got the shoes; then I started looking for a dress that matched. I found a great skirt-and-halter set in white at the last possible minute. I absolutely loved the finished outfit. My mom... not so much. The best part is that I can still wear the shoes or the top and be reminded of our special day whenever I want.

So do what you like and be comfortable with your choice. And if you can wear the pieces again, so much the better!
posted by web-goddess at 6:32 PM on June 13, 2007

ANYthing on your list but the empire waist. It would be distracting, the ladies would whisper, and you'd regret it ten years from now when you look at the photos.

Best Wishes!
posted by longsleeves at 6:36 PM on June 13, 2007

Ptoohey on the no empire waist thing. I had a couple weddings (all non-traditional, a few different stories), but for the family ceremony (a backyard affair), I wore a taupe-pinky lace slipdress, with a taffeta underskirt. Another wedding, I wore a teal sweater dress that my husband loves. The reception (different time, same husband), I wore a tea-length aqua dress with a tiara, but I added wings, "glass slippers" and carried a wand. Weddings are great, they are a celebration. Ultimately, this is another vote for where what you feel best in.
posted by kellyblah at 6:48 PM on June 13, 2007

I've been to two casual weddings where the bride has been able to wear vintage dresses. One was a full length dress my Nana wore back in the twenties when she was a party girl. The other was found in a shop and was a cocktail dress from the 40's. They both looked wonderful, but you have to be a small size to find anything that will fit.
posted by saffry at 6:52 PM on June 13, 2007

ANYthing on your list but the empire waist. It would be distracting, the ladies would whisper, and you'd regret it ten years from now when you look at the photos.

c'mon. seriously? what year are we living in?

empire waist is a great—and very forgiving—silhouette. i pretty much think it looks great on any body type.
posted by violetk at 6:54 PM on June 13, 2007

empire waist is a great—and very forgiving—silhouette. i pretty much think it looks great on any body type.

No, not really- even thin people can look pregnant in an empire waist. Or if not pregnant, then strangely round in the middle. Proceed with caution.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:14 PM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you`re not extremely skinny, with no boobs, empire waists do tend to make you look pregnant.
posted by Sar at 7:41 PM on June 13, 2007

thus my use of the words "pretty much" as opposed to "all."
posted by violetk at 8:14 PM on June 13, 2007

Wear something sexy and classy. Maybe a fitted legged pastel dress. You don't, after all, want to look like a complete dork in 20 years when you break out the dvds and your kids cringe at the oh-so-"urban" vibe of your dress. JCrew is probably the bare minimum. Though you might skimp on the dress to have your hair and makeup done well since it's your face that will be the highlight of any picture or video.
posted by nixerman at 11:55 PM on June 13, 2007

Find a dress that's almost perfect and get a seamstress to complete it in your vision. Add sleeves to a sleeveless dress, have the hemline shortened to the desired length, remove the giant butt bow, add some tasteful embellishments--there's quite a lot that can be easily done to an existing dress, and it's significantly cheaper than having a dress custom made.
posted by happyturtle at 12:43 AM on June 14, 2007

Just got married in a civil ceremony. My wife wore a beautiful fifties style dress with amazing shoes. Not a white dress in sight, and she looked incredibly stylish.

Short answer - anything goes.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:38 AM on June 14, 2007

If you are very particular about what you want, and it is not the current bridal industry mainstream, then buy material and have a dress made. It's a lot easier than shopping around until you find something perfect. At least it worked out that way for my wife (and we did shop around, endlessly). Plus you can get some nice silk material without breaking the bank.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:32 AM on June 14, 2007

How about a classic vintage 50s/60s suit with a hat? The Jackie O look?
posted by footnote at 6:19 AM on June 14, 2007

When we got married two years ago, it was a courthouse affair with a home reception. Neither of us dress up much and we didn't want to spend money on new clothes that wouldn't get worn so I wore clothes from my closet: white silk blouse and floral skirt. No hat or veil just pearl stud earrings and necklace. Timeless, feminine, and completely free.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:05 AM on June 14, 2007

The reason empire waist dresses make skinny celebrities look pregnant is because they have bad posture, and because the dresses really aren't fitted right. If a woman is slouchy, then the dress will pooch. If a woman has good posture and keeps her back straight, the dress will be flattering.
posted by muddgirl at 7:12 AM on June 14, 2007

For hair jewelry, the rage over at indiebrides forums seem to be fascinators.
posted by muddgirl at 7:15 AM on June 14, 2007

I got married at the courthouse, with a reception at my home after. My husband wore a black button shirt and black jeans. I wore a white tea length lacy dress. I went to several bridal shops and tried on dresses. Try it. You really won't know what looks best until you try some on. And it might not be that expensive, or if it is, look online to see if you can find it cheaper. I had long hair at the time and had it braided in an almost down position with flowers, and skipped the veil.

At the same court house I have seen women in full bridal outfits, very long dresses with trains and the men all decked out. Just like any wedding, it is up to you.

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 7:38 AM on June 14, 2007

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