Alternatives To The Traditional Wedding Dress

Are you craving a rebel edge but don't want to alienate the family members paying the bill? Or do you want to show off your legs, the girls, or your shapely derrière without getting stopped at the church door?


Decisions, decisions, decisions. As a bride-to-be, you have so many to make, from choosing the menu for the reception to what gift to give to your bridesmaids. But the most vexing and most personal choice is in the design of your wedding dress.

Do you want to go full-on organza-and-tulle-cathedral-train traditional? Or are the sexy sheath dresses piquing your interest?


Photo credit: momopeche via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND


Whether you just can't make up your own mind, or are dealing with the inevitable pressures from without, there may be a solution. An unconventional, convertible, or alternative wedding dress just may save the day.

Capes, Jackets, And Boleros, Oh My!

For those planning a church wedding, modesty may be the only respectful route. In some religious ceremonies, it may even be required. If showing your shoulders and décolletage is verboten but you really want to emphasize your dazzling bodice at the reception, consider saving your Aunt Tilly from reaching for the smelling salts with this simple, detachable solution: A shrug, wrap, jacket, or topper. Designed correctly, it'll cover your plunging neckline so the vicar won't blush, but in the limo you can toss it aside and show off your best assets for the reception.

Toppers are designed to complement the gown and come in dozens of different styles, fabrics and forms, including:

  • Boleros and mini-boleros
  • Waist-length lacy or lace-edged overlays
  • Fitted and buttoned-up jackets, pearly and sheer or satiny and opaque
  • Satin or gauzy wraps across the shoulders
  • Sheer, tulle capes that fall to waist
  • Shoulder cap jackets that just cover shoulders and exposed upper back
  • Elegant wrap "watteau" train that attaches at shoulder or back and falls to hem or just beyond

Sweet AND Sexy

Maybe you crave miles of organza and a cathedral train to rival the Duchess of Cambridge's—but you also can't resist those slinky slip bridal gowns or body-hugging sheaths. If making up your mind is an issue, consider a convertible wedding dress. This type of alternative wedding dress allows you to remove all or part of the skirt to reveal a little white dress. The versatility allows you to be Cinderella at the church ceremony and a dancing queen at the reception.

A convertible wedding dress can come in a variety of styles:

  • Detachable At Waist To Reveal A Sheath Dress. Get the angel-white, floaty tulle or organza skirt you crave, with the option of flinging it off when your DJ turns up the beat. If you'd rather walk down the aisle in a sheath dress but don't want to get cut out of your grandmother's will, consider a sheer, sleeveless overlay like a full-body sweep train. This style offers a dreamy A-line silhouette but lets everyone know that you're going to dance like it's 1999.
  • Two-Tiered Design. The design of this unconventional wedding dress is great for brides who like flirty, fuller, shorter skirts. The bodice's over-skirt matches the design of the underskirt, which fills out the silhouette to the floor or beyond. Once removed, you have a flirty shorter skirt to show off your legs.
  • Detachable At Waist To Reveal The Vixen Within. If you can't resist a sleek, full-length, clinging bridal dress, consider this two-piece design that allows you to go from princess to tigress with a quick zip.
    • OR
  • Say No To The Dress

    It's your wedding, so don't be afraid to seek out an unconventional option like a bridal pant suit. There are plenty of dreamy, comfortable, two-piece ensembles to please the woman who just doesn't want to wear a dress.

  • These twenty-first-century ensembles aren't your local politician's pantsuit. Bodice styles vary from beaded, fitted bodices that echo the conventional strapless bridal gown, to retro-style plunging necklines right out of the 1970s. Body-hugging jackets can be worn alone or complement the bodice underneath. Pants come capri-length, tapered, slim fit, wide, or even flared below the knee. Often the ensembles are made with super-comfortable fabrics like silk crepe de chine that cling where they should and give where they need to, perfect for the bride who wants to show off a curvy derrière. Chantilly lace pant overlays can give a nod to tradition while sleek, tailored trousers will give your outfit a sexy, modern woman vibe. 


  • Bridal Pantsuit
  • Rosa Clara bridal


In the best of worlds, you only marry once. Whether you choose a conventional or unconventional wedding dress, make sure you pick a design that you love.

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