Featured image: Yolan Cris Couture

Whenever we think of bridal attire most of us, quite naturally, tend to imagine a resplendent wedding gown – the perfect dress for the perfect day. Even the most fashion forward among us (myself included) often place our focus squarely on finding the ideal wedding gown, oblivious to all the other equally stylish sartorial options out there for brides-to-be. Recently though, when pouring over old family photographs, I came across pictures of my grandparents’ weddings and had my eyes opened to the ‘dream wedding dress’ alternatives.

Those cherished photographs showed each bride impeccably dressed in a smart, chic skirt suit on her special day – not a train or tiara in sight. Of course at that time – during the post-war era – necessity and affordability dictated that skirts suits were de rigueur for women on their wedding days, but the effect was no less stunning. Both of my beautiful grandmothers were quintessential 1950s brides – both, the epitome of class and elegance, stylishly demure in their sophisticated, exquisitely tailored wedding suits. Ok, so I’ll admit I may be a tad biased in this case, but the refined grace and simplicity of my grandmothers’ bridal fashions inspired me to look beyond the wide array of glamorous wedding gowns and focus on the mesmerizing range of alternative styles available for brides today.

Trouser Suits

Traditionally it’s the groom who dons the sleek trouser suit on the big day, but the development of a micro-trend in the realms of wedding fashion over the last few years has seen a growing number of brides opting to ditch the dress in favour of wearing trouser suits themselves. While it may be a slightly unorthodox route for a bride to go down in terms of her wedding attire, electing to wear a trouser suit rather than a fairytale-esque gown doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing glamour – especially if these designs by Yolan Cris are anything to go by.

The maverick designer’s ‘Glasgow’ and ‘Pireo’ outfits from his 2013 bridal collections manage to be simultaneously dramatic and minimalistic. Fashioned from gossamer white chiffon and lace and cut in the simplest of styles, both trouser suits are given an unexpected edge by the majestic cascading lace trains attached to them. Alessandro Couture’s ‘Butterfly Collection’ provides a softer, more relaxed trouser suit in the form of the ‘Niobe’ outfit – a sophisticated suit tailored to flatter any figure.

I absolutely love the idea of accessorizing a sharp, polished bridal trouser suit with a long, flowing veil – the juxtaposition of the traditional bridal headpiece with the unconventional choice of outfit will be strikingly stylish. Personalize your outfit with a unique pair of hand-painted shoes from Beautiful Moment – I particularly love these black and white peep toes with the slightest hint of red detailing – and capitalize on the dramatic style of these bridal trouser suits by selecting bold, colourful accessories, such as a bamboo dancing fan from Gallery Serpentine.


The emergence of a distinct East-meets-West trend on the catwalks at the four A/W’13 fashion weeks all but confirmed the rekindling of the sartorial world’s long-term love affair with oriental fashions, and this resurgent runway trend has impacted on bridal style as well! Several aspects of oriental fashion, such as delicate chinoiserie prints, and garment cuts and styles inspired by Chinese, Japanese and Korean clothing, have influenced a number of current wedding dress collections and given rise to the trend for bridal kimonos.

With a thick obi belt cinching and defining the waistline, and soft graceful lines which complement and flatter a woman’s figure, kimonos create a flawless, ultra-feminine silhouette making them a sensational style choice for any bride-to-be. The utterly captivating ‘Venus’ kimono designed by Chrissy Wai Ching can form the basis of an incredibly chic, very original outfit for your nuptials. Created from the finest hand-dyed China silk, this ethereally beautiful kimono will be simply mesmerizing when teamed with  the ‘Nancy’ veiled bridal hat by Sharper Millinery. The perfect blend of seductive allure, and chic, ladylike demureness, this gorgeous wedding outfit can be completed with the addition of an accessory like the glittering crystal arm cuff designed by Yolan Cris which will add an extra hint of opulent glamour to the look.

Charlie Brear’s enchanting ‘original vintage’ bridal wear collection boasts a bewitching ivory kimono which will lend an element of tradition to your unique look for your big day. This stunning garment is a stylist’s dream (and a bride’s dream for that matter) as the design and construction of this kimono will create the illusion of perfect symmetry between the proportions of any woman’s figure, whilst accentuating feminine curves and giving the waist fantastic shape. Round off this radiant bridal look with a divine pair of ‘Incanto’ boots by Kilame, and a delicate, glimmering tiara from Aye-Do’s magnificent collection of wedding accessories.

Skirt Suits

As the vintage glamour of my grandmothers’ wedding suits demonstrated to me, very often the chicest outfits, and the outfits which have the greatest impact, are the simplest ones. There’s a lot to be said for an impeccably tailored, classically chic skirt suit which possess a timeless quality and will never look dated, old fashioned, or go out of style – and you will be just as much the beautiful, blushing bride in a refined wedding skirt suit as you would in an ostentatious bridal gown!

These sublime offerings from Stephanie James Couture evoke memories of the type of old-school Hollywood mystique typified by ‘50s silver screen icons Grace Kelly and Eva Marie Saint. Demure, refined, and perfectly polished these skirt suits are more than a match for even the most majestic wedding dress. For a more modern, fabulously flamboyant interpretation of the wedding skirt suit, look no further than Cymbeline’s sensational ‘Garden’ outfit.

Accessorizing your elegant skirt suit with a pretty floral crown or head-dress will add to the romanticism of your wedding style. My personal favourite is the beautifully constructed crown of roses in muted pastel shades by Lila, although I’m also completely captivated by the floral head-pieces available from Gardens of Whimsy – particularly this stunning royal blue velvet flower crown adorned with peacock feathers. Simply add feminine peep-toe pumps and delicate jewellery to achieve a graceful vintage style for your nuptials.

Corset & Skirt Ensemble

A two piece ensemble comprised of an exquisite waist-sculpting corset and sumptuous full skirt is an ideal option for brides-to-be who don’t want to stray too far from the gown but still want to exercise a little creative freedom when selecting their wedding attire. Selecting a corset and skirt ensemble will give you the opportunity to mix and match different garment styles in order to put together a bridal outfit which reflects your creativity, individuality and unique fashion sense.

Gallery Serpentine and KMK Designs offer some of the most opulent bridal wear imaginable, with magnificently lavish garments fabricated from luxuriously decadent silk, satin and lace in rich jewel tones. Team the exquisite midnight-blue ‘lily langtree’ corset from Gallery Serpentine with KMK’s gorgeous olive-green Steampunk skirt, for a spectacular, sophisticated bridal look with hints of gothic glamour. Complementing your look with chic black lace shoes and accessories – such as a delicate, gauzy veil from Victorian Gothic’s ‘Dark Opulence’ collection – will accent the gothic charm of your ensemble, but this is an incredibly versatile outfit so you don’t necessarily have to go down the gothic opulence path when deciding how to style these garments.

On the opposite end of the gothic goddess – fairytale princess spectrum is the softer, more genteel combination of a corset like Gallery Serpentine’s enchanting ‘lilianne femme fatale’ in gorgeous golden brocade and white lace, with a vibrant magenta tulle skirt by KMK Designs. Paired with phenomenally stylish, painstakingly hand-crafted ‘Desiree’ pumps from the Kilame label by Italian designer Pamela Quinzi, and completed with a flourish courtesy of one of Yolan Cris’s delectable cameo chokers, this corset and skirt ensemble will be the very definition of mesmerizing bridal beauty.

These are just a few of the myriad options the ever-growing alternative wedding style industry is capable of providing to women who envision themselves walking down the aisle in something a little different. So don’t be afraid to break tradition, flout convention and think outside the box when planning what to wear when you say ‘I do’. And, should you need any further persuasion that you don’t have to wear a fairytale gown to make you look and feel fabulous on your wedding day, just consider how incredibly beautiful and radiant the two young 1950s brides who inspired this post looked on their own special days.

Author: Deirdre Rocks