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For some brides, the traditional white flowing gown just isn't what they have in mind. Such young women opt for a more exotic wedding dress. This means different things to different brides. It can mean a casual look, a dress that evokes the bride's ancestry, or a sports-themed outfit. Below are some ideas:
Tropical wedding attire. Getting married on the beach is by definition a more casual experience than a traditional church wedding. Some brides carry the tropical theme to their wedding attire by wearing such things as a sarong -- a silk or cotton garment that can be tied around the body in a number of ways.
Following your roots. For some couples, a destination wedding is about reconnecting and reaffirming their connection with their ancestors. For instance, a bride with Caribbean or African roots might want to dress as an African bride for her wedding. Similarly, a bride of Scottish ancestry may want to add a scarf in the family tartan to her outfit.
Sports or hobby-related garb. Destination weddings lend themselves to sports and hobby-related, adventure weddings. Are you scuba enthusiasts? Consider getting married underwater. Rock climbers? Consider getting married atop a steep mountain. Of course, your wedding apparel will have to match these extreme sports with perhaps just a few embellishments.
Depending on your idea of an exotic wedding dress, you'll likely have to search for it in non-traditional outlets or even have your outfit made especially for you. Start looking for your exotic wedding dress well before the wedding to allow for this.
A beach destination wedding dress should be light-weight and flowing. In the warm and humid Caribbean or Mexican climate, you don't want to be burdened by heavy layers of material and lace. Some fabrics just lend themselves better to use in beach wedding dresses. Here are just a few:
Charmeuse. This flowing fabric gives destination wedding gowns that body-hugging, sensual look. Not generally used for traditional wedding gowns because it doesn't hold up to elaborate constructions, it's a natural for a simply elegant beach wedding dress.
Chiffon. This fabric, whose name is derived from the French word for "rag," is anything but raggedy. The sheer fabric is used over satin and other materials to give a flowing, ethereal look.
Satin. With its glossy surface and matte back, satin is a favorite of wedding dress and evening wear designers. The fabric gives a garment a luster and shimmering quality.
Cotton. Not generally used in traditional wedding dresses, cotton is cool and lightweight. It's used for embroidered, Mexican wedding dresses and tropical print sarongs or pareos.
Silk. This versatile and elegant fabric is at home in any climate. It's particularly suited to draping.
A traditional Mexican wedding dress reflects the rich Mayan, Aztec, and Spanish traditions that combined to create Mexican culture. Choosing this style for your wedding attire honors the country where you'll be saying your vows. It's also particularly appropriate for couples of Mexican heritage.
A Mexican wedding dress is a white, shift-like dress, made of rough-hewn cotton and adorned with elaborate and colorful embroidery. These beautiful dresses have been a Mexican tradition since the 17th century and each one tells a unique story. Often, they are handed down through the family from generation to generation. Each region of Mexico has a slightly different historic design.
Accompany your Mexican wedding dress with a "mantilla," a Spanish-style wedding veil. Other traditional accessories include hair combs and fans.
Wear simple, single-strap sandals or flats with a Mexican wedding dress. If you are getting married on a beach, going barefoot is perfectly acceptable.
If you are not fortunate enough to have a Mexican wedding dress in your family, shop for an authentic dress from online auction sites, such as eBay, or in vintage clothing store in cities with a sizeable Mexican population. You can also contact the resort where you will be staying to see if they can put you in touch with a shop that sells contemporary versions of the classic designs.
You've bought the perfect gown, shoes, and accessories for your destination wedding, but you also have to worry about getting your wedding day attire to the place you'll be getting married without incident.
Consider sending your dress and accessories to the resort ahead of your arrival. Talk with your wedding planner and get the name of someone who will accept the dress at the resort and sign for it. Then send your outfit via an air carrier, such as Federal Express or UPS. This way if the package is delayed for a day in customs or due to bad weather, it will still be there for the wedding.
Whether you decide to carry the dress yourself or send it ahead, many bridal shops will pack your dress professionally so that it arrives with minimum wrinkles. If you choose to pack it yourself, use lots of tissue paper and pad the sleeves and bust area. Use dry cleaning bags between layers of fabric and hang the gown in a long garment bag. Don't check the bag; carry it on the plane with you. Plan to get to your destination a few days ahead of the ceremony so that you can have the dress pressed by the hotel dry cleaner once you arrive.
Deciding what to wear on your feet with your island wedding dress can be slightly challenging. The traditional pumps with three-inch heels just won't work in the sand. Not only do they look out of place, but heels can be downright dangerous in the sand. Below are some ideas for beautiful yet sensible footwear to accompany your island wedding dress:
Sandals. Simple, flat, one-strap sandals add an elegant touch without competing with your dress. If you are wearing an empire-waist, Roman-style gown, consider sandals that lace up and tie around your calf.
Flip-flops. No, I don't mean the shoes you wear to the pool. Most companies that sell island wedding dresses also offer a line of flip-flops that are dyed to match your dress and embellished with shells, jewels, or hand-painted flowers.
Barefoot sandals. Going barefoot is perhaps the most sensible option for a beach wedding. If, however, you don't what to go without some adornment on your feet, consider barefoot sandals. These cover the tops of your feet with pearls, rhinestones, flowers, or other adornments, while leaving the bottoms of your feet bare. If you decide on this option, make sure to book an appointment for a pedicure the day before the wedding.
Go barefoot. Allow the sand to sift through your toes as you say your vows. There are no rules of dress at a beach wedding.
The gracious beauty of the Hawaiian Islands extends from its sunsets and beaches to the friendly people who live there. Hawaiian culture is also an excellent theme for an island wedding. If you are traveling to Maui, Kauai, or any of the Hawaiian Islands for your wedding, consider wearing an Hawaiian Island wedding dress.
An Hawaiian Island wedding dress is a white or off-white dress with simple lines, often with a halter or spaghetti-strap bodice. Cotton is the fabric of choice in the islands, as it is light-weight and reflects the sun.
Accessories for an Hawaiian Island wedding dress include traditional flower leis, made of orchids, gardenias, or hibiscus flowers. For a lei that you can take home as a keepsake, consider one of the Hawaiian leis made from small shells or opt for a silk flower lei. Many of them look like real flowers.
Wear simple sandals or "barefoot sandals" (pearls, shells, or jewels that cover the tops of your feet) with your Hawaii Island wedding dress. Heels are out of place for a beach wedding.
Shop for your Hawaiian Island wedding dress and accessories online, from such retailers as Hawaiian Wedding Shop.com, or contact the boutique at the resort where you'll be staying. It's likely that they can order the perfect outfit for your big day.
Finding the perfect destination wedding dress is easy. There are so many choices. Grab your maid of honor, your sister, and your mother and start shopping. Here are some top places to find destination wedding dresses:
Traditional department stores. Traditional, upscale department stores often have dresses for a destination wedding. They just aren't labeled as such. Look for them in the formal wear or resort wear departments.
Bridal shops. Although traditional wedding gowns are their mainstay, more and more bridal shops are stocking a selection of destination wedding dresses and casual wedding gowns. Call ahead to see which shops carry what you're looking for.
Online retailers. You can buy almost anything on the Internet and destination wedding dresses are no exception. Online retailers include BeachComberBride.com and eDressMe.com.
Resorts. As destination weddings become more and more popular, some resorts are offering destination wedding apparel. Sandals Resorts, for instance, offers a full line of dresses for the bride, bridesmaids, and flower girl -- with all of the accessories.
Destination wedding planners. If you are working with a destination wedding planner (and you should; they can save you money and time), ask about destination wedding dresses. Many such firms also offer a selection of wedding attire.
Unlike traditional wedding gowns, destination wedding dresses can often be found among resort wear and cocktail dresses. However, there are several designers who specialize in destination wedding gowns. Below are a few of these:
Jessica McClintock. Known for her prom dresses and formal wear, Jessica McClintock offers a variety of destination wedding dresses, including long and short dresses, strapless gowns, and halter-style dresses.
Rina di Montella. This designer specializes in long, lacy, mermaid-style gowns, both strapless and with plunging necklines.
Sophia Tolli. Ms. Tolli is known for her sleek, romantic, strapless gowns with just a little bit of a train.
Mon Cheri. This formal wear company's "Destinations" line features a variety of romantic yet casual wedding dresses with a variety of necklines, for all figure types.
Alfred Angelo. This designer makes romantic, A-line, lacy, strapless gowns -- perfect complements to a seaside setting.
The Dressy Group. One of the leaders in destination wedding gowns, this company offers a wide variety of long and short gowns, of taffeta, silk, and charmeuse -- all designed with a beach wedding in mind.
Destination wedding dresses are generally simpler and less formal than traditional wedding dresses. This is for several reasons. First, if you are getting married in a tropical climate, you don't want to wear a lot of clothes and undergarments ... the temperature is hot and you'll just look funny. Secondly, why compete with the natural beauty of the seaside wedding site? And, of course, there's the question of having to lug all of your wedding apparel with you on your wedding trip. You'll want to leave room in your suitcase for play clothes and souvenirs.
Just because destination wedding dresses are simple, it doesn't mean they can't be elegant. While there are no set rules for what to wear at your destination wedding, a few styles are common. Like traditional wedding dresses, destination wedding dresses are usually white or just off-white. Dresses may be long or short, depending on your taste. Common fabrics include silk, chiffon, and even cotton. Light-weight fabrics are best for warm climates.
Popular destination wedding dress designs include long, halter-style dresses, the classic strapless gown, and those with low, cut-out backs.
Look for destination wedding dresses at online retailers, many bridal shops, and from your destination wedding planner. Destination Weddings.com stocks a wide selection of destination wedding apparel.
Deciding what to wear with your destination beach wedding dress is almost as important as deciding on the dress itself. Basically, you don't want to add too many accessories to your outfit for a beach wedding. The beauty of a seaside wedding is its simplicity. However, one or two carefully-chosen elements can enhance your wedding look. Consider the following:
Jewelry. A pair of pearl earrings or a single gold chain are perfect additions to a beach wedding dress. Or, add a rhinestone broach to your ensemble. If you have a special heirloom, a family piece of jewelry, consider coordinating your wedding outfit around it.
Fans. Fans are a fun accessory for a beach wedding. Used instead of flowers, an elegant white paper or straw fan can give your wedding look a distinctive island feel.
Parasols. Parasols, also, are an ideal beach wedding accessory. Not only do they keep the harsh, Caribbean sun off of your shoulders, they give the bride a fanciful, feminine look.
Hair ornaments. A flower, a jeweled comb, or a tiara: all of these add romance and a softness to your wedding ensemble. Choose wisely, however; too many items will overpower your gown.