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As early as twenty years ago, no one would have even dreamed of wearing an informal wedding dress. Brides and grooms traditionally got hitched in the church, a location that requires a dress with a base level of formality. Now that people are getting married everywhere from backyards to barns, dresses fall into the land of "anything goes." Informal wedding dresses are a great option if you want your wedding to feel casual, fun, and laidback.
Informal Wedding Dresses from Back in the Day
A great way to find informal wedding dresses for reasonable prices is to consider going vintage. There's something special about wearing a dress that was celebrated in a different era that adds a twist to an otherwise traditional occasion. Avoid general thrift stores like the Goodwill in favor of consignment stores, which are likely to carry dresses that have been hand-selected and well maintained. After your wedding, consider re-donating your dress to the store where you purchased it or put it up for consignment.
Informal Wedding Gowns from Department Stores
If you're looking for a white, ivory, or champagne dress that doesn't scream "bridal", consider visiting the special occasions section of your favorite department store. Brand name dresses that you would never purchase for a normal cocktail party will seem like a possibility when you compare them with the cost of a standard wedding gown. If you go right after prom or winter formal season, you're likely to find several options at discounts that will make you happy that you didn't go the traditional route. Choose stores with liberal return policies so that you can take dresses home and try them on for friends and family members. As long as you don't wear the dress outside of your home, you should have no trouble returning the rejects once the final decision has been made.
Informal Wedding Dresses from Catalogs
You know those catalogs that you always make fun of your mother for collecting? It's time for you to eat your words. Those catalogs are full of casual, laid back dresses that might work perfectly for your wedding. J.Crew and Newport News often feature several white dress options in the early spring, putting them on discount as the middle of summer approaches. Catalog companies are relatively laid back about returns, provided that you do not remove the tags and do not wear the clothes outside of your home. Keep in mind that if you decide to go the catalog route, you need to allow a couple of months for the process of returning and re-ordering your chosen dresses.
Styles of Informal Wedding Dresses & Gowns
As you are looking at dresses, keep in mind what makes a dress informal: shorter styles, cotton blends, and little to no beading or appliques. A friend of mine likes to define an informal wedding dress as "a dress that you can wear again."