Almost one in four couples marry abroad these days. That’s a staggering increase on 10 years ago, and to be honest it has made us retailers think very carefully about the wedding dresses we stock. In fact I now buy an entire collection because of its fabulous wearability abroad.

Without doubt beach weddings in the Caribbean or vintage weddings in a French château mean that you will have to think very carefully about your wedding attire, and your first thought has to be the feel of your day. Will it be casual with the groom in Chinos and linen shirt, or will it be semi-formal with the groom in tailored lounge suit?

Clearly whatever feel you go for, you need to reflect this in your choice of wedding dress. You don’t want to look like you are going to a different wedding from the groom.

Beach Wedding Dresses

For a beach wedding simplicity is the key. Soft and floaty fabrics like chiffon and tulle with a Grecian goddess feel are so wearable and cool. Go barefoot or wear sparkly flip-flops, and wear your hair pulled up and fixed with a simple orchid or local flower.

Without doubt less is more, and fluid fabrics are perfect for this occasion. Jenny Packham does some incredible wedding dresses that are ideal for beach weddings. The designer Lusan Mandongus also offers some amazing styles in soft tulle and chiffon which are spot-on and so very light to wear.

There are a few don’ts for beach weddings though…

  • Don’t wear heels, even with heel guards. You will sink and not be able to walk towards your groom.
  • Veils can look a little over done on a beach, so if you feel the urge for one go for a birdcage veil, but they do add formality.
  • Tiaras and hair bands are too formal for a casual occasion; try a soft, silk rose or even a vintage comb or hair vine.

How Formal?

Other popular settings for weddings abroad are French châteaus, Italian castles, and Spanish mountain side locations.

Jordan, Elbeth Gillis Luxury 2017

Jordan, Elbeth Gillis Luxury 2017

Start by deciding how formal you want your day to be. If you are in a French château or Italian or Spanish castle you will want to feel glamorous. Grooms tend to opt for a lounge suit rather than formal British wedding attire in such locations, and brides choose a less formal wedding dress, but very much a wedding dress with purpose.

Dress Fabrics

There are some great fabrics for bridal wear for weddings abroad. Lace is amazing as it’s light, travels well, is cool to wear and it looks perfect dressed up or down. Lightweight silk, strapless dresses are perfect, along with tulle and soft organza dresses.

Designers like Sassi Holford make some amazing light wedding dresses in lace. I also love the American designer Claire Pettibone, who makes the most sensational soft and fluid dresses.

It is tough to decide on what to wear, as it’s often difficult to imagine wearing a dress in a hot location when you are standing in chilly Britain. So, make sure you ask your retailer for advice. We have years of experience and know exactly what will and won’t work.

Finally, make sure you box your dress up and take it on the flight with you, NOT in the hold.

Guest post by Ellie Sanderson

Images from Elbeth Gillis