The second a girlfriend of mine gets engaged I have to work really hard to not exclaim, “When are we wedding dress shopping?!” My secret hope is that she'll enlist me to help guide her through the world of bridal fashion.
“What's the wedding vibe?” “What do you want to look like?” And, “Give me some bridal keywords” give me my first clues. I'll always first recommend my favorite bridal designers that match their bridal style. However, I find myself more and more recommending resort wear brands to my best girls as a wedding day look option.
Why? It may be in part that a good deal of my best gal pals are either (and sometimes both) easy-going or fashion-aware. This creates this perfect resort wear sweet spot: a bride who's down for something a bit more non-traditional, casual and loves designer clothing.
Think brands like Cult Gaia, Zimmermann and Savannah Morrow. These cult designers of now are making breezy beautiful gowns, separates, jumpsuits & sets absolutely perfect for both your beach wedding and honeymoon to follow.
While haute-couture designer gowns may range in the tens of thousands, many resort wear designer looks land under $1k (and some on our list below $500!). That means designer clothing for your wedding day that you're even more likely to wear again and again following the beautiful event.
Recently, a best friend of mine was on the hunt for a unique wedding dress herself. Now a world-renowned pastry chef, Becca studied fashion design at FIT in New York City and has an incredible eye for textiles & vintage fashion. She's planning a lakeside micro wedding in Michigan and wanted something a bit more casual. Searching for a backless halter dress made of linen, she found herself next to nothing in the bridal space.
That's when I started rounding up the resort wear options. Within a few weeks, we had a few dresses that fit all of her parameters, both silhouette and fabric of choice and cost her less than $300. She ordered two sizes, kept the closest fit & had it tailored to look exactly how she imagined her wedding dress.
The moral here is if you are looking for more unique & sustainable fabrics (other than silk) you'll have more luck looking beyond the traditional wedding dress designers. Due to the nature of today's fashion trends, fabrics like linen, organic cotton, hemp, peace silk find themselves featured in most resort wear collections and yet nearly nowhere near the bridal runway (save a few of our favorite bridal designers, like The Law Bridal & their eco-friendly bamboo textile).
Not to mention, if you find a nearly-perfect resort wear or RTW look at such an incredible price point you have so much wiggle room for custom tailoring & alterations.
So, where can you find wedding-ready resort wear dresses? The beauty is, many of these brands can be shopped at major designer store websites. To keep far ahead of the trends, browse through ‘vacation edits' at online stores like Moda Operandi, a shopping platform that allows you to preorder pieces the moment they exit the runway. Both Net-a-Porter & MATCHESFASHION offer high-end fashion designer clothing.
But why sift through the virtual clothing racks? You came here for my help. Below I'm sharing my favorite brands that design resort wear collections worthy of your wedding day attire. Even if you opt for a traditional bridal gown, all of these designers are fit for your engagement party, rehearsal dinner, honeymoon & other wedding events.
Season after season, Cult Gaia releases statement-making resort wear. This isn't casual beachwear, no. Each collection is as fancy as it is free-spirited. Designing vacation wear that's luxurious, trendsetting & absolutely elevated enough for your wedding day. We'd put Cult Gaia at the top of our resort-wear-for-bridal list thanks to its level of luxury & attention to detail.
Likely filled with the most wedding-ready looks on this list, Zimmermann‘s resort wear collections often give us “mariage en St Tropez” vibes. If you're planning a micro wedding on a yacht on the French Riviera then you're likely to find a number of Zimmermann pieces that fit your bridal wardrobe.
Savannah Morrow was made for the low-key, nature-loving bride. Designing their collections with the finest quality of organic cotton & ethical Peace Silk, each dress, jumpsuit & set have a free-spirited, natural feel. We could see the Savannah Morrow bride curating an entire wardrobe of kimonos, two-piece sets & dresses for her wedding & honeymoon thanks to the cohesive nature of the collection and approachable price point.
Nadya Von Stein
South African designer Nadya Von Stein has released both a bridal & resort wear collection perfect for the casual & cool bride of today. Using natural hemp linen & dupioni silk fabrics, she offers her flattering silhouettes printed with local fynbos foliage in collaboration with designer Kristen McClarty of INYONI ART, making her textiles so unique. Even better, the collection of suits, dresses & sets come in both ivory & cool prints at a remarkable price point (meaning more money for your South African honeymoon soon to follow!)
If your Instagram feed, like mine, is filled with #cottagecore inspiration, you already know about LoveShackFancy. Lovers of ruffles, whimsy & lace will find bridal looks aplenty in LoveShackFancy's dress collection. Perfect for the garden soiree or beach affair, their collection of feminine & fun white dresses is inherently bridal.
Fashion-forward, vacation-ready & wedding-appropriate, RTW & resort wear designer Alexis checks all the boxes for this list. The always eclectic & always trendsetting collections are tailored for the globetrotting bride. Each season, the style icon offers new ideas & trends inspired by the mother-daughter team's world travels. For that, we're always treated with new unique details, textiles & silhouettes. Fashion-forward meets jet-setting, the Alexis bride is likely eloping on some up-and-coming island or throwing a cool, private winery micro wedding.
Agua de Agua Bendita
For my brides looking for prints, look no further than Agua de Agua Bendita. The Colombian luxury swimwear designer has expanded their line to include a collection of dresses & other resort wear we think fit a particular niche of brides. We've seen enough real brides donning floral print gowns on the blog & across Pinterest to know this to be true. Feminine silhouettes pair with luxuriously embroidered & printed fabrics, for the bride who appreciates artisanal design.
Using natural & biodegradable fabrics, Nigerian resort wear brand Míe designs pieces that will woo any bride looking for something ultra-casual and chic. While there are plenty of white separates & dresses in their online shop, we've actually got our eyes Míe's colorful pieces, knowing how many of our brides today are searching for that perfect non-white, statement-making gown.
Found your perfect look? What's a resort wear wedding dress without a bridal sun hat?