I bought a colored wedding dress and now everyone's mad! What should I do?
Pink wedding gown by Tavifa Bridal
I come from a family of strict traditionalists when it comes to everything, especially weddings. I recently bought a peach wedding dress with no sleeves and expressed I wanted light blue hair and Converse to go with it. As you can imagine, things didn't go over well. When I try to stand up for my wedding choices, I'm shamed for it.

Please help! – M

Tradition is a beast we live with every day on this site. Like sitting in a small boat with a tiger, we just hope it remains peaceful. But sometimes it doesn't and tradition tiger beats us down.

The thing is that colored wedding dresses, especially in pastels, are actually getting really popular. Tons of couples from celebrities to regular folks are wearing pinks and purples and blues and blacks and even multicolored dresses. We have archives of 'em. The trick will be convincing your family that it's actually not that traditional when you think about it.

Here are some considerations…

I bought a colored wedding dress and now everyone's mad! What should I do?
Dress by Wedding Dress Fantasy

Show examples

To show how totally normal a peach dress can be (and seriously, it could be way weirder!), find some semi-traditional weddings with pastel dresses. A wedding like this might be a good start. It's fairly traditional with just a punch of pastel color.

Online stores are also great places to show how colored wedding dresses can be totally “bridal.” A quick search on Etsy brings up a bajillion super pretty, bridal-y gowns in all kinds of colors. Look, mom, it's so pretty!

Here are some of our colored dress archives to find more examples:

Sometimes just showing how traditional something CAN look is all you need to soothe the worry. And that's really all it is. They're worried that Aunt So-and-so will give a shit that your dress is peach. On the day nobody will and they'll likely be super happy that you look super happy. Fingers crossed.

I bought a colored wedding dress and now everyone's mad! What should I do?
Jessica Biel rocked a pink dress to marry Justin Timberlake!

Share the history of white dresses

White dresses really aren't that traditional when you look at their history. White has only been popular in Western culture since about 1840. I get it, everyone will expect a white dress, but it sounds like your dress will still be a pretty traditional pick in the grand scheme of things.

If your dress is traditional in other ways (long? gown-y? includes a veil?) you'd likely fit right in with the array of wedding dresses being worn in this era.

I bought a colored wedding dress and now everyone's mad! What should I do?
Found the bride (even though there's color!)
Dress by Chantal Mallett Bridal Couture

Make the case

In reality, what you wear might be the ONLY thing that you can totally control. Everything else affects the guests: food, venue, favors, etc. But what you wear literally affects nobody else unless you're wearing something really off-the-wall. You'll probably have to make compromises on everything else, but what you wear is YOU. You can try to make the case that it'll be the one thing that is truly yours.

Here's one take by a reader that I like:

I started off not wanting a lot of the normal wedding trappings, like flowers and so on. But, little by little, I've given into the ideas of some of these things in order to make others happy, or, because alternatives were too difficult or expensive. Somehow, I have latched onto “the dress” as the single thing I would have complete control over. Short of drugging me, one could not force me to wear something I didn't want!

A few people are immediately dismissive of a non-white dress, but over time they begin saying things like, “How will we know who the bride is?” and, “You will look like you're going to prom!” and everything in between… Sometimes I wonder who could be so stupid as to show up at my wedding at my request, and then not remember I'm the fucking bride without a visual cue. Maybe I'll chuck the bouquet directly at 'em — that'll jog their memory!

I bought a colored wedding dress and now everyone's mad! What should I do?
Just a hint of color? Dress by Zeita Studios
You'll look lovely AND bridal enough in your peach gown. It may just take some gentle conversations about how important it is to have something that is your own choice and something you really love.

Who's paying for it?

If things STILL don't go well on the convincing front, it may be time to look at who is paying for the dress. In some cases, this is a deciding factor in who gets any say in the final decision. Here's a great post about navigating wedding decisions when parents are involved in paying for the wedding.

In some ways, the person paying for the wedding (or in this case, the item), often feels they get a say:

Whoever pays for the wedding is acting as a producer, and therefore has a say in how their money is spent. Ideally, their say goes something like this: “Whatever you want, dear.” But with many families — especially more conservative ones — that's just not gonna happen. That's why many offbeat couples finance their own weddings.

If you're finding push-back that you can't defeat, consider a compromise. A white dress with a peach veil or belt? A peach dress with a big traditional white veil? A white dress with a pastel train? You've already got the peach dress, so it may come down to just saying, “the dress is bought, it's all we can do.”

Best of luck and let us know how it turns out!

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Comments on I bought a colored wedding dress and now everyone’s mad! What should I do?

  1. I wore a teal/turquoise dress (not pastel, but bright, bright colour!). My mom also expressed the ‘but how will they know who the bride is’ worry… she even wanted to make me give up my sport for a month previous to my wedding so I wouldn’t have any bruises!

    I didn’t give in. And let me tell you what happened.

    We asked our guests not to wear teal.

    I wore my dress, a bridal hat (also teal, with a bit of a veil at the front), teal peeptoe shoes and I had a white bouquet (roses, rosemary and seashells).

    On my way to the venue, everyone knew. Strangers wished me good luck. It was clear from the way I was smiling and from what I was wearing that I was getting married. No one said anything about my dress choice. Everyone of our guests seemed to just enjoy the wedding. Yes, I had a few bruises, but everyone knows I play underwater rugby and my husband is one of the kindest, least violent people in existence. It did not matter.

    Any worry my mom had dissipated in the happiness that was seeing us happy.

  2. If feeling misunderstood by friends or family is a familiar feeling, one can’t expect folks to automatically understand you, your values, and your aesthetic at your wedding.

    At the same time, I hear you that almost nothing feels better than validation during wedding planning… we’re in such a vulnerable state! It’s a question of… to what extent are you willing to forfeit validation to achieve an authentic representation of you, your spouse, and your union?

    Suggested wedding planning (boundary setting) mantras for the frequently misunderstood:
    – It is okay if others get angry.
    – It is okay to say no.
    – It is not my job to take responsibility for others.
    – I don’t have to anticipate the needs of others.
    – It is my job to make me and my spouse happy.
    – Nobody has to agree with me and my spouse.
    – I have a right to my own feelings.

    When in doubt, remember you could have eloped and it’s a gift, not a given, for folks to be able to witness and support your union!

    Lastly, consider if compromises may rob your guests of the opportunity to witness your love in its most authentic and beautiful state. Your guests may not be capable of understanding your aesthetic but perhaps your wedding it too important to dilute for folks who don’t have the capacity to appreciate your creativity and spirit. Shine on, friend, in your peach dress, blue hair, and converse, shine on.

    P.S. I wore a floral ceremony dress and navy reception gown and people knew I was a bride. There are a LOT of context clues on a wedding day to make that clear 😉

  3. I wish there were different colors when I got married. I don’t look good in white. I’m a nurse I wear white ever day. I wanted a Rum color dress. It was unheard of in my day. It’s your day you wear what ever color you want.

  4. It boggles my mind that people treat this as a new thing. My dad’s first wife wore purple for their park wedding in the early 1970s. My paternal Grandma even wore a navy skirt-suit and a big hat when she married my Grandpa in the 1940s! My maternal grandparents eloped.
    Maybe I’m just from a long line of offbeat brides!

    • Agreed! My Grandma wore a pink skirt suit with a flower crown for her wedding in the 50s!

  5. I’m planning on a Navy Blue wedding dress next year, and I can’t wait! I’ve never been to a wedding where the bride wore anything but white, so i was a little uneasy at first, but my Matron of Honor and sister are totally for the dress I’ve picked out, and are as excited as i am about doing it differently!

  6. It makes me so sad that non-white wedding dresses aren’t as accepted and widely available. I want a blue dress and I struggle to find anything I like. I know I shouldn’t even bother going into any boutiques to look either!

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