What’s a bride to wear if you like playing with gender expectations?

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Photo by Katie Vee Photography

My fiancé loves to wear a bow tie and suit jacket, and equally loves to wear little dresses — and she's at an absolute loss as to what to wear for our July wedding! She's got a faux-hawk with the sides of her head shaved, and loves playing with gender expectations. Sometimes she's soft-butch, sometimes she's femme.

So: dress or suit? Long dress-vest with linen pants? Boat-neck A-line dress? And most importantly: where do we look to find appropriate wedding attire for a cis gender-bending bride? — Kimberlingo

When it comes to wedding attire, there are a lot of unexpected and fabulous ways one can simultaneously flirt with femininity and masculinity! Here are a few that I came up with:

Add a colorful tie

Neckwear is for everyone — and the number of brides who opt to wear a neck- or bow-tie proves it. There are plenty of brightly-colored options like the ones below.

Photo by Michael Hacker Photography.

At Cristina and Adrian's colorful vegan wedding, half of this wedding party joined in on the tie-wearing fun.

Raina + Michelle Star Wars Glasses!
Photo by Stephanie Kaloi Photography.

Michelle rocked this bright pink tie at her Star Wars and Disney wedding.

yellow bow tie alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Photo by Hannah White.

I love this bright yellow bowtie from Maggie and Theresia's barnyard wedding!

Go for denim

happy couple blazers alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Photo by Frances Iacuzzi Photography.

You know what we love? Brides in jeans! Corrie and Renie totally pulled this look off at their Great Gatsby-styled vineyard wedding

Photo by Arancia Sucra Photography.

Kelsey and Heather had a super laid-back farm wedding in 2012, and jeans were totally rocked.

Get fancy!

Of course, you two might not be into the denim-and-blazer look, and luckily designers have got you covered:

gender bending wedding outfit alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Photo by Nate Gowdy.

Susanne and Ricki, aka Kitten and Lou, are a drag king and burlesque queen who got married in Washington earlier this year. As you can see, Lou was rocking a seriously incredible suit (with turquoise touches!) from Danial Webster Design the day of.

Cole + Kim Wedding
Photo by Kim Ventola.

Cole's wedding day wear was mostly styled from BHLDN and Modcloth.

bride in black pants alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Photo by Closed Circle Photography.

I love this trick from Sam and Julia's 2007 wedding — one could go from donning a black velvet dress during the ceremony to rocking black skinny jeans for the reception.

duchess clothier alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Duchess Clothier offers high quality suits for men and women.

Photo by Rus Mathews.

Kimberly, who identifies as genderqueer, opted to pair a corset with a suit by Matthews Design.

bindle and keep alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Photo courtesy Bindle & Keep.

Bindle & Keep is a New York company that specializes in hand-cut bespoke clothing for men and women.

If these options don't do it for you, check out this excellent post by S. Bear Bergman, author of Butch is a Noun, and a whole host of archives celebrating brides in pants, clothing options for the genderqueer, and butch wedding suits.

Gender-playful folks, we want to hear from you: What are your favorite looks for folks who like to add a twist to gendered wedding fashion?

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Comments on What’s a bride to wear if you like playing with gender expectations?

  1. I shot a wedding where one of the brides went from fluffy white dress to dapper suit pants and bowtie, sort of like how some brides have a reception dress. She looked killer in both.

  2. Well, she likes wearing dresses still, what if she mixed up a fun dress with a tie or bowtie, a vest, wore a suit jacket with it? Or a skirt suit, like, a nice skirt with a buttonup shirt, vest, tie, ‘mens’ shoes. Adding all that masculine, why not add a feminine touch too, if she’s all about playing with gender?

  3. I love the idea of a skinny tailored suit with a really fun cocktail hat, maybe one with a small veil on it? And some bold lipstick, if that’s her thing.

  4. this one was touched on a little bit in the options, but a thought I had with playing between gendered norms would be to pair a shirt/tie/jacket with a skirt of some kind. It allows your betrothed the freedom to go as femme or soft-butch (or anywhere in the middle!) as she would like, without betraying the gender-play involved in her everyday life.

    The bonus? You may even get resuable clothing out of it, depending on how you get the items.

    • This so much! I was about to comment suggesting the exact same thing! It’s the perfect solution as you have the femme and butch elements combined 😀

  5. FUCK YES this post expresses every yearning of my soul. I want EVERY SINGLE OUTFIT OMG.

  6. Duchess made my wife’s (!!) wedding suit and they were freaking rockstars. It was so awesome for her to have a bespoke outfit alongside my dress – and, erm, she’s worn hers WAY more times since then…:

  7. First of all, sadness that I’m looking at Cole’s wedding picture because HOLY HOTNESS.

    Second of all, for the asker, I think the key thing here is that she finds something that she feels amazing in. Don’t worry about the “gender bending” persona or expectations from others. The awesome thing is that if she feels amazing in a huge variety of options, she has so much more to chose from than the “average” bride. Spend a day “butch” shopping and a day “femme” shopping. If you can swing it financially, even buy two outfits and decide day of! One for the ceremony and one for the reception! One for pictures and one for everything else! Options abound.

    Not everyone, but I think a lot of people just know when they’ve found “the outfit.” Look at a lot of things and find the best fit.

  8. What happened to all the comments on this post? There were a bunch of queer people/couples commenting about and discussing their/their partners’ outfits and they’re all gone!

    • No comments have been removed… you may be running into caching weirdness? I’ve purged the cache for this post, and you may also want to clear your browser’s cache.

      We did have a weird bug yesterday morning where a couple comments intended for this post ended up on the linked S. Bear Bergman post ( http://offbeatwed.com/2009/07/butch-wedding-suits ) but that was resolved yesterday morning.

      I do know this: no comments have been moderated!

  9. That black lace jumpsuit == HOT!

    My wife just discovered Tomboy Tailors in SF. If only we knew of them before she settled on something from Men’s Warehouse~

  10. What about those loose trousers that kinda look like a skirt? They swish, look good with both heels and flats, come in all sorts of colors and patterns and are super comfy. And they can be quite inexpensive. And re-wear potential!
    Pair the trousers with a tucked in dress shirt, bow tie and a mayhap a corset overtop. It all depends on her figure. 🙂

    • Culottes, or Palazzo pants. Culottes are tailored (with pleats and a zip), where Palazzos usually have a drawstring or elastic waistband and are bit more casual 🙂 Either way, a great suggestion!

  11. I love that this is a conversation that’s happening. This truly is the coolest, most comprehensive bridal resource on the web. There is nothing not awesome about this post, and I just wanted to say that, in spite of not having much to contribute that hasn’t been said!

  12. What about a shirtdress with a full collar that she could wear a tie and waistcoat with? And mens inspired, or flat out mens shoes? There are some shirtdresses that have tuxedo pleating on the front, that’d be cool.

    Or those corsets that are somewhere between a corset and a vest? Or a holster? This may just be my love of steampunk coming out, though. Ooh! Or one of those fancy long waistcoat/bustles! Okay. I’m done.

  13. I wish I would have seen this long ago! I am a designer and one of my latest collections had a dress that had a tie worked into it. The perfect balance of what she would have been looking for!

  14. I just found this post today, and had an idea. I have this dress that has buttons down the front and a collar. Maybe something like that with a suit jacket and a tie/bow tie? Because bow ties are cool:)

  15. Being a milliner I guess I’m biased but – hats! I’ve been working on some vintage style bowler hats that are deliberately gender-ambivalent, so they would work equally well with a pretty dress or a tux : https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/181347731/ivory-lace-wool-felt-bowler-hat-vintage?ref=shop_home_active_14

    I also love the 1940s utility style wedding outfit – it’s the perfect combination of the cute fitted dress and masculine tailoring (I found this example on Pinterest) : http://www.pinterest.com/pin/512917845033892355/

  16. I struggled so much with this dilemma! I’m not super femme or super butch but I lie smack dab in the middle. Mostly I had no interest in wearing a dress and wanted to pull off the suit or slacks/vest look. But I’m a small (5’3″ 120#) “butch” and I had the hardest time trying to find something that would fit me. Luckily the clothing manufacturer Express came to the rescue plus a little tailoring and I was finally set. It was a close call though! Check the look out here: http://jennygg.com/weddings/bainbridge-wedding-kelly-alyssas-backyard-amazingness

  17. Me and my partner are both non binary and we are wearing dresses for the ceremony and suits for the reception. We are also having geek inspired shoes that will be worn with both outfits.

  18. I love all these ideas but I have to add one that was overlooked, a kilt! I rocked one at my wedding and everyone loved it. It was fun and comfy and of course just added some fun boxers underneath for an added touch of flair and surprise for the wedding night! 🙂

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