With picturesque golden sands, glistening sea backdrops and (almost) guaranteed good weather, it’s no surprise we’re seeing a rise in destination weddings. With more and more couples opting to tie the knot in sunnier climates, boutiques are increasingly called upon to stock dresses suited to sun-soaked destinations.
We spoke to the crème de la crème of bridal brands for their advice on how to cater to brides marrying abroad – and to find out which gowns you should be offering, no matter what the destination.
First things first – consider the materials that will be most comfortable in tropical temperatures. Not only will the right fabric keep your bride cooler as she basks in brilliant sunshine, but it will also be easier to transport to her destination.
While heavy fabrics are undeniably show-stopping (think Meghan Markle’s boat neck wedding dress), steer destination brides towards light, flowing materials, such as chiffon and lace. These heavenly fabrics will flutter gently in the sea breeze rather than be stifling under the hot sun.
“Lighter wedding dresses that embrace comfort without sacrificing style are key for destination weddings,” says Brandon Bernstein of Paloma Blanca Bridal. “We strongly believe that our brides should never have to sacrifice the dress of their dreams to make her wedding day a less stressful event.”
“High-quality fabrics can drastically change the look and feel of a dress and can ultimately make a world of difference. Some great fabrics to consider for warmer weddings are lace, tulle, soft organza and crepes.”
The next factor to consider when it comes to selling dresses for destination weddings is the style of dress. While we all love long-sleeved wedding dresses and gowns with striking cathedral trains, sadly some dresses simply don’t work for sun-drenched locations.
If your bride has her heart set on a gown that is impractical for her destination, tread carefully when advising her; you don’t want to come across negatively, or as if you don’t understand her vision. The key is to talk to your bride before her appointment; to find out where she’s holding her wedding, and what the venue is like.
“Familiarise yourself with the destination before their appointment,” says Isabel Kamleitner of Rachel Gilbert. “This will help determine the best options for the bride, making their decision easier and stress-free.”
“Once you know the destination and wedding date, you can predict the weather and advise on the best gown for your bride,” adds Nicole Swain of Sophia Tolli. With all the information about their wedding day noted, prepare dresses that will work for their destination, choosing options that will keep your bride both looking and feeling cool in hot temperatures.
“A sleeveless gown would be a great option, with either a thin strap or strapless style,” adds Nicole. “These options will help to keep your bride cool and will also add to the summery beach vibe of a coastal wedding.”
If your bride is adamant she wants to wear a dress with sleeves, present gowns with sheer illusion sleeves or billowing bell sleeves that embrace her vision, without being as stifling as skintight designs. Capped sleeve wedding dresses are another beautiful option for warm-weather weddings.
For brides who are open to new suggestions, a shorter wedding dress is a great option. While many brides may not have considered a column, tea-length or retro shorter style, less-lengthy designs are ideal for destination weddings – especially beach venues where sand could cause problems.
But if your bride is set on a long wedding dress, skirts with a slit are a clever way to keep them cool, while still embracing the classic bridal look we all know and love. Boho wedding dresses with off-the-shoulder designs and floaty skirts are also worth noting for brides getting married abroad.
Not solely reserved for country weddings, relaxed boho styling works just as well for hot-weather destinations thanks to their laidback nature – ideal for gorgeous informal celebrations in places like Bali, Spain and perennially popular South Africa.
While embellishments make a wedding dress special, heavy beaded designs can be an inconvenience for brides marrying overseas. A Great Gatsby style gown will inevitably cause discomfort, so opt instead for minimalist styles and keep sparkle to the accessories.
For another on-trend look, consider gowns with a low or keyhole back – this style is perfect for hot weather weddings, especially if the bride is eschewing a veil in favour of a long and loose hairstyle. Open back gowns not only look sensational but will also stop your bride from getting too warm.
If you’re working with a daring or fashion-forward bride-to-be, sheer fabrics are worth suggesting too. While they might be more revealing than a classic ballgown, a destination wedding sidesteps tradition, so this could be a match made in heaven. Just add a lace or tulle overlay on top of a sheer wedding dress for extra drams and modesty.
One of the main things to consider when helping your brides choose their dream dress for a destination wedding are the logistics of packing it, as luggage restrictions could be playing heavily on their mind.
Advise your brides to ring the airline they’re travelling with to find out what the rules are when it comes to travelling with a wedding dress. Even though every airline will have a different set of stipulations, many are more than willing to help, so it’s a good idea to organize a plan of action with them in advance.
There are a few online retailers who specialize in boxes designed for carrying wedding dresses abroad; these are sturdy and breathable and are meat solely for the wedding dress – direct your bride to these websites.
When it comes to packing the wedding dress, advise your bride to invest in plenty of acid-free tissue paper, which should be placed between each fold to avoid creasing the dress. As soon as they arrive at the destination, the dress should be unpacked and hung up. The accommodation may offer a steaming service. If not, suggest hanging the dress in the bathroom, close all windows, fill the bath or leave the shower on and let the steam do the hard work.
Another great way to show off the destination wedding dresses that your boutique stocks are to display them in your shop window. For more information take a look at our feature on how to create a great summer window display.