Do or Don't: Non-Traditional Wedding Dresses?

 Friday is my 11th wedding anniversary, which seems so strange to me because it feels like it was just yesterday and a lifetime ago, all at the same time.  In the scheme of things, 11 years isn't really that long, but it's hard to remember what life was like before my husband.  I've mentioned here before that we got married in Hawaii, in a VERY low key wedding (think Mai Tais, hula dancers, and flip flops) and admittedly, at the time I didn't realize how perfect the wedding was for us as a couple.  Now, more than a decade later, if I had to do it all over again there is little I'd change, and I feel like that in and of itself is pretty telling.  Our wedding was the beginning of our life together, and it was definitely a great way to kick things off, barefoot and on the beach. 

Lately, I've had a lot of time to think about our wedding since I'm in the midst of helping my little sister plan hers.  10 years ago there was no Pinterest, no wedding blogs, no tutorials on how to throw the perfect wedding, there was just The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, and your imagination.  Some would say that it was probably easier without so much information, and your guest's expectations were certainly lower, but I have to say I'm really enjoying the process the second time around, and as an old married lady, I'm loving any excuse to comb wedding websites without looking like a crazy lady. 

I told my sister from the beginning, there are two, and only two, things that I would have absolutely done differently that day.  The first was to hire a "real" photographer, and the second was my dress.  As far as the photographer goes, I have only myself to blame for that one.  I was planning a wedding 6000 miles away from our destination, and I took the first person who was recommended to me.  He came for the ceremony, snapped a few pictures, and sent me an album of about 30 of them a month later.  There were no digital files, no pictures capturing the essence of the day, and really there were very few that even had us looking anywhere near the camera.  This used to bother me tremendously, but over time I've realized that you rarely look at your wedding pictures, but still, it would be nice to be able to have one or two around the house.  Such is life. My sister headed my warning and hired a great photographer. Yes, they don't come cheap, but 10 years later I can guarantee she will be happy she did. 

As far as the dress goes, I don't really know what happened there.  We were on a tight budget and lived far away from our family.  I knew there wasn't going to be a designer gown, nor would there be some big event where I tried on dresses in front of my bridal party, so I pretty much did what you should never do... I settled.  One day after class, I went to a store that sold prom dresses and inexpensive wedding dresses, and I found one I loved that would have been $500 (a knock off of Carolyn Bessette's to be precise.)  I thought that was way to much to spend, and as I was leaving I saw a white one on the rack that was marked down to $55 dollars that fit me perfectly.  I figured I was getting married on the beach, and it was white, so whatever, it would work.  "Whatever" is never how you should feel about a wedding dress!  To this day I still kick myself and while I'm not saying you should spend a year's salary, you should definitely love your dress.  After telling this story to my sister about a dozen times we went in search of dresses and luckily found one  that she LOVES, that was also well within her budget.  It doesn't need to be expensive but you do have to love it.  I actually tossed my dress in the trash when we returned from our wedding and that was pretty much my favorite part of owning it.  (No, I'm not bitter at all.)  We had a running joke that while my sister was trying on dresses that I was only allowed to try on three just to help re-create the moment I missed all those years ago, but I'm happy to report I only tried on one veil.  Proof that I have restraint!

Had I tried on dresses, I can definitely say it would have been something non-traditional.  Every where we went there was a sea of white and tulle, and it was those few that were, gold, blush, or yellow that really stood out to me.  It got me thinking that maybe it wasn't my dress I hated but just that fact that it was a predictable white dress?  I see my friend's pictures, where they look stunning in their white gowns, and I always wonder how I would have looked, but if I were getting married tomorrow, I definitely think I would go for something a little unexpected.  I feel like if you want to go the non-traditional route, your best bet is to go for a classic shape in a pastel, or a non-traditional shape, like the jumper below, but in white.  That way it's a little unexpected but not something you will regret down the road.

What do you all think? Is a wedding the right place to try to be fashion forward, or do you think you would end up regretting it down the road?  In the end you obviously go with what you love at the time, but I wonder how many of you would change things up if you had it to do all over again?  Do tell!