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When it comes to wedding locations, the desert is a beautiful, untamed, and unique venue choice. It’s also one that requires a little extra thinking when it comes to your bridal style, since your outfit choice will have to work amidst the stunning, natural ecosystem.
“Your first point of consideration should be a style option that’s lightweight, easy to pack, and made from a fabric that is fairly wrinkle-resistant as you may have little-to-no access to a steamer at your wedding location,” says Angel Spendlove, co-owner and head designer of & For Love. “Stay away from any kind of heavy silk or a very structured ballgown. Keep the fashion mood boho and relaxed.”
Meet the Expert
Angel Spendlove is the co-owner and designer of & For Love, a Canadian-based bridalwear brand that was founded in 2014.
Spendlove notes that the iconic slip dress is a perfect desert wedding fashion choice, and she's also a fan of lace or sequin designs. However, if you're looking for more coverage, the designer recommends opting for looks with sleeves made of sheer fabrics, like tulle, for a look that's dramatic and modern.
To help you find the perfect gown for your desert wedding, here are our top style choices featuring everything from luxe lace dresses to light and airy pantsuits.
Best Maxi Dress: Reformation Chania Dress
Runs: True to Size | Size: XS-XL | Materials: Satin and lace | Length: Floor
We love the effortless lingerie-inspired vibe of this romantic satin and lace gown. It boasts a particularly beautiful backline, featuring cut-out details and a delicate three-button closure.
Best Bell Sleeves: Azazie Clover BG
Runs: True to Size | Size: WD00-WD30 | Materials: Lace | Length: Floor
Statement sleeves are always a favorite, and they don’t get more dramatic than these bell sleeves! The flared silhouette on this Azazie gown is beautifully paired with the subtle mermaid skirt.
Best Jumpsuit: Temperly London Dreamer Jumpsuit
Runs: True to Size | Size: UK6-UK20 | Materials: Sequins | Length: Ankle
The sequin pattern on this jumpsuit is designed to mimic the effect of snakeskin, which makes for a very fashion-forward bridal choice. The draped georgette sleeve also adds a touch of softness to this very graphic design.
Best A-Line: Morilee by Madeline Gardner Clara Wedding Dress
Runs: True to Size | Size: 0-28 | Materials: Lace and tulle | Length: Floor
Can’t you just picture this gown artfully blowing in the desert breeze? The swingy silhouette, coupled with the lightweight tulle and lace, make it a perfect bridalwear choice for your dramatic outdoor wedding venue.
Best Crochet: DB Studio Lace Overlay Midi Spaghetti Strap Dress
Runs: True to Size | Size: 0-18 | Materials: Lace | Length: Midi
This dress has an elevated boho feel, thanks to its sleek body-skimming silhouette and luxe lace fabrication. When desert temps cool at night, pair it with a cropped white moto jacket for a rock n’ roll edge.
Best Puff Sleeves: Essence of Australia Boho Wedding Dress
Runs: True to Size | Size: 0-18 | Materials: Lace | Length: Floor
The vintage, lace-inspired illusion sleeves are just one of the many incredible details we love about this boho-beautiful gown. Bonus points for the plunging neckline, keyhole back, and dramatic fit-and-flare skirt.
Best Convertible: Two Birds Straight Maxi Dress
Runs: True to Size | Size: A (2-12) or B (14-24) | Materials: Jersey | Length: Floor
If you want multiple looks on your wedding day, this flowing jersey gown is a beautiful way to do it. You can wear it in eight different ways by easily twisting and tying the bodice fabric.
Most Romantic Floral: BHLDN Daphne Gown
Runs: True to Size | Size: 0-26W | Materials: Cotton | Length: Floor
Bring a touch of Bridgeton’s Regency elegance to your desert wedding with this fabulous floral chintz gown. The empire waistline, tiered ruffles, and dusty rose tones make this dress a serious bridal beauty.
Most Trendy: Galvan London Cropped Ushuaia Bridal Dress
Runs: True to Size | Size: UK 34-44 | Materials: Satin | Length: Tea-length
If you're searching for an elegant, sleek, and trendy desert wedding gown, this Galvan London piece will be the dress of your dreams. Follow the styling lead and pair with gold earrings and shoes.
Best Column: Savannah Miller Jacquetta Dress
Runs: True to Size | Size: Contact the brand | Materials: Satin viscose | Length: Floor
If you want a minimalist gown for your day in the desert, this is a perfect pick. We love its simple silhouette complete with ruching at the bodice, a cowl neckline, and detachable drop sleeves featuring draped satin streamers.
Chicest Suit: Reformation Kinsale Set
Runs: True to Size | Size: 0-12 | Materials: Deadstock satin back crepe | Length: Floor
This look is totally chic, and the most perfect pantsuit we could imagine for a desert wedding. Wear the jacket with a high-neck lace blouse or dare to go bare, and accessorize with statement gold jewelry.
Best Square Neckline: Monique Lhuillier Phoebe Dress
Runs: True to Size | Size: Contact the brand | Materials: Crepe | Length: Floor
The square neckline is currently trending thanks to Nicola Peltz Beckham, and it’s a silhouette that's completely modern and incredibly flattering. Opt for this Monique Lhuillier gown for a stunning and elegant moment once it's time to say "I do."
What to Look for in a Desert Wedding Dress
There are a few considerations to keep top of mind when shopping for a desert wedding dress. As mentioned, paying attention to the fabric is most important, as you'll want something light and airy. You will also want a dress with a relaxed silhouette in order to effortlessly maneuver walking on more rugged terrain. The desert is not an ideal location for ballgowns or sharp architectural lines, so it's best to keep the vibe easy, breezy, and beautiful.
How should I accessorize my wedding dress for desert nuptials?
When it comes to wedding accessories, it's best to follow the aesthetic of your gown and bridal theme. For light and airy vibes, stick to dainty gold or silver pieces. For a more bold look, opt for colorful accessories that will complement the desert landscape.
What kind of shoes should I wear for a desert wedding?
Given the rocky terrain, your footwear choice will need an extra bit of consideration. It's important to wear shoes that you can comfortably walk in and aren't afraid to get dirty. Flats, sandals, wedges, and block heels are all great options for brides getting married in the desert.
Should I invest in a cover up for our evening reception?
Yes, a cover up is a very smart idea because desert temperatures can drastically drop at night. Some of our favorite styles include moto jackets and floor-length capes—both are fashion-forward and fun style options.
About the Author
Alison McGill is an award-winning editor, writer, creative producer, media personality, and brand strategist. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Weddingbells for two decades, a role which also included being the Editorial Director of Weddingbells' sister publication Mariage Quebec. Her work has appeared in The Kit, Fashion, Hello! Canada, The Toronto Star, and more.