We love looking at pictures from real weddings here at Brides. (You never would've guessed it, right?) The first looks, jaw-dropping ceremony backdrops, and oh-so-special details make us swoon, but nothing takes our breath away quite like a real bride in her wedding dress. And who better to take inspiration from for your own big day than these real-life women in their gorgeous gowns? So we combed through hundreds of real weddings and focused on the real deal—the wedding dress!
Some of these wedded ladies searched for months for that elusive dream dress, while others fell madly in love with the first frock they ever slipped on. There were brides who went formal in opulent tulle ball gowns, and others kept things simple and chic in modern sheaths. But one thing all these lovely ladies have in common is looking effortlessly beautiful on their wedding day in gorgeous gowns just as unique as their nuptials.
These real brides all said their yes to the perfect dress and now it's your turn. Feeling inspired yet? Browse below to see all of our favorite bridal gowns from these real weddings.
Pretty in Pink
Jenny went into dress shopping with a vision of a simple sheath dress, à la Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. But after trying on similar styles, she realized they weren't quite right. Thankfully, her mother had another vision: Jenny in color! "She mentioned that she wanted me to wear a color," she says, and on the way out of the store, Jenny passed a blush-colored Naeem Khan gown and asked to try it on. "It was the opposite of what I thought I was going for," she says. "But when I put it on, everyone was flipping out—myself included!"
The Perfect Embellishments
These brides shopped together, but ended up with completely different looks. Emily’s Leanne Marshall dress featured an alençon lace bodice with a champagne silk lining, paired with a flowing organza skirt. “It was exactly what I wanted, though Amanda tried to convince me that a tight, mermaid style dress looked good on me!” Emily laughs. Amanda thought she’d wear a strapless gown with a corset top, but was drawn to the intricate beading and T-strap back on this Hayley Paige design. “It is insanely beautiful and different, and I want to wear it all the time!” she says.
A Vision in Inbal Dror
Bride Sadatu has an eye for design (she's an interior stylist), so her fashion was obviously on point. She saw a picture of an Inbal Dror wedding dress—with a removable off-the-shoulder train—and immediately visited Mark Ingram at Mark Ingram Atelier in New York City to find it. "I tried to support as many minority-owned businesses as possible," she says.
Elegant in Elie Saab
If you thought Hannah Bronfman's ceremony dress was amazing—her reception dress was even better! Hannah wore an Elie Saab gown, which featured a skirt of rows and rows of tulle and a crystal-beaded bodice. "My Elie Saab couldn't be more different than the Vera, and that's what I love about it," Hannah says. "It's grand and embellished, and I wanted that over-the-top moment."
A Winter Beauty in Odylyne: The Ceremony
Glee star Becca Tobin almost wore her mother's wedding dress, but the garden-casual style wasn't quite right for the bride's wintery plans. "I visited a few boutiques, but everything I tried felt like 'insert bride here'—until I went to LOHO," she says. Becca fell in love with designs by Odylyne: The Ceremony, but still couldn't quite find The One. "Christy, the owner of LOHO, asked if I'd considered a custom gown. I worked with her and Stephanie, the designer, to pick what I liked from each dress and put together something one-of-a-kind."
Custom in Wendel Johnston
As a fashion stylist, Brandy has a very distinct vision of what she would wear on her wedding day—but that's not what she ended up with! "I had never imagined wearing a dress like that," she says. "I pinned all these mermaid dresses that I thought I'd wear, but when I went to try them on, I was like 'Woah, this is so heavy and not right!'" She decided she was not a traditional dress girl and called on Wendel Johnston, a tailor she frequently works with, to create a custom, high-necked piece together. "If you know me, you know this dress is exactly my style," she adds.
Romantic Rue de Seine
The bride, Chessa, chose the cotton-embroidered gown by Rue de Seine not because it made her look like a princess but because it reflected who she is now. “I wanted something awesome and something I could boogie in,” she adds.
Erdem in England
For her bridal gown, Isatu went nontraditional with a silk floral sheath by Erdem, which she purchased in London. “I loved that this dress incorporated so much floral and a nod to the English countryside,” she says.
A Two-Piece Suit
Breanna rocked a two-piece jumpsuit by Lucia Rodriguez, which she paired with blue Manolo Blahnik heels (her "something blue") and a veil also by Lucia Rodriguez.
Perfect in Pearls
When a fashion stylist gets married, you know the dress is going to be good—and Pernille Teisbaek's pearl-embellished Vera Wang gown is no exception.
Journalist Noor Tagouri wore a breathtaking, long-sleeve gown by Pronovias. “When you put on your dress, you’ll just know!” she says of her crepe A-line gown with beaded floral motifs and an elegant train. She added a beautiful headpiece and a flowing floral-edged veil to accentuate her hijab.
Boho-Chic in Stone Cold Fox
Lacey wore a deep-V-neck dress by Stone Cold Fox that featured sheer lace tiers and a high slit in the front. “I knew I wanted a dress that felt a little less traditional,” she says. "This gown was the simple beachy dress I was looking for!"
Custom in Cushnie et Ochs
Naturally, Carly Cushnie wore a custom-made gown—of lace, tulle and chiffon—from her own label, Cushnie et Ochs, for her big moment. “I wanted the dress to feel romantic and feminine, with Mexican influence,” which came through in the dramatic ruffled neckline.
College Fashionista founder Amy Levin worked with the designers at Marchesa to create a custom gown. "I knew I wanted a V-neck, long sleeves, and an A-line shape," she explains. She brought plenty of inspiration images to the Marchesa studio, where they dreamt up just that, complete with detailed embellishments and embroidery.
Fittingly for her Capri destination wedding, Annamaria wore an Italian-designed wedding dress by Atelier Emé. "I felt so beautiful and I felt like myself at the same time," she said.
Proenza Schouler Cool
For her Brooklyn warehouse wedding, this fashion stylist bride passing on traditional gowns in favor of tiered ruffles, bell sleeves, and edgy cutouts. The fashion stylist bride went straight to the runway to choose what she’d wear down the aisle, passing on traditional gowns in favor of this edgy Proenza Schouler number. Tiered ruffles, bell sleeves, and a cutout on the back made it a fun dress for an all-night dance party. “I shopped alone, trusting the cool salesgirl at Barney’s to give an objective opinion,” says Julie. “I was so excited when I got home that I put it on and showed Mathieu right away!”
For her New Zealand nuptials, bride Monique's wedding dress was completely custom. “I designed the dress with designer Sarah Vincent, with layers of fine silk and delicate straps,” she said.
A V-Neck Jumpsuit
At her glam reception, McKenzie pulled off a quick costume change into a lace jumpsuit. "As the dancing got serious I wanted something white and sparkly with a dramatic train," explained McKenzie.
A Modern Touch
A geometric print lace gown by Vera Wang was the winning look for Nicole's destination wedding in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. "The dress had long sleeves, a very low back, and a plunging neckline," she said. "All three were a must for me."
Rime Arodaky Romance
At her elevated backyard wedding, Sherita's effortlessly elegant Rime Arodaky wedding dress featured a bateau neckline, cap sleeves, a plunging open back, and a lacy underlay.
A Statement Back
Pretty in Pink
At her New York City rooftop reception, Jiao slipped into a lace dress embroidered with pink roses. It even matched her wedding cake!
Up the Volume
Molly headed down under for her Australian wedding where she paired a voluminous silk skirt from Pronovias with a tailor-made top that featured a halter neckline and delicate beading.
Custom Naeem Khan
A major plus of marrying the son of bridal designer Naeem Khan? A custom wedding dress! "I was so thankful to be dressed by him, not just because of how stunning my dress was, but because it was made by family," bride Haniya said of her three-dimensional floral wedding dress.
Floral All Over
At her East Hamptons wedding, Allison wore a Naeem Khan lace wedding dress with three-quarter length sleeves and all-over floral appliqués. "My mom and I both started crying" she said of the first time she laid eyes on the fab frock.
More is More
For her lush Indian wedding in New Orleans, bride Saba worked with a Elan, a Pakistani designer, to create a custom blush-and-ivory gown covered in beading, floral embroidery, and pearls.
The Perfect Slip
Jennifer kept things light and airy for her tropical wedding in Maui with this corded lace slip dress by Katie May.
A Two-Piece Suit
Maureen showed off her gams at her coastal California wedding in a Halston Heritage skirt with a custom-made top by Penny Babel, a tailor in New York City.
Subtly Sheer in Inbal Dror
At her airy Aspen wedding, Jessica's Inbal Dror wedding dress featured lace, beading, and a wrapped bodice. "It was unique but classic—and not to mention, it was so comfortable," she said of the frock.
Lovely in Lace
When the duo behind the DIY and lifestyle blog Sugar & Cloth tied the knot, the bride donned a blush tulle skirt from BHLDN with a handmade lace top.
When Kate Branch (a senior beauty editor at Vogue.com) tied the knot in Long Island, she stunned in a modern and minimalistic satin-wool sheath from the Row.
A Black Ballgown
When bold bride Janine wed her love Gabe at a Santa Maria winery, she rocked an out-of-the-box black-and-nude ball gown down the aisle. "I knew I wanted a traditional gown, but with a unique twist, so I’d made up my mind, long before Gabe even proposed, that I didn’t want to wear typical white," explained Janine.
A Floral Illusion
With a floral illusion bodice and flowing skirt of English net and tulle, Jacie's Hayley Paige wedding dress was undeniably romantic.
Breezy & Beautiful
Annemarie's hand-beaded lace and tulle wedding dress billowed in the Bahaman breeze at her destination wedding, revealing the on-trend slit in the paneled skirt.
A Marchesa Overskirt
"It was like nothing else I’d ever seen," Hannah said of the Lihi Hod wedding dress with intricate beading and scalloped cap sleeves she wore to her ultra-elegant wedding. Hannah paired the gown with a tulle Marchesa overskirt to complete the look.
"I wanted something tailored and white and knew I didn't want an actual wedding dress," Erin said of the frock she wore to her English countryside wedding. Luckily, she found just that in a Roland Mouret viscose-crepe dress with cap sleeves. "I tried it on and bought it on the spot—one and done!"
Solange's statement-making fringed gown couldn't have been more perfect for her Jazz Age themed, Brooklyn wedding.
For her breezy Southern California wedding, this fashion blogger chose a two-piece ivory silk gown from Cortana with softly draped tulle, a romantic off-the-shoulder neckline, and a high-waisted skirt.