It all started with the standard question to the ultimate fantasy: What would my dream wedding look like? It was a question Curtis Cassell and his catering coworkers would often ponder after working wedding-packed weekends together. “Then I realized, as queer people, we often ask if we’d wear a suit or dress,” Cassell tells Brides. “Our options are literally black or white.” That is, until recently.
When it comes to picking wedding-day fashion, LGBT+ people of all sorts are choosing to opt into something outside of the black suit or white dress binary. However, Cassell’s brand, QUEERA, is looking to provide a world of wedding attire that steps out of both classic options. “When I began working on the label and first collection, I concluded that the brand didn’t necessarily land on either womenswear or menswear,” Cassell says. “I essentially took bits and pieces of feminine and masculine elements and created a Frankenstein of them.”
What are a few things that come to mind when wedding attire is brought up? Is it the need to feel sharp and polished, hence the streamlined tux? Is it the desire to feel ethereal and dreamlike, hence the long white wedding gown? Well, Cassell’s work tells the same story. It just looks different than what’s normal.
At QUEERA, traditional tuxedos typically donned by dapper dandies are replaced with deconstructed beige jackets and trousers. Wool is swapped out for airy linen. The classic wedding dress has been bippity-boppity-booped into a garment that looks something sort of Edwardian. Billowing shirts have elongated trains, and sleeves are puffed and quite dramatic. “People are changing and so are their thoughts on what they want to wear to their wedding. Everyone wants their wedding to be like the Met Gala,” he says jokingly. Even the colors offered are out of the norm: an earthy beige here, seductive red there. Even a deep blue is an option.
While the collection is gorgeous on its own, it certainly speaks to the bigger picture: Queer people are constantly changing the rules of wedding attire, and their options for what they choose to don on their big days remain endless. “I never want to be considered a ‘genderless’ brand. More like, gender powerful. I love tapping into both the masculine and feminine sides of fashion and merging them together,” Cassell says. “And it doesn’t stop there. I get a lot of clients whose bodies didn’t fit off the rack. So it’s not just about fitting an identity, but actually fitting people’s bodies.”
Avant-garde certainly isn’t the only option when it comes to queer wedding fashion. For Ross Matsubara and Noa Santos, their inspiration for their wedding attire was rooted in cinema. According to Matsubara, the two wanted their wedding fashion to match their lush Hawaiian wedding while still reflecting each of their personalities. “Noa is generally more minimal, clean, and classic, whereas I tend to gravitate towards pattern, unique details, and sheen,” Matsubara says. “That said, we did not want our suits to be ‘on-trend’ or tied to a specific season or collection. We wanted the suits to be timeless.”
Together, they took their ideas to New York menswear designer, David Hart, to craft their perfect looks. The results seemed to be plucked from a luxuriant green dream. Matsubara chose a bold paisley print in dark hunter and jade green with a light sheen. The suit gave the illusion of changing colors which was dependent on the way the light hit. Santos opted in for a sleek, dark hunter green in a beautiful silk-linen fabric. They accessorized in a similar fashion: matching Magnani patent leather tuxedo shoes, oversized Tom Ford bow ties, and vintage gold knot cufflinks.
But, it was more than just the gorgeous final designs that were memorable for the couple– it was the process. As Hart worked to help design everything, from selecting fabrics to designing silhouettes and the works, this temporary ritual grew into a sentimental memory. “His studio and tailors are located in Greenpoint, an area in Brooklyn we don’t visit frequently, so the tuxedo designing process became a fun little excursion for us,” Matsubara says. “After each visit, we’d always head to Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. down the block for happy hour oysters and wine. We’d talk about the wedding and cherish the journey we were on. It ended up becoming a really memorable tradition.”
Ultimately, choosing wedding attire for queer couples boils down to personal preference—just as with any other type of wedding. While the options remain ceaseless and boundaries are no more, it’s important to remember that choosing what to don reflects directly on what will make a couple happy. “I’ve received emails from people saying that they’d never imagine being married until they saw my clothes,” Cassell says. “Those are always the most empowering moments.”
Decide On What Really Matters
Like most things, one shoe size does not fit all. Just because one queer couple opts in for the avant-garde, doesn’t mean another who has an affinity for traditional attire is wrong. At the end of the day, your wedding is yours, and your opinion is the last day. Begin by asking basic questions: Do you feel comfortable going bold? Or, do you prefer a classic look? Determine what you value in attire, and decide how you and your partner want to exemplify that.
Show Off Your Personality
Your wedding only (hopefully) happens once. You should want to show off your and your partner’s personalities wherever you can. Choosing to wear something out of the ordinary can be easier, as a red suit or a billowing shirt with a t-shirt says enough about one’s personality. But, also consider the smaller details: change the bow tie or swap a shoe color. Maybe you want to adorn a fabulous brooch or wear a non-traditional shirt. As they say: love is always in the details.
Consider the Formality of the Wedding
While you certainly don’t have to abide by the codes of formality at your own wedding, it is a good guide to decide on your attire. If you ask your guests to come in black-tie, it might be respectful to follow suit. At least, in some form. After all, a tuxedo can be made in any color or any style that you prefer to inject your personal taste in.
Build a Wedding Wardrobe
Are you someone who needs options or wants a dramatic wardrobe change? Need to compromise with your partner? Consider having not one, but two wedding looks. Say you feel that you want a traditional ceremony with a sharp tuxedo or dress, but want to change into something more glamorous, camp, and fun for the reception. It never hurts to have a little wardrobe change!