Boho wedding dresses – the ultimate in femininity

Are you looking for inspiration for your wedding theme and dress that’s right on-trend and the ultimate in femininity? Boho weddings are very chic, very cool and a great way to show off a vintage dress.

‘Boho’ is short for Bohemian and in simple terms, means a free-spirited person who is looking for the alternative.  Boho also has a strong artistic connotation and is a word used in many contexts so what exactly is a Boho wedding dress?

Typical features of a Boho wedding dress

The great thing about Boho wedding dresses is that they are not just one style, it’s not prescriptive and that is the whole point, within the genre, anything goes.  For sure, these dresses or separates – it doesn’t have to be a one piece – have a common theme so they tend to focus on a real romantic vibe which is often associated with a design that is more loose fitting and flowing rather than something very stylised and figure-hugging.  So forget the sharp ballgown look or the traditional meringue dress style, some common features and themes for a boho wedding dress might include:-

  • A floaty and ethereal look which is usually reflected in the design and the choice of fabric
  • Statement details such as tassels – very hippy – or fringes or just acres of lace, so feminine and flattering, these details create soft, fluid movement which makes for some fabulous flowing photographic images of the bride walking and will really catch the light
  • Statement sleeves, you can do sleeveless but the statement sleeve is a real feature of a boho wedding dress, just grazing the shoulder in a soft, see-through material or bell-shaped, so fitted from the shoulder to the elbow and then flowing out and quite exaggerated, a perfect design if you want to showcase beautiful lace.  There are also sleeves which create more of a shawl effect from the shoulder and can be used to almost wrap around the rest of the dress
  • Lace and lots of it!  It’s hard to find an image of a boho wedding dress that doesn’t incorporate lace somewhere in the design.  Lace is elegant, timeless, and feminine and there are lots of different types – broderie anglaise, croquet, Chantilly or applique are the most popular types of lace used on a boho dress.  Lace is both striking yet softly romantic at the same time, lace is one of those details which never looks wrong or out of place, it only ever enhances
  • If you glance through a selection of images then most of the dresses are white or a variation of white but boho can be softly pastel and light colours are often used for the bridesmaids, to continue the theme when the bride is wearing white.  A white boho dress can also be embellished with accessories in a variety of quite strong colours, usually reflected in the flowers, either the bouquet or in the bride’s hair

Does a boho dress suit all types of wedding?

Most brides who opt for a boho wedding dress are getting married in a rural or country setting or even outside, but not all.  A boho dress may just be the style that you have set your heart on and you can wear it wherever you want.

The vibe of a boho dress tends to be more relaxed, free-flowing, and casual so this style is often the pick for brides looking to create that type of ceremony and reception so perhaps a country wedding or a ceremony on the beach – there is nothing like going barefoot to really ace the look!  Boho dresses also tend to be for spring or summer weddings because of their connection with and inspiration from nature.

How to find a boho wedding dress

Boho dresses do tend to be a little more niche and towards the fringes – literally – of most standard dress ranges stocked by bridal boutiques.  So, we are not saying you won’t find one there but you may just not get the choice and range.

Once you start looking, there are actually plenty of boho wedding dress designers around.  Take a look at Bo & Luca for the unashamed romantic or Love Spell Design who offer a 21st century take on classic boho.  There are some sumptuous designs by Anna Campbell including some stunning boho separates and Lilian West offers lots of boho designs including loose and free-flowing and the more sculptured look with acres of embroidery.  Lilian West is a new designer on the bridal block and has been causing waves since she launched in 2014.

Take a look at second hand, vintage and retro, rummage around antique fairs and charity shops. You might just find an original design from the 1960s or 1970s which you can customise or accessories to create just the style you are looking for.  Online auctions are another good place to look and there are specific websites like here on bride2bride.co.uk where brides can sell their wedding gowns, it’s always worth keeping an eye out on the site in case the perfect boho dress pops up.

Following in the footsteps of…

Boho dresses don’t have to be the complete deal, some brides just hone in on certain features, remember all that beautiful lace on the sleeves of Kate Middleton’s dress when she married Prince William?  Definitely not a boho dress but certainly the lace made it soft and feminine and was a real feature.  In the same vein but certainly not the same style is the jaw-dropping dress worn by the actress, Priyanka Chopra, designed by Ralph Lauren, this also used lace to devastating effect.

The model, Kate Moss, flirted with boho a little although her gown was actually based on the glamour of the 1920s.  Designed by Dior designer, John Galliano, the line of the dress and the veil offered a soft silhouette which is romantic and feminine.  The ‘Twilight’ actress, Nikki Reed, went all the way in a backless gown by designer, Claire Pettibone, which incorporated an illusion neckline, three-quarter length sleeves and a very dramatic train – pure, vintage boho.

Singer Kelly Clarkson’s dress was described as low key when she married Brandon Blackstock in Tennessee but this long-sleeve lace boho wedding dress with a plunging front and subtle train is almost entirely made of lace and was set off to perfection with a hand-tied flower bouquet consisting of vibrant sunflowers and pretty bluebonnets.

Accessories

One of the great things about a boho wedding dress is the option to accessorise and probably with the widest range of items compared to other wedding dress designs.

  • Hats – go for the straw hat decorated with flowers for the festival look or the suede bushman’s hat complete with wellies for the real outdoor country wedding. How about a wide brimmed floppy white hat, very 1960s supermodel look
  • Flower garland or crown – emulate the bridesmaids and opt for a simple circular flower garland which looks beautiful with loose hair or ask your stylist to plait flowers into your hair
  • Bouquets – thinks hand-tied, seasonal blooms which are softly arranged to look as if they have just been picked, the sort of posy a child might carry as bridesmaid rather than an elaborate and formal bouquet which is a standard arrangement for many brides.  Colours can be bold and vibrant depending on the season and the wedding theme
  • Feathers – feathers can be a bit more 1920s cocktail than strictly bo-ho but some brides use them as they follow the free-flowing lines of a boho dress design and they are soft and flattering

Become inspired

Boho is intentionally many things to many people and it is quite a wide classification so it can simply come down to a question of what you like and what will suit you.  Some boho designs will stray towards Art Deco and almost a cocktail style whereas other dress styles will be pretty fairly rooted in traditional ‘hippyville’.

Take time online to look at lots of different designs and how the bride has done her hair and what accessories she is using.  View the Boho collection on Pinterest by Miss Lily Bliss, an absolute smorgasbord of beautiful boho and retro-inspired wedding dresses.  These pictures show a huge selection of different brides with some lovely hairstyles and in a wide variety of locations.  Looking at how the photographer has captured the dress will also be a source of inspiration for setting up classic images for your own wedding day.

Bridal Musings are another good destination on Pinterest with a focus which is not just on the dresses but on the flowers, the bride’s hairstyle, the bridesmaids, and the setting of the ceremony.

Don’t forget the theme can be carried into the bridesmaids’ dresses with similar soft, flowing gowns in pretty pastels and little flower girls will always look perfect in soft, smock-style dresses and straw hats – practical as well as cute.

Wrapping it up

Boho wedding dresses are all about femininity with no sharp tailoring or designs, just free flowing form and lines highlighted by the style of the dress and the choice of fabric.  Complement with a loose or semi-loose hairstyle with real or fake flowers either woven in or as a garland, and a hand-tied posy in pretty pastels or bold, statement colours.  And the best thing about a Boho dress other than the look of course…you will never have felt more beautiful or been more comfortable.