Many women opt for a dress straight out of Disney when they wed their Princess Charming; however, others’ dreams take a more dapper route. Three brides who opted for suits explain how their choice of attire ensured that their big day was the best day of their lives.
Day-to-day, these three brides aren’t strangers to blurring gender lines through fashion. Nikki Oliva, 29, from Long Beach, California, says, “These days I tend to dress more masculine. It fits my personality.” Kelsey Crossley, 24, from Missouri City, Texas, says, “I don’t feel pressured to feel girly or conform to straight women standards.” Sharae Vicknair, 26, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says, “I have never fit in the stereotypical ‘girl’ box, I’m a lesbian and a tomboy. I go for whatever feels natural and forget about what the social norm might be.”
Like many brides who wear suits on their wedding day, Crossley knew she didn’t want to a wear a dress before she even got engaged: “Once I understood my sexuality and came to know more about myself I knew I wouldn’t want to wear a dress. I never felt comfortable in them to begin with.”
Many lesbians don’t grow up imagining themselves getting married, including Vicknair. “Before meeting my wife, I had never thought twice about a wedding or what I would wear,” she said. But once she and her now-wife set a date, she knew a dress wasn’t an option for her. “I always felt confident in a nice fitting blazer and my wife was pumped about it.”
Every bride wants their wedding outfit to fit like a glove and this can be the first hurdle brides encounter when suit shopping. “I knew I wanted to wear a suit but men’s suits aren’t flattering for me,” Oliva explained her conundrum. “But, women’s suits are too feminine for my liking.” A bride needs to find an option where her outfit can be tailored to perfectly fit her body, while also feeling supported and understood by the company she works with.
Custom suits can make that dream come true, and both Vicknair and Oliva went the custom route. Oliva describes custom suiting as “the neon lights to my wedding vision, I knew instantly I wanted to have a suit custom made.” Sharpe Suiting, a queer-owned company who specialize in suits that fit female-born bodies, helped alleviate Oliva’s stress: “Our worry about my outfit disappeared. I was over the moon with excitement about how it was going to turn out.”
Mainstream tailors are also an option for women, and that’s the route Vicknair took. She loved the way it turned out but remembered a story that made her laugh: “Since my suit was made in South Louisiana, I guess the company doesn’t have labels to address females – the label they made said Mr. Vicknair!”
Brides might feel scared a suit will destroy parents’ dream of seeing you in a wedding dress. Oliva was reluctant to tell her family at first but “ultimately they were supportive.” Vicknair’s family were supportive too: “My family stopped being surprised by my androgynous style long ago.” Crossley says her family were happy with her decision: “My mom and sister immediately took me shopping. They were nothing but supportive.”
If you’re not fortunate enough to have supportive family, turn to your chosen family of friends who will be excited by your choice to be you. Friends can know you better than family and can provide support where family may struggle to. Oliva says guests loved her outfit. “A lot of guests were excited about my suit and asked where I got it, and every response was positive and affirming,” she said. None of her friends were surprised by her outfit: “The last time I wore a dress was 11 years ago to prom!”
Shopping for a wedding dress is one of the moments feminine-presenting brides are most excited for, and masculine-presenting brides can share that fun experience with family and friends too. Crossley says her mom was involved with picking her ensemble: “It was my mom’s idea to take me to Men’s Warehouse so I could get a fitted tux.” Vicknair’s mom supported her through the whole design process. “I could sense the feelings of satisfaction and pride in her baby girl even though there wasn’t a dress involved,” Vicknair says.
Even though many people have learned to embrace brides in suits, some people may be confused and think a suit means you are embracing the role of a “groom”. Wearing a white suit is a neat way to feel bridal and set yourself apart from the wedding guests. It will help you stand out in photos and even passers-by will be able to see that the stunning wedding they’ve spotted is yours! Crossley wore a gorgeous ivory tux, vest and tie: “I wanted to stay traditional and wear white even though I wasn’t wearing a dress.”
But a suit is about uniqueness, and white is far from the only option. Oliva wore a striking navy three-piece suit and couldn’t say enough how happy she was with it: “It was more perfect than I could have even imagined.” Vicknair wore a beautiful green suit with a leopard print lining, inspired by nature. “My wife and I love the mountains and the trees,” she explained. “We got married in the mountains. Green worked with the scenery.”
A suit doesn’t mean neglecting sentimental details or cultural traditions. “I wore my dad’s watch so he’d be a part of the wedding – he passed away when I was 16,” Crossley says. “I also wore Western boots because I wanted a country twist. My favorite part was the henna I had on my arm. My wife is British/Indian and we wanted to incorporate some Indian traditions into our wedding.” Vicknair had her wife’s initials stitched into her shirt. Oliva wore socks with rainbow hearts, a gift she also gave to her bridesmen, to signify her pride in her same-sex nuptials.
Your wedding day is a celebration of your marriage, which you are one half of! Feeling your authentic self is paramount, especially for masculine-of-center women who can shut down a part of themselves growing up. “For years I have buried the real me and I didn’t want to do that on my wedding day,” Crossley says. “To really feel all those emotions, I had to feel comfortable in what I was wearing. I knew I looked just how I was meant to look on my wedding day,” Vicknair says.
And of course we had to ask the brides what the best part of wearing a suit was! Oliva said, “Looking sharp next to my bridesmen and being able to marry my best friend, confidently, in front of over one hundred people.” Vicknair says wearing a suit made her feel that “all was right in the world.” Crossley’s favorite part: not worrying about Spanx! “The best part was how comfortable I was. It felt like any other day but fancier!”