Inspired by Rachel Simon’s article that featured tips on attire for weddings with nontraditional dress codes, we asked readers to submit photos of outfits they wore to these kinds of celebrations. Readers responded in droves, and guests, brides and grooms shared distinctive and fun outfits from disco chic to cosplay, and even a pair of pants made out of stuffed animals. Below are some of the responses, which have been edited and condensed for clarity.
1. Wearable Art
My friend Cait, a freelance costume designer, got married in August and the theme was “Dress for your grandchildren’s grandchildren,” based on a quote from Cintra Wilson’s book “Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling American Style.” What I wore was even more special because I was honored to wear a custom garment that Cait made for me. The costume is part of a design series she’s done called Huddled Masses, where she makes clothes for people based on interviewing them about the way they connect their modern identity to their lineage as children of immigrants. I never expected that by the time Cait felt ready to work with me, it would end up being an opportunity to wear her art to her wedding!
Gregory Kirkorian, New York
2. A Nod to Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli
In 2019, my wife, Mel, and I threw our families’ first big, fat, British-Chinese lesbian wedding with the dress code “Judy by day, Liza by night.” We had multiple costume changes — I wore a red Roland Mouret gown with an added neon pink silk train and a Frida Kahlo-meets-drag-inspired towering flower crown followed by a white, silk caped jumpsuit and golden halo for the disco. Mel wore a traditional red silk qun kwa with gold and silver thread, and a powder blue linen suit and rainbow braces. But the person who was best dressed was our D.J. and surprise guest, the punk horror bearded drag queen, Baby Lame, the only person to wear a white wedding dress that day!
Alice Hutton, Boston
3. An Ode to Studio 54
I have a friend who is unlike anyone else on this entire planet and she married a man who is unlike anyone else on this planet and together they threw the party of the decade — the 1970s, that is. It was a disco-themed wedding — Studio 54, Donna Summer, Grace Jones, sparkle, glitter, rainbow, gold. My outfit was inspired by Grace Jones. Shaun and Eli wanted us to channel Studio 54, and since Grace was a fixture there, I knew I had to draw on her for inspiration.
Camille Beckles, New York
4. Dressed for the Castle
We were invited to a costume wedding held in a castle outside of Boston. It was the best wedding we’ve ever been to! The theme was “anything that would fit in a castle,” so there were people dressed up in the style of “Harry Potter,” “Game of Thrones,” “Bridgerton” and more. We went all out in getting costumes and loved that everyone took it so seriously. It made opening up and getting the party started effortless!
Bridget DeMott, Bend, Ore.
5. Sequins, From Head to Toe
The grooms requested that our outfits be “fabulous — sequins, tweed, pastel, linens.” The wedding was held at the bandstand on Brighton Beach . My husband wore a rose gold sequin suit with a belted jacket. I wore my wedding dress from our wedding in 2021, a gold sequin gown. My sister-in-law wore a nude sequin body suit with a detachable skirt. We called ourselves three shades of Legerski sequin champagne.
Megan Legerski, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
6. A Look That’s ‘Far From Stuffy’
Our best friends Lizzy Lynch and Rachel Dyke from San Francisco chose to get married in Prague. Rather than the typical come-as-you-arrive welcome drinks on Friday, they hosted a “Bohemian Cocktail” hour in a deconsecrated, 14th-century church in the center of Prague, complete with three hours of their friends’ amateur D.J. sets. The dress code for the wedding night, “Black Tie Self Expression,” encouraged an ethereal look that was far from stuffy.
Robby Sumpf and Daniel Santana, New York
7. Self Expression on Full Display
The dress code was full self-expression. I wore a crushed velvet custom jacket my friend Lila Pendleton Maycock made for me. The pattern on the back is a transparent sage linen. I found some pants to match the sage and some purple loafers to go with the touches of dirty purple on the cuffs and collar. The loafers also had bumble bees to match the buttons on the jacket, paying homage to the nickname my mom gave me, the bee charmer. My undershirt was a patterned ivory pajama top from the woman’s section of Goodwill.
Will Caswell, South Portland, Maine
8. Coastal Grandmother
At 91 years of age, I attended the first family event since the passing of my beloved husband of 65 years — the wedding of my grandson on a farm in Massachusetts. We were told to wear something that was cocktail or garden-appropriate as a general guide, and I went “coastal grandmother” with a yellow straw hat, Eileen Fisher top, blouse, and pants, an orange purse from the internet, and orange shoes from my beautiful daughter-in-law.
Jane McGrath, Yardley, Pa.
9. Summer Glory
It was my own wedding, which was outdoors on our friend’s land. A beautiful river runs through the yard, and guests were encouraged to bring bathing suits. We called the general dress code “summer glory” and let people interpret that as they wished. My partner and I, as well as our friend who officiated, wore ikat coats. It was super important to us that our outfits had pockets — and they did! When it came time to swim, my partner and I wore silver and gold bathing suits. This continued a loose theme we were inspired by for the entire ceremony, viewing it in the spirit of the alchemical wedding of sun and moon, warm and cool, light and dark, all of which are apt analogies for our contrasting personalities.
Rachel Keenan Roberts, Easthampton, Mass.
10. Space Age with a Desert Backdrop
We attended Kevin and Jill’s “space age” wedding in Twentynine Palms, Calif. The desert backdrop was the perfect setting for this out-of-this-world celebration of love, which included the groom’s entrance in a full spacesuit, the bride arriving in her own vintage Ranchero, a falcon delivering the rings and more.
Ken Tilley, Los Angeles, Calif.
11. Rainbows at Burning Man
My close friends Mitch and Izumi got married at Burning Man in 2022. The rainbow was a symbol of Izumi’s healing journey from Stage 4 lung cancer, and the super power of their special-abilitied daughter, Lumina.
Scott Martin, Los Angeles, Calif.
12. Riverfront Yacht Rock
The dress code was listed as “riverfront vintage yacht rock all aboard a Pride float.” My husband and I went heavy on the sequins: I wore a Lisa Frank-esque dress and he donned a mermaid suit jacket topped off with an LED bow tie.
Jenna Blackman, San Diego
13. Western Cowboy Vibes
My best friend from college got married this past January over Zoom, but by popular demand they had a reception for friends and family near Estes Park in Colorado. All I had to go on for choosing my outfit was “attire: desert formal.” Google Images wasn’t helpful, but Etsy was: I chose a tan suit from my closet, nabbed a big belt buckle and a bolo tie from Etsy, and in a last-minute, day-of thrift-shopping spree, picked up a cowboy hat, a pair of cowboy boots to match, and some lip-shaped sunglasses. I looked absolutely ridiculous — but my friend loved it. Yee-haw!
Michael Carter, Washington
14. A Suit for Seymour
Our wedding was held last year after being postponed for over a year. I have always hated traditional wedding dresses, so I already knew I was not wearing white. Our wedding was a costume party focused on 1890s Victorian style, and both of our outfits were handmade and are based on “The Phantom of the Opera.” I wore a handmade artist rendition of Christine’s ball gown, and my husband dressed as the phantom. Our cat Seymour, who was the ring bearer, was also dressed in a three-piece, Victorian-styled, black pinstripe suit.
Marissa Han, Santa Clarita, Calif.
15. A Spooky Celebration
My own wedding was on Halloween and the dress code encouraged seasonal colors and costume pieces. I wore a long black tulle skirt dress and shoes with bones for heels, and my husband wore a black suit covered in bright orange jack-o’-lanterns. Our son sported a skull and crossbones tie.
Katie Calvert, Kalamazoo, Mich.
16. A Sneaker Ball
The theme for my wedding was cocktails and kicks. We wanted something nontraditional, and decided to have a sneaker ball!
Toni (Minor) Scott, Baltimore
17. A Celebration of ‘Specialness’
My now-husband and I love the 1986 Talking Heads movie “True Stories.” It’s about a small, imaginary town in Texas holding their sesquicentennial “Celebration of Specialness,” and there is an interesting (and fashionable) cast of characters in the town. For my outfit, I wore a traditional wedding dress with a large, AstroTurf-covered hat. I also wore shoes covered in AstroTurf. My bridespeople wore homemade dresses made to look like loofahs. The groomspeople wore suits with clouds on them. Our flower girls wore dresses with many flowers on them and our ring bearer was dressed as a bear. We had a costume contest with different themes inspired by the movie and our friends blew us away with incredible outfits. Our wedding was a blast and the costume theme was unforgettable. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
18. A Costume, but Keep it Classy
After our initial plans were canceled in March 2020, we went a more informal route for our rescheduled wedding. Since our new date was in late October, and we’re huge Halloween fans, we went all in and had a Halloween-themed wedding. Our invites encouraged guests to wear a costume — but keep it classy! It was great seeing the creativity of our guests, many of whom still managed to dress up while being recognizably in costume. At the end of the day, we had so many guests say it was the best wedding they’d ever been to — so I think it was a success!
Reilly St. Amand, Los Angeles
19. Lisa Frank on an Acid Trip
My partner and I celebrated our marriage in May and the theme of our wedding was “Lisa Frank on an acid trip.” We wanted folks to feel comfortable while also honoring our love for color and all things weird and strange. We chose to surprise each other with our outfits and wanted to do something funky and glittery. Our guests all delivered as well and really stuck to the theme of trippy, magical, frilly, ’90s pop!
20. Hiking Formal
The dress code was hiking formal. We eloped on an island with nine of our closest friends, and exchanged vows on a cliff over the ocean. I wore a wedding gown with thick socks and hiking boots. The women wore lightweight dresses and hiking boots, and the men wore moisture-wicking button down shirts with hiking pants, suspenders and hiking boots. Everyone was sun-screened up, packed water in their CamelBaks and had their sunglasses handy for the big day.
Kelly Nova, Tampa, Fla.
21. An All-White Affair
This 14-person wedding had a dress code request — wear white! The bride wore off-white and the guests and mother of the bride (me!) were asked to wear white or as close to white as possible.
Heather Kight, Austin, Texas
22. Cosplaying on Their Wedding Day
Our wedding was Comic Con themed, and everyone was required to wear cosplay. My husband and I began the evening in Leia Organa and Han Solo, and had a surprise switch in the middle of the night to the Marvel characters Shang-Chi and Storm. Star Wars is one of my favorite fandoms, and it was a dream to dress from this universe at our wedding!
Leslie Barlow-Stopera, Minneapolis
23. Camping, Fringe and Sequins
The dress code was “Southwestern Rave” — think desert camping plus fringe and sequins. Which is why I wore a black cowboy hat, a sequined blazer, and flip flops for comfort.
Jia Liu, San Francisco