Here comes the bride - in sneakers and comfy dress

Couples increasingly favour casual styles for their weddings, with sneakers and lightweight dresses and suits

Most brides get stressed about what to wear for their wedding day, but Ms Celeste Ang, 29, was relaxed about her requirements: She simply looked for a "comfortable yet stylish" dress that she could wear again.

Ms Ang, a creative lead working for an online grocery store, wore a white T-shirt-style, calf-length dress from London-based womenswear label Self-Portrait, paired with white canvas shoes with lace details from Spanish fashion brand Stradivarius for her wedding in April.

Her dress cost $600 while her shoes were $30 - less than the bill for her groom Roy Lim, co-founder of creative design studio Section.

His designer Commes des Garcon shirt and pants, Topman jacket and leather shoes from British shoe brand Grenson cost about $1,000 in total. His shirt was bought at a 40 per cent discount in Singapore and the jacket was first donned when he was a best man at a friend's wedding last year.

Ms Ang says: "You just have to know your style and whether you will be comfortable wearing your outfit. When I chose the dress, it was whether I liked it, could walk in it and be comfortable."

Most of her family and friends thought the dress fit her easygoing, cheerful personality very well - no one had commented about her having to wear a certain type of dress or follow wedding tradition, she says.

You just have to know your style and whether you will be comfortable wearing your outfit. When I chose the dress, it was whether I liked it, could walk in it and be comfortable.

MS CELESTE ANG, on choosing to wear a white T-shirt-style, calf-length dress and white canvas shoes with lace details for her wedding in April

She represents a growing group of Singapore brides choosing to wear lighter and more comfortable gowns to beat the humid weather - and wearing sneakers at their nuptials, like what Taiwanese actress Shu Qi did when she wed film-maker Stephen Fung, 42, in Prague recently.

The 40-year-old actress put on sneakers with a T-shirt-style wedding dress that was reportedly a gift two years ago from Swedish fast-fashion brand H&M.

In Singapore, the casual flair of non-conventional brides finds a parallel in their preference for smaller and more intimate weddings over the grand Chinese wedding dinner in a ballroom.

Some even do away with skirts. Bank account manager Goh Ying Ying, 34, wore a white silk crepe backless jumpsuit with a cape, costing about $1,200, by home-grown dress- and suit-maker Caramel & Co.

Ms Goh, who married at the Raffles Hotel in May, knew from the start she wanted to wear a jumpsuit "purely for comfort's sake". She professes not to be "a girly-girl" and does not usually wear skirts.

She says of her jumpsuit: "My relatives were opened-minded about it and my husband said it was cool and different. I'm a very chill person - I like to keep things simple."

She accessorised with a brown faux leather belt from Australian fashion brand Forever New and white heels from home-grown shoe brand Charles & Keith. Her veil was added to her outfit at the insistence of her great-grandmother.

Bridal studios and wedding gown designers have seen a growing number of brides asking for casual styles because these are easier to handle and move around in, compared with cumbersome ballgowns.

Gown designer Pearlyn Oh says she has seen a 25 per cent increase in the number of brides "inquiring about more comfy gowns".

She adds: "They are getting more into comfort and prefer the wedding gown to reflect their everyday style."

Ms Oh, 26, who has been working at bridal designer boutique Amanda Lee Weddings for six years, attributes the increase to more brides doing their wedding research online and getting inspired by different kinds of wedding venues other than the conventional hotel ballroom.

She adds: "When couples opt to hold their wedding at a more relaxed venue, this affects their choice of wedding outfits."

Alfresco or indoor dining at cafes, bistros and restaurants are among the casual venues.

The trend is also seen by Ms Mel Chen, 38, founder and designer of Caramel & Co. When she started her company eight years ago, brides opting for casual weddings were "rare" and "most would wear long gowns and do the big ballroom dinners".

Ms Chen, who has about 60 clients a year, says about 70 per cent of them opt for cosier weddings and more casual "non-ballgown style" dresses with smaller, more flowy skirts that are "easy to handle".

She adds: "It's definitely more comfortable and lighter. You don't need someone to follow you everywhere to help you with your gown and it feels like you are wearing your normal clothes."

Ms Shenny Yuh, co-owner of The Prelude Bridal, which carries gowns from brands such as Marchesa and Christos, thinks the trend of rustic and bohemian weddings has resulted in more brides going for casual styles to match.

About half of the 70 gowns at her shop are more relaxed and flowy bohemian-style dresses, up from 30 per cent about two years ago. The rest are classic wedding styles such as ballgowns with full skirts.

She says: "It's a trend, but it's also for practical reasons, especially if you do an outdoor wedding here where the weather is so humid."

For Ms Beverly Tan, it was not just about having a comfortable dress, but having the right sneakers too.

The 30-year-old housewife, who is expecting her first child, had her wedding outfit designed around her gold glitter and gemstone sneakers from French brand Miu Miu, which she bought last year for about $1,200.

She matched her shoes with a beaded crop top and silk organdy skirt, designed by Ms Chen, which cost about $4,000. Her bridesmaids also wore sneakers from brands such as Superga and Toms.

Says Ms Tan: "I loved the shoes. I bought them intending for them to become my wedding shoes."

Similarly, pre-school teacher Tan Kai Yan wanted sneakers to be part of her wedding outfit. She and her business analyst husband, Mr Lee Tai Yun, both 28, wore matching Nike Air Max sneakers.

Their shoes, which cost US$200 (S$273) a pair, were ordered online from the Nike US website and customised with their names and in their favourite colours: midnight blue, red and gold.

Ms Tan says: "I don't like wearing heels and we feel the wedding should reflect our personalities. We don't like to be in formal dress and, when we go out, we usually wear sneakers."

She paired the shoes with a red ceremonial "kua" dress, bought from Chinese e-commerce website TaoBao, for the tea ceremony. The dress cost about $100, including shipping.

She says their parents, who had "never seen a wedding where the bride is wearing sneakers", found the shoes "cute".

They objected only to the wedding dinner venue - Skyve Wine Bistro. Ms Tan says: "They said weddings should be in a hotel. But we didn't like that because our guests would not be seated close to us and we would not be able to interact with friends."

Stylists such as Ms Evon Chng, 27, feel that a bride should be able to wear whatever she wants on her big day. But to avoid looking sloppy, she advises brides to go for a "glamorous look" done up by professional hair and make-up artists, and to dress up their outfits with accessories and shoes.

"For brides who prefer flats or sneakers, opt for styles with some shiny sequins," she says. "This will ensure that they will still look dressed-up in a casual dress."

Still, brides who desire to go casual do not always get their way. Ms Seow Y.R., 26, planned to wear a crop top, a long skirt without a train and sandals for her wedding next January, but her family wanted her to dress in a gown and heels.

She says: "I wanted something I can wear again and I don't want to waste money, but my family was not comfortable with that because of the tradition of wearing an elaborate white gown."


Shoes first

Who: Mr Roslee Yusof, 40, film director in a video production company; and Ms Beverly Tan, 30, housewife.

Married in January at their home in central Singapore. 

What he wore: A tailor-made blue suit and two shirts from Rossi at Millenia Walk costing about $1,400; and sneakers with camouflage print from Swedish streetwear brand WESC priced around $150. 

What she wore: Beaded top made of Japanese silk kimono crepe and skirt made with silk organdy with soft tulle that cost about $4,000 from home-grown bespoke dress- and suit-maker Caramel & Co; and gold glitter and gemstone sneakers that cost about $1,200 from Miu Miu. She had her wedding outfit designed around her gold sneakers.



PHOTO: JUANMOLEY

Jumpsuit and cape

Who: Mr Eddie Yeo, 35, art director; and Ms Goh Ying Ying, 34, account manager at a bank. 

Married in May at Raffles Hotel. 

What he wore: His blue suit, white shirt, bow tie and pocket square were tailor-made in Bangkok at Pinky's Tailor for about $600; and his brown leather shoes were from Thai brand Mango Mojito and cost about $150. 

What she wore: A white silk crepe backless jumpsuit and matching cape from Caramel & Co, which cost about $1,200; brown faux leather belt with gold metal bar from Forever New, which cost about $30; and white pointed pumps from Charles & Keith, which cost about $58. Her veil was handmade by a friend.



PHOTOS: CAPTUREALIFE

Matching footwear

Who: Mr Lee Tai Yun, 28, business analyst; and Ms Tan Kai Yan, 28, pre-school teacher. 

Married in March at Skyve Wine Bistro. 

What he wore: Tailor-made suit from home-grown suit-maker Mr Gentleman, which cost about $390; white shirt from Zalora.sg, $25; bow tie from Zara, $35; and customised Nike Air Max sneakers, US$200 (S$273). 

What she wore: For her pre-wedding studio shoot (above), she wore a gown she rented from Bqueens that was part of a three-gown package for about $1,000; and customised Nike Air Max sneakers, US$200.



PHOTO: BLOC MEMOIRE

Casual in canvas

Who: Mr Roy Lim, 31, co-founder of creative design studio Section; and Ms Celeste Ang, 29, creative lead at an online grocery store. 

Married in April at Amara Sanctuary, Sentosa. 

What he wore: Commes des Garcon shirt and pants from Hilton Singapore, a Topman jacket and leather shoes from Grenson, which cost about $1,000 in total. 

What she wore: A Self-Portrait dress from Et-i-kit at Mandarin Gallery for $600; and white canvas shoes with lace detail from Stradivarius for $30.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'Saying I do, in sneakers'. Print Edition | Subscribe