Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

Help me design a dress to wear to a friend's wedding - 2.0!

Nearly 3 years ago, I sent out a similar call - I was in a friend's wedding and needed to wear a specific color dress of any style, and had a hard time designing it. (Here's what I came up with.)

Now, I get a chance to design and make a dress to wear to the wedding of a good friend of mine later this summer. It'll definitely be a different atmosphere (beautiful rustic lake setting, peacocks wandering around the property, 300+ guests!), and I'm not in the wedding so I don't want to look too similar to the bridesmaids (who, I happen to know, will be wearing teals/blues in simple, short-ish semi-formal dresses). But, I do want to look good in the setting and with the color scheme. I'm not 100% sure on what it is, but I know it's rustic (think wood cookies, cowboy boots on the bride, and wildflowers in jars) and has a peacock theme twist to it (I think there'll be some peacock feather accessories).

Summer in Oregon is a magical time, and I love getting to enjoy it outdoors at a pretty setting like this wedding venue. It's definitely not the place for preppy or formal summer guest wear (I doubt there will be many ties, grey suits, and stilettos) but I definitely want to dress nicer than I do for a backyard party. Style challenge!!

So, some rustic inspiration from my friend's wedding pinboard... =)

Plus ideas from great party dress sources! Hoping I can combine the two, plus fabric and patterns I have or can find, to make a great dress to wear!

Designing a wedding-goer dress for a rustic wedding

So, I did some serious wedding party-goer dress research, and came up with these top choices from some pro sources: BHLDN (they have a whole listing for wedding attendee attire!), J.Crew Wedding, and Anthropologie party dresses, because I think some of their slightly funky prints and laces could be perfect for this kind of wedding).

My friend the bride has always liked blues and aquas more than pinks, and I really associate her with navy and mint and light blue. So I'm definitely drawn to those colors for this dress, to honor her tastes plus the wedding theme for the attitude.

(I would modify some of these since I don't want to do a maxi dress, and I'd pick a blue/mint/aqua/navy color family rather than the pink one.) But something like...
Sources: BHLDN, J.Crew, Anthropologie

Okay, obviously I'm all over the map! So many choices, all so different!

What would you do? Fitted? Ruched? Loose and flowing? Fit and flare?

I have plenty of patterns at home to work with, as I'm sure you can imagine, but can modify them to get the look! I may have to go fabric-shopping for this one. So, print or solid?

(Can you tell I need help focusing?) Anyone been to a wedding like this before, and have any ideas?

Update: This is what I made!


  1. I loved what you did with the teal lace insert on the navy shift a few months back! That tone-on-tone idea would work great for this; perhaps in a style like block 1 or 5 from your inspiration grid. If your summers are sweltering, too, it'd be a great way to glam up a natural, breathable fabric.

    Since you mentioned peacocks and a semi-formal/summer fancy dress code, have you considered trying greens or purples? You'd look fab in pictures but not like an "accidental bridesmaid" (my personal fashion fear.)

    Keep us posted on your progress — you'll be beautiful!

  2. I thought of green also when you mentioned the peacocks. If I was to pick a style, I would say fit and flare. If it is a night wedding, you may want to consider if you need some sort of wrap, shawl, or cardigan.

  3. My wedding last summer was a very similar feel. Mason jars, wood cookies, but we didn't get peacocks! Most of my friends wore cotton sundresses. I would say as long as you steer away from taffeta anything goes. Fit and flare is a great silhouette. Prints are always fun, and make sure to take a cardigan that coordinates for once the sun goes down. Good luck, can't wait to see what you make!

  4. I go with prints because they're less formal and I'll wear them again! I think some of the solid ones you included look a little like bridesmaids dresses? Love the print dress on the bottom left, that's my favorite! Can't wait to see what you decide!

  5. I love the print and halter neck of the maxi dress. Perhaps you could go with that style for the bodice and go for a shorter hemline. I agree that some of the dresses here look a bit bridesmaid like. Particularly the lace and one sholder styles.

  6. Definitely loose and flowing, like the middle left picture, but long so it definitely doesn't look like a bridesmaid dress. A sheer fabric with a small floral print over a solid lining would look nice. I'm thinking that a print like this one with some brownish reds in it (along with the blue) would give you that rustic/woodsy look:

  7. I really like the silhouette on the one in the top right corner, but I would like it more if the bodice was symmetrical (that is, no one shoulder style). I could picture you and that dress in a colorful print: nothing too crazy, but definitely bold. I hope you'll find the perfect inspiration-perhaps you could begin with the fabric?

  8. I really like the one -shouldered lace dress, I think I like it because of the solid color and silhouette. I ended up designing and sewing my own wedding dress. It was a worthwhile adventure.

  9. What about a bright green, one shoulder, fit and flare? I think it would be rustic yet elegant and the green mixes well with the peacock inspiration.

  10. My husband and I had a vintage wedding on his family's dairy farm last year. We went with a vogue pattern dress and made a casual yet wedding appropriate knee length dress that is similar to the feel of your inspiration. We used a ITY Knit with some wide lace and accessorized with belts. You can see the dresses on my blog here:

  11. Definitely the second row middle! Love it!

  12. I have a wedding to attend in July and am planning to do a similar post to help me decide what to sew! I know from experience that weddings in Oregon are generally very casual but I don't see why you should let that stop you. Will there be dancing? Maybe something with a full skirt that will be fun to dance in. The dress in the center of your moodboard looks lovely!

  13. What a beautiful wedding!! Lovely dress, too! Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. Oregon weddings do tend to be pretty casual, so less pressure! But still fun to dress up. I guess there's a good reason many party/wedding dresses have full skirts!

  15. I should! Having a hard time finding the perfect print or aqua fabric! :/

  16. i like the very first one or the right in the middle one, i think they would look lovely in you, good luck!



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