Destination: Koh Tao – ‘Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Beach Wedding Dress

We’ve written all sorts of blogs to help you with your destination wedding to Koh Tao and now we’re hitting the big topic of all weddings…the dress! With so many things to think about – the style, the cut, the fabric and, of course, the weather – where does a bride even start? Well… here would be a good place!

Wedding Dress Designer James Steward

Award-winning, couture wedding dress designer James Steward has kindly provided us with some simple guidelines to help you, our Forever Lovestruck brides, think of every eventuality and to ensure that your dress is simply perfect for your tropical island destination wedding.

Over to you, James!

Forget the Blancmange…if you can!

In my honest opinion, a ball gown belongs in, well, a ballroom…not on a beach! A big ‘Cinderella style’ wedding dress may look Vogue-worthy against a tropical backdrop, but, believe me, with the heat, it will only hinder you during your tropical island wedding day.  Don’t get me wrong, people do get married on beaches in full gowns, and, of course, there is no rule against it. I would just advise that you look for a lighter fabric that allows for more movement.James Steward Bridal

Attract the Ocean Breeze…Not the Sand

When deciding on the type of dress you’d like, think of the elements that surround you, in this case sun, sea and sand. Choose a lightweight fabric and immerse yourself in natural fibres that will match your environment. Stay clear of synthetic fabrics and think silk, cotton, linen, charmeuse and certain chiffons. All are lightweight and breezy, and will help you to keep your cool and they’ll flow perfectly in the ocean breeze.

Be careful if you want a long train; not only can it look like a sail in the wind, but you’re also more likely to have cleared most of the beach of sand by the time you reach your husband-to-be. If this is something you’re really hooked on, check with your wedding planner to find out if some sort of walkway can be provided to minimise sand collection. There are, however, so many other options out there: accessorise with a fresh flower crown or fascinator, rock the ‘Game of Thrones’ look with beautiful plaits, or ‘go natural’ with beach style, boho curls.

James Steward Bridal Design

Avoid Intricate, Delicate Detail…Keep it Simple

Lace is, indeed, beautiful and beading catches the sunlight perfectly, but keep these to a minimum on your tropical island wedding dress, especially towards the bottom. “Why?” you ask. Something that most of us will be unaware of – lace attracts sand like a bee to honey! You’ll end up with sand everywhere and wrestling bits of shell out of your dress.
What you can do is opt for an intricate top half of the dress and keep the bottom lightweight and simple. Believe me, the elements will do the rest of the work to show off your dress to perfection. The dress below was made for an English summer wedding, but would be perfectly adaptable to a beach wedding simply by taking some of the fullness out of the dress.

James Steward Detailed Wedding Dress




Comfort Doesn’t Mean Boring…Express Your Style

It’s your BIG day, and it’s going to be a fun-filled event where you’ll be dancing in the moonlight until, maybe, the early hours of the morning. Without sounding like your mum, comfort is key on your wedding day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your dress. Be a little playful with your wedding look – add a splash of vibrant color, or maybe you want to forgo the traditional white wedding dress altogether and go short…hell, if you feel comfortable enough, then tie the knot in a bikini!
James Steward Nathan Wedding DressSo, you’ve heard my tips, but what would my advice be? I’d opt with keeping your beach wedding dress simple. The design and fabric need to be light to suit the setting and surroundings. If you want to jazz it up, then add some design touches – backless is a key element in a lot my bespoke bridal designs; timeless and elegant at the front, and then that eye-catching detail at the back.

‘Diamond Back’ Bridal Dress

The ‘Diamond Back’ is made out of soft Italian crepe with classic applique detail, and subtly hand-stitched on the back. This dress is cut on the bias so that it sits beautifully on the body, and is made to flow perfectly with the elements.


‘Nemesis’ Bridal Dress

Made from a structured, but soft, British fabric, the eye-catching pleats and angles of the ‘Nemesis’ bridal dress sit beautifully, framing the shoulders waist and hips to create that perfect ‘hour glass’ outline. The appliques on the shoulder provide the minimum of detail and reflect beautifully in the sunlight, whilst the detail on the back provides the shape and perfect fishtail for some added detail.

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Having said all this, it’s your day and you’re free to wear whatever you want. Just make sure you’re happy with the fit of whichever dress you choose and that you feel 100% comfortable; do not settle for anything less! As a designer, I can advise and help you to create your design, but it’s you that has to wear it, and the dress will ultimately reflect your style and individuality. I always encourage my brides to ask as many questions as they like, come up with as many ideas as possible and make as many alterations as needed – just walk away 100% happy!

About James Steward

James is an award winning fashion designer based in the North of England and is twice winner of ‘Designer of the Year ‘ and twice winner of ‘Yorkshire Brides Couture Designer of the Year’ for his bespoke wedding dress designs. James was also the first British designer to show at Vancouver fashion week in 2010.