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If you plan to say “I do” with sand between your toes instead of wearing stiletto Louboutins, there’s no reason to compromise wedding style. Designers are embracing the trend with boho looks, lots of lace and revealing numbers, but it doesn’t hurt to bear in mind a few guidelines when shopping for your dream dress, say wedding experts.

Stick with lightweight fabrics

First, consider the impact the bright and sunny weather will have on your comfort level.
“Make sure that you are looking at gowns with lightweight fabrics to keep you as cool as possible,” says Lori Conley, divisional merchandise manager of David’s Bridal.

Think layered tulle, chiffon and lightweight laces. Examples include a strapless dress with a tulle skirt at David’s Bridal, an illusion neckline column gown by Angel Sanchez and the strapless corset gown by Wtoo by Watters.

It’s okay to bare a little skin

There’s also a sense of élan and adventure that come with beach weddings where exposed skin is more of an option than in ceremonies at places of worship. Dare to lighten up with shoulder-bearing necklines and thigh-revealing slits.

“Beach weddings are about romantic ease and spirited fun,” says Sarah Teng, director of marketing and public relations of Dallas-based Watters. “It’s the perfect time to show off in a strapless, plunging or bikini neckline.”

Off-the-shoulder looks are a great match for a beachy locale, such as an above-the-knee lace number from David’s Bridal, and peek-a-boo cut-out styles from Angel Sanchez. A deep V-neck gown in revealing lace and a spaghetti strap gown with a high fringe hem and low back are popular looks at Willowby by Watters.

Short dresses aren’t your only option

Don’t be hemmed in by assumptions that you need to need to avoid floor-grazing gowns for a beach wedding. Long dresses are absolutely appropriate, from those with high-low hems to knee-high slits, especially if ladies are self-conscious about their legs. But, if brides prefer a more modern look, short, structured dresses can provide a sleek alternative, Conley says.

Bottom line (no pun intended), think about your footwear choices. “Walking in sand is hard enough,” Conley says. “Pick a dress that you will be able to wear with flat sandals or barefoot.”

Go with the boho flow

In terms of style trends, anything boho chic is in demand at Molle Bridals in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., says owner Jennifer Molle.

“Right now, the look is about empire waists and flowy gowns,” Molle says. Brides are opting mostly for floor-length gowns with English netting and even ballgowns with light and airy organza layers from designers such as Anne Barge, Stella York and Tara Keely.

Customers at LOHO Bride, with stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco, often prefer separates for their beach weddings, says Christy Baird, founder and creative director of the bridal boutique. Slimmer styles by Rime Arodaky and Bo & Luca with cropped tops showing off a sliver of skin are key sellers. Super confident brides are also rocking bodysuits by Samantha Pleet.

Break out of the white bubble

Brides are even opting for a dose of color. Borrowing inspiration from their locations, soft shades of blue or aqua can look stunning on a sun-kissed Hawaiian day.

Blush tones – a la rose or champagne – are also super-flattering if brides are looking for an alternative to bright white, Baird says. Options include a Willowby by Watters V-neck gown in nectar and a Wtoo by Watters princess-style gown in amaranth. “Color is trending no matter the venue,” Conley says.

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