Yeehaw! The Fall Wedding Trend We Didn't See Coming

It all started with Sophia Bush. Photos of the 40-year-old actress’s wedding appeared in Vogue in early July 2022, and while most people focused on her stunning floral ballgown by Monique Lhuillier, it was the images from her rehearsal dinner that grabbed my attention. Bush wore a backless, caped, white gown (beautiful, but not so out of the ordinary, especially for a celebrity). But rather than pair it with diamonds or pearls or the usual bridal accessories, she opted instead for a white rancher hat, turquoise jewelry and a western concho belt. All were chosen to fit the theme of the evening, “elevated cowboy”—which the guests also totally aced—a theme I’ve since noticed at other nuptials.

The biggest wedding trend du jour is the idea that there are no limits, boundaries or expectations for what your wedding needs to be. Micro weddings, private ceremonies followed by huge reception parties months later, themed events—there are infinite ways to make your wedding feel unique to you and your partner. For many couples, that appears to involve tapping into both the rustic appeal of cowboy attire and high-fashion showmanship. Think glittering rhinestones or flapper fringe paired with silver cowboy boots, or draped white silk worn with a matching white felt Stetson. Bush’s “elevated cowboy,” or western glam, combines all the down-to-earth charm of the wild west with the more typical glamour of wedding attire.

In a more general fashion sense, cowboy influences have been steadily growing over the past few years. So it’s no surprise that the aesthetic is seeping into wedding trends now too.  Cowboy boots have been one a must-have footwear style for four or five years now, and we predict last year’s Cabincore and Cottagecore trends will transition to a Ralph Lauren-inspired posh Western aesthetic for 2022. Even Beyoncé embraced cowboy glam for her latest album, Renaissance, posing in fringed leather jackets and bejeweled bodysuits topped with classic ranch hats and even a metallic chrome horse. And to be honest, we kind of love it.

How to Create a Western Glam Wedding

Stick with Earthy Tones

Use warm, natural hues like terracotta, peach, marigold and shades of brown, cream and beige rather than super-bright colors. You can also go for a stark black-and-white color scheme for a bolder statement.

Choose Flora That Fits the Occasion

Wildflowers and greenery native to the Western Plains will pull everything together in a way that red roses simply can’t. Ranunculus, yellow roses, columbine, sagebrush and rodanthe are all gorgeous options, but when in doubt just ask you florist for suggestions.

Don’t Go Too Literal

Unless you want a true cowboy aesthetic with horses, denim, boot spurs and bolo ties, remember the “elevated” part of the theme. Opt for western-inspired pieces instead, like white boots with a curved silhouette at the top of the shaft rather than actual cowboy boots or dainty turquoise earrings rather than stacks of turquoise bangles.

Give Your Guests Specific Instructions

If you don’t want your uncle to show up in jeans and a bolo tie, you need to tell him as much. On your wedding website or invitation, lay out what exactly the theme looks like, i.e. “elevated western, no denim or plaid please.” You can even include inspiration photos online if you like. That said, not every guest is guaranteed to follow the dress code to a T, so if it’s going to stress you out worrying what others might wear, you might want to consider keeping the theme to just the bridal party.

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Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...