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DECATUR – The white dress and tuxedo are wedding wear staples, but these days couples are looking for more by going with less.

Marina Loehr, owner and seamstress of the Marina Bridal Shop, said after years of heavy veils and long trains traditional wedding clothing has shifted.

“Everything is more simple now,” Loehr said.

She can't say if the change is from smaller budgets or something else, but Loehr said most couples aren't as formal anymore. Whether it's a tiara, feathers, camouflage, hats, rain ponchos or red gowns, these Central Illinois couples wore it their way on the big day.

If the boot fits

Corey Dowd and Betsy Miller Dowd, of Pawnee. Married Sept. 13, 2014.

The bride great up riding horses and the groom is a duck hunter, so wedding boots, jeans and camouflage ties were a perfect fit.

“We're big country people,” said bride Betsy Dowd.

The couple had already been together 11 years, so they knew they wanted a relaxed wedding.

“During the ceremony everyone was in jeans,” Dowd said. “Even our preacher was in jeans and a sports jacket.”

While it wasn't an instruction for anyone outside the wedding part to wear cowboy or work boots, several guests used it as an occasion to buy a new pair of boots.

“We didn't want to make people feel uncomfortable,” she said. “Everyone saw it coming, we just wanted it be a big party.”

Hoping to spare the cost of expensive dresses for friends who were in multiple weddings, Betsy Dowd gave her wedding party a purple color swatch to match. Even her bouquet, made up from antique brooches, spoke to their efforts as casual and cost effective.

“Corey had to help me put them all in, he was really helpful”

The groom wore dark jeans, boots and a vest.

“I wouldn't have had a wedding if I was in a suit,” Corey Dowd said.

The groomsmen had home-sewn camouflage ties and spent the morning of the wedding shooting clays. They even found a way to fit duck hunting into the wedding.

“We took the feathers from that and put them in the boutonniere,” Betsy Dowd said.

A touch of the macabre

Tanya and Brian Haubner, of Decatur. Married July 24, 2010.

Since it was a second wedding for both the bride and the groom, they wanted to do it their way.

“We decided that we had done the church wedding and we wanted to keep it small and have a huge party,” said Tanya Haubner.

She and her husband Brian love Halloween so much it became the theme of their haunted wedding, including a black and red cake, skulls, blood red roses and a wedding gown to match.

“I really, really, really wanted a red dress and I searched high and low,” Haubner said.

That quest turned out to be harder than she thought and took her all the way to St. Louis, where she was able to buy a gown the right shade of red with a train that wasn't a prom dress.

“Most people thought we were weird all of our friends thought it was so cool,” she said.

Brian Haubner, a big KISS fan, walked down the aisle to their music and wore a KISS shirt at the ceremony. The guests went casual for the hot July ceremony, with sun dresses and shorts. Several even came in Scottish kilts and custom-made T-shirts the read “wedding security.”

“We wanted people to come and be comfortable,” Haubner said.

Keeping it casual

Dan Sehy and Sarah Ruholl-Sehy, of Effingham. Married Aug. 9, 2013.

“We didn’t want a big wedding, we actually had a secret wedding,” said Sarah Ruholl-Sehy. “We invited everyone the day before.”

The couple settled on a date for their backyard wedding the week before at a time convenient for their closest family members.

“They weren’t too surprised knowing us that this is what we were going to do,” she said.

The bride's mother made a bird-cage style veil out of old bits of lace, feathers, a doily and a barrette. The dress, short and lacy, was something she would wear again and was accompanied by turquoise flats and a chunky necklace.

“The whole thing was very laid back,” she said.

The groom picked up plaid shorts and a polo shirt for the occasion.

“I still wear them now,” Dan Sehy said.

Guests were told to dress casually. After hearing the bride's father would be wearing a Hawaiian shirt, the officiating judge decided to wear one as well. However, one of the bride's brothers wasn't informed of the dress code.

“He showed up in slacks and a tie,” and was appointed a spur-of-the-moment usher said Sarah Ruholl-Sehy.

When it rains

Krystal and Kevin Callarman, of Decatur. Married Sept. 2, 2010.

When Krystal and Kevin Callarman got married at the appropriately named “Bridal Veil Falls” the smallest of the Niagara Falls they knew it was going to be wet. Luckily, they came prepared.

“We wore ponchos,” said Krystal Callarman.

Wearing black and white ponchos over street clothes and provided slip-proof sandals, the two exchanged vows in the mist of the waterfalls. Following in the footsteps of her grandparents who honeymooned at the falls when they got married, the couple knew they wanted a stress-free wedding.

“We would rather have something low key and come back and celebrate together,” she said.

They did their bachelor and bridal showers in Decatur before traveling to New York. It was at the bridal shower that Krystle Callarman's future step-sister-in-law and step-mother-in-law gave them the home-made ponchos, complete with lace from her own veil.

Looking back, both said they wouldn't change a thing.


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