The Big Day doesn’t always mean you have to go designer or spend big bucks - there’s a bridal fashion idea for everyone on the high street. Let our resident bride-to-be take you down the online aisles…
Weddings: probably one of the most significant life occasions before which you watch money magically disappear before your very eyes (buying a house and having kids are likely the closest other contenders). This can actually quite easily be the case even if it’s not your own wedding - that seventh hen do of the year plus cocktail making short-course and party paraphernalia can really hammer your bank account. When it’s your nuptials, however, the numbers can whizz on by at an increasingly alarming rate the closer you get to the day.
According to a survey of 3300 couples by online wedding website Hitched at the end of last year, the average price spent on a wedding dress or outfit came to £1321, but if you’re keen to spend less than four figures on bridal fashion, the high street is here for you in a big way. Designs are cooler and fresher than ever, there’s something for traditionalists and the edgy alike and plenty of boho bridal options for less than £100, leaving more cash in the kitty for wine, cake, a string quartet of whatever else floats your wedding boat. Bookmark these affordable wedding dress options but don’t hang about too long if you spy something you love - in my experience styles and stock come in and out at speed. If an online order seems distinctly less exciting than a tour of a bridal shop, bear in mind that some high street shops offer a bridal styling and fitting service, but otherwise just get a bottle of prosecco chilling for a cushy at-home try-on. Here’s a starter for ten…
The Poppy is a beauty - the bold floral lace overlay is modern rather than net curtain, the sheer t-shirt sleeves and back are beautifully delicate and the grosgrain waistband creates structure. The dress flares out slightly at the back for understated drama but you won’t need to assign anyone to hold your train. The Poppy has been firmly assigned to my bookmarks so I defy you to beat me to it.
With a lacy racerback and clean halterneck, this romantic option is light and easy to dance, eat and greet in. The tulle underskirt creates a bit of volume without veering into meringue territory.
Is it a cape? It is a train? This one shoulder wonder features a distinctive detachable lace bow, an internally boned bodice for a close but not too close fit and a straight, chic skirt. The broderie anglaise fabric is feminine but the shoulder detail makes it somehow rock and roll too. If you want to make a statement but hate frou frou this could be for you.
This brings the frills, big time. Needle & Thread is a brilliant bridal brand to turn to if you love embellishment and detail, and the design team manages to combine multiple features without the end result looking ‘too much’. This tiered skirted dress is a case in point. The encrusted crystal, silver bead and sequin bodice is inspired by Victorian lace with cool frilled edging while the polka dot tulle bottom half has a scalloped design for extra movement. This all sounds way too much on paper but in real life, it really works.
Simple and clean with a graphic open back and neat bow, this sleeveless, round neck gown has a neat pleated skirt and is pleasingly weighty - I swished it about quite a bit at the press day. Also, PSA, it has pockets, AKA, snack holes. Let’s face it it’s going to be a long day you’ll want to sneak a cocktail sausage or five in there (you paid for them after all).
With a beaded floral bodice, draped V neck and flowy tulle skirt, this lightweight boho option would look equally ethereal on a beach or in a barn. It’s also probably as comfortable as wedding dresses come, so dance and eat your heart out.
This is more than a little Duchess of Cambridge , and while the blunt name explains what you’re getting in a very basic sense, the scalloped v neck makes it look more luxe than it is and the double lining ensures it’ll never go see through. It’s got a decent amount of in-built structure thanks to support panels at the bust and a concealed zip makes things a whole lot less fiddly at the getting ready stage.
A draped ivory dress with a smooth silhouette, this isn’t technically sold in as a bridal gown but I’ll take it. It’s glamourous and red carpet worthy with a split up the back that’ll show your shoes and you can save it in your wardrobe for another special occasion - it’s not overly wedding-y.
Yes, this technically isn’t a dress, but if you’re not a ‘dress person’ why gown up on your wedding day of all days? This elegant lace jumpsuit is a gorgeous ‘south of France’ esque alternative and looks especially cool with statement shoes. Scalloped edging and cap sleeves keep things soft and floaty while a fitted waist and a deep v back add a soupçon of sexy.
An airy pleated tulle and embroidery combo with a buttonhole key back, this floaty wedding dress sneaks in under £100 but doesn’t look remotely cheap. It’s available in a 4-18 but you can tailor it to ensure that the bodice and sleeves fit like a glove.
A fitted cap sleeve dress with an open-back, this is down from £250 and a dead ringer for French bridal brand Rime Arodaky’s sleek lace creations. This one’s flying out of stock so you’ll have to be fast, but if your size is still available it’s a unique buy that looks far, far more costly than it is.