After working in fashion for the last seven years, I'd like to think that I'm a confident dresser. By now I know my style, my shape, and the trends that are worth investing in, but even as a seasoned fashion editor, the one outfit that caused me the most deliberation was my wedding day outfit. In the year that gave us Nicola Peltz's square-neck gown and Kourtney Kardashian's corset mini, there are more options than ever when it comes to wedding dress styles. But the pressure to find The One is almost as overwhelming as planning the day itself.
There is an unspoken rule that whatever you wear has to tick several boxes. Most commonly, will it make your future spouse cry? Will it suit the venue? Will it still look as good in photos in 30 years' time? But in all honesty, my first thought was, "How will I find a wedding dress that reflects my personality?" As a somewhat "anti-traditionalist" bride, the thought of any puffball meringues made me recoil, and I'm not sold on the idea of a veil, so with eight months to go until the ceremony, it was no surprise that I found mine while scrolling through Instagram researching a trends story. But what about the hundreds of other brides who agonise over finding a modern yet classic, romantic yet cool, and trendy yet timeless outfit that really speaks to them? I turned to the experts for advice.
Photo:COURTESY OF HALFPENNY LONDON
"The key to finding your perfect wedding outfit is choosing a style that makes you feel like the very best version of yourself," says Kate Halfpenny, founder and designer of Halfpenny London. "Feeling 'bridal' has nothing to do with a particular style of dress, but everything to do with the emotion wrapped up in that garment so be yourself, whether that's in a ballgown, trouser suit or minidress. Research designers that fit your aesthetic and seek them out to try on and have a think about the clothes you already own which make you feel amazing. What is it about those pieces you love? Your own wardrobe is a great starting point!
"I love a twist on tradition so a jumpsuit worn with a sheer over skirt, or a beautiful draped edgy corset worn with a Mikado skirt with pockets can have that fashion sensibility and give a nod to tradition but in a totally modern way. Also, veils aren't for everyone but I really encourage women to try them as a veil can instantly transform even the simplest dress into an epic wedding look."
Photo:COURTESY OF HALFPENNY LONDON
With the outfit as the foundation of your look, how you choose to personalise and accessorise it can create a look thats uniquely yours. "When I started Grace 11 years ago, I found the industry was disillusioned with the structured, traditional wedding 'uniform' that dominated the market," adds Meg Ziems, founder of Grace Loves Lace. "I needed a gown that had personality, told my story, and was designed with passion, movement, and luxury in mind, and that is where I draw inspiration from.
"At the end of the day, the most important thing when choosing your gown is staying true to your taste. We see all kinds of brides come through our showroom doors, looking for both trend-led and timeless gowns. You can tell when they are asking to try on a certain gown because they love it, and the styles they are asking to try on because it feels on trend at the time or their Mum loves it. They always go with the gown that reflects them and suits their personality so I would say try on the gowns that speak to you the most. I love seeing how brides style our gowns, I think this is where they really make the look their own and can incorporate elements of their style to make the look theirs. Have fun with styling and mix it up between ceremony and reception as they are two very different events in the one day."
If I've learned anything in the wedding dress shopping process its to have fun, and to think about a look that celebrates what will be one of the happiest moments of your life (no pressure there, then). So in a bid to take the guesswork out of dress shopping and to help newly engaged brides find an outfit that is both fashion forward and unforgettable (for all of the right reasons) I tried on a lot of showstopping pieces to help you find you the very best. From the coveted designers you already know and love to the newly launched bridal exclusives and the contemporary bridal boutiques to know now, keep scrolling for the seven modern bridal brands that fashion brides will adore, plus the accessories to complete the look.
1. TALLER MARMO
The Ubud One-Shoulder Feather-Trimmed Silk-Crepe Gown
Even those who aren't engaged will know Taller Marmo's Ubud gown all too well. It's been a very good year for the Milanese brand, and in particular the one-shouldered dress that's been spotted on just about every stylish influencer from Paris to New York. As soon as the ivory and white colourways lande,d I immediately thought of this perfect party dress for a wedding reception. Is there any better piece to spend the night in than this unquestionably glamorous '60s- and '70s-inspired number? And to answer any practical questions, no, the feathers don't shed, and no, the fabric doesn't go sheer. Just be sure to be careful around the red wine.
The Benedetta Silk Dress
It's finally here! Now you can wear the Rixo dresses you rely on all summer on your wedding day too, and the 60-piece bridal collection is as true to the brand's mainline style as you could ever wish for. Covering bridal, bridesmaids and mother of the bride in the way that only Rixo can, expect retro references, playful detailing and a laid-back approach to formalwear that feels anything but stuffy. First up, the Benedetta silk slip dress, an easy (and flattering) column dress that is the perfect accompaniment to some vintage jewellery and a pair of mules. This is exactly the kind of comfortable dress I'd be happy to wear in summer without worrying about overheating.
The Winslett Feather Trimmed Dress
Next, the Winslett. And if you're looking for a dress with the wow factor, you've got it. The beauty of the feathered neckline is its versatility, and although I wore entirely off the shoulders, you can pull it up into a scoop neck or even wear off one shoulder; they all look equally strong. It's also important to note that the cut of the dress itself has subtle contouring stitching and a thicker viscose fabric that result in a flattering, figure-skimming fit, which I appreciate sans shapewear. Something fun and feathery like this needs a bold shoe, and adding a metallic platform felt like the retro twist that this dress deserved.
The Steph Sequin Dress
People who like a little bit of sparkle will appreciate the Steph dress, an art-deco-meets-disco take on the brand's familiar silhouette. In my opinion, there are few shapes more universally flattering than an empire waisted, V-necked dress with puff sleeves. It's designed to accentuate the best bits of every body, and the sequinned Steph doesn't disappoint. This dress is best on the dance floor where the lights will make the most of the sequins, but it'll easily be worn again and again for any of the other special occasions in your calendar, so this isn't a dress that will gather dust in the back of your wardrobe.
3. THE OWN STUDIO
The Sequin Co-Ord
And speaking of bridal looks that will light up a dance floor, The Own Studio is an expert in the kind of cool separates that you expect to see on the red carpet as well as walking down the aisle. Miniskirts have never been my forté, but as soon as I stepped into this sparkling set, it was impossible not to feel a million dollars. Whether you're getting married in Ibiza or Ipswich, you deserve to shine, and this party piece encapsulates the joy of dressing up and celebrating in style. So if you've already committed to the idea of a long and formal dress for your ceremony, I highly recommend a showstopping co-ord like this for your reception. It'll make for an unforgettable evening.
The Satin Co-ord and Sleeves
Clever layering and personalisation are part of what makes The Own Studio's contemporary designs feel so special, as what at first glance looks like a jumpsuit is actually three pieces that you can mix and match: an overlay top, satin sleeves, and a pair of satin trousers. As co-founder Rosie Williams helps me assemble the pieces, it automatically makes sense as one look (also a lesson in trusting bridal stylists, as often they know what will look amazing before you do). This is the perfect example of how to do easy elegance for those averse to dresses.
The Drop-Waist Dress
Only Williams could convince me into trying a veil that would still feel both modern and traditional at the same time. And while I'm still turning the decision over in my head for my own wedding, the real magic is the drop-waist dress that kicked me into full bridal mode. In all of my research, it was rare to come across a shape quite like this, something that felt like a fresh reinvention of the traditional bridal silhouette. The full skirt, twist at the bust and clever choice of Mikado fabric ticked all the boxes for the "princess" moment without being twee, a huge plus for any modern bride who is aiming for cool as well as chic.
The Poppy Dress
You can't discuss bridal without including Temperley, and you can't discuss a modern take on bridal without factoring in colour. Searches for black and coloured wedding dresses skyrocketed in January 2022, perhaps in response to the number of postponed and cancelled weddings of the previous two years changing their traditional plans to something more spontaneous, and for maximalist brides who love colour and print, this is your year to experiment. I love a summer wedding, and this statement dress is the perfect floaty, ethereal option for an outdoor wedding in the great British countryside or by the coast at a destination wedding. The epitome of dopamine dressing.
5. NADINE MERABI
The Amelia Jumpsuit
Wallflowers need not apply, as Nadine Merabi's brand of full-throttle, high-octane glamour is designed to be seen, and you can expect nothing less from her standalone bridal collection. I have always struggled with the proportion and fit of jumpsuits but hoped I would one day find a brand that would convince me otherwise, and today is that day. Firstly, the trouser length means that tall people, this one is for you. Being a little long in the leg can only be a good thing, as this is perfect for platform shoes (and tailoring to remove fabric is always better than the other way round), and secondly, the body-con fit means no sagging or baggy fabric and ensures a smooth fit. At once this feels like an occasion piece that you can wear to the ceremony, the reception, and many events afterwards too, so if a floor-skimming gown fills you with dread, this is the style for you.
The Charlotte Pearl Suit
While there are dresses in the bridal collection, the heroes are without a doubt the Instagrammable separates. From feathered miniskirts to lace trousers, fur coats to satin bralettes, there is something for everyone who wants to channel Merabi's signature charisma, and this suit is one of my favourites. A simple white suit is a classic (thanks to Bianca Jagger), but the pearl embellishment is what sets this apart as something really special. As with any of any Merabi's clothes, drink, dine and dance in them for one the best evenings of your life (and be sure pack the feathered pj's for the honeymoon).
6. GRACE LOVES LACE
The Anu One Shoulder Gown
As a relatively minimalist dresser, I've always looked for simple pieces with strong silhouettes, and there's no better example of how that translates to bridal than Grace Loves Lace's one-shoulder gown. Sure, on the hanger, it looks beautiful, but on a body, it comes alive, and wearing this sleek, effortless gown is easily the most comfortable I've felt in a dress in years. Those with understated yet refined style will love Meg's approach to formalwear and attention to detail (the length of the sleeves here is inspired), and with all of the collection, the quality of the fabric is what really elevates these from simple dresses to luxury gowns.
The Zsa Zsa Ruched Gown
On the other end of the scale, if your wedding calls for a big moment, the Zsa Zsa gown is all about sparkles, ruching, and a backless and high-slit detail that can be personalised with detachable crystals that feels very A-list. As I haven't been invited to any glamorous events lately, this was the first time in a long time I had an excuse to go all out, and everything about this dress made me want to go out and party. There's no need to over-accessorise with this dress, as it speaks for itself, so that's one less thing for you to worry about when starting wedding prep.
The Goldie Halterneck Gown
The halterneck wedding dress has been the chic fashion girl's dress of choice since Meghan Markle's Stella McCartney reception dress in 2018, and Grace Loves Lace's Goldie manages to bring it up date with a refresh that feels brand new. Sitting a little looser around the neck and with an open back, this sleeveless dress works for destination or black-tie, and they've even taken measures against side boob with a complementary satin rouleau that can be tightened or cut off if desired. Looks like they thought of everything.
7. CLIO PEPPIATT
With celebrity fans including Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton and Lila Moss, Clio Peppiatt is familiar with dressing fun-loving It girls, and now her newly released bridal collection brings her exuberant and tongue-in-cheek sensibility to wedding-wear too.
"I was inspired by various traditional symbols of love, such as Victorian jewellery that was exchanged as tokens of love and flowers that have represented love through the ages," says Peppiatt. "These romantic motifs decorate the collection in contract with sleek, contemporary silhouettes."
Imagine her bold, bedazzled, minidresses in luxe ivory and paired with delicate, hand-beaded tulle gloves and mini bags perfect for a rock-'n'-roll city wedding or spontaneous elopement. For me, it's impossible to choose between the strapless column dresses or embellished corsets, so I'll settle for one of her covetable bags to add a little personality to even the most simple look.
"For many women getting married now, I think the idea of marriage has developed so much, and I wanted to make modern pieces that better fit our concept of marriage today," adds Pepiatt. "I want our bridal pieces to make the wearer feel special and individual but also romantic and beautiful without sacrificing feeling sexy and modern… I love the idea of decoration, so to me all of those accessories really elevate and make your look extra special. They create an opportunity for adding a playfulness, detail or something personal for even the more minimal brides. For example, our Zodiac veils are all customisable to incorporate the couples star signs. Our bridal bags have been really popular and also can be worn long after the wedding day."
SHOP BRIDAL ACCESSORIES
Belgium-based Or & Elle is the first luxury diamond atelier to use superlative lab-grown diamonds and recycled gold for a sustainable and stylish option for conscious shoppers. Celebrity fans of the refined brand include Gigi Hadid, Sophia Bush and Pete Davidson, who wore one of its custom pieces to the Met Gala.