A lot has changed in the bridal fashion market since I got married in 2017. At that time the options for a fashion-forward dress on a tight budget were very limited, and I knew definitively that I didn't want to go down the traditional route of meringues and fittings and remortgaging the house to secure "the one". So, I ended up buying an off-the-peg monochrome Proenza Schouler dress on a whim whilst in Harvey Nichols for a press event. No friends or family were with me, there were no happy tears and it couldn't have been less of a "moment" but I was so happy with the result.
The fact is, for many brides-to-be, the idea of putting aside £20k for a gown that you wear once and probably destroy on the dance-floor, has been outmoded for a while now. It's taken a few years for the industry to catch up, but now in 2022 the contemporary bridal dresses and separates that are available at more affordable prices is truly remarkable.
Courtesy of Clover London
Before the pandemic hit, retailers such as MATCHESFASHION and NET-A-PORTER were starting to stock more trend-led, directional bridal pieces—many were filtering in from new brands founded for this very reason, while others were arriving thanks to existing designers spotting an opportunity to sell cool wedding looks to women who knew they wanted something different and unique. A portion of them from the likes of Markarian, Danielle Frankel or Molly Goddard are still going to set you back a pretty penny, but there are many wedding dresses and outfits under-£1000 or thereabouts that still feel as sumptuous and special as you'd hope.
According to global fashion shopping platform Lyst, the majority of shoppers are interested in Self-Portrait and Reformation, both of which are documented below. However, many of these lesser-known independent names are bubbling up thanks to real brides sharing their looks on social media; Instagram in particular has become a hub for modern wedding ensembles that sit outside of the classical bridal market (trouser suits and separates, for example, are really on the rise IRL), and it is undeniably having an influence on what women are choosing for their events.
While £1000 may not feel affordable for everyone (and there are brilliant lower-priced high street bridal dresses you can easily shop from online), for some wedding budgets this allows more to be spent on multiple looks as nuptials and parties now often span days, locations and themes. The spillover could be reallocated to having a jolly good knees up (we spent a little extra on keeping everyone very well fed and watered), a fancier honeymoon or kept aside for plain ol' regular life expenses.
Additionally, with wedding plans being continuously changed over the past couple of years, the perspective on what's important has shifted. There is undoubtedly going to be a slew of smaller, more intimate weddings, with city nuptials and more private affairs being far better suited to modern bridal looks. Keep scrolling to see the best under-£1000 wedding dresses and separates to buy now.