So you’ve booked the venue and invited the guests – now for the fun bit, saying yes to the dress. However at times, wedding dress shopping can feel like a total minefield. Especially when you have multiple people’s opinions to contend with and the small issue of a budget to stick too.
According to wedding website Rock my Wedding, the average wedding dress now costs £1,574.76 which is a significant chunk of change, especially when you have the rest of the day to pay for as well.
The good news is, the high street has come to the rescue for us, with all of these options coming in at under £1,000 (and many far below that!).
While trying on made-to-measure gowns in specialist bridal boutiques can certainly feel special, often it can be hard to envision the end result. Inevitably you’ll be standing on a box, in a dress that’s too big (or small) which has been crudely fastened with bull dog clips and pins.
Buying off the rack means you get to try on the gown in your usual clothing size, with the option of taking it elsewhere for teeny tiny alterations, if necessary.
Many bridal boutiques advise you leave up to eight months for the dress of your dreams, the modern bride might not always have time on her side.
Thankfully these frocks can be taken home with you on the day, or at least with significantly shorter lead times.
What’s more, if you’re going for a simpler affair, on the beach or abroad, a full on frou-frou number might not feel quite right anyway. We found these styles will pack away nicely if you need to transport them.
Whether you’d describe yourself as a classic bride or are on the lookout for something totally unexpected, our bride-to-be has scoured the shops and rounded up the best budget wedding dresses – all of which can be ordered online.
The Australian brand behind Pinterest’s most popular gown, Grace Loves Lace offer many styles at under the £1,000 bracket. Crafted from premium lace that’s both stretchy and comfortable to wear, there are no zips or restrictive boning – ideal for the boho bride that wants to dance the night away. Dresses are available in a size XXS-XXL, so even if you can’t get to one of their beautiful showrooms, a few simple measurements are all that’s needed to get a perfect fitting gown shipped straight to your door, wherever you are in the world. And if you can get to a showroom, the friendliest staff will pour you a glass of bubbly and help you pick out your dream dress, with absolutely no sales pressure.
IndyBest pick: Nia 2.0 dress: £870, Grace Loves Lace
A streamlined silhouette for the bride that doesn’t want to be faffing about with a long train on her big day. We love the eyelash lace detail around the arms, the sexy cross over velvet straps at the back and the centre back split for ease of movement. All of these design details elevate this beautiful dress far above your standard high street bridal fare.
Available in a UK 4-18, Catherine Deane has an array of affordable wedding dresses for the modern bride. While most of the range nudges just over the £1,000 mark, the Livvy gown, below, squeezed its way into this round up. Dresses not your thing? You might be interested in mixing and matching from the bridal separates range. Not only will this look pretty damn fabulous, it’s also an economical way to get your bridal getup and gives you the possibility of wearing the pieces separately again at a later date. And, if like us, you happen to have a different top to bottom ratio, this can also mean a better fit overall.
IndyBest pick: Livvy gown: £995, Catherine Deane
Sexy and sophisticated may sound like an impossible task for an affordable bridal gown, but the Livvy manages it with a perfectly positioned v-neckline and a plunging bow back detail. The streamlined skirt lightly skims the hips while the clever seaming will particularly flatter curvy figures.
We’re super fans of Whistles main range, so it made perfect sense that we’d turn to the premium high-street retailer to look our best on our big day. Dresses are offered in a UK size 4-16 and the brand doesn't scrimp when it comes to quality fabrics and design-led details. These are confident dresses (plus a jumpsuit!) for women that don’t want a run of the mill gown – and we felt great in every one of them. Proving that shopping for your dress on the high-street needn’t mean slumming it, both the St Christopher’s Place and Leeds stores offer a dedicated bridal suite which will give you a little more space and privacy (yes, with champagne!).
IndyBest pick: Theodora wedding dress: £599, Whistles
Perfect for the fashion forward bride who’s looking for something striking and different, the Theodora is cut with a pleated layered skirt which offered plenty of movement. Fitted at the waist, the top part of the dress is lightly corseted with a slightly sheer high neckline, finished with oh-so-pretty ruffles.
If your idea of the perfect bridal look resembles something out of a perfume advert, i.e. hopelessly romantic, then we think a Needle & Thread gown might be just the thing you’re after. Light ruffles combined with embellishment and floor-sweeping skirts made us feel like a real life princess. They also offer a range of floor length veils and capes to complete your look, all in shades of barley there pink through to ivory. Dresses are available in sizes 4-16.
IndyBest pick: Tiered gloss cami bridal gown: £725, Needle & Thread
Multi-layered, light-as-air ivory tulle has been overlaid with silver sequins for a dress that would look just as at home on the beach as it would in a country house. The level of detail on this frock is really outstanding for the price and the straps on this particular dress are also adjustable to help you get the perfect fit.
As with the main range, Monsoon’s wedding dresses have a bohemian vibe about them, with romantic touches that will appeal to the traditional as well as the more free-spirited bride. This is an impressive 24-piece collection, encompassing shorter styles to full length, with cap sleeves, fuller coverage and more sexy, off-the-shoulder details thrown in too. Pieces from the artisan collection are hand-embellished by workers who have been paid a fair price for their work.
IndyBest pick: Diana embellished maxi wedding dress: £499, Monsoon
Considering this column dress is completely covered in hand-beading, we think it’s an absolute steal. The side split will make it all the easier to dance in and the halter neck means no awkward hoicking up of the neckline.
Loved by fashion editors and fashionistas alike, French label Sézane has launched a capsule collection of bridal wear for the louche bride. Perfectly encapsulating that effortless, French cool-girl style, there are just a handful of options, all with a distinctly laid back direction. If you are looking for shorter or midi styles and want to look as far removed as a text-book bride as possible, we’d say Sézane is the brand for you. What’s more, these styles could almost certainly be re-worn on your honeymoon – win, win.
IndyBest pick: Agnès dress: £345, Sézane
With its distinctly sixties vibe, the backless Agnès dress is crying out for a cool bride to whisk it away. The scalloped details and sheer sleeves look and feel far more expensive than the price tag lets on. Just add a flower crown and way you go.
Phase Eight is perfect for the more classic bride. Dresses are cut to a flattering fit, fabrics are great quality and if you really wanted an effortless time of it, you could even pick up your bridesmaids dresses here as well.
IndyBest pick: Anabel lace one shoulder wedding dress: £450, Phase Eight
The Grecian style one-shoulder detail really caught our eye. We loved the pretty ditsy embroidery which felt fresh and new compared to the many more standard lace fabrics we tried on. Walking in heels in front of all of our nearest and dearest slightly fills us with dread, so we were drawn to the slightly raised hemline at the front which will hopefully stop us from tripping up.
There are just seven dresses in the new French Connection bridal collection, ranging from a mini to the full length, with embellishment and lace sprinkled liberally throughout. The prices are fantastic, starting at just £170 for the bridal jumpsuit, up to a still very affordable £295. Despite the price tag, French Connection haven’t tried to save on the fabrics or the design details, and have managed to still keep the overall look modern and clean.
IndyBest pick: Estelle embellished dress: £225, French Connection
We love how effortless and ethereal this French Connection dress manages to be – and we’re stunned by the price tag. Despite being slightly fitted below the bust, it’s super comfortable so you won’t regret buying it half way through the wedding breakfast. The floral embroidery is a lovely finishing touch to the v-neck back and front, while the tulle skirt can easily be alternated if necessary.
With free shipping over £25 and free returns, it’s well worth ordering a selection from the Asos bridal range and trying on in the comfort of your own home. Aside from their own brand, other ones to consider are the pretty Amelia Rose, the daring Bronx & Banco and the popular Y.A.S range. A real wedding one stop shop, you’ll also find a great selection of bridal appropriate shoes, hair accessories and even lingerie. Ooo-la-la.
Asos Edition cross front cape wedding dress: £165, Asos
We have it on good authority that capes are a big fashion trend in the bridal world for 2019. So get in there quick trend-setters, with this fashion forward cross front caped wedding dress from online retailer Asos. The silky fabric flowing behind you as you walk down the aisle is sure to turn heads for all the right reasons.
The verdict: Wedding dresses under £1,000
We just can’t fault Grace Loves Lace.'s Nia 2.0 dress. Not only are the dresses beautifully made, the service made us feel a million dollars, and the ordering process couldn’t be easier, no matter where you are in the world. The only tricky bit was ordering just one dress.
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