After over a year of cancelled or minimised ceremonies, we’re tentatively looking forward to the return of weddings.
The pandemic has been tough for brides and grooms-to-be: according to Bridebook’s 2021 Wedding Report, 65% of couples have had to delay their weddings at least once.
This has shaped wedding dress styles too. Ally Voss, who set up bridalwear brand Clover London in 2020, says: “The way that we shop today, compared to the way we shopped even a year or two ago, is so different.” Voss suggests there’s now more of a focus on sustainable brands, lower price points and simpler styles, as many brides have come out of Covid “with a really different perception on what’s important in life”.
Many couples will be having two weddings – a smaller ceremony when restrictions are in place, and a larger party at a later date to celebrate with all their friends and family.
“If you are going to have two weddings, you’d have two dresses,” Voss says. “Obviously, you’d be looking for something a little bit more affordable than forking out quite a lot of money on one or two.” With lots of people affected financially due to the pandemic, the hunt will likely be on for more affordable options.
While we’re hopefully looking forward to more weddings this year, there’s still a lot of uncertainty as to how this will pan out – ceremonies could still get reduced or cancelled due to Covid-related restrictions, and brides need to be prepared for all eventualities. That’s why Voss predicts dress styles will err towards simplicity.
“Everybody’s planning for the unknown,” she explains. “So to buy a dress for a marquee wedding with 150 people – a lot of brides would choose a huge statement dress, a long veil, a big train… To spend quite a substantial amount of money on a huge dress, when you don’t know if you’re going to have that big marquee wedding, so would you spend the same amount, or consider something a bit smaller and simpler to reflect the understated nature your wedding ceremony might end up having?”
Of course, Voss accepts some brides will want that big, princess-style gown regardless of what happens. But ultimately, her top piece of advice is to “never lose sight of your budget. It’s so important to not necessarily get swept up in the whole magic of being a bride.”
If you’re looking for a chic dress suited to the demands of being a pandemic bride, these brands won’t cost the earth:
Clover London (cloverlondon.com) was born out of Voss’ difficult hunt for her own wedding dress. She was getting married within six months, didn’t want to spend a ridiculous amount of money, but still wanted to feel like a bride – and realised there weren’t many options out there.
“It did feel like a bit of a white space, pardon the pun, that could be filled,” Voss says. “Four years later, I finally plucked up the courage during Covid to get things moving. Clover is an accessibly-priced bridal brand, made in London out of 100% silk – everything is as sustainable as I can make it and all my manufacturers are local.” All the gowns are made to order, with Voss saying: “The dresses are destined for brides, not bins.”
Clover London Sweet Pea Wedding Dress, £1,000
If you want to channel a relaxed, bohemian vibe for your wedding, look no further than ASOS (asos.com). There’s a huge range of styles, with plenty of long-sleeve dresses, dripping in lace.
ASOS Edition Grace Lace Crop Top Wedding Dress, £120
Favourite fashion brand RIXO (rixo.co.uk) launched its debut bridalwear collection at London Fashion Week in February. The 26-piece collection is a mix of traditional gowns and more modern outfits (including a covetable white jumpsuit) – all with a distinctly vintage look.
RIXO Frankie Silk Jumpsuit, £675
Monsoon (monsoon.co.uk) has some of the best wedding dresses on the high street – and this season, the brand’s tapped into the appetite for simple and timeless wedding dresses, with nothing too poofy.
Monsoon Deja Square Neck Bridal Dress in Ivory, €332
Coast has a dedicated plus-size range with sizes going up to UK 26, meaning curvy brides don’t have to miss out on the trendiest wedding dresses on the high street. It’s a goldmine for bridesmaids dresses, too.
Coast Curve Embroidered Long Sleeve Maxi Dress in Ivory, €156 (was €209)