The Dress

The Dress. When you’re wedding planning, you’ll get asked about ‘the dress’ quite a lot – have your started looking for ‘the dress’, have you found ‘the dress’, what is ‘the dress’ like? Like everything wedding related, the price of ‘the dress’ can range from a £40 job off Ebay to a £10,000 (and then some) designer number.

You’ll probably never spend anywhere near that much again on a dress. You may sell ‘the dress’ after the wedding and recoup some of your expenditure, or you may, like me, stick it in a box, get it out once a couple of years later when you’re drunk, and then never look at it again.

Finding ‘the dress’ is a key moment in many brides planning process. It all becomes a bit more real, and a bit more weddingy at that point. And if you’ve spent many weekends trawling around dress shops, there’s also a massive sense of relief!

The right dress can make you feel amazing, it can take away insecurities, it can give you confidence that you never imagined. And for those reasons, it is understandable that we spend so much of our wedding budget on ‘the dress’. But there comes a point when this can also be a hindrance. As a wedding photographer I cry a little bit inside when a bride decides not to go outside for pictures or doesn’t want to walk on the grass, for fear of getting ‘the dress’ dirty or marked. I understand that, I really do, but it doesn’t make it any less sad. When you look back at your wedding pictures, you wont remember that the bottom of your dress got slightly marked, you will remember not getting any lovely outdoor pictures. But hey, at least you’ll have a lovely clean dress in the loft though.

Over the past year I’ve noticed a real shift in brides to be and their attitudes to ‘the dress’. More and more I meet with couples who want their wedding day to be relaxed, to have the feel of a good party, to be fun. My brides to be want ‘the dress’ but they dont necessarily want to spend half their wedding budget on it, or invest so much in it that they’re scared to eat, drink, dance and have fun. So this inspired me to look at other ways you can find ‘the dress’ without spending a small fortune.

Hire ‘the dress’

When I was getting married ten years ago, I briefly flirted with the idea of hiring my wedding dress. We went to visit a big wedding outlet to look at their hire dresses and walked out almost immediately. They were truely hideous. Thankfully, things have changed and hiring wedding dresses no longer means you’re stuck with a choice of dresses which are at least 5 years past their best. A quick google search will bring you up a choice of suppliers but check out This vendor based in Cardiff, supplies gorgeous, unique, designer dresses to brides across the country at a fraction of the price it would cost to purchase one. Goodbye late 90s monstrosity, hello beautiful designer number.

The Second Hand ‘Dress’

The possibilities for getting a second hand dress are endless. Of course, taking the route will involve more work on your part but could result in a beautiful dress at an absolute bargain price. There are a lot of brides selling their dress after their big day, there’s also a lot selling brand new dresses because they’ve changed their mind. It is very much a buyers market so you pick up an absolute steal. You could decide on the exact dress that you want and then hunt it down using sites like Ebay or local facebook groups. Or you could visit a second hand wedding dress shop where you’d have the ability to try on the dresses on offer. Or do a good deed for charity and visit one of Oxfams dedicated wedding shops. Not only do you have the chance to pick up a vintage bargain, you’ll be giving your money to a good cause at the same time.

The Vintage Dress

I’m a big vintage lover and this extends into dresses too. There are some amazing little vintage shops scattered around the UK which stock some beautiful dresses. I can’t say enough good things about the girls at They sell a range of stunning, one of a kind vintage dresses which are all less than £350! Below is a picture of one of my favourite brides in her original 1960s dress. Doesn’t she look amazing.

The High Street Dress

Seriously – have you checked out the likes of Monsoon, Debenhams or Asos (ok, not technically high street but you get the jist). Even good old BHS does some absolute wedding stunners now – and you’re bridesmaids would be well kitted out too. A wedding dress for less than £200! Team it up with an amazing pair of shoes, some fabulous accessories or perhaps even customise it with a handmade belt and you’ll feel like you’ve spent thousands.

A bespoke number? 

Lots of my brides opt to have a dress specially made for them. Sometimes it’s done by a very talented relative who can whip up something beautiful but more often than not they head to a freelance designer and dress maker. This option is perfect if you want something unique and that fits you like a glove. Just think – no one else will be wearing a dress like yours!

The Wedding Dress Shop

I’m a big supporter of small businesses, particularly those in the wedding industry of course so finally I want to encourage you to visit your local bridal shops too. If you’re not looking to spend thousands on your dress you can still pick up a beauty at many bridal shops that won’t break the bank. If you’re happy to invest more on the perfect dress then the professionals at a wedding dress shop will be able to guide you through the process.

I hope this post has inspired you and given you some ideas. Feel free to leave a comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can see lots of gorgeous dresses in the real wedding section of the blog.