Why Short Wedding Dresses Are So Stylish & Affordable

Why Short Wedding Dresses are so Stylish and Affordable

Valentine’s Day is this month, so there are sure to be a few new brides-to-be come 14th February.

The first thing I’m sure every girl thinks of is the ring – immediately followed by the dress. With many couples paying for their own weddings these days and quite often on a budget, the last thing a girl wants to do is skimp on the dress. But there is one option that will save on the pennies but not on style – and that’s to wear a short wedding dress.

Couples often need budget-friendly wedding ideas, plus vintage-themed weddings are really popular right now. There’s something about a short wedding dress that suggests a look from another time; whether a longer midi or a daring mini, a shorter hemline is extremely stylish and can be a very affordable alternative to the traditional long gown.

Short Wedding Dresses inspiration
Images above: top left, top middle, top right, bottom right, bottom middle, bottom left, middle. Top image: left, top right, bottom right

Rather than buying a short wedding dress (and to save even more money), there’s no reason not to consider buying something from the high street with all the gorgeous occasion dresses around at the moment. It’s the fabric that can make any dress the right choice for a wedding dress, no matter what the colour: lace, crochet, embroidery, cut-out fabric, jacquard and even crisp white cotton all have a bridal feel to them, and your choice of accessories will make the world of difference.

The colour can be anything you choose but white or ivory is of course the most popular choice; cream is always chic and adds a vintage touch to a modern wedding.

A quick search on Pinterest for short wedding dresses will yield endless results, but it’s the pictures of real weddings that I like the most. Brides who have added their own personal touches with coloured shoes or hats instead of veils, or kept it simple in a cotton lace dress – they all look absolutely beautiful and really unique. So it begs the question…

Why wear a short wedding dress?

  1. It’s a budget-friendly option – they cost far less than a long gown
  2. They are particularly suitable for registry offices which are usually in a town or city, so shorter dresses suit the urban surroundings
  3. It’s perfect for vintage-themed weddings as short wedding dresses were very popular in the Fifties and Sixties
  4. A shorter dress will be more comfortable and great for dancing
  5. You can show off a stunning pair of legs
  6. Beautiful shoes won’t be hidden, unlike under a long gown
  7. You can likely wear the dress again, and what dress would you feel more special in than the dress you wore on your wedding day


7 ready-to-wear dresses that would work as wedding dresses

Here are some short dresses which would make stunning choices for your big day. With the exception of one coat, all the dresses are under £200 – extremely purse-friendly for brides on a budget. Celebrity weddings were my inspiration for these choices (the fact that many are from the Sixties proves that a short wedding dress suggests a vintage feel to your outfit).

Take some time to ponder these suggestions, and let me know which you like the best!

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Audrey Hepburn short wedding dress

Audrey Hepburn

Who else should I start with but Audrey Hepburn? For her second wedding in 1969, she wore a mini dress with long sleeves that had little detailing except for fluted cuffs and a stand-up collar (and an intriguing head scarf – but only Audrey could get away with that). My Hobbs choice is the simple Invitation Knighton Dress in a lovely white jacquard; it’s a style that would suit a bride wanting a Sixties-vibe perfectly. This dress is a blank canvas for a stand-out bouquet or statement necklace, and for expectant brides this has a lovely loose fit.

Mia Farrow short wedding dress

Mia Farrow

Mia Farrow had the ultimate no-fuss elfin crop when she married Frank Sinatra in 1966, and her structured dress and jacket with three-quarter sleeves was just as chic and simple. Although hers was white, the Blue Seren Dress has all the qualities that made her outfit so charming: simple tailoring, a crew neck and modest hemline. The pale blue, embroidered eyelet fabric is so pretty; this is one of my favourite dress silhouettes. With white accessories – belt, heels and even white gloves – this would make a beautiful, modern wedding dress with a touch of the nostalgic (and don’t forget there’s your “something blue” right there).

Nancy Shevell short wedding dress

Nancy Shevell

Nancy Shevell married Paul McCartney in 2011 in a Wallis Simpson-inspired Stella McCartney dress, and I love its tailoring and the fact that it was pure white. Its modern simplicity and long sleeves are what made me think of the White Brooke Dress teamed with the matching White Brooke Coat – these two make a gorgeous combination and are so effortlessly stylish that you almost wouldn’t need anything else. A coat and dress combo is also a perfect choice for older brides who perhaps don’t want to wear a fussy dress.

Brigitte Bardot short wedding dress

Bridgitte Bardot

You can’t tell from this photo but Bridgitte Bardot wore a pink gingham dress when she got married in 1959 – the White Savina Dress has a very Fifties feel to it: perfect for budding Bardots. The tie waist is a lovely feature (it ties into a bow at the back) and although button-down collars aren’t the first thing you’d think of for a wedding dress, it would suit a small crystal necklace or brooch at the neck for an elegant yet relaxed summer wedding… very 1950s French Riviera, and effortlessly chic.

Elizabeth Taylor short yellow wedding dress

Elizabeth Taylor

Liz Taylor: which wedding dress to pick? From her eight to choose from, I took inspiration from the knee-length yellow dress she wore for her and Richard Burton’s first marriage as I loved the fact that she wasn’t afraid to wear vivid colours (she favoured yellow or green a few times). Although the NW3 Lawrence Dress isn’t bright yellow, its warm creamy ivory colour and punched pattern showing the lemon slip underneath would make a really pretty spring or summer choice.

Sharon Tate short wedding dress

Sharon Tate

Sharon Tate’s wedding dress is perhaps a little too short for most brides today (1968 was the height of the mini-skirt era), but I like the contrast with the exceptionally modest top half with the high neck and amazing long puff sleeves. Hobbs’ White Austen Dress also has lovely detailing across the top with a lace neck that continues into cap sleeves. The flowers in Sharon’s hair would work well with this dress, especially with a tousled fishtail plait or loose ponytail.

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Raquel Welch short wedding dress

Raquel Welch

I’ve saved the best till last: my favourite celebrity short wedding dress is Raquel Welch’s 1967 wedding dress which was a super-short, white crochet dress; it showed off her amazing legs and looked fabulous with the thick, longer-length coat. This beautiful NW3 Circle Lace Dress is so pretty and feminine with an ivory cutwork circles fabric revealing a pale pink lining – it would be my number one choice for a fun, summery look.


Styling tips for short wedding dresses

If you buy a ready-to-wear dress intending to wear it as your wedding dress, it’s the styling and accessories you choose that will give it a bridal feel. Here are my top tips for how to transform yours into a bridal beauty:

  1. Full-skirted dresses look wonderful with a tulle petticoat underneath, either in a matching or contrasting colour
  2. Add trim in pale pink, blue or peach to a plain dress. Haberdashery stores have an amazing choice of ribbons and lace trim to choose from
  3. A short veil works well with a short dress and adds to the vintage feel
  4. Go to town with an amazing pair of bridal shoes as everyone will see them
  5. If you’re getting married in the colder months, black shoes, trims and accessories wouldn’t look out of place with a white dress and would look exceptionally chic
  6. A stylish hat, headband or flowers dress up any outfit and takes a shorter dress from “pretty day dress” to “stunning bridal dress”
  7. Wear white accessories with a coloured dress, or coloured accessories with a white/ivory dress
  8. If you’re a brunette or redhead, let your hair colour do the talking and wear white, cream or ivory from head to toe


And if you need any more convincing…

Short wedding dresses are unbelievably chic; they have a certain je ne sais quoi about them. Brides in shorter styles always get talked about as guests generally don’t expect a higher hemline. You can choose modern, minimalist elegance, or be more playful with your styling and accessories and go retro-vintage or full-on feminine.

A short wedding dress may be short on length, but you definitely won’t be short on style.

Catherine x



  1. 26 March 2015 / 12:46 pm

    Ooooo so many lovely dresses! I've always thought short ones are very classic and well yes only Audrey Hepburn could get away with that head scarf x

    • 27 March 2015 / 2:50 pm

      Haha I know – she couldn't look anything short of stunning in a paper bag, though Lisa!! Thanks shun x

  2. 26 March 2015 / 12:12 am

    I'm hoping to renew my vows in the summer, and something short and stylish is exactly what I am looking for.


    • 27 March 2015 / 2:50 pm

      I do think short(er) wedding dresses are more popular for second weddings or vows renewals, Emma, but if I were getting married first time I think I'd want to go at least a little shorter just to be a bit different and to show off my shoes!!!! Hope you have a lovely time x

  3. 3 May 2014 / 10:19 am

    Wow, go Raquel, that's definitely one way to saunter down the aisle! I'm not a Traditionalist but I have to say, if I was to walk down the aisle I'd want something long (majorly vintage-esque), with a trail, for that whole ethereal and romantic look…

  4. 9 February 2014 / 4:03 pm

    Strumming my pain with your writing (free after Killing me softly). I never got a wedding dress. Circumstances (ex wife, stepchild, difficulties), caused us to marry without anyone present besides the witnesses. And they were rounded up at the last minute. No parents, no friends, nothing. So what was the point of a wedding dress when there was nobody to see it? It is the lack of a wedding dress that still hurts. Oh well.

    • 26 March 2015 / 7:50 pm

      I did the same but I still got the, admittedly very cheap, dress I wanted for me (and the piccies ;))

  5. 6 February 2014 / 10:49 pm

    I think short wedding dresses are so chic and quaint for the right person. Love it.

  6. 5 February 2014 / 12:11 am

    Whenever I see any kind of wedding dress, it makes me want to "do it all over again!!" I adore the white Brooke dress with the matching coat (sooo elegant!) but the pale blue number really appeals to me, as well!! Who knows…maybe hubby and I will renew our vows one of these days…!!


  7. 4 February 2014 / 9:35 pm

    I totally agree and loved this post! We got married in 2010 and took ourselves off to New York to get wed in Central park. I knew I wanted a 50s style petticoat dress and after a fruitless search designed my own and found a wonderful local dressmaker to bring it to life. I chose champagne raw silk with a lace bodice and 3/4 sleeves and had a contrasting petticoat in burgundy to match my shoes and bouquet! I loved my dress and it was perfect for a city wedding whet we walked all over Manhatten for our photos!

  8. 4 February 2014 / 6:14 pm

    I'm convinced! My best friend wants us to wear 1960s mini shift dresses as bridesmaids to her wedding.


  9. 4 February 2014 / 5:27 pm

    A few of those could be cure winter white with layers… thanks for sharing!

  10. 3 February 2014 / 4:00 pm

    I love the crochet dress you posted! I just got married in January and wore this dress from DB Studios: http://www.davidsbridal.com/Product_Cap-Sleeve-All-Over-Lace-Dress-with-Ribbon-DB4712_Bridal-Gowns-Shop-By-Designer-DB-Studio

    I wore cream sweater tights and cream shoes – it was suggested to me by the bridal consultant. I doubted her – all the cream but it turned out beautifully! I tried a black cover-up and it was too stark, so I went for a nice olive green wrap.

    This dress was also INSANELY flattering for my shape.

  11. 3 February 2014 / 4:22 am

    I really enjoyed this post! Those dress were beautiful, and that i just like the alternatives offered to the standard unsupported queer y Wedding Dress. and that i love of these dress…and conjointly they appear to be additional flattering to the form….I have no plan why ladies looks to like large netting and lace.

  12. 3 February 2014 / 1:23 am

    Loved this post! Maybe one day I'll meet a man to even consider a dress…hehe.

  13. 2 February 2014 / 9:13 pm

    I wore I short dress for my wedding. I was so comfortable.

  14. 2 February 2014 / 9:05 pm

    I'd love a long dress that converted into a short one for later, best of both worlds!

  15. 2 February 2014 / 6:51 pm

    I really enjoyed this post! Those dress were gorgeous, and I like the alternatives offered to the usual strapless poofy wedding dresses.

  16. 2 February 2014 / 5:42 pm

    Beautiful dresses and they are all very suitable when you get married for the second or whatever time 😉

  17. 2 February 2014 / 4:07 pm

    Me too, loving these shorter dresses. Easy to dance in, too!

  18. 2 February 2014 / 3:12 pm

    I love all these dress…and also they seem to be more flattering to the shape….I have no idea why women seems to prefer massive nettings and lace….I blame my fat gypsy wedding!!


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