Valentine’s Day is this month, so there’s 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.
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.
Image sources – Above: top left, top middle, top right, bottom right, bottom middle, bottom left, middle. Top image: left, top right, bottom right
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?
- It’s a budget friendly option – they cost far less than a long gown
- They are particularly suitable for registry offices which are usually in a town or city, so shorter dresses suit the urban surroundings
- It’s perfect for vintage-themed weddings as short wedding dresses were very popular in the Fifties and Sixties
- A shorter dress will be more comfortable and great for dancing
- You can show off a stunning pair of legs
- Beautiful shoes won’t be hidden, unlike under a long gown. Spend the money you’ve saved on a-mazing shoes (Louboutins, anyone?)
- It’s very likely you can 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
I’ve worked in collaboration with Hobbs London to show you how some of their dresses 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 seven suggestions, and let me know which you like the best!
Audrey Hepburn Source
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 if expectant brides wish to hide their baby bump this has a lovely loose fit.
Mia Farrow Source
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 Source
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 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.
Bridgitte Bardot Source
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 Source
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 Source
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.
Raquel Welch Source
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’s my top tips for how to transform yours into a bridal beauty:
- Full-skirted dresses look wonderful with a tulle petticoat underneath, either in a matching or contrasting colour
- 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
- A short veil works well with a short dress and adds to the vintage feel
- 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
- A stylish hat, headband or flowers dress up any outfit and takes a shorter dress from pretty “day dress” to stunning “bridal dress”
- Wear white accessories with a coloured dress, or coloured accessories with a white/ivory dress
- If you’re a brunette or redhead, let your hair colour do the talking and wear white, cream or ivory from head-to-toe
Want to see some short wedding dresses to buy online?
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.
I have written this post in collaboration with Hobbs London. All content is original, however, and opinions are my own and 100% honest.