Buying the perfect wedding dress takes an awful lot of planning – but hey, isn’t that half the fun? There are so many questions to be answered: Do you want traditional or something contemporary? Off the rack or bespoke? Have you considered vintage? And, sadly, we all have a budget to stick to.
Whatever your idea of the perfect bridal gown may be, London is perhaps one of the best cities in the world when it comes to choice. So lets take a look at the options available for purchasing that amazing dress to complement the best day of your life.
London Bride UK — South East London based, London Bride UK (near Elephant and Castle) offers the best of traditional and designer wedding dresses.
In addition to offering dresses from some top fashion designers such as Mori Lee, Madeline Gardner, and Essense, the store offers dresses from as little as £150, and offer an excellent range of prices.
Although you can visit without an appointment, it is advisable to phone first to guarantee there won’t be a wait.
Miss Bush — Delightfully passionate, the staff at the independent Miss Bush will have you feeling at ease the minute you walk through the door. This is an outlet for some of the most contemporary designers of the moment who create traditional, yet modern dresses in a variety of styles.
Shopping for the ultimate wedding dress at Miss Bush is an experience unlike any other; it’s languid, emotional, unhurried and is a truly great way to begin the journey to the best day of your life. No appointment is necessary but, as always, phoning in advance to advise of your visit will make for a smoother experience.
Ellis — A truly British experience, visiting Ellis is the perfect place to find dresses from the very best contemporary designers. Ellis dresses start from around £800, and can be purchased from various Ellis Bridal retailers.
Pronovias — Located in New Bond Street, Pronovias is a pleasant surprise for those with an average budget seeking a designer, contemporary dress.
They offer an innovative service that requires a little bit of online work before you appointment to select your favorites from their collection, saving hours at the bridal shop as you try on preselected gowns.
Be aware that the quality design, good prices, and friendly service makes this location highly desirable for bridal shopping. As with other bridal shops on this list, it is advisable to call in advance.
Off the Rack
Need a wedding dress fast? Then buying ‘off the rack’ may be an option. After all, not all of us have months (or even years) to organize the wedding. The following outlets are great places to purchase your bridal gown off the rack:
John Lewis — Never discount a store such as John Lewis for great off the rack wedding gowns. In addition to offering a good selection, you won’t have to pay through the nose either – with prices often starting at below £100. You can visit in store or check out the current offers online.
House of Fraser — House of Fraser also offers similar deals, such as designs from Phase Eight, Ghost, Eliza and JS Collections. Once again you can find some great deals here, with prices starting below £100 ranging up to around £1,000.
Fur Coat No Knickers — Fur Coat No Knickers in Oval is the brainchild of two West End theater costume supervisors. They began trading in vintage wedding dresses (and other designs) in 2008 and specialize in all things bridal from the 1950’s and 1960’s. They can also fit, alter and customize all of their gowns to perfectly suit your frame and style.
Prices for original vintage wedding dresses start from around £750.
The Vintage Wedding Dress Shop — The Vintage Wedding Dress Shop sells exactly as it’s name suggests. Every dress on offer is unique, and made from rare antique laces from the last century. The shop used to be located in Richmond, but following the owner’s retirement, the whole collection of vintage lace wedding dresses has now been moved to Gillian Million in Teddington.
Visiting is by appointment only and can be made 7 days a week, including evenings.
Blow the Budget
Browns Bride — Offering the ultimate wedding dress experience, dresses here start at £3,000. But don’t expect to find one for that price, because prices for many of the ‘to die for’ dresses regularly top £10,000!
Brown’s Bride offers superb collections from only the best designers – and in many cases their works cannot be found anywhere else in the UK.
Visits are by appointment only. The first appointment costs £25, with following ones free. And you’ll be soothed with offers of coffee and champagne to make the whole visit a wonderful experience.
Caroline Castigliano — If money really is no object, then a visit to Caroline Castigliano’s flagship store in Knightsbridge has to be the ultimate places to find your perfect gown.
With prices starting at £3,500 for the regular collection, £4,500 for customized gowns, and haute couture from £15,000, there really is no upper limit if your bank account can stand it.
Caroline herself has been creating bespoke wedding gowns for nearly quarter of a century. And her designs are now so sought after that the queen of bridal couture has now teamed up with Les Trois Soeurs in Canary Wharf as a further outlet for her creations.
And if you can’t quite stretch the budget to afford to have a Castigliano couture dress made specifically for you, then why not check out websites such as Preloved and Ebay, where – if you’re very lucky – such dresses occasionally are put up for sale. You can then get the dress altered and customized, and voilà! You have your very own Castigliano creation (just don’t tell her we said that….)