I love a wedding.
What's unadorable about a day that begins with profound declarations of devotion closely followed by lunchtime booze and cake, and ends with you dancing to Chic with a handsy usher? I attended my first this year a few weekends ago, when the snow was still sparkling on the branches of the trees outside. The happy occasion prompted me to consider wedding style, the best of which – for me – is on the affordable side.
Mr Laverne and I tied the knot pretty young, which was good for a number of reasons, but mostly because we hadn't been to any weddings. So we didn't know the Wedding Rules, including the one about the almonds (I still don't know what they're for), the one about wedding stationery (as opposed to a computer invite knocked up by your artsy mate) and the one about spending wads of cash. Yes, putting yourself into penury for a lavish wedding was quite the thing in the noughties, along with lashings of Coldplay and obligatory Big Day spray tans. Not so now. Even those blessed with cash to splash are keeping their nuptials under the top.
This means a boom in affordable wedding wear. A relative concept, of course. For the purposes of this piece, it's gorgeous gowns starting at around £100 and never more than £1,000. Here's my pick of the season…
First, Minna. Her "eco-luxe" label was already a must for ethical fashionistas, and she has recently branched out into bridal. Her second wedding collection, Love Letter, comprises 20 gowns which are handmade in beautiful fabrics, priced between £360 and £800.
Free Spirits should check out Free People – bohemian wedding wear for rock'n'roll brides. This season's selection is particularly worth a look if you're planning a beach wedding – there's lots of cool crochet.
There are some great options on the high street. This structured Karen Millen number would look incredible on the woman of the hour at a smaller do, but you don't have to go short if you're spending less. I love this Coast mermaid dress and Ted Baker's show-stopping botanical-print maxi.
Secondhand is a great option. If you're not lucky enough to inherit a dress, there are plenty of boutiques to help you purchase a piece of history, as well as the usual auction-site suspects. Vintage can be as expensive (if not more!) than buying new, so choose wisely.
Online I liked Abigail's Vintage Bridal, which you can search by era, from the 20s to the 80s. I also loved Hope & Harlequin, which offers reconditioned one-offs starting at around £150. And please check out the fully fabulous Fur Coat No Knickers, a vintage emporium founded by two former West End costume designers. They offer period dresses but – as so much of the genuine article was on the small side – decided to create a range of their own that runs to a size 22.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @LaurenLaverne
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