Entertainment Style Why you shouldn’t splurge on a wedding dress
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Why you shouldn’t splurge on a wedding dress

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There were lots of articles this week about the cost of wedding dresses, with some people arguing, oddly, that it is somehow offensive to the sanctity of marriage that you NOT spend a fortune on a dress.

Spending thousands of dollars on a made-to-measure “princess-for-a-day” dress may be the stuff of lifelong dreams for some brides, but there is an increasing groundswell leaning towards lower priced dresses, and lower key weddings in general, with chains like ASOS and H&M offering very lovely bridal options starting at $159.

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The New York Times recently noted reported that the average wedding dress in the US cost $1,226, which is not exactly pocket change but is, I would suggest, on the low end of what many women will commonly shell out.

The rich and famous have long set the extravagant tone: Melania Trump wore an over-designed $125,000 Dior dress for her nuptials, Victoria Beckham wed David in a underwhelming strapless $100,000 Vera Wang, and Kate Middleton’s gorgeous Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen purportedly cost close to $400,000.

Kate Middleton's wedding dress cost a reported $400,000. Photo: Getty
Kate Middleton’s wedding dress cost a reported $400,000. Photo: Getty

These fanciful creations and their exorbitant price tags are the equivalent of a public notice that runs in glossy mags and proclaims, “Look, everyone, my prince did come”.

But these are dollars spent that these celebrities can all well afford. I appreciate that for many women the big day is a big deal and they want horses and gilded carriages and pouf dresses and crowns, the whole look-at-me fantasy.

And why not? Most of us are not going to have many occasions in our lifetime which call for a full-blown gown, so it does feel exciting and romantic and a little bit Disney.

In my case, I never dreamt of that attention or that dress. I eloped in an off-the-rack Emporio Armani crème pantsuit.

Rebecca Judd arrives at her wedding to Chris Judd, wearing Australian designer J'Aton Couture. Photo: Getty
Rebecca Judd arrives at her wedding to Chris Judd, wearing Australian designer J’Aton Couture. Photo: Getty

Ready-to-wear may be much more economical because, in many instances, especially when it comes to a made-to-measure dress, the price will go up times ten the minute you mention the word “bride”.

If someone is quoting more than $5,000 for a “couture” dress run up in a home studio on a Janome, you should maybe go look in Chanel.

Conversely, a hundred dollar dress, bare feet and a bunch of daisies is equally and most charmingly valid.

In this day and age, women are not defined purely by marriage – it’s just one thing we may or may not choose to tick off the list, and so we are free to wear whatever suits our lifestyle, personality and budget.

In the Sex and the City film, Carrie Bradshaw dreamed of an extravagant wedding dress (left), but ended up tying the knot in a simple skirt-suit.
In the Sex and the City film, Carrie Bradshaw dreamed of an extravagant wedding dress (left), but ended up tying the knot in a simple skirt-suit (right).

The Times reported that many women are choosing to wear trousers for their wedding day, especially if it is a second marriage, a more mature bride, for a LGBT wedding or for a bride that has traditionally eschewed dresses.

The same relaxed philosophy also extends to engagement and wedding rings. “I feel there are no rules now” says designer Emma Swann of Recreational Studio, which specialises in handmade, personalized wedding rings.

“Not like the old days where a man was expected to spend at least two months salary on a ring. I really don’t think you need to spend a fortune, it’s more about keeping it personal and meaningful.

“Increasingly, the styles I make for my customers have changed to more delicate, minimal designs (starting around $1000) that can be worn layered with other fine jewellery they wear day-to-day. Lately, I’ve been designing a lot of whisper-thin bands in rose gold, with tiny pave-set diamonds all the way around, and a beautiful hand engraved inscription on the inside.

“Ultimately, it’s your day, it’s your choice.”

For more from Kirstie Clements, click here.

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