Compare Wedding Insurance's Guide to High Street Wedding Dresses

Here at Compare Wedding Insurance we just had to let you all in on a secret - You can get wedding dresses that are not only attractively priced but are also genuinely beautiful.

One of our staff had the opportunity to see a selection of three of the wedding dresses from Marks & Spencer’s range recently when they were helping a budget-conscious friend choose a dress for her wedding later this year.

The dress they wanted an opinion on was a floor length Grecian-style dress, had a cross-over back, some diamante and hand beaded detailing (but not too much) and a flattering cowl neck. Our staff member thought it looked beautiful - simple yet elegantly stylish. It certainly did not look like a dress with a mere £150 price tag attached to it! Agreed, the dress may not be made of the highest quality fabrics, but it was very well made and looked akin to expensive designer wedding dresses we have seen in the past.

There are usually several different dresses in high street bridal collections, with designs ranging from an effortlessly pretty knee length embroidered dress to a contemporary lace covered dress with a scalloped hem and neckline.

Of course opinions on wedding dresses are highly subjective and very personal. We know that some bride-to-be’s might feel that a high street wedding dress is not special enough for their big day, but don’t discount them without seeing them for yourself - there is nothing ordinary about these dresses except the price tag!

Advantages of buying a high street wedding dress:

  • High street stores often stock the wedding dresses in all sizes so you are able to try on the correct size before buying it. This is a huge benefit, as dedicated bridal boutiques usually only carry wedding dresses in one or, if you are very lucky, two sizes so the chances of you getting an accurate evaluation of whether that particular dress flatters you are slim.

  • The biggest plus for high street wedding dresses is that you can buy the dress (or even dresses!) and try it on in the comfort of your own home. For those of us who trust our own opinions on what suits us over and above a pushy sales assistant's opinion this is wonderful.

  • The other bonus is that you can get a full refund from the store if you change your mind. Just remember to keep your sales receipt, not to remove the labels from the dress and to return it within their required refund period.

  • Unlike custom-made designer wedding dresses, where you must order it at least six months in advance, with high street stores there is no waiting period! If you are on a tight timescale to find your dream wedding dress you can order it online from some stores and they deliver it the next day. This is brilliant news for brides who have to leave buying their dress to the last minute either because they don’t have time to shop around for a wedding dress or because they intend on dropping a dress size before their wedding day and want the dress to fit perfectly nearer the time.

  • More goods news is that if you are buying online, some stores will offer free delivery when your order is above a certain value!

  • With high street wedding dresses what you see is what you get. By this we mean that there will be no surprises in store for you days before your wedding. Traditionally brides who have ordered custom-made wedding dresses have various dress fittings in the run up to the wedding and then collect the finished dress shortly before their wedding day. You only have to look at wedding discussion forums on the internet to see some brides’ real-life horror stories about collecting their dresses with days to go until their wedding and discovering that their dress is too long, too short, too low cut or worse!

  • Another advantage is that you are bound to feel more relaxed being in a familiar environment such as your local high street store. Feeling comfortable will help to make your wedding dress shopping experience less stressful. Whilst the staff in independently owned dedicated bridal shops inevitably mean well and try to put shoppers at ease, their rows of extravagant gowns can seem very intimidating to a bride-to-be. How can you make an informed decision on one of the most important features of your wedding if you are feeling anxious or harassed?

  • We also like the fact that high street stores usually have longer opening hours so for brides-to-be who must fit their wedding dress research trips in after a full working day they are able to simply drop by the store and peruse their wares. With dedicated bridal shops you are expected to make an appointment in advance of your visit and the store opening hours are normally not as extended as high street stores.

  • Finally, and most importantly, the biggest bonus of high street wedding dresses is that you will save lots and lots of money! Whether you are a cash-strapped bride-to-be or a shrewd one who does not want to be paying for her wedding long after her first year wedding anniversary has passed, the most sensible area to cut down on your wedding costs is on your wedding dress.

Disadvantages of buying a high street wedding dress:

  • If you prefer the personal treatment you are sure to receive from dedicated bridal shops then be aware that you are not likely to find this at a high street wedding dress store. Whilst high street staff can be courteous and helpful, they generally do not interfere with the decision-making process and usually do not offer help with getting into the dress and accessorizing it (these can be advantages in some peoples opinions!).

  • If you have decided on a high street wedding dress, do remember to check the dress for any damage it might have suffered while being tried on in the shop by other customers. Check in particular for rips to the seams, lipstick marks or dirty scuff marks around the bottom of the dress.

  • You will have to come to terms with the fact that you will not be wearing an exclusive designer dress and face the reality that you might well attend someone else’s wedding only to find the bride wearing your wedding dress! If you don’t like the thought that other brides will be wearing the same dress as you then perhaps a high street wedding dress is not for you!

Whilst £1000 used to be the typical price tag for a wedding dress, with the high street wedding dress phenomenon we are now seeing the average wedding dress cost falling. Stores such as Marks & Spencer, Asda, Debenhams, H&M and (in the USA) Target are producing good quality off-the-peg bridal outfits at affordable prices for every bride at prices from £30 upwards.

Whilst we personally do not think it is snobbish to want a couture wedding dress (after all that is the route many people choose to go down when they chose their own wedding dress) We do think that high street wedding dresses should not automatically be dismissed. The advent of these more affordable off-the-peg wedding dresses is fantastic news for brides who don’t want to blow their wedding budget on a dress with such a short life expectancy.

Take a look and see for yourself!

Don't forget to have a look at Wedding Insurance to cover your dress, no matter what the cost!


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