12 best cheap wedding dresses to buy in 2021

WE KNOW the struggle of budgeting for a wedding, so a chic but cheap wedding dress is ideal for most women.

With the average wedding now costing £27,161 according to a survey by Hitched, it will likely leave brides desperately trying to find ways of cutting costs and in need of some less expensive suggestions.

If you've never worn a designer dress, perhaps there's no need to start now, especially when the high street is full of off-the-peg dresses that are a fraction of the cost.

With everyone from Dorothy Perkins to Monsoon getting in on bridal wear, there are plenty of less eye-wateringly expensive wedding dresses to pick from, priced under £1000.

If you're on the hunt for your dream dress on a more limited budget, take a browse through the bridal offerings we've found below.

Saving money by purchasing one of the cheapest wedding dresses, you'll have plenty left over for the shoes and veil too.

1. Best overall bargain: Chi Chi London Bridal One Shoulder Wrap Detail Maxi Dress

  • Bridal One Shoulder Wrap Detail Maxi Dress, £85 at Chi Chi London – buy here

We never thought we'd see the day a wedding dress would cost less than £100, but the Chi Chi bridal collection is serving up a dose of affordable chic right here.

There's little not to like about this maxi option, with a nipped-in panelled bodice and wrap skirt to flatter all figures.

The asymmetric neckline is perfect for adding a little flair to your wedding look, while the dress has been finished with drape detailing that makes it look much more expensive. It's all in the details, ladies.

2. Best for 50s vibes: Chi Chi London Sweetheart-neck Tulle Midi Wedding Dress

  • Sweetheart-neck tulle midi wedding dress, £110 at Selfridges – buy here 

If floor-length gowns feel too fussy, why not try something shorter like this Chi Chi London midi dress? With an all-over glitter finish, it has a flattering sweetheart neckline and corset panelled bodice to accentuate your silhouette. The fully lined skirt features delicate tulle layers to create volume, and make your waist look smaller too.

Because the dress doesn't skim the floor, you've got the opportunity to show off a fabulous pair of shoes that would usually be hidden beneath longer gowns.

And at £110, just think of all the extra canapés and bottles of bubbly you can buy instead.

3. Best plus size wedding dress: Simply Be Joanna Hope Bridal Midi Dress

  • Joanna Hope Bridal Midi Dress, £150 from Simply Be – buy here

Many bridal boutiques still don't stock a wide array of sizes, which makes shopping for plus-size wedding gowns a daunting prospect.

It makes turning online an easier option, as you can order your size there and then.

This dress from Simply Be not only goes up to a size 32, it's a total bargain buy.

You'll love the delicate scallop edge sleeves with sequin mesh overlay and midi skirt.

4. Best midi option: Coast Premium Bardot Peplum Hem Dress

  • Premium Bardot Peplum Hem Dress, now £119.20 at Coast – buy here

If you want to feel relaxed on your big day, why not try a shorter gown?

Mini or mid-length dresses feel super laid-back and they're easier to wear, so you won't need to worry about tripping on a long train or dancing with your skirts pulled up.

This dress' peplum hem and knee-length skirt are playfully feminine, while the off-shoulder bardot cut will elegantly frame your décolletage.

5. Best for beachy weddings: French Connection Manzoni 3D Floral Lace Maxi Dress

  • Manzoni 3D Floral Lace Maxi Dress, now £135 at French Connection – buy here

Perfect for beachy or boho weddings, this floaty georgette maxi is appliquéd with a 3D floral lace overlay.

French Connection is the upper end of the high street, so £195 for one of its bridal gowns seems like a steal.

Sweep your wedding hair to one side so you can show off the deep V at the back.

6. Best dress with a plunge back: Bridal Halter Style Embellished Wedding Dress

  • Bridal Halter Style Embellished Wedding Dress, £155 at Chi Chi London – buy here 

This halterneck dress is cut to perfection, with a flattering hourglass silhouette and fishtail finish.

The subtle embellishments are ideal for a bride who only wants to dabble in the sparkle.

We love how the deep V back is just as statement worthy as the front of this beautiful dress.

7. Best white dress alternative: Ghost Bella Dress in Oyster

  • Bella bias-cut satin maxi dress, now £122.50 at Ghost – buy here

This is a wedding dress you'll never look back on in photos and regret thanks to its understated aesthetic.

Ghost has been known for its signature bias-cut gowns since the ‘90s when slip dresses and underwear-as-outerwear trends first began. The brand’s minimalist bridal gowns never date, which is why it releases the same shapes season after season, year after year. 

While the Bella dress may look simple upon first glance, it’s cleverly cut to create a figure-hugging silhouette that makes the most of your curves, and has a flared skirt that swishes with every step you take.

It has a sweetheart neckline, a flattering low back that sits just above the bra line (no fussy stick-on solutions needed) and delicate spaghetti straps with adjusters, so you can determine how much skin you want to show. If the answer is not much, simply layer up with a bolero or cropped cardigan à la Kate Middleton (with her second wedding dress).

At just £122.50 in the sale, we think this classic gown is a bargain – and timeless enough for you to pass it on in years to come.

8. Best for traditional brides: Monsoon Sloane Lace Bodice Bardot Bridal Dress Ivory

  • Sloane Lace Bodice Bardot Bridal Dress Ivory, £249 at Monsoon – buy here 

If you hate showing your arms, cap sleeves like this are ideal: they draw the eye upwards, skimming arms elegantly and balancing proportions.

Monsoon’s Sloane gown is just the right balance between simple and feminine. It’s defined by its floral cutwork lace bodice, which fastens at the back with a zip.

The floaty organza skirt is cut to gently skim the silhouette from the waist to the floor. It’s perfect for those who hate fussy meringue styles.

At under £250, and with such attention to detail, we think this dress is such good value for money. Plus, Monsoon will throw in free delivery on all orders over £50.

9. Best for timeless 60s style: Whistles Scarlett Wedding Dress

  • Scarlett Wedding Dress, £649 at Whistles  – buy here 

Whistles is a mid-tier high street brand loved by many, from royalty such as the Duchess of Cambridge to on-trend celebrities from Olivia Palermo to Alexa Chung.

It might be a little pricey for many when it comes to day-to-day wear, but the label's wedding dress offerings, which first hit the market in 2017, are much more affordable in relation to boutique bridal wear.

This dress balance a demure high neckline with contemporary details like the sleek column skirt, short sleeves and cut-out back.

The gentle A-line will flatter most figures and its modest train makes it suitable for all scales of wedding.

10. Best for fashion-forward brides: Reformation Tory Dress

  • Tory dress, £495 from Reformation – buy here

Sustainable brand Reformation first launched a wedding line a few years back and has gone from strength to strength ever since, with a super-stylish array of bridal frocks currently on offer.

For the fashion-forward bride, this traditional full-length gown offers something a little different, with cute puff sleeves and side cutouts for a fun and contemporary edge.

Despite the skin on show, it's bra-friendly, so there's no need to hunt down anything strapless or backless – aka one less thing to add to the 'to do' list.

Teamed with a floral crown, this elegant maxi is pretty much perfection.

11. Best for living the fairytale fantasy: Needle & Thread Neve Embellished Bodice Maxi Dress

  • Neve Embellished Bodice Maxi Dress, £250 from Needle & Thread – buy here

Needle & Thread are masters of romantic, whimsical style – and if that sums up the wedding dress vibe you're after, you'll love their frock selection.

In a creamy off-white hue, this dreamy maxi is scattered with pink and lilac floral sequins, with a plunging neckline at the front and back for total drama.

The multi-layered tulle skirt comes fully lined, while the satin ribbon shoulder straps are adjustable too, so you may not even need to take it in for any altering.

A must if you're going for fairytale wedding vibes.

12. Best thigh-split dress: ASOS EDITION Madeline Cap Sleeve Lace Wedding Dress With Fishtail

  • ASOS EDITION Madeline Cap Sleeve Lace Wedding Dress With Fishtail, £96 from ASOS – buy here

ASOS has been excelling in the bridal department for a while now: and really, who can argue with prices like these?

This £96 wonder dress is as dramatic as you'd expect any wedding dress to be, with a full fishtail skirt and beautiful lace throughout.

Several happy brides have given it glowing reviews too, with one commenting: 'The sizing is perfect, superb quality and detail, all round AMAZING.'

How to make a cheap wedding dress look expensive

We're big believers that it's not what you wear but how you wear it – and nowhere can you have more fun with that maxim, than with your wedding dress!

A super groomed hair-do and flawless makeup will boost the luxe feeling of any budget wedding dress, and of course, you'll have both of those things nailed on your big day.

Spending less on your dress also leaves more budget for shoes and accessories: choose understand, coordinating jewellery for a really classy and elegant look and add a sash or belt for a little extra sparkle.

In terms of what you can do to the actual dress itself to make it look more expensive, a key giveaway that you bought off the rack will be the fit – so if your frock doesn't fit you like a glove, make sure you get it taken in professionally by a local seamstress. You could even get them to add some embellishments, or cover any exposed zips with some luxe buttons for a totally custom look.

Where to get cheap wedding dresses

The high street and online is awash with some amazing looking cheap wedding dresses: trust us, there's heaps of choice compared to even just a few years ago. Try department stores like Selfridges and John Lewis, as well as the likes of French Connection, H&M, Chi Chi London, ASOS, Frock & Frill, Missguided and budget retailer JJ's House.

How do I get an inexpensive wedding dress?

It pays off to shop around before buying your perfect wedding dress.

In the lead up to the big day, always keep an eye on high street retailers that offer wedding collections such as Chi Chi London, Whistles, French Connection and Dorothy Perkins. What's more, if you wait until sales events, you could save up to 70% on the RRP.

Alternatively, you could check out re-sale sights such as eBay and Vestiaire Collective to find second-hand designer dresses for much less. You'd be doing your bit for the planet, too, by recycling and re-using.

Then, of course, you don't have to buy a specific bridal gown. Make sure to tick the 'ball gowns' and 'maxi dress' and 'white' filters on retailer's sites to get a full picture of what is in stock – you might just find your dream dress.

How do I choose a wedding dress?

Choosing a wedding dress can be incredibly stressful; with all eyes on you, it’s understandable that you’d want to look your best.

Unfortunately, when it comes to wedding dresses, love at first sight rarely exists. It’s likely to take months of shopping around.

Luckily, the internet makes this easier. There’s no need for traipsing around the shops and trying on gowns with sales assistants pressuring you.

When choosing your wedding dress, there are factors to consider beyond aesthetics. First up, the weather: if you’re getting married in the winter, you might want to go for long sleeves or buy a coverup for warmth.

Strappy necklines and backless details are better suited for summer weddings.

If you’re getting hitched on a beach, lightweight fabrics like linen and cotton are also appropriate.

Another bonus of buying online and trying at home: you have all the accessories on-hand to make the dress looks its best, be that Spanx, shaping bodywear, strapless bras or shoes.

It’s hard to make a decision without the necessary underpinnings. Money an issue? With schemes like Klarna available on many high street stores, you can order now and pay only when you’ve found one you like.

And when it comes to crunch time, you can even split the charge into several instalments interest-free.

What wedding dress suits my shape?

Lots of women try to lose weight before the big day, and choose a wedding dress in a smaller size they hope to fit into.

Our advice? This is risky business, so don’t go lower than one size. So, if you’re a 12, a 10 would be fine, but don’t go as far as to opt for an 8.

You’ll only be disappointed if you haven’t met your goal by the time the big day rolls around.

Luckily, you can work wonders for your figure by choosing a dress that compliments your natural shape.

If you have a boyish figure, bias-cut numbers from the likes of Ghost will create instant curves – although if you’re self-conscious of big hips, this might be one to avoid.

Pear shapes may choose to go for A-line or full-skirted dress that draws attention to the smallest part of the waist.

By contrast, apple shapes will suit an empire-line or column silhouette.

If your arms are a problem area, don’t think that long sleeves have to look frumpy. Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, had a plunging lace overlay which was sheer, but provided coverage.

Meghan Markle’s long sleeve dress, designed by Clare Waight Keller from Givenchy, had an off-the-shoulder neckline to showcase just a hint of skin.

Enjoyed our roundup of the best cheap wedding dresses? You might also like our selection of the best shapewear.

We've also reviewed the best eye creams that will come in handy for pre-wedding skin prepping.

And check out Sun Selects' dedicated fashion section if you are planning a shopping spree.

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