FABRICS TO FALL FOR
SATIN, silk, tulle, taffeta – the bridal options are endless but one fabric is sending everyone wild.
"For this season, it's lace, lace and more lace," explains Susi Rogol, editor of trade magazine Bridal Buyer.
Not only as full-on gowns a la Duchess of Cambridge last April, but as accents too. "Lace is being used in little sculpted shrugs to give a hint of cover-up through to strapless gowns and as detachable straps to complete top layers," says Rogol.
Meanwhile edgier brides are loving laser-cut fabrics to create surface texture and 3D effects, also achieved with swirls of ribbons or fabric forming an entire skirt of flowers or petals.
BRIDING YOUR TIME
If you're looking ahead to a wedding next year, look back in time for inspiration.
2013 will be a vintage year, according to Rogol. "Vintage is the direction that every influential designer is taking, harking back to the Thirties and Fifties in particular.
"So, slinky body-clinging dresses in slippery satins with clever fabric manipulation to form shape and accentuate curve on one hand, boat necklines and ballerina lengths on the other."
SWEET ON SILHOUETTE
Use your body as a guide to choosing a shape that will flatter as you saunter down the aisle. There are two major silhouettes this season: curve-enhancing fishtails or retro ballgown styles.
Samantha Neville, founder of Mamfii Bridal, says: "Fishtail shapes accentuate the classic hourglass figure and look fabulous in full lace, or very simply made in the finest silk duchess where the beauty of the gown is all in the fabric and cut.
"Ballgowns are cut with a slightly lower waist, ensuring a flattering fit for all figures. Damask fabrics are making a comeback in classic shapes and are a beautiful choice for the fashion-forward bride, as are softer fabrics such as tulle and chiffon but cut into a fuller shape."
HEART THE HIGH STREET
For brides who are short on time or cash flow, buying off-the-peg is the obvious option and, thankfully, the trusty high street is going from strength to strength.
"It's obviously a completely different experience to buy your wedding gown from the high street to experiencing the service of a boutique," Neville warns.
"But stores such as Coast and Monsoon have some lovely styles that are both stylish and cost-effective."
Increasingly, big bridal manufacturers are also introducing diffusion lines at accessible prices so brides can still get a killer cut and perfect fit, all within budget.
BRIDE ON A BUDGET
Don't begin married life in debt so you can wear a fairytale designer gown for less than 24 hours. Elizabeth Catherine Myers, author of new book Pocket Wedding Planner, has these cost-cutting bridal shopping tips:
Wait for the sales in wedding dress shops to try and pick up a bargain.
Check the small ads in your local paper for a second-hand dress.
Check auction websites like eBay to look for a second-hand dress. (But take care as the photo provided on the site and the final product may look very different). Check the item description, read the feedback comments about the seller and ask any questions you have before bidding.
Research the types of fabric that suit the style of dress you like. The type of fabric you choose could have a big impact on the overall price of your dress.
Carefully consider the style of dress you would like. If you choose a style that requires a lot of fabric, for example a dress with a long train or a full skirt, the price will increase.
Consider simple designs without embroidery. Machine work instead of hand beading can greatly reduce costs. A simple dress with simple accessories can look very stylish.
Asking a local dressmaker to copy a style of dress in a cutting-edge magazine could help save hundreds (and even thousands) of pounds.
Consider selling your dress after the wedding to recover some of the cost.
GET THE LOOK
Cheryl Cole (right) does Grecian goddess in a floor-sweeping toga-style gown. Look all-white in Topshop's wrap jersey maxi dress, £38 (www.topshop.com).