Wedding belle: Gowns for cost-conscious brides
Fashion editor Bairbre Power finds the most stylish high-street dresses for the cost-conscious bride.
Not everyone can be as lucky as singer-turned TV reality star Lily Allen, who has Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld making her wedding dress. And the serious money is on Sarah Burton, who now steers the ship at Alexander McQueen, to make Kate Middleton's dress for the royal wedding on April 29.
The sheer scale and size of Westminister Abbey, coupled with the pomp and ceremony that goes with a royal wedding, will dictate the formality and expanse of Kate's gown.
But not every girl wants the 'big' wedding dress and, in changing times, many Irish brides-to-be are scaling down the size and cost of their dress -- along with the wedding -- for a more discreet, wallet-friendly affair.
The good news for fashionable but budget-conscious brides is that a number of high-street brands, such as Coast, Monsoon and House of Fraser, have introduced affordable, diffusion wedding ranges aimed at recessionista brides.
I was sceptical at first, suspecting that the low-cost frocks in white, ivory and cream might be short of the mark -- too informal, in poor fabrics, lacking in drama But I stand corrected.
Coast's collection of 16 dresses includes a memorable dress called Monique -- a divine concoction of pleated chiffon with a Grecian dynamic. Brilliantly priced at €350, it would look fabulous accessorised with a tiny gold belt at the waist and matching sandals.
The alternative bride will find this collection of dresses closer to the traditional long gown, but with different hemlines. These gowns are available only at Coast's branch in Dundrum Town Centre.
Monsoon has some very hippy looks, while the Biba wedding collection at House of Fraser is closest to the traditional wedding dress, but the prices are keen.
If you are looking for ideas, Dundrum Town Centre is hosting a Wedding Experience this weekend, with fashion shows throughout the day showcasing looks for the bridal party and guests -- plus there's a chance to win a €10,000 wedding at Brooklodge & Wells Spa in Co Wicklow!
Manolo Blahnik has recommended that Kate should wear an ivory silk pump with organza lilies of the valley and sea pearls, while Giuseppe Zanotti would like to see her shoes match the classic and sophisticated elements of her ring, but with a younger, modern edge.
Scanning the high street, I found two very contemporary shoe looks at River Island. The strappy version with dainty red bows would be a nice nod to your rose bouquet, especially if your dress is ultra-simple, while the ecru lace high platforms box way above their weight and look exceedingly more expensive than €134.50.
Moving beyond the traditional meringue, the modern bride can say 'I do' in a casual maxi dress on the beach, or even a classy white trouser suit, which is very much of the moment. But, best of all, whatever look you choose, it needn't break the bank.