What is a High Street Wedding Dress?
The differences between finding your wedding dress with a bridal designer and a high street shop
It has been a difficult time for couples who had planned to get married, the rise of smaller micro weddings has changed how couples are planning their special day, with postponements and restrictions moulding a different day. With this the type, style and budget for the bride-to-be’s wedding dress may have changed.
High Street shops have evidently seen this as a good opportunity to once again venture into bridal collections..
Of course, this is not the first time we have witnessed this (nor will it be the last), but we continue to answer the questions around choosing your wedding dress, why bridal is specialised and the evermore important role of bridal design and the bridal designer…
I need a dress quickly, is a high st wedding dress my only option?
Whether purchasing in store or online, a high street wedding dress will often be in stock, ready to try on or be delivered to you in a short time frame. To be able to operate this way, they will have lots of stock dresses that have been produced in larger quantities by factories. Whilst this may seem like an easy choice it is helpful to look at your other options before purchasing.
At AH we produce all of our dresses on a made-to-order basis, meaning we only produce dresses when they are required for our lovely brides. This reduces our wastage considerably and means we do not end up with unused stock. Most importantly, we can produce dresses quickly for our brides! All of our dresses are made in our London Studio by our in house team which allows us to work to shorter lead times as we have full control over our own production and studio. A standard size dress can be made in a matter of days when required, meaning you will be able to purchase a beautiful dress, hand made in London from sustainable and quality fabrics. If you are in a real rush and need a dress immediately we also have an amazing selection of Archive Sample dresses, these are ready to send out/purchase straight away.
With this in mind it is always worth reaching out to us to see what the options are, you do not have to purchase a high street wedding dress if you have a short lead time. It is not the only option and we will make sure we find the best solution for you regardless of your timeframe.
“Thank you for such a stunning dress and cape and thank you so much for getting it made in time – it was incredible that you made it so quickly and it fitted so well. I adored wearing it!” – Real Bride, Caroline
I am looking at high street bridal dresses because my budget is lower, do you have more affordable wedding dresses?
At AH we are continuously working on great options for all of our brides and for different price points. Before you purchase a high st wedding dress it is definitely worth exploring your options. High street dresses tend to sit at a lower price point as their dresses are produced in large quantities in overseas factories from less premium fabrics. You do not need to have a high price point to be able to wear one of our designs and it is always helpful to be upfront and honest about your budget so that we can find the best option for you.
If you have a budget that aligns with high street designs we would suggest to take a look at our amazing sample sale dresses. These designs all sit between £200-£1,000 and offer exactly the same qualities as a new AH dress. They have all been made in London by our team and they are all made from the same natural silks and French lace. There may be some slight wear and minor imperfections but we take great care of our samples and most are in good-new condition.
If you would prefer to purchase a new dress from us but want to keep costs a little lower a standard size piece would be a great option. We have a lovely selection of minimal, strappy designs starting from around £1250. The rest of our collection sits between £1850-£3250. It’s always good to talk to us about what you like in a dress and also to let us know your ideal price point, there are always alternatives or other solutions so just reach out and ask.
We then move on to our made-to-measure option. Instead of having your dress made to a standard size we can create your dress to your precise body measurements. This is an additional cost on top of the dress price as it requires more time and involvement from our fitting team and pattern cutter. We can talk you through the options and suggest the best one for you.
If you would like a fully bespoke dress, based on an idea you have, this usually starts at £3,000 as it would be a full design process from start to finish. However, please do reach out to us if you have an idea in mind for your dress as we can often recreate your ideas from small tweaks to our collection pieces which can help with pricing.
When purchasing a dress with us in store or via our AH From: Home service your payment’s will be split into a deposit and balance. However, we are always happy to discuss your individual circumstances and work out the best payment options for you.
If purchasing through our online shop we are introducing a system to allow you to purchase our dresses over a split payment. This allows you to split your payments into 3 interest free instalments. This is a great option for any bride who would like to spread out the cost of their dress purchase more evenly over the coming months.
The high street allows me to try before I buy, is this an option at Andrea Hawkes?
Absolutely! there are many different ways to try on our designs prior to purchasing which all include personal guidance from our team to help support you through the purchase of your dress.
In store (when we can safely re-open), we offer individual appointments at our London Showroom to view our full collection. In your appointment you will be guided by one of our lovely stylists who will help you with sizing, fit and styles.
AH From: Home, this is a great option to try a selection of our designs from the comfort of your own home. The service is available worldwide and is the perfect service for any bride who is unable to visit our showroom. You will meet with your stylist via video call to choose your favourite pieces together. We will then send you those designs to your home where you will get to spend at least a couple of days with the dresses. Following on from this you will receive full sizing and styling support from your stylist.
Try on Service, if you would like to purchase your dress through our online shop we do offer a try on service. We will send you your chosen dress to try on prior to purchasing your gown. Again with the full support of our team.
Stockists, we have a number of wonderful stockist in the UK, Europe & Internationally. You can visit our Stockists Page to find the closest option for you.
With high street wedding dresses you may be able to order multiple standard sizes to try on but what we do differently here at AH is provide you with full fitting guidance. You will be able to talk to one of our team who will help you to find the right size, there will be no guess work and instead a confident approach to helping you choose the correct size or service for you.
“The AHB team are amazing! Andrea Hawkes was the first and only dress shop I went to, and they made the whole process so enjoyable and stress free. Their dresses are simply stunning, made from beautiful fabrics and with impeccable craftmanship. In the end the team worked on a bespoke top for me, and perfectly nailed my vision of ‘bold & organic’! Their attention to detail was incredible.” – Real Bride, Laura
High street off the rack wedding dresses will come in standard UK dress sizes which you can then have altered to fit your body much like our day to day clothes. At AH we also offer standard size dresses made-to-order but have a lot more flexibility when it comes to sizing options and services. If you are looking for high street plus size wedding dresses or petite high street wedding dresses but are struggling to find options, please know that we have a full size inclusive range here at Andrea Hawkes Bridal. We can make any dress in any size for our brides.
If you have a size difference between your top and bottom, often find yourself between sizes or simply need some guidance we have some great options and advice.
Standard Sizing: All collection pieces can be made to your nearest standard UK dress size, we will guide you on how to measure and suggest the most suitable size for you. Each dress will fall differently on your body so it is helpful to have support from a knowledgable stylist to help you select the correct size.
Split sizing: If you are a size 10 on top but a size 12 on the bottom we can create a dress that combines those two sizes meaning you may have less alterations to carry out. This option is available on our standard size dresses. Prior to purchasing any dress from us you will have measurements taken, based on these measurements our team will suggest the best way to move forward with your dress.
Made To Measure: All of our designs can be made fully made to measure, this means we take a full set of body measurements and make your dress pattern specifically to those measurements. This is a great option for any bride who may have worries about fit and is by far our most popular service choice.
Whilst high street wedding dresses can be altered to fit, you will need to research and find a reputable seamstress yourself to carry out the work. A lot of our brides like the security of having a dress made and fitted by the same in house team, it makes your journey very simple and we take care of everything for you. You will have our full support from measuring and ordering through to your final fittings and beyond into aftercare.
We offer an in house fitting service for all of our brides, whether you purchase a shop sample of a full made to measure bespoke dress. There is an option for every individual bride.
“I was a little apprehensive about wedding-dress shopping: anxious about not being as thin as I’d like to be, terrified that I’d be sent away, and told that they couldn’t cater for women with curvy bodies like me, but in reality the experience was completely delightful. Siobhan reassured me on every front, got me trying on dresses, pinning and making lots of suggestions and we had an idea within about half an hour.” – Real Bride, Julia
I would really love some expert guidance and support when choosing my dress, what do you offer that’s unique compared to a high street bridal range?
Buying a wedding dress can be a little overwhelming, your experience should be fun but also relaxed with plenty of honest and valuable advice. A wedding dress is not something we wear everyday so it is expected that most brides would like some support and guidance. Some high street wedding dress stores will be able to offer this, however, you may not receive such a specialised approach, especially if you are purchasing your high street wedding dress through an online platform.
At AH it is always our main aim to make sure all of our brides feel relaxed and at ease from day one. We have a highly skilled and knowledgeable team who will be here to help you find your dress, making sure you receive a very personal and individual experience. Both Andrea and Siobhan have worked in the bridal industry for over 10 years and have supported many different brides, circumstances and situations helping to create and style their perfect dress. You will receive expert and honest advice throughout, alongside experienced sizing support and fittings guidance from all of our team members. You can visit our store for a private appointment, start your journey through our AH From: Home service or visit one of our wonderful Stockists who also specialise in bridal styling. Whichever route you choose with AH we can guarantee you will be in safe knowledgeable hands!
“Throughout the process, Andrea was so on-point with all her ideas and reassuring to all my questions and concerns, Siobhan was attentive in all correspondence and generally a source of positive energy and Laurie was meticulous in her attention to detail and made mum and I feel so relaxed.” – Real Bride, Jenni
I am only having a small wedding and am looking for a casual wedding dress. High street bridal seems like the easiest option. Do you also have dresses that would work for smaller occasions?
Firstly, we always ask our brides who are having a smaller intimate wedding whether they want a more casual dress or do they feel like they have to have a more casual dress because of the setting. It’s important to remember this is your wedding, if you feel like you are compromising on the dress because of your smaller venue then we’d encourage you to explore your options within bridal. There are so many special wedding dresses out there that will still feel right in a more intimate setting, you do not have to opt for a high street wedding gown or a casual off the rack wedding dress if you do not want to. It’s your special day and you should feel amazing in whatever you choose to wear.
At AH we offer both options, dresses that are more relaxed but still feel extremely special due to the fabric and cut, alongside more elaborate designs that would also suit a smaller affair. If you are looking for a slightly more casual feel we have curated an edit of gorgeous shorter styles such as our Amelie, Morgan and Audrey designs. Jumpsuits are also a great alternative and have a playful feel, Hadley or Mila would both be great choices. If you would love to wear a more traditional, full length wedding dress we have so many options that would work perfectly, our Clarice dress offers an ethereal bridal look minus the train meaning it will still be comfortable and manageable to wear. Another lovely option would be our Abby Dress, simple lines and a classic a-line shape – make this dress your own by adding a top, cape or jacket. Our team are here to guide you and give advice on your favourite designs. We can slim down skirts, remove trains, add sleeves, swap fabrics and much more, making sure you feel 100% comfortable and confident in your dress. View our Collections, Style Pages and Blog to see all of our designs and plenty of inspiration for your day.
“I just wanted to thank you and all your team so much for creating the most beautiful dress for me. I never thought I would have a traditional white wedding dress but this dress was more than I could have ever wished for. It felt amazing to wear and the amount of compliments I received was unreal.” – Real Bride, Sophie
Wedding dresses can be made from many different fabrics, from silks through to poly blends and cottons. They will all have a different effect on the shaping, detailing and quality of your dress. Fabric quality and sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do here at AH and is increasingly a major factor for our brides too. We suggest you carry out a little research into the fabrics of whichever dress you intend to buy whether this be a high street option or from a bridal designer, this will enable you to make a more informed decision before you purchase. To make things a little easier for you here is some honest information about the fabrics we use.
Our outer layer silks for all our collection dresses are 100% natural premium silks, our linings are a beautiful silk and natural bamboo mix.
If you are looking for a vegan dress our silks are exchangeable for other sustainable fabrics, such as organic cotton, organic bamboo silks, Tencel and others. We can source the fabric which is right for you and your wedding dress, whilst adhering to our sustainable approach and principles.
We spend a lot of time researching and sourcing fabric for our dresses making sure that they are of a very high standard for our brides. We believe in using sustainable materials that our brides can feel good about wearing. Inevitably these natural materials do cost more than polyester/man-made fabrics but there are many good reasons for this, the quality is superior, they are more comfortable to wear and they have much less of an impact on our planet in the short and long term.
“Andrea took the time to go through my ideas and inspiration, and was so down-to-earth and easy to work with. Her work is immaculate and she sources the best quality materials, and I couldn’t have been happier with the end result. It’s worth every penny paying for a quality, bespoke piece versus off-the-rack.” – Real Bride, Anisha
Where are your dresses made?
Every single dress we make, whether that be a collection piece, brides dress or shop sample is made by our very own team in our Islington London Studio from start to finish. We do not outsource any of our production. We have built an experienced, highly talented production team who will also be there to support you and to carry out the fittings on your dress. It is increasingly important that we all try to shop as responsibly as we can, if you are unsure where a dress is made or it is a big factor in helping you choose your dress then we always advise to reach out and ask.
If you choose to purchase your dress with us you can relax knowing that your dress will be made in London, by our team who are paid fair wages for their skills and roles. By having full control over our own production this also allows us to be more flexible with timeframes and allows us to create customisations and bespoke dresses for our brides!
“I cannot stress how incredible the quality and craftsmanship of the dresses are… as somebody who was pretty thorough in her search, nobody else came close. Without a doubt, this makes the biggest difference to how the dress fits and falls on you.” – Real Bride, Aileen
I love the idea of customising my dress, this isn’t always possible with a high street wedding dress. Do you offer customisations?
We absolutely do! This is something that we pride ourselves on. The ability to work with each bride individually and create something they truly love is really very special. As we produce all of our dresses in London with our own team and pattern cutter our designs can be adapted to suit you and your needs. There are different ways that we can do this, here are just a few.
Fabrics – we can swap any of our fabrics for another option. For example if you loved one of our designs but it is in a matte silk and you would prefer a satin silk, that’s no problem at all. We can simply swap the fabric when making your dress. This also relates to lace, if something feels to floral for you then why not swap it for a more graphic lace option? We can carry out fabric adaptions on all of our dresses!
Colour – all of our designs can be made in any colour of your choice. From ivory silks through to blues, greens and pinks no colour is out of the question. We have an array of lovely fabric samples in our showroom for you to choose from.
Lengths – we can alter the length on our designs for you. Some examples would be lengthening a train, shortening a train and shortening a hem length to a midi. If you are very tall or very petite the length of your dress will be hemmed precisely for you so no need to worry about dresses being too short or too long.
Sleeves – we can add, remove, shorten or lengthen sleeves on our designs. This is something that can be very personal to each bride so we will work with you to find the most suitable length and shape.
Mix and match – if you love the bodice of one dress but the bottom of another we can combine those designs to create your perfect dress.
Backs & Neckline – we can raise, lower or interchange the backs and necklines of our designs. If the neckline feels a little too low, we can raise it up for you or if you would like your the back of your dress to be lower we can do this too.
Bespoke Wedding Dress – if you have an idea in mind for your dress and you would like to explore the option of creating this vision you can book in for a bespoke consultation with Andrea. This means we can create your dress from a concept. Find out more here.
The benefit of purchasing your dress with us is that you have greater flexibility to personalise and customise your wedding dress meaning less compromises have to be made, how great is that? Check our our Real Brides to see how we can make your dress unique to you.
“Andrea and her team made my wedding jumpsuit dream a reality when they made a bespoke jumpsuit for me. They were so professional, understanding and patient throughout the whole process, and I always looked forward to my appointments – they made me feel calm and relaxed. The final outcome was even better than I had expected due to their eye for detail and design. I can’t thank or recommend them enough!” – Real Bride, Siobhan
Do you offer Returns?
We understand one of the big benefits of high street bridal is being able to return the dresses if they are not quite right which is why we offer a returns service on our standard size dresses that are purchased through our Online Shop. If you are keen to see the style of dress we also offer a Try On service, where you can pay to try a sample of the dress before committing to purchase.
Why buy a dress with us?
Ethically produced in London
Made from sustainable natural fibres & high quality fabrics
Expert, specialist bridal advice
Personal Bridal Appointments
Try on from Home
Versatile dress styles for all types of weddings
Experienced fitting team & In house alterations
Affordable sample options
Customisations and adaptions
Quick turn arounds & Lead Times
Sizing Guidance & Support
Multiple Payment Options
Returns on Online Orders
Try On Service
From wedding dress ideas & inspiration to how-to guides and expert know-how. You'll find everything you need in the run up to your big day and beyond on our bridal blog!