After a tricky two years, the wedding dress trends 2022 offer some much-needed joy to brides who have wondered if they will indeed get their fairytale moment. With so many nuptials affected by the pandemic, according to The Wedding Report, it is estimated that in 2022, more than 2.5 million couples will tie the knot—the most since 1984.
For many brides, one of the most important parts of the day is the wedding dress. And after two years of will-they-won't they weddings and smaller, more intimate affairs, when it comes to the wedding dress trends, in 2022 it's all about big, statement gowns. From full-on drama, inspired by period romances, to sexy, sleek designs that wouldn’t look amiss on a red carpet, the best dresses to say ‘I do’ in this year are those that make a statement—maximalism is back!
For guests, working out what to wear to a wedding may be a style conundrum, but for brides, it can be totally overwhelming choosing what to wear down the aisle as there are so many styles available. So, if you’re a bride-to-be in need of some wedding dress inspiration—or just love looking at a pretty dress or two—these are the wedding dress trends 2022 to note this season. And if you have a pre-party in the offing, check out our what to wear to a bridal shower guide.
Wedding dress trends 2022: The top styles you need to know
Kennedy Bingham, also known as Gown Eyed Girl, is a stylist and creative design consultant in Los Angeles. She has seen a rise in brides wanting to dress for themselves.
"With the rise in popularity of the micro wedding, you'd expect the trend to lean towards casual dresses and less of an emphasis on a dramatic bridal moment, but I'd argue that in recent years brides have felt empowered to do what they really want. They're letting less outside opinions get in the way of their own style, so the casual brides are getting more casual and the dramatic ones are even more dramatic!” she says.
She continues: “Overall, I feel the market has become more accepting that brides have individual tastes. And one bride liking something doesn't necessarily mean your own choice of wedding dress is bad."
While florals often make the best mother of the bride outfits, they’re now also the perfect choice for modern brides. Gowns with hand-painted floral motifs and embroidered blooms were popular on the catwalk at Bridal Fashion Week—and it’s easy to see why. They’re the perfect choice for a country wedding or for brides who want something a little more eye-catching than the usual white.
Designer Kobus Dippenaar, the talent behind bridalwear Anna Georgina believes florals will always be popular with brides.
“Flowers are romantic and will always be a classic trend in the bridal world. Gowns blossoming with feminine florals make a statement. Floral detailing can be so ethereal,” he says.
Your blooms don’t have to be OTT either—you can keep it subtle by choosing frocks with embroidered or 3D blooms in the same shade as the dress. Either way, let the flowers do the talking and keep your accessories simple, you can even opt for comfortable flats, in the form of ballet pumps, or the best sandals, to keep the look light and feminine.
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2. Thigh-High Slits
For brides who want to add a little bit of ‘va-va-voom’ to their big day without veering too much away from a traditional dress, a thigh slit is a subtly sexy way to do it. Since Angelina Jolie wore one of the best Oscars dresses in 2012—a little black number with a leg-showcasing slit—it’s a look that has been adopted globally on red carpets and at black-tie dos. Ten years down the line, this alluring look has finally made its way into bridal designs.
“Brides are tending to feel like they can either be as sexy or as modest as they'd like. Where brides used to shy away from thigh-high slits, I find them asking me now how to add one into a dress that doesn't already have it,” says Kennedy.
Many of these styles of dress allow you to control how much leg is on show (especially handy if you’re getting married in a church) but come the wedding party, you can showcase not only your legs, but your best designer heels as well!
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3. Big Sleeves
The perfect trend for all Bridgerton lovers, you can channel the Duchess of Hasting’s wedding style with oversized sleeves. Borrowing from the fashion trends 2022, volume sleeves, whether puff, bell or balloon, are big news in bridalwear this season. They’re an easy way to add wow to a classic shape, plus if you dread getting your arms out, they’re the perfect cover-all without compromising on style. For brides who fancy some sleeve action, but have already chosen their dress, brands like Halfpenny London sell bridal sleeves separately.
“We’ve offered detachable sleeves for a while and our brides are loving these options more than ever,” says London-based bridal designer Kate Halfpenny.
She continues: “The trend of larger-than-life sleeves filtered from the catwalks into bridalwear, and our brides are taking the opportunity to add the wow factor to a classic, simple, effortless dress by adding a detachable sleeve. I love pieces like this as they allow our brides to update any dress and have fun. They can be traditional if they want to be, while also playing with the drama!”
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Corsets have had a 2022 upgrade. A traditional element of bridalwear, corseted gowns incorporate the best shapewear straight into your dress. The new style corset, however, pays homage to a more boudoir-inspired look, bringing it bang up to date. The structure of a corset can help to create an hourglass body shape and is a good choice for more athletic figures; however, the support is also great for those brides with larger busts, acting as one of the best bras.
Monica Dumitru, Head of Retail and Merchandising at Temperley Bridal, believes corsets are enjoying a revival as they are all about “untrammeled romance.” She says this uber romance was behind the brand's new collection and in particular, the Lacey dress.
“With a sheer bodice, off-the-shoulder straps and a full paneled skirt, Lacey is sweetness and light, with a modern edge,” she says.
To keep it feeling more modern and less Games Of Thrones—unless that’s the look you’re going for—choose simple lines and shapes and make the corset the star of the bridal show.
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5. Modern Ballgowns
After years of minimal wedding celebrations, brides are going big! Full-on princess gowns have made a huge comeback this year.
“With so many weddings postponed or canceled over Covid, so many brides are wanting the biggest ball gown dresses to get married with a boom,” says bridal designer Elbeth Gillis.
She continues: “We have just launched a new collection called Eternity, which is inspired by the glamour of the late 1940s and 1950s. After a tough few years, brides are wanting to go bigger and these dresses are so amazing for photos—classic gowns that will stand the test of time.”
With this style, think chic ballgown (rather than OTT Disney-style), choosing layers of tulle or lace and huge voluminous skirts. In fact, the bigger the skirt, the better, but keep the top half more minimal to avoid looking like a fancy-dress princess! Paris Hilton, who wore four wedding dresses on her big day in 2021, loved this style so much, she wore two ballgowns—one by Oscar De La Renta and the other by Galia Lahav.
And when it comes to accessories for this look, just as with the dresses, the shoe trends 2022 for brides offer plenty of glitz. Go for embellishments and bows to complement this bold look.
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6. Bridal Separates
Bridal separates, a la Bianca Jagger’s white ‘70s suit, were once seen as the preserve of registry office weddings, but they’ve upped their game and can now take you from destination wedding to full-on church do. Separates are brilliant for brides who are different sizes on top and bottom, such as those with a pear-shaped body. Separates also offer extra versatility, allowing you to switch up your day to evening look—swap the long princess-style skirt for a short feathery number and you’re ready to party the night away.
“Separates will last a lifetime and can be incorporated into your wardrobe to enjoy again and again. The beauty of a two-piece is that the choices are virtually unlimited, and you can really pick and choose your top and bottom to create the exact look you want and be the bride you want to be,” says Kate Halfpenny.
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7. Short Hemlines
One of the big fashion trends for the season is the return of the mini skirt. Shorter hemlines were seen all over the runways thanks to Italian clothing brand Miu Miu and French fashion house Dior and this short, but sweet look has now made the jump into bridal wear.
While traditionally a shorter dress was seen as the domain of more informal weddings, now brides are choosing a mini wedding dress, regardless of the location, to show off their style and legs. This is one trend where you can really play up the embellishments to make it look extra special—think a big bow, a flutter of feathers or fringes, or layers of lace to ensure you make a memorable entrance on your big day.
As Emma Stone demonstrated when she wore her short wedding dress to the Met Gala, the added beauty of a mini dress is it can be worn again after your big day—so whether you’re wondering what to wear to a summer party or to a milestone birthday celebration, you whip out your wedding dress!
If you’re not feeling quite so daring but don’t want the traditional length, an option is to choose from the best midi dresses, such as those at Coast and Blackburn Bridal Couture. They give you the freedom of a short dress, but with a bit more formality thrown in.
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8. Square Necklines
The universally flattering square neckline is the new bridal trend that works for all bust sizes. Whether it’s harping back to the ‘90s or even further back to the Regency-era, this nostalgic neckline had the celebrity spotlight shone on it when Nicole Peltz chose it for her wedding to Brooklyn Beckham. A simple, minimal design, it’s a perfect choice for the modern bride and according to Kobus from Anna Georgina, it’s best to let the square neckline do all the talking.
“It can bring a lovely shape to the shoulders and is a stunning silhouette. A square neckline is best without jewelry and enhances the décolletage to accentuate the shoulders in a real feminine feel,” he says.
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If you're a fan of the best pink dresses, then you'll be pleased to know that soft blush shades have been popular with brides for a while now, but the wedding dress trends of 2022 see other pastel shades getting a look in too, giving a nod to the fashion color trends of 2022. From pretty lilacs to serene blues, brides are choosing to ditch the traditional ivory for shades that are not only more flattering to their skin tones but also fit in with their wedding themes better.
Of course, as it's your big day if you want to go all the way with mood-boosting brights and embrace dopamine dressing you can, but this trend really does veer away from bright color clothes and more towards light and frothy hues, in keeping with the soft and romantic feel of the day. You should also, generally speaking, steer away from those colors that are better suited to the best mother of the groom dresses, such as navy, silver or fuschia.
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If you're a fan of the best sustainable clothing brands, then you'll appreciate that a dress that you will only wear once is not the best when it comes to sustainable fashion. Subsequently, eco brides are now looking towards greener ways of getting hitched, whether that’s investigating dress rental or choosing a more planet-friendly option to buy.
It’s something that’s very close to the heart of bridal designer Sabina Motasem, who recently launched The Green Collection, which echoes the design sensibility of her main range but is made from natural and sustainable plant-based materials.
“We’d been planning something like The Green Collection for years before the pandemic to perfectly complement our couture range of wedding dresses. It’s taken us a long time to find the right fabrics that met our high-quality couture standards. It wasn’t easy, but it’s great to be able to present them to the world. As weddings begin again, people are re-evaluating what they want from their day,” she says.
Sabina goes one step forward—all off-cut ‘waste’ silks from each dress get turned into masks and women's tops, which are then donated to Smart Works.
Eco-friendly fabrics and methods have come a long way with super stylish fashion brands, such as Reformation, championing them, ensuring that you still get luxury on your big day, while minimizing your impact on planet earth.
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Wedding dress shopping: All you need to know
Helen Bridal has run The Bridal Box in Devon for 20 years, so it’s fair to say she knows a thing or two about the important elements of buying that dream wedding dress. Here she shares her top tips around the most important clothing purchase you’ll (probably) ever make.
When should you start shopping for a wedding dress?
An age-old question, when it comes to picking the most important dress of your adult life, having a longer lead time will ultimately give you more options. While you might be tempted to hold off to see what new styles emerge, starting the shopping process early will help you decipher exactly what suits you and what doesn't and will also help to make the process smoother.
"The longer that you've got, the more time that you've got to actually enjoy the process of finding your dress, plus plenty of time to source all those perfect accessories", says Helen.
"Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the bridal industry is experiencing lots of delays, so lead times for dresses are all over the place. At the moment, we’re asking brides to allow at least eight months from start to finish to ensure we can deliver on time.
However, as a rule of thumb, I recommend that as soon as you’ve got your date in the diary and a venue booked, start planning the dress. If you can give it a year, that’s fantastic. At the moment, I’ve got some brides who have started planning for weddings in 2024!"
When should you decide on your bridesmaids’ dresses?
There is a lot to organize with a wedding, so if you're looking to start checking things off your to-do list, we don't blame you. However, getting the bridal gown booked in first should come before every other guest.
"The wedding dress comes first, then everything else can slot into place afterwards, especially as bridesmaid’s dresses don't take as long. We always encourage the bride to choose the wedding dress first as that sets the theme for everything. Once you've got the wedding dress, you can then decide on shapes and styles of bridesmaid dresses, your flowers, accessories and how you’re going to style your hair."
Who should I bring with me when I try on dresses?
It's an exciting occasion and many women have dreamed of wedding dress shopping and the fanfare that surrounds it. While it is tempting to bring family and friends, you also need to ensure that you can focus, as ultimately the decision should be yours. You also want to be able to have a 'big reveal' on the day itself so don't let too many people see the dress prior to the event. Don't forget to wear your best bra and best underwear and shapewear for trying on, as this will smooth your silhouette and give you a much better impression of what the dress will look like.
"My top tip is don’t bring too many people. Firstly, you want the ‘wow’ factor, so if everybody close to you has already seen your dress, they won’t be surprised when you make your grand entrance. Secondly, it’s true what they say about too many cooks! If you have too many people weighing in on your dress choice, it can be really hard to choose. You need to dress for yourself. It's you who wears the dress, so you need to love the dress, and in 30 years’ time, look back on your photos and still love the dress!"
How can I find the right designer or bridal shop for me?
"Do a little bit of research first and have conversations with the bridal shop to make sure that you like them and that you're going to enjoy spending time with them", says Helen.
"If you can choose a bridal shop that does its own alterations, that's also a massive box ticked—it will save you a lot of stress and time in the run-up to your wedding. You need to put your trust in the bridal shop and stylists. Go with an open mind as they may choose something for you that you would never have looked at—remember we’ve got lots of experience. Ultimately though, this is meant to be fun, so go with the flow and enjoy it!"
It's also important to remember that wedding dress sizing is different from commercial fashion retailers, so don't be upset by the numerical size of the garment, fit, in this case, not the size number is most important. If you are worried about sizing, call the shop beforehand and discuss options to avoid being disappointed, some stores will do a pre-phone or email consultation to ensure everything goes smoothly on your first appointment.
Top tips for brides trying on dresses
Wedding dresses can stretch into the thousands, so don't be afraid to take all the time you need and feel informed about your decision. And if you leave yourself plenty of time to shop, you won't feel pressured into purchasing a dress in haste.
"When you're trying on dresses and you think you've found ‘the one’, make sure that when trying it on, you move around in it. See it in the natural light. Try sitting down in it. The dress might not fit you properly right then and there, but you need to know the feel of it. Ultimately, you need to be confident that you can spend a good ten hours wearing it and enjoying every second of it!" says Helen.
Jayne cut her online teeth in an era when a dialing tone and slow page load were standard. With over 22 years’ experience in journalism, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing new season trends as she is writing about Pokémon! She spent the start of her writing career within the world of film, pinching herself while she got paid to interview Hollywood stars, attend premieres and lust after red carpet outfits. She then moved into fashion, launching websites for big magazines such as Look, Woman’s Own and Wedding and working with top fashion brands such as Westfield, LK Bennett and Hunter. Career highlights include dressing up as Kylie (in gold hotpants!) for a national newspaper and working on big fashion events alongside Giles Deacon, Henry Holland and Naomi Campbell. Outside of work, she lives in Kent with her husband, dog and son Milo, and spends her downtime doing yoga, reading and scouring websites for stylish vintage bargains.
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