There's no experience quite like buying a wedding dress. Gathering your bridesmaids for an afternoon trying on frothy confections is truly one of the best parts of planning your wedding. It can also, however, be quite a daunting task. This will likely be the most expensive dress you ever buy and, if you don't get it right, those wedding photos are going to follow you everywhere. Forever.
Then there's the simple conundrum of knowing where to start. London is bursting with beautiful bridal boutiques and, should you wish, you can spend months visiting a different one every weekend (note: we don't recommend this, there is such a thing as too much choice). If your wedding preparations have been derailed by the pandemic, however, you'll be pleased to know bridal stores will be among those reopening on 12 April – making now the perfect time to start getting those appointments back in the diary. Here's our guide to the best bridal boutiques in London.
For the English fairy tale wedding: Temperley London (Notting Hill)
Every bride should make at least one visit to Temperley, which relocated its bridal offering to the Mayfair Temperley flagship in 2019. The British designer's bridal collections are what English fairytales are made of, replete with wafting tulle, delicate lace and meticulous, twinkling embroidery. Romantic, bohemian and embued with Alice Temperley's deep understanding of cut and structure, we defy you not to fall in love.
First appointments cost £20; 27 Bruton Street, London W1J 6QN, temperleylondon.com
For couture bridal and contemporary, boho styles: The Wedding Club (Knightsbridge & Kensington)
The Wedding Club in Knightsbridge is an immaculate white playground of designer couture brands, including structured, corsetted and caped masterpieces by Zuhair Murad, Carolina Herrera, Steven Khalil, Atelier Pronovias, Naeem Khan and Zuhair Murad, as well as accessories by Aruna Seth, Freya Rose and Victoria Percival. Dresses start from £4,500 and climb to a heady £25,000. For more laidback brides, The Wedding Club's Kensington branch has a modern offering of boho brands including Savannah Miller, Made With Love, Costarellos and MUSE by Berta, as well as personalised denim jackets, bridesmaid dresses and accessories, with prices from £2,000.
Appointments cost £25-30; The Wedding Club Knightsbridge, 10 Yeomans Row, SW3 2AH; The Wedding Club South Kensington, 37 Thurloe Street, SW7 2LQ, thewedding-club.co.uk
For French chic: The Mews Bridal (Notting Hill)
The Mews Bridal in Notting Hill stocks exclusively French designers with serious savoir-faire. Browse Laure de Sagazan's languid, lacy two-pieces, Marie Laporte's graceful, modern designs and Caroline Takvorian’s romantic beaded gowns, which take their cue from the elegance, style and craftsmanship of Parisian haute couture. Prices start at £2,000 while the boutique also stocks a Les Petits Inclassables range aimed at flower girls and young bridesmaids aged from six months to 14 years
For modern romance: Halfpenny London (Bloomsbury)
Kate Moss wore a now-iconic Halfpenny London frothy red gown over a leopard print bodysuit for Mario Testino’s 60th birthday party in 2014. The dress is reflective of founder Kate Halfpenny's knack for creating contemporary gowns with a cool air of Old Hollywood romance. The designer has since enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity, largely thanks to her collaborative relationships with notable Londoners including Daisy Lowe and Millie Mackintosh. Halfpenny's feather-light confections can be fully customised and she excels in creating add-ons for more simple gowns, from dramatic, frothy skirts and tulle sleeves to a razor-sharp tuxedo jacket.
For contemporary, laidback brides: The Fall Bridal (Hackney)
This East London loft is curated with a modern edit of alternative bridal options. It is the exclusive UK stockist for Melbourne-based Lola Varma Bridal, lauded for its minimalist gowns, and Bilbao's Sophie Et Voila making it a go-to for brides who are looking for something far from the traditional white gown. You can also browse Lelet NY hair accessories while the boutique's (Re)Cycle scheme helps brides sell their pre-loved wedding outfits to other brides-to-be. The Fall also offers a made-to-order service for brides after something specific while its range of bridemaids gowns isn't to be overlooked.
Appointments cost £30; 1 Dye House Lane, London E3 2TB, thefallbride.com
For majestic embellishment: Phillipa Lepley (Fulham)
Every wedding dress should be a work of art, but Phillipa Lepley gowns, painstakingly embellished with Swarovski crystals, freshwater pearls and intricate, iridescent beading, sit in a class of their own. The Chelsea-based couturier is world-renowned for her romantic, waist-whittling designs, which have been worn by Alice Naylor-Leyland, Tanya Burr and many a society bride. Lepley specialises in bespoke, couture gowns and, accordingly, they don't come cheap but working with her team to create the dress of your dreams is an experience you'll never forget.
Appointments cost £30; 48 Fulham Road, London SW3 6HH, phillipalepley.com
For dazzling sequins: Jenny Packham (Mayfair)
Jenny Packham's glitzy bridal designs draw on the glamour of the past, be it the decadence of the Roaring Twenties or the slinky silhouettes of the Thirties. If you're looking for a touch of the dramatic with your wedding dress, Packham is not afraid to weave in marabou feathers, resplendent sequins, tulle capes and bold colour, tailored to magnificent perfection.
Appointments cost £30; 3A Carlos Place, Mount Street, Mayfair, London W1K 3AN, jennypackham.com
For sharp tailoring with an eco-friendly edge: Stella McCartney (Mayfair)
Ever since Stella McCartney designed a bespoke, sleek halterneck dress for Meghan Markle to wear at her evening reception in 2019, the British designer has been a modern bride's go-to for contemporary, subtly sexy dresses and jumpsuits. While there is no longer an official bridal collection, the Mayfair flagship boutique showcases plentiful white dresses, tuxedo jackets and ivory sequin slips, thoughtfully made using eco-friendly fabrics.
Appointments are free of charge; 23 Old Bond Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4PZ, stellamccartney.com
For fashion-forward brides: Grace Loves Lace (Shoreditch)
Australian bridal brand Grace Loves Lace has built a cult following for its cool-girl, bohemian bridalwear, worn by Margot Robbie and Millie Mackintosh. Designs are crafted Down Under using premium French lace and are available to try and buy at the brand's Shoreditch studio. “We stay clear of structured and restrictive designs and fabrics and instead we are all about celebrating our women as effortless, sexy and naturally glamorous,” says founder Megan Ziems. Head here for figure-hugging, off-the-shoulder styles, voluminous fluted sleeves and silky two-piece slips.
Appointments are free of charge; 58/59 Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3QT, graceloveslace.com