short wedding dresses
Image: Blake Ida

Short wedding dresses: Fabulous contemporary styles for modern brides

22 Apr 2024 | |By Zoe Gunn

Skirts and trains not your thing? A new wave of cropped gowns have got you covered (or not)

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While still largely considered an alternative choice, the short wedding dress has in fact been a staple of modern nuptials since the 1920s, with famous fans including Hollywood royalty Audrey Hepburn, Keira Knightley and Raquel Welch, and actual royalty Charlotte Chasiraghi, daughter of Princess Caroline of Hanover. Also, an increasingly popular choice for brides on the hunt for something more fun and freeing for their reception, whether you’re after a vintage-inspired tea-length gown or a flirty, fashion-forward mini, read on for the best short wedding dresses for 2024.

Mid-length wedding dresses

Rebecca Vallance Tove dress

When it comes to short wedding dresses, savvy brides look to the experts for inspiration. Coming from Rebecca Vallance’s new bridal collection, this elegant strapless gown features a classic silhouette and detailed sequin embellishment for the best of both worlds. If you’ve already picked something from Vallance’s dedicated bridal collection for the big day, we reckon this would make a great rehearsal dinner or post-wedding brunch option too.

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Zimmermann silk wrap dress

The perfect elegant option for those who like the romance and drama of a classic wedding dress, but are planning an event that calls for something a little more relaxed, a mid-length gown is formal enough for church ceremonies while still imbuing a contemporary edge in your look. Zimmermann’s silk wrap dress features a flattering tie-waist, billowing sleeves, and a ruffled hem.

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Blake Ida Gracie wedding dress

Part-1950s prom dress, part-cropped bridal gown, this whimsical dress from bespoke bridal expert Blake Ida hits all the right wedding notes without tipping into twee or basic. Silk? Check. Princess Di-style puff sleeves? Check. Full skirt? Check. Featuring a sweetheart neckline and voluminous tiered skirt, its asymmetric tea-length cut also makes it a great option for thrifty brides looking for a dress that can be repurposed after the big day.

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Sachin & Babi Tara strapless gown

If there was ever a time to pull out all the stops, it’s your wedding – and Sachin & Babi’s absolute diva of a dress does just that. Cut with a cascading high-low hem, it is finished with a show-stopping oversized obi knot guaranteed to wow in your wedding photos.

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Knee-length wedding dresses

Safiyaa Manorel cape dress

Planning to eschew the veil as well as the floor-length gown? Safiyaa’s shimmering embroidered dress features a cape-effect silhouette, so you’ll still have the aesthetic effect of a traditional veil-and-gown without having to worry about fiddly hairpieces and overwrought updos. And we don’t need to tell you that all-over embroidery is perfect for hitting the dancefloor.

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Halfpenny London Okotan separates

London-based bridalwear designer Kate Halfpenny has cornered the market for luxe separates, offering a range of mix-and-match tops, skirts and accessories (as well as full gowns) that give brides an experience that is as close to custom as possible without going fully bespoke. Happily, the range also includes a number of short options, such as this elegantly draped Okotan skirt. Pair with the matching Bardot-style corset for a bridal look that is simple yet utterly sophisticated.

Skirt, £2,450; Corset, £2,200
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Rixo Candice Dress

If you’re opting for a short gown as a second (or even third) outfit, you’re probably not looking to pay couture prices – but that doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on style. Rixo’s highly-regarded bridal collection offers an array of laidback gowns designed with thoroughly modern brides in mind. This Sixties-inspired shift is crafted in silk crepe and finished with a feathered hem for the most fabulous of costume changes.

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Mini wedding dresses

Self-Portrait embellished mini dress

Big name, small dress. Self-Portrait’s bridal line features the feminine aesthetic and attention to detail on which the British brand made its name, and is guaranteed to make you feel a million dollars. And what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in romance and whimsy: this embellished dress features delicate floral sequin appliques and a tulle skirt ideal for wearing with satin heels, trainers or anything in between.

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Reformation Maves dress

If you’re only going to wear a dress once it probably shouldn’t cost the earth – figuratively or literally. Originally conceived as a vintage fashion resale brand, sustainability has always been at the forefront of Reformation’s collections and its burgeoning bridal range is no different. Its Maves dress is made with 60 per cent sustainably sourced wood pulp and 40 per cent repurposed waste, leaving behind a minimal carbon footprint. Oh, and did we mention the price?

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Clio Peppiatt Lucina mini dress

The ultimate in alternative bridalwear, this twinkling mini dress by occasionwear master Clio Peppiatt goes big on the sparkle with moon and sun motifs rendered in Swarovski beads and pearls.We can already hear the gasps as you walk down the aisle.

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Read more: The wedding dress trends to bookmark for 2024