As Sainsbury’s launch bridal collection, please say no to a wedding dress you can pick up on your weekly shop
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It is easy to empathise with anyone planning a wedding at the height of the cost of living crisis as it can be both incredibly stressful and expensive. In January 2023, Hitched revealed that “The average wedding in the UK in 2022 cost £18,400. This is 6% up on the average cost of a wedding in 2021, which was £17,300 and up 102% from 2020, when the pandemic restrictions saw wedding spending drop to an average of £9,100."
In 2022, Hitched reported that the average spend on a wedding dress was £1,350, which is a lot of money for a dress. It came therefore as no great surprise to me that Sainsbury’s has launched a new Tu bridal collection, with dresses starting from £22.
Although some are lauding Sainsbury’s Tu for launching affordable wedding dresses, as someone who worked in the bridal industry for many years and spent many years sampling the workmanship that goes into creating wedding dresses, I do feel that a bridal dress should not be added to your basket or shopping trolley in the same way that household staples are.
I spoke to Rachel Southwood of The Bridal Buzz who revealed that “Wedding dresses have long been available to buy off the peg or on the high street, so I don’t see how the Sainsbury’s range is any different. These dresses have their purpose – maybe a trash-the-dress shoot, a same-day elopement or even for use on stage by a cash-strapped drama club. However, I would never recommend that a bride buys her bridal gown from anywhere other than a bona fide, bricks-and-mortar wedding boutique”
Rachel also commented, “Nothing can replicate the experience of finding your dream dress - potentially one of the biggest purchases of your life - with an experienced stylist who has the experience and expertise to find you the dress that will have you looking and feeling your very best for the biggest day of your life.”
Wedding planner Siobahn Craven-Robbins revealed that 'Weddings have undoubtedly been affected by the cost of living crisis. The industry is seeing longer lead times (giving couples time to save) and reduced guest lists. I feel it is so sad if couples have to massively compromise on what they want for their special day as a result of having to tighten their belts financially.”
Siobhan goes on to say that “Moreover, most people are having to cut back and compromise as a result of rising costs, not because they have overspent or been profligate with their finances. This makes it seem all the more sad that these wedding day compromises are a non-fault must.
“I am all for choice for couples and perhaps Sainsbury's has really read the room? However, at the same time, I doubt many brides have dreamed of purchasing their wedding dress from a supermarket.”
Siobhan also said: “For the bride who doesn't have a dream dress in mind, or perhaps is a dab-hand at customising, this dress may provide a cutback that helps their budget and doesn't bother her. For the brides that have always dreamed of marrying in a couture or especially-designed dress, it would feel a woeful compromise.
“I would always recommend delaying the wedding date if finances are tight and giving themselves more time to save and have exactly what they want at a later date.”
Although I no longer work in the bridal industry, I still feel very passionate about the people who are still a part of it. They have been affected by the cost of living crisis and the covid pandemic as much as everyone else and they create beautiful bridal gowns that can be passed down from generation to generation.
If you are getting married and contemplating picking up a wedding dress at your weekly shop, I implore you not to do it.