Weddings, like school, work, and restaurant dining, look different than they did a year ago. Celebrations with 300-person guest lists aren’t just unpopular, but, as a result of the pandemic, currently unsafe, too. In their place are “minimonies,” or intimate ceremonies that take place in backyards and on rooftops, and are streamed over Zoom. In turn, the wedding dresses worn for these occasions also look different. “With scaled-down weddings, the dresses have become relaxed and understated, as opposed to the opulence of the past,” Lisa Ruffle, Moda Operandi‘s buying manager, tells Refinery29.

Brides have also become more experimental with their wedding looks. “As much as 2020 sucked, it also gave couples the chance to reevaluate their wedding day priorities and think outside the box, focusing on what’s most important to them,” bridal stylist Gabrielle Hurwitz tells Refinery29. Because of that, she says the biggest 2021 wedding dress trend is “anything goes.” Instead of wearing traditional white ballgowns, in 2021, brides are more likely to play with colors and silhouettes and opt for ready-to-wear pieces rather than bridal collections.

With the future of big events still uncertain, Hurwitz believes that “brides are also curating a wedding wardrobe with pieces that work even if plans change.”

Click ahead to read more about the wedding dress trends that are set to appear on brides everywhere in 2021. 

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Wedding Suits & Separates

According to wedding experts, brides in 2021 want their nuptial wardrobes to extend beyond the wedding events. Instead of buying dresses specifically for receptions, ceremonies, bridal parties, and so forth, brides are purchasing items that can be worn for other occasions. (Example: Keira Knightley’s wedding dress, which she wore once before her wedding, to a pre-BAFTAs dinner, and once after, to a London charity event.) By opting for a jumpsuit, pantsuit, or top-and-skirt duo, your opportunities to recycle your wedding look increase tenfold. 

“Our clients are seeking separates and suits because they want their [wedding] wardrobe to work twice as hard,” Ruffle says. “Wedding attires are no longer one-and-done — [brides] can mix and match [their] wedding pieces into future outfits.”

Sleeper Party Pajama Set With Double Feathers, $, available at Sleeper

Eloquii Lace Wide-Leg Jumpsuit, $, available at Eloquii

Rasario Puff Sleeve Bow Embellished Jacquard Top & Skirt Set, $, available at Moda Operandi

Minimalist Wedding Dresses

When your wedding consists of 10 people in a backyard, wearing a gown with a voluminous skirt and a cathedral-length veil could feel a bit, well, much. (Though, if that’s what you want to wear, it’s your day.) That’s why many brides are leaning toward understated and modern dresses that feature clean lines, structured fabrics, and architectural draping, according to Lori Conley, the general merchandise manager at BHLDN. At Moda Operandi, Ruffle says that “simple, elegant slip dresses are among their top sellers” right now.

Sachin + Babi Cali Dress, $, available at BHLDN

Coyan Made-To-Order Seta Gown in Black & Ivory, $, available at Coyan

Reformation Prosecco Dress, $, available at Reformation

Short Wedding Dresses

According to Conley, the rise in elopements and courthouse-style weddings have caused many brides to ditch long hemlines and opt, instead, for mini- or midi-length dresses that feel “effortless and chic.” As experts pointed out earlier, by deciding to wear a dress closer to a cocktail-length, rather than a maxi one, brides also give themselves the option to wear a dress they already own or purchase a new (and probably more affordable) ready-to-wear dress. Plus, as Conley points out, it also opens up the possibility of wearing a statement shoe that people can actually see.

Valentine Avoh Bridal Ava Dress, $, available at Moda Operandi

Brandon Maxwell Silk Faille Mini Dress, $, available at Net-A-Porter

Amsale Bow Back Shift Dress, $, available at Amsale

Regency Era-Inspired Wedding Dresses

One bridal trend not directly tied to the pandemic is the rise of Regency era-inspired wedding dresses. And Bridgerton, and before that Emma, are to blame. Both the TV show and film contained dreamy and romantic wardrobes featuring empire dresses, elbow-length gloves, and corsets that were beautiful and over-the-top. It’s no wonder that wedding dress designers would take inspiration from them. According to Conely, the trend has resulted in “puff sleeves, empire waistlines, sleek corsetry lines, and luxe fabrications like satin and velvet.”

Katharine Polk Gwen Gown, $, available at Katharine Polk

Fame & Partners Gathered Drop Waist Gown, $, available at Fame & Partners

Danielle Frankel Ruby Tulle-Trimmed Wool And Silk-Blend Satin Gown, $, available at Net-A-Porter


Wedding Dresses

If you thought cottagecore would disappear with 2020, you were wrong. Rather, it’s only grown stronger roots, especially in the bridal department. Now that more weddings are taking place outside, brides are dressing for the occasion, wearing ethereal dresses, detailed with lace, flowing ruffles, bows, and micro florals, that match the surroundings. Think: Taylor Swift’s bridal-looking dress from the “Willow” music video.

Selkie Collection The Ivory French Puff Dress, $, available at Selkie Collection

Melissa Sweet Lace Plus Size Wedding Dress with Trimmed Capelet, $, available at David’s Bridal

Hill House Home The Caroline Nap Dress, $, available at Hill House Home

Sleeved Wedding Dresses

Whereas a winter bride could once wear a strapless dress down the aisle without a second thought, now, with many celebrations taking place in open-air locations during colder months, wearing a weather-appropriate wedding dress is becoming increasingly important. With a stylish selection of long- and three-quarter-length-sleeved bridal dresses on the market right now, you wouldn’t want a strapless gown even if you could wear one.

Jenny By Jenny Yoo Karina Gown, $, available at BHLDN

Amsale Satin One Sleeved Dress, $, available at Amsale

Emilia Wickstead Sharonella Open-Back Wool Crepe Dress, $, available at Net-A-Porter

‘20s-Style Wedding Dresses

Like during the Roaring ‘20s (following the Great Depression), in 2021, we’re all eager to let loose and have some fun once it’s safe to do so again. In turn, many bridal experts are predicting a surge in popularity of ‘20s trends, when the “appetite to party was greater than ever,” as Conley puts it. For brides, that means beaded dresses, fringe, and sparkle. 

BHLDN Sanders Dress, $, available at Anthropolgie

Richard Quinn Crystal And Bead-Embellished Silk-Tulle Midi Dress, $, available at Matches Fashion

Goddiva Fringe Sequin One-Shoulder Maxi Dress, $, available at ASOS

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