The bridal industry is filled with thousands of talented wedding dress designers, releasing hundreds of thousands of gowns on the market right now. So, naturally, being the crazy people we are, we felt compelled to narrow the list to our 20 favorite wedding dresses.
Why? Well you, my dears, deserve to be introduced to the best of the best! The crème de la crème! We want you, our wonderful audience, to have access to some of the most cutting-edge wedding dress designs on the market.
Now, who are the editors curating their favorite wedding dresses of 2021? Bridal Musings' Fashion Editor Christina Castello touts years of experience in weddings & fashion. A bridal stylist herself, Christina writes for us & top-tier couture designers. You could say she's got a firm grip on the bridal trends of today. Pair that with being one of our most fashionable real brides on BM, you'll love her eye for detail & styling tips.
Then, there's me, your Bridal Musings Editor-in-Chief. I have a passionate love for luxurious fabric, romantic details & architectural design. Having spent over 10 years in the wedding industry & attending more bridal runways than I can count, I dream in ivory silk.
Choosing 10 best wedding dresses each, we'll update this “best wedding dress list” every season to keep you in the know about the very best gowns in bridal, right now.
Claire Eliza's Criteria:
For me, it's always about fabric first. Who uses the most luxurious textiles & natural fibers? How does it feel when you put the gown on? How does it flow? Who manipulates timeless fabrics into fresh architectural shapes? Give me new textures, new hand-embroidered motifs, new mind-bending silhouettes.
Then, I decide which gowns & designers behind them are pushing bridal forward. In my folder of “favorite gowns right now” there are nearly 100. Scores of dresses & designers woo me over daily. But if I'm going to “stan” for any gown it will be the ones that defy the current trends to make new ones. I greatly admire designers who are clearly operating in their own space to create something new for the brides of now.
My final criteria: would I wear it? I mean honestly, I would be lying if my own bias didn't play into “my favorite wedding dresses”. Every gown I've chosen I'd pay handsomely to wear one day. I just need to find a good reason that a joyously married woman needs another wedding dress.
Christina's Criteria for her Favorite Wedding Dresses:
I’m finding myself in a mix of Donna Summer meets Cher diva style obsession. I’m talking about the finest fabrics and prints, the highest slits or lowest plunges, the largest sleeves, and the most detailed, sparkling, structured bodices. This is for the bride who doesn’t feel the least bit inclined to please their mother-in-law.
I was drawn to pieces playing with fabric in different ways, like unexpected frills and volume, shoulder poufs, and cutouts you haven’t seen before. It’s like 80’s bridal returned and said, “I’ll keep the volume, but I’m showing more skin.”
Claire Eliza's Favorite Wedding Dresses
Claire by A La Robe – Claire, by my own wedding dress designer A La Robe, just happens to be named after yours truly. I couldn't be more flattered that such an effortless, sexy & luxurious silk gown should bear the same name as I! The best part of this flattery is that this gown is truly me, I would wear it in a heartbeat. Luxurious silk, romantic ruffles & a sexy low-back, I know this gown feels as amazing as it looks.
Shell by Liz Martinez – Something new from luxury bridal designer, Liz Martinez: put the corset on the outside. While this may be the first, prominent gown to feature such design detail on modern bridal runways, I'm positive we'll be seeing a number of similar corsets this Fall and the seasons to come. ‘Head to toe all-over-lace cinched by a corset' in a phrase sounds so modest and antiquated. But damn she is sexy. Sheer lace, skin-tight sleeves and a see-through mock neck. We praise her romantic, provocative & fashion-forward nature.
2.8 Grace Tulle Gown by Harriette Gordon – The perfect marriage of feminine & cutting-edge, Harriette Gordon has designed the fashion-forward gown of our #cottagecore dreams. I love the sweet tiers of tulle on this dress. Yet, the square neckline gifts modern brides permission to have somewhat of a ‘prairie princess' dress without feeling old-fashioned.
Dune by Sophie et Voila – A mini that is actually grand enough for your wedding day. I'm not talking “extra look” or “minimony dress, then proper wedding dress later…” This short wedding dress by Sophie et Voila has all the facets & upscale design of a longer hemline thanks to a glorious train. Dune begs no need for a “second look”.
The Shadow Gown by Ritual Unions – If you wear this gown to your wedding, call me. We need to be friends. The juxtaposition of princess ballgown-level volume and sheer fabric is the kind of badass, stick-it-to-the-man design we editors beg for. The bold lines of the bodysuit showing through lavish layers of tulle are deliciously suggestive. I love bridal design that is this unafraid.
We included this gown in black in our favorite black wedding dresses and our favorite statement ballgowns for the fashion-forward bride and I feel no remorse adding this white version to my favorite current dresses edit.
Avery by The Law Bridal – We've raved about The Law Bridal's fabric plenty in the past. Creating collections of mix and match separates, gowns, pants, suits, shawls, belts, coats and more, designer Megan Lawrence always features a carefully curated array of luxurious & eco-friendly fabrics draped in avant-garde silhouettes.
While we shamelessly love everything from The Law, the two feather-light layers of silk chiffon that make up Avery currently swims through my subconscience. A seemingly simple shirt dress, it's ready for a bride with an individual style. Seen here paired with shorts & a belt, we can imagine the gown styled in so many different ways – with slips, bodysuits or entirely sheer. Avery proves simple isn't boring. Simple is sexy, too.
Eileen by Christie Nicole Bridal – Puff sleeves are certainly dominating the bridal runway and we're 100% on board. While so many designers offer their own takes on the blousons, it's Christie Nicole Bridal's Eileen gown that captures & keeps our attention. The all-over pearl embellishment paired with meticulously placed volume elevates this gown from trendy to high-fashion.
Ruby by Odylyne the Ceremony – Did you read our ‘ode to Princess Diana‘ feature highlighting the revival of 1980s bridal style? Well, pomp & circumstance is “in” again. Only this time, thankfully flattering. As I shared then, “Yes, we want volume. Yes, we want drama. But, we also want to feel some sort of modern sex appeal and semblance of shape.”
This is what Ruby (and Odylyne's entire new Ozma collection) gives us. Voluminous layers of fluttering organza and over-the-top ruffles are balanced with a shoulder-baring top & leg-showing high-low skirt.
Outfit Lynn by Annika Maria – If you're wondering ‘what's fresh in the world of bridal' you'll need to take a tour of Annika Maria's entire latest collection. With avant-garde silhouettes & separates made of shorts, overskirts, bold bodices & unique motifs everything about her world is completely original. I love the artsy playfulness of this ‘t-shirt & shorts' look paired with an organza overskirt.
Muriel & Madeleine by Yolan Cris – In the past, this sort of wrap top, breezy silhouette only existed in resort wear lines for vacation wardrobes. With low-key brides feeling more encouraged to be their casual selves, I love the idea that a beach bride could find a sexy, skin-baring gown that's of the highest couture quality, rather than just on ready-to-wear racks. Better yet, this bridal look is actually a set: wrap top, trousers and removable skirt. Hello, wedding day to honeymoon look.
Christina Castello's Favorite Wedding Dresses
Simone by Varca Bridal – This look feels like a sexy tuxedo-turned wedding dress. Victorian-inspired sleeves, sequin bird applique, high neckline, and super-high slit keep it balanced.
Frida by Immacle Barcelona – This ever imaginative brand balances dainty and bold. Lace fabric with large florals take boho in a flirty direction, complemented by the prettiest ruffle shoulders.
Mimi by Galia Lahav – This dress IS romance. Galia Lahav never misses a detail, with a corseted bodice and fairytale-like sleeves making this look heavenly.
Rhiannon Mini by Christie Nicole Bridal – After Claire sent it to me over an Instagram DM this dream cloud of a minidress has been taking up space in my thoughts. Floral applique, pearls, volume, and a plunge – it’s the perfect mini wedding dress.
Olive Gown in Grey by Barbara Kavchok Bridal – Painted embroidery, cutouts, and sleeves don this grey dress that’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. The bride who wears this is undeniably unique. And yeah, I think it would look super edgy with boots.
Maren by Danielle Frankel Studio – This feels like the coolest way to be glamorous on your wedding day. A reimagined slip dress, and it’s no surprise, I love the gauzy sleeves.
Kismet in Blush by Tara Lauren – The moment I locked eyes on this photoshoot I fell in love with this gown. How can a fully beaded ballgown feel so cool? If someone doesn’t get married in this dress after reading this article, then I will.
Mimosa by Alena Leena – How nuts is this polka dot jacquard? This ballgown look feels so architectural in design and has a ruffle detail that can be worn on or off the shoulder.
Eve by Grace Loves Lace – We can’t forget that GLL dropped a killer collection during quarantine that made us all want to keep our wedding plans and simply elope. Eve is timeless and modern, embracing the high-neckline trend we’ve been loving.
Coco by Flora Bridal – I love how this look takes the classic slip dress and gives her dimensional shoulders while showing plenty of skin. It’s like Coco already has her own accessory, just slip on some heels and go.
Wedding dress obsessed? Find all of our bridal fashion round-ups & trend reports in our Fashion section. Or get shopping with our favorite places to buy your wedding dress online.