Many girls dream of having a fantasy wedding one day. For most of them, that dream involves extravagance: a lavish buffet, an enormous ballroom, oceans of flowers, and a gorgeous wedding dress. A gown fit for a princess. We’ve all seen, or imagined this type of gown. It usually has a billowing skirt with a long train, loads of lace and crystal beads, and a matching headdress.
Finding the ideal wedding dress can be a challenge, especially for those who can’t afford to spend thousands and thousands of dollars. However, for those who can, the advantage is there. Wedding gowns by high end designers are always the go to dresses for brides who want the highest quality bridal experience. These dresses are beautifully unique in design. Plus, they’re made of the finest materials, such as heavy silk crêpe ($50+ per foot) and re-embroidered Alençon lace ($50-$200+ per foot). Elaborate embroidery and crystal beading add to their cost.
10. Reem Acra
Reem Acra’s gowns have a highly memorable flair. Acra’s collections are eclectic, and many are inspired by her runway designs. Motifs from nature, such as falling leaves, cascading snowdrops, and a medley of innovative shapes appeal to Bohemian and vintage chic girls. Lace is not exactly Acra’s main concern. She is, seemingly, more interested in mixing textures and colors in unexpected ways, and she uses a lot of fabric (mostly taffeta and satin) that reflects light. Reem Acra’s gowns are usually priced between $3,200-$7,800 (average $3,500).
Closely priced are the wedding gowns of Marchesa, which is actually a line created in 2004 by British designer Georgina Chapman. This bridal collection, priced between $3,000-$12,000 (average $5,000), is rather eclectic, with high fashion, Asian, and vintage influences.
8. Angel Sanchez
Wealthy brides also love the gowns of Venezuelan designer Angel Sanchez, whose dresses usually range in price between $3,500 to $8,500+ (average $4,100). Sanchez makes many slim, body-hugging pieces, and quasi-billowing dresses that are remotely based on the A-line skirt. His vision takes traditional shapes and proportions and adds something new and modern to them. Most of his designs are rather architectural, with clean lines and less detail, thus reflecting his previous training in architectural design. Sanchez designed Sandra Bullock’s wedding gown, which cost somewhere between $10,000-$20,000. Although the gown was vintage inspired, she accented it with ivory satin cowboy boots.
7. Carolina Herrera
Carolina Herrera is another top couturier who loves mixing Old World glamour with unique details (such as pockets) and styles (shorter hems). Some of her gowns ($3,500-$7,000+; median price $3,500) resemble Oscar de la Renta’s flowing lace and tulle designs, but are cut on a bias. True to her roots, she loves traditional Spanish looks with lace bodices, lace cutouts, and lace appliqués. In 2012 Herrera came out with the opulent Eastern inspired Agapage collection, themed on gold and white. This group was one of her most opulent.
6. Jim Hjelm
Jim Hjelm heads a group of high end bridal designers who focus on unique details and luxuriously soft fabrics. Francesca Pitera, designer for Jim Hjelm, believes in romance and Old World traditions. Her subtly curved patterns flatter a woman’s figure, and so do the ultra delicate lace designs she uses. It’s no wonder Jim Hjelm dresses are often photographed near urns overflowing with gorgeous flowers. These gowns, priced between $1,500 – 5,000+ ($4,000 on average) are among the most romantic and feminine on the market.
Lazaro of Jim Hjelm makes gowns ($5,000-$30,000; median $6,000) that are similar to Francesca Pitera’s. They are highly textured, softly cascading, with lots of lace and rhythmical patterns. Some Lazaro gowns even have vines and small, colored flowers for an added touch of femininity and opulence.
Pronovias offers a great variety of billowy gowns with tapered tops that give the bride a refined, elongated silhouette. Thanks to silk crêpe, organza, tulle and other supple fabrics, the weight of a Pronovias gown falls evenly at the bottom and expands outward. Most Pronovias gowns, priced on average between $6,500-$8,000, are delicately embroidered with lace, pearls, and crystal beads. Each seasonal collection is divided into themes that express different styles (the 2014 collection includes ‘Fashion’, ‘Glamour,’ and ‘Dreams’).
3. Elie Saab
The wedding gowns of designer Elie Saab are part of the Pronovias group. Many of Saab’s designs have that Cinderella look with the long, billowing skirt, capped sleeves and ribboned waist. Elie tends to use more lace and beads. Saab’s beautiful collections, usually priced between $6,000 -$53,000 (average $10,000), also have a generous variety of silhouettes for brides to experiment with: long sleeves, removable capes, and strapless bodices.
2. Oscar de la Renta
High end clients also adore Oscar de la Renta’s wedding gowns. The Dominican born designer is famous for the sumptuous fabrics of his daywear, evening dresses, and bridal gowns (silk shantung, heavy silk crêpe, etc.) and for his ornate lace embellishments, flowers and ruffles, which have an Old World, Latin flair. From a distance his gowns take on frothy textures that resemble a field of loose petals, lilacs and lily of the valley. Oscar de la Renta gowns are highly original, and his collections are always diverse. If you want something purely traditional, or totally modern you’ll surely find an Oscar dress that visualizes your dream.
1. Vera Wang
Vera Wang is the most renowned and the most sought-after bridal couturier. Why? One reason is her good reputation. She uses the best of the best materials for every aspect of her gowns, plus, there is great variety in each of her seasonal collections. For example, many modern brides love colored gowns, which Vera helped popularize and which continue to trend. The cut of each Vera Wang is slightly different and done by hand – another mark of quality. Then there are the myriad of shapes Vera experiments with. She combines traditional with something unique, be it in shape, or material, and yes, color.
Vera Wang dresses usually start at $6,000 while a typical dress is $12,000. Several celebrities who have worn ultra expensive Vera Wang gowns are Mariah Carey, Ivanka Trump, Jessica Simpson, and Victoria Beckham, whose dress was $100,000.
While you shop for the wedding gown of your dreams keep in mind that prices vary according to boutique. High end bridal (couture) salons charge more, of course. Plus, all retailers ask for additional money to have gowns altered. So if you wanting the complete experience, make sure you have extra cash at hand. The gown is a major aspect of the entire event, of course, so it only makes sense to spend it on nothing but the best.