How Fashion’s Favourite Brands Propelled The Rise Of The Cool Bride

"There really are no rules."
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When it comes to weddings, tradition is on the way out.

Couples are ditching white chapels for the local courthouse, forgoing extensive guest lists for intimate affairs and international elopements, and passing on the big white dress for pastel shades, simple silhouettes, and even short hemlines.

There are many factors driving this change; from an increase in Australians identifying as agnostic (up to 38.9% as of the 2021 census and climbing), to the financial strains the $36,000 cost the average wedding can entail as well as growing desires for a unique ceremony that better reflects the individual couple.

For many, the idea of spending a house deposit on one day, following archaic traditions like father-daughter dances and even marrying in a church just doesn’t make sense.

This shift also formed the catalyst for one of our favourite rising wedding trends: the cool bride.

What is the cool bride, you ask?

A quick glance at the term in Pinterest paints a picture—typically in the format of film photography—of vintage-inspired cakes complete with quirky message (see: Rita Ora & Taika Waititi’s ‘We’re Married B–ches’ rendition), blurry dancefloor photographs, signature cocktails served in classic coupes and, of course, a non-traditional yet effortlessly stylish dress.

The cool bride is, to put it simply, a fashion-forward bride. That’s why, nothing completes the cool bride aesthetic more than the dress.

(Credit: Instagram @grace_loves_lace)

The desire for a fashion-forward dress that reflects the bride’s personal style and even budget, has seen many of our wardrobe staple brands branch out into bridal wear. It’s also the very reason Megan Ziems started her widely successful wedding dress business, Grace Loves Lace.

“I started GRACE during my search for my own wedding dress almost 12 years ago in 2011,” Ziems tells marie claire Australia.

“I found the industry was disillusioned with the structured, traditional wedding “uniform” that dominated the market. I needed a gown that had personality, told my story and was designed with passion, movement, and luxury in mind.”

For Ziems the cool bride trend is less about a singular look or style and is instead a focus on personalisation.

“I think there’s been a shift away from the traditional wedding, where brides want to strip things back and focus on what’s most important to them,” she tells us.

“Bridal has evolved over the last decade, as fashion has, and COVID revolutionised the wedding industry with the introduction of the ‘micro’ wedding which brought with it a more relaxed, less traditional wedding environment. Bridal gowns now reflect that, giving the bride more choice so they can wear whatever they want on the wedding day.”

(Credit: Instagram @shonajoy)

Shona Joy Thatcher, founder of eponymous brand Shona Joy, which boasts a popular edit of bridal wear, echoes the shift away from tradition has spurred on a new era of bridal wear, particularly one in which dresses can be not only cherished but worn again.

“We’ve loved seeing brides really do things their way. From the dress to the ceremony, there really are no rules,” Thatcher tells us.

“Our approach has always been to design garments that will be cherished for years to come—designing for longevity by staying true to our aesthetic rather than following seasonal trends and using high-quality responsible materials.

“Our brides are opting for dresses that allow them to express their own story, and which can be worn again and again, not only for themselves but also for their bridesmaids.”


At Australian Fashion Week earlier this year, Ready-To-Wear label, Acler, debuted a bridal edit, inspired by Co-Founder Kathryn Forth’s own experience as a bride.

“After the world stopped for many years and couples experienced their nuptials being cancelled or postponed, sometimes numeral times, the mindset has changed; shorter engagements, couples booking in the day as soon as they can, meaning less time for long lead plans,” Forth explains.

Forth sees the rise of the ready-to-wear and bridal cross over as one that not only serves the need for high-end style but shorter lead times and a streamlined shopping experience.

“I drew from my own experience of planning my wedding, when designing the Acler Bridal Edit,” she says.

“It was a somewhat quick turnaround between becoming engaged and setting our wedding date. Because of this, automatically several options were not for me due to the timeframe required for a bespoke piece, but I still wanted a carefully crafted bridal look. When designing this range, I had those brides in mind.”


For iconic Australian cool-girl label, Bec +Bridge, the introduction of a cool bride-approved edit has proved a seamless evolution, with designers Bec Cooper and Bridget Yorston attributing the rise of the trend to modern brides’ desires for diversification.

“The shift we’ve witnessed has felt like a seamless and natural progression, driven by our customers’ increasing online presence and the exponential growth of ecommerce in recent years,” they tell us.

“Shopping behaviours have adapted to the online landscape and we’ve seen this translate into weddings. It’s caused us to really embrace the e-commerce experience and offer more diverse and accessible choices for the modern bride.”

Fashion Brands With Ready-To-Wear Bridal Ranges

If you’re looking to embody the cool bride or just want to ditch the big white dress for something a little more you, these are the best brands to shop for Ready-To-Wear wedding dresses. 

Bec + Bridge

Find: silky, body-skimming silhouettes and 90s-inspired designs.

Available to shop at:


Find: curated designs for the bride who wants a contemporary and unique ready-to-wear piece.

Available to shop at:

Shona Joy

Find: timeless styles you’ll want to wear again from silky gowns to sophisticated separates.

Available to shop at:

Grace Loves Lace

Find: a style to suit every bride from simple and sophisticated to feminine and lacey.

Available to shop at:

(Credit: Rebecca Vallance)


Find: daring and on-trend silhouettes, chic minis and statement-making gowns all at an affordable price point. 

Available to shop at: 

Rebecca Vallance

Find: structured silhouettes and modern styles for the fashion-focused bride.

Available to shop at:


Find: effortless silhouettes that celebrate the feminine figure and are sustainably made.

Available to shop at:

Rachel Gilbert

Find: high-fashion design, sleek silhouettes, sophisticated minis and stunning embellishments.

Available to shop at:

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