Rachel Wells: Affordable wedding dresses at H&M and ASOS cheapen marriage

My wedding dress is one of the few tangible reminders I have of a day that was 10 years in the making. Photo / iStock
My wedding dress is one of the few tangible reminders I have of a day that was 10 years in the making. Photo / iStock

When I got married, almost three years ago to the day, I wore the most remarkable gown I have ever worn in my life.

All silver-sequined and custom-designed to fit like a glove, I felt like a princess, or more accurately, a red-carpet-ready Hollywood starlet.

That dress - the one that had been handmade to make me feel more beautiful than I had ever felt before - cost me $5000.

Yes, $5000. I know. I know. The things I could have done with that money.

On Thursday, Swedish fast fashion retailer H&M will launch its first ever bridal collection. Prices for the wedding dresses, which are part of the retailer's "Conscious Exclusive" collection and made from organic fabrics, start at just $269. The most you will pay is $599.

The launch of the affordable wedding gowns, comes just weeks after fellow fast fashion giant ASOS launched its first bridal collection to the Australian market.

Prices for ASOS' wedding gowns, which include full-length and knee-skimming varieties, start from as little as $137.

The wedding dresses in both collections are pretty enough, but the very premise of fast fashion wedding gowns leaves me feeling a little bereft. If I'm really honest, I think it's a little tacky.

I am well aware that not every bride can afford to, or would even want to, spend thousands of dollars on a bespoke wedding dress, and I'm certainly not suggesting they should, but I can't help but feeling that wedding dresses that cost less than your weekly grocery bill and are manufactured in a conveyor-belt fashion in a faraway factory for even less, somewhat trivialises the significance and sanctity of a wedding.

Dresses available online at H&M's Australian store. Photo / H&M
Dresses available online at H&M's Australian store. Photo / H&M

Bridal dresses from ASOS. Photo / ASOS
Bridal dresses from ASOS. Photo / ASOS

After all, where is the sense of occasion - or even, importance - when the dress you walk down the aisle in costs less than the amount your guests spent on your brand new toaster or NutriBullet?

And where is the sense of occasion, when shopping for a wedding dress merely involves jumping on your computer and clicking a button, or in the case of H&M, plucking a dress - the one in your size and with the least amount of creases - from a rack heavy with hundreds of versions of the very same cheaply-made dress.

No, you don't have to spend hours and thousands of dollars having a couture designer hand-made wedding gown. In fact, many would argue this is an obscene waste of money. But I do think fast fashion retailers should leave wedding gowns alone.

There are plenty of ready-to-wear designers out there offering affordable, well-made wedding dresses that cost hundreds, rather than thousands of dollars, and have been designed with the care and attention they deserve.

Fast fashion chains can churn out their cheap T-shirts and jeans and even their cocktail and evening dresses as quickly and as cheaply as they like but in my opinion a wedding dress deserves to be treated with far more respect.

Despite the fact I haven't so much as taken my wedding dress out of the long, white garment bag it has hung in for the past three years, I don't for one moment regret spending what I did on that dress.

Why? Because it is one of the few tangible reminders (besides our wedding photos that are sitting idly on my husband's MAC somewhere) that I have of a day that was 10 years in the making and meant more to me than any other that came before it.

Yes, my wedding dress cost me an arm and a leg, but it is a precious and fitting symbol of the significance of the commitment I made to the man I love more deeply than any other.

And, to be honest, I just don't think a mass-produced $95 wedding dress can do justice to such an occasion.

- news.com.au

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