Top Features Of Classic 80s Wedding Dresses

by Jane Duncan, freelance writer

May 28 2020

For some reason, the quintessential wedding dress that everyone remembers from the 20th century, is that of Lady Diana, who wed Prince Charles at St Paul’s Cathedral in London in July, 1981. Without a doubt, the Princess of Wales was the defining influence in terms of fashion and style, and her dress revealed that when it came to weddings, ‘big’ was definitely better.
Today, brides usually favour dresses that frame the body and form a graceful silhouette in photographs. However, even ultra-modern brides often enjoy flicking through past iconic dresses and seeking inspiration from other decades. What were the defining trends sported by sartorial brides in the 80s?

Laced Up

Delicate lace was big in the 1980s, especially in the bodice and on sleeves. The latter were often puffy, with Lady Di’s dress taking it to the extreme. Many dresses sported the ‘butterfly sleeve’ with lace extending from the shoulders all the way down to the hand. One trend that was huge but would probably be considered a little over-the-top today, is the use of lace to create a faux necklace, sometimes with elaborate bead work. Between this section of lace and the bodice, netting would be used to create a sense of transparency. 
Scott and Charlene 80s wedding Neighbours

Scott and Charlene get married in Australian soap Neighbours (Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue) 

Big Was (and Is) In

Big, voluminous skirts that emphasised tiny waists were the order of the day; if it wasn’t big, it just wasn’t ‘princessy’ enough. Consider the 80s wedding dress the clothing version of the rocks celebrities are sporting on engagement rings these days - size, as you can imagine, is a big priority.
Today, skirts are more fitting and dresses less voluminous, but size still matters when it comes to engagement rings. If you are getting married in 2021, don’t be surprised if your fiancé decides to forego pavé and other tiny rock settings. These days favoured styles for wedding rings include standalone oval-shaped rings such as that sported by Blake Lively. Engagement diamonds require more savings than standard jewellery, but clever financing can help you achieve your aim, and the same is true for your wedding dress.

Nice Day For A White Wedding

Billy Idol’s hit "White Wedding" delved into the traditional nature of weddings in the 80s. Dresses (to this day) are still seen as a symbol of purity. However, the new millennium has seen younger generations embracing diversity like never before. This means that brides have greater ‘freedom’, so to speak, when selecting a hue for their wedding dress. In the 80s, white wedding gowns were pure white. Today, they often contain a drop of another shade - anything from cream to a very pale yellow or ivory, or the lightest of pink or blue tones. Brides are also adding more colour and life to their bouquets, which often have intense hues like red, blue and fuchsia.

Wedding dresses from the 80s had quite a few things in common. They were voluminous, lacey, and princess-shaped. The quintessential 80s wedding dress was probably the one worn by Diana Princess of Wales, though many celebrities rocked these styles to perfection. These days, wedding dresses often hug the body, show off a little more skin, and play around with colour a little more. In reality, in the age of diversity, a wider range of styles is prevalent, so if you love the 80s, why not incorporate a trend or two from this memorable decade?