Women are entering the 'Anti-Bride Era', but there's a catch.

When I got married back in 2009, I didn't walk down the aisle – I walked up my garden path to the patio of the home I already shared with my husband. I didn't carry flowers – or anything for that matter – I walked in with my mother and five-year-old son, while Ben Lee played on our stereo and our cats wrapped themselves around our guests' legs then sat at our feet as we exchanged our self-written vows

I had two of my best friends as bridesmaids, but I had told them to wear whatever they liked – they didn't match at all but they both looked beautiful. My dress was a Lisa Ho number which, while off-white, wasn't bridal in any way.

In hindsight, I now know that I was one of the OG 'anti-brides'.

And while that marriage ended in divorce, I’m pleased to report I was clearly ahead of my time, because ELLE declared this year that we have entered 'the Anti-Bride Era'. (Their use of capitalisation tells us this is Very Important.)

"There's a renaissance happening in bridal wear," they declare, "and it's about as far from Say Yes to the Dress as it gets."

There's no question that the 'anti-bride' movement is having a moment. The Zola x Pinterest 2023 Wedding Trends Report tells us the search for 'anti-bride wedding' has increased 490 per cent this year alone. In related news, other searches that have increased are 'underwater wedding' (305 per cent), 'non-traditional wedding vows' (205 per cent), 'ugly wedding' (110 per cent), and – perhaps most upsettingly – 'terracotta men's suit wedding' (175 per cent).

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So, what exactly is an 'anti-bride'?

"An anti-bride is someone who chooses to follow their own path in regards to wedding trends and traditions," reports Boston Magazine. "For some, it may be that they are planning a wedding in under three months. For others, it may be their second wedding. It could mean that they choose to have a wedding on a campsite instead of a ballroom."

Basically, an anti-bride does whatever the hell she wants for her wedding, instead of feeling bound by the cookie-cutter traditional wedding with the tulle dress, veil, bouquet, and tiered cake. (And, heaven forbid, the 'who gives this woman' part of the ceremony.)

Who knows, maybe she cuts loose and even involves her partner in the planning and decision-making.

Not everyone is a fan though. Writing for Jezebel, Kady Ruth Ashcroft argues that the anti-bride movement is actually just a clever marketing ploy by the flagging wedding industry to trick us into handing over our cash.

"In practice, 'anti-bride' looks to be the industry's latest capitalisation on brides' anxieties and skepticism," she wrote. "Shrewdly, it has repackaged and regifted those anxieties, selling women the exact crap they say they don’t want, just with a chicer Sandy Liang bow adorned on top."

And while Ashcroft may have a point, unless we're ready to have a backyard barbecue wedding where everyone brings a plate, weddings will always cost something, and someone will be making money from them. We live in a capitalist society, so that's pretty hard to avoid.


It's the element of choice that's important here. 

Jodie* married her partner Rob recently, with the couple holding a dinner party for 20 close friends the day after they said 'I do' at a micro-registry office, with only close family in attendance. The bride wore hot pink and the couple both donned heart-shaped sunglasses for the occasion.

"We wanted our wedding day to be a true reflection of who we are, so we decided to break away from stale traditions that held no meaning for us," explains Jodie. "It allowed us to focus on what truly mattered. Our celebration was infused with vibrant colours and a fun spirit, creating a joyful and relaxed atmosphere that was perfect for us."

On the flip side of that, Gillian* is currently planning her second wedding, and after being an unintentional 'anti-bride' the first time around, she plans to go a more traditional route for her upcoming nuptials.

"I wore a black velvet skirt and bustier to my first wedding," she says. "I was determined to be subversive, and I hated anything 'bridal'. But now that I have the chance to do it again, I feel like it's an opportunity for a do-over, and I can experience what it feels like to be a 'bride'."

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What's delightful about both Jodie's and Gillian's weddings is that they get to decide what they want. The anti-bride movement offers freedom for people (yes, even men) getting married to choose their own adventure in so many more ways than selecting the cake flavour or the colour of the boutonnieres.


Don't like the white dress? Wear blue. Wear pants. Wear a boiler suit.

Don't want to carry a bouquet? Carry a bunch of balloons, or a goldfish in a bowl, or don't carry anything at all.

Don't want to get married in front of your extended in-law family? Have a private, meaningful ceremony and have the party later so you can include some kinky sex stuff in your vows and still be invited to Christmas lunch.

You really can do whatever you like, as long as you tick off the legal requirements. Or not – just have a commitment ceremony without the paperwork – no rules!

As for me, I'm not sure if I'll get married again, but if I do, you can be sure I won't be wrapping myself in tulle, choosing a favourite bible passage, and practising a novelty dance with my partner for months before the wedding.

Like it or hate it, the anti-bride movement has cracked the wedding industry wide open, and that genie will never be stuffed back in the bottle. Do the traditional thing if you want, or choose something that suits you better – finally, there is an endless choice available to you to celebrate choosing the person you want to spend your life with. Who cares if you're trending on Pinterest?

*Brides requested we use only their first names.

Feature Image: Getty.

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