Seemingly oblivious to the economic downturn, Britain's brides are spending more than ever on their wedding dresses according to new research - and there is no slowdown in sight.

The latest market intelligence from Mintel says the bridalwear market is now worth GBP128m (US$182m), having increased by 21% between 2003 and 2008.

In fact, the bridalwear industry is growing faster than overall women's wear, which grew just 16% over the same five year period, it says in its 'Weddingwear January 09' report.

Furthermore, sales of wedding dresses are set to continue to grow as Britain's brides remain committed to wearing the dress of their dreams.

By 2013, the research calculates, brides will be splashing out no less than GBP153m on their dresses alone, an increase of around 20% on today's spend.

"Buying the wedding dress is often seen as a once in a lifetime purchase," comments Katrin Magnussen, senior fashion analyst at Mintel, and "it is very unlikely that we will see brides prepared to sacrifice that perfect dress in light of a tighter budget."

Across the wedding market, there are no signs as yet of cutbacks as most marriages are planned at least a year in advance, so the impact of the recession has yet to be felt.

As the downturn deepens, couples looking to tie the knot could well opt for cheaper reception venues or off-season wedding dates.

But when it comes to the wedding outfits, it is the down-trodden groom who is most likely to bear the brunt of the cutbacks.

Mintel figures show that while sales of groom's attire increased 16% between 2003 and 2008 to GBP38m, over the next five years growth is expected to slow to just 11%.

Overall, the total market for weddingwear including bridalwear (GBP128m), groomwear (GBP38m) and other wedding party attire, including bridesmaids and ushers (GBP54m) was valued at GBP220m in 2008.