My friend Josie gets married in six weeks, nerve wracking for most brides but Josie doesn’t have a dress! She did have a dress, a beautiful beaded long bias cut number designed in New York. When she went to collect it from the boutique, she found it to be in a sorry state and not at all what she had ordered. The boutique had used her dress at a wedding fair where a model had pranced about in it all day. Josie is very organised and not the type to leave things to the last minute but now she has no choice but to look for a dress off the peg. Thinking about Josie’s predicament, my mind turned to vintage wedding dresses as they are always bought off the peg. With Josie in mind, here are my seven favourite places to buy a vintage wedding dress in the UK
Oh how I wish this shop was around 13 years ago when I got married. It is everything I was looking for. A boudoir of vintage dresses from every era, a relaxed atmosphere with the help of owner Elizabeth who is on hand to help find a vintage wedding dress for every bride. Hidden away in an upstairs room, a stones throw away from the Cutty Sark in Greenwich it takes a bit of dedication to find. Once inside the door I was welcomed by the effervescent Elizabeth with a vodka cocktail (it was 1pm so surely cocktail o’clock!). Saturday is open day, appointments are not necessary. The walls are lined with individual and exquisite vintage wedding dresses from as early as 1914 and 1920s with plenty of dress from the mid-century. I’ll be writing a full review of this wonderful shop soon.
I was lucky enough to be there when bride-to-be Sarah bought this beautiful 1940s dress from Peacock Vintage (photo above), on my previous blog post. The fairs take place nearly every month and has a variety of different traders at each fair so it it is worth visiting a few months in a row to find what you are looking for. Their next fair is 17th September 2017.
I stumbled across this fantastic vintage shop tucked away, on a side street in Stockbridge on a weekend trip to Edinburgh. The store has a colourful selection of designer vintage fashion expertly cleaned and restored. A section of the boutique is dedicated to bridal wear plus the staff will source a specific design if given enough notice.
My friend Cathy and her TV stylist sister discovered a beautiful 1950’s silk dress calling out to be worn as a wedding dress. You can read more about how Cathy found this striking dress on last month’s Vintage Stories.
The wow factor doesn’t always have to be about the dress, accessories can also be the star of the show. Pop up Vintage Fairs in London are a great place to find unusual jewellery, bags, shoes and headwear. Miss Ava’s Millinery can often be found at this regular fair and makes new hats inspired by millinery from previous decades such as the delicate satin hat in the above photo. If you are looking for something a bit different or perhaps want to buy a vintage outfit for the groom then this fair is worth a visit (Olive Road will be at the next fair on the 1st October)
Charity Shops (including online)
Over the summer I’ve discovered a few charity shops that specialise in vintage wedding dresses. The cute 1970’s dress in the above photo is from Pilgrim’s Hospices shop in Folkestone. A large section of the shop is dedicated to bridal wear with a reasonable sized changing room. British Red Cross and Oxfam also have dedicated bridal shops.
Brides do Good: Not only does this online bridal store have a varied selection of pre-loved designer and vintage dresses, the sale of every dress benefits charity. Founder Chantal Khoueriy’s mission is ‘to help the United Nations eradicate child marriage’. A third of the cost of the dress is donated to Plan International and Too Young to Wed, two charities working towards the prevention of child marriages. To keep their costs down they don’t have a shop but they have a comprehensive website and dresses can be returned within 14 days.
You can find this list and more on my Vintage Wedding Dress Pinterest board. I hope this list has been useful, I’d love to hear if you have found your perfect dress and share it in the Vintage Stories section of this blog.