Would you wear a charity shop wedding dress? With the 'average' price of a wedding gown topping £1,000, it's no wonder that brides-to-be are searching for affordable alternatives.
One option is to look in charity shops. Some of you will recoil at the idea of wearing a secondhand wedding dress, but not all wedding dresses in charity shops are secondhand. Some are unworn, donated by individuals, others are end of line from the makers. Personally, as I wear vintage clothing, it really isn't much of a stretch to imagine myself in a secondhand dress.
The dress pictured above was in Tenovus on Cardiff's Whitchurch Road recently. They were only asking £50, and it's brand new, never worn, still with the tag inside. I did try it on but alas, my ample derriere prevented me from zipping it up! Also, I have a feeling that it was one made in China, as I recognise the style from some on Ebay and Etsy. The quality was reasonable, but not high.
Many charities will have a specific bridal store, where they send all of their wedding dresses, or they may have an online boutique like Oxfam does. In Pontypridd recently, I came across Rowan Tree Cancer Care, a local charity that has an entire wedding 'boutique' within its store, including a rail of wedding dresses (from £100), a few rails of bridesmaid and prom dresses, and a rather large selection of hats, veils, faux fur shrugs and other accessories. Men weren't forgotten either, with a few rails of suits, shirts and waistcoats.
I have compiled some tips for getting a charity shop wedding dress, as there are a few things to factor in.
You're more likely to get lucky with a charity shop wedding dress if:
1) You stay open-minded. If you have a particular designer in mind, then you might be disappointed.
2) You have sewing skills. Being able to examine the construction of a dress and see what can be done is really helpful in reimagining what a dress could be. Lots of 1980's dressses have perfectly good skirts and bodices, but it's the sleeves and embellishments that date them - try and see past them, at what you could do with that wonderful fabric. Perhaps turn a 1980's dress into a 1950's style tea-length dress?
3) You go regularly. This helps you to spot things first, but also to get to know the staff, who are then more likely to give you a phone call when something comes in.
You're less likely to get lucky if:
1) You're an unsual size/height. For example, you might struggle if you're a very petite lady with a large bust, or perhaps you're very tall - most dresses I've seen in the charity shops are for pretty 'average' figures and builds. You could get lucky, but the odds are not as much in your favour!
2) You want something very specific. It really is the luck of the draw. Of the ones I saw in the Pontypridd shop, most were of the same style - a sort of corseted top section with embroidery, and a fairly full skirt.
3) You don't have much time. It does take a lot of man hours to trail the charity shops!
Have you had any success with a charity shop wedding dress? Or does the idea give you shivers? I'd love to hear what you think!