A couple of weekends ago, I spotted quite a find in Barnardo’s Vintage in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket: a wearable, affordable, pretty, early-fifties wedding dress in great condition. The dress was all in lace and had long sleeves and sweetheart neckline – a more humble version of the Cherished Bride gown worn by Angelina Jolie in The Good Shepherd. The one thing that stopped me buying it (even though I am three years married) was the extra-small size labelling. It seems that finding a suitable vintage wedding dress is not getting easier for those of us with neither tiny waists nor the patience of a saint.
For my own wedding, I compromised by layering a second-hand, thirties-inspired Ghost bridal gown (Ebay; £120) dating from the early 2000s over an original 1930s silk-satin slip (Ebay; about £20) and silk sash from Coast. I was thrilled with the slip, which was a bargain given its quality and condition.
My favourite part of my outfit, however, was the waterfall bouquet of roses which was a copy of the flowers carried by my nan at her wedding in 1953. My nan’s dress was borrowed, but we still have her veil; I love its square shape and three-quarter length.
We did pull off full vintage for my sister, who wore an original fifties dress bought from the vintage shop I combed growing up in Shropshire (The Looking Glass; about £120). (I wasn’t too bothered about sticking to any particular era, and my sister loves the fifties silhouette.) Prior to the wedding, I fully removed the ripped skirt stiffening from the dress; otherwise, aside from a strap snapping and being hastily sewn just as we were about to leave for the registry office, our fifties number held up well!
On discovering Circa Vintage Brides’ vintage-style wedding dresses about one week before my wedding, I was in equal measure thrilled (because the dresses were beautiful) and gutted (because it was one week before my wedding and there are no Scottish stockists). There’s no doubt that reproduction dresses have the perk of vintage styling without the trouble of awkward fit, smell and disintegrating fabric. What I’ve never researched is how the prices of some of the beautiful reproduction dresses now available (not just from Circa) measure up to the price of your standard new bridal gown. I know that the idea of paying four figures for a dress I’ll wear for eight hours was one of the things that drove me to try and go vintage!
Have any of you found the perfect vintage bridal gown? I’d love to hear your stories!
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