A vintage dress is a unique choice, often more affordable that a modern equivalent as well as being more ethical but they can be hard to find, in your size and in great condition. The best place to find one is at a specialist wedding fair or boutique rather than on sites such as eBay as the owners will have painstakingly restored the dress to ensure that it is instantly wearable. If buying online, insist on multiple photos and find out as much as you can about the condition including any stains, repairs or odours.
Vintage wedding dresses are often quite small as the original brides would have worn a corset or girdle underneath which you may not want to do but fear not, a good seamstress should be able to help you to adjust it. An alternative to this would be to have one made from a vintage pattern or by recreating a physical dress you own or buy.
“Don’t be afraid of vintage wedding dresses and always try on as many styles as you can. Experiment with accessories too both vintage and modern. You don’t have to be having a full on vintage wedding, you can just be a leading lady in a unique dress that happens to be from the 1930s. Most importantly a good and local seamstress or tailor is your bestie – they really do have magical powers if your vintage find needs some tweaking in or out – and that’s my top tip, use your imagination, if you love it, they can make it work for you!” Siobhan Mullholland Cox, Cambridge Vintage Bridal.
The great thing about vintage accessories is that they not only complete the look, but they are a great way to go vintage even if you don’t have a vintage wedding dress. There are so many to choose from, from head pieces to jewellery, even the garter could be vintage. Many designers cleverly take broken vintage brooches and upcycle them into tiaras or turn pieces of antique lace into capes or sash belts.
“Authentic vintage or antique bridal accessories are often hard to find in good usable condition so try sourcing contemporary pieces made from traditional fabrics and materials, to give a true vintage look. We only use traditional Nottingham Lace for our bridal garters and handkerchiefs, which is made on antique lace looms to Victorian designs – giving you a bespoke accessory handmade exactly to your requirements and still in keeping with your love of vintage style.” Heidi Lawton, Extra Special Touch
Finding original bridesmaid dresses is hard so you may be best either choosing mis-matched vintage dresses or vintage reproduction designs. Often you may love vintage, but your best friends don’t, preferring modern styles which of course they can wear again.
“Finding the right bridesmaid dresses to suit everyone can always be difficult however, vintage designs generally tend to suit most shapes and all sizes. They’re always flattering and elegant, for example a 50’s style circle skirted dress is always a winner, and always looks elegant and timeless. Even if you have different necklines, different colours but perhaps the same fabric, you get a great look that all ties in together. And if you have the budget and want something different that stands out which you can’t find off the peg, go bespoke.” Cherilyn Leeson, English Country Vintage
Vintage suits can be hired or bought often focusing on British materials such as tweed and wool, with complimentary accessories including bow ties, button down braces and caps. For outdoor, more rustic wedding lose the jacket, and show off your waistcoat instead. Team up with a pair of brogues and a vintage style button hole.
“Vintage inspired hair and makeup can really help you to add a stunning finish to your look on the big day. Think timeless beauty icons such as Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn or Lauren Bacall. Incorporating a subtle feline eyeliner or a bold red lip are easy ways to add a vintage touch, but you could also step things up a bit with an elegant pin curled up do or stunning waves. For those who are feeling particularly adventurous or creative, you could treat yourself to a vintage hair or makeup lesson/workshop to help you create your very own look.” Sarah Winstone, Hepcats Barber Shop and Beauty Parlour
Now this is the fun bit! All the extra details create the final look and feel of your vintage wedding and include styling, flowers and cake. Popular designs are semi naked cakes adorned with fruit and dusting of icing sugar, bouquets made from unusual materials such a vintage sheet music, buttons or brooches and drinking cocktails from pretty, vintage crockery.
Keep your eyes peeled when out shopping at car boot sales and charity shops for props that will suit your theme, such as vintage suitcases, cocktail glasses and even deck chairs for an outdoor wedding. Throw dried rose petals from vintage newspaper cones, hand out flowers from vintage baskets, and provide retro board games for everyone to play. Your guests will love all these special touches and talk about them for years to come.
The Magpie Wedding Show (formerly the National Vintage Wedding Fair) returns to Manchester’s Victoria Baths on March 18th with many vintage wedding dresses, musicians, beauty and accessories. There will also be a whimsical vintage fake wedding where you can experience their wedding suppliers at work and get idea for your big day. Find out more and get VIP tickets at www.magpiewedding.com
Words: Kate Beavis
Photography: Nina Pang
Styling: Kate Beavis
Beauty/Location: The Vintage Beauty Parlour