Where did you get that dress? {Part 1}

I honestly, not pretending, guides honour, would not buy my dress from a wedding dress shop if I had my time again. 
That is certainly not to say that you shouldn’t – there are some great ones out there. Feel free to comment below if you’ve found a great one that you want to tell us all about. I had a bad experience in one, so I may be biased.
Whilst writing last week’s post on things I’ve learnt about wedding dresses, I realised that there were lots and lots of options on where to get your wedding dress from that I wanted to tell you about, and that it, in fact, deserved two whole posts of its own.
So… here goes the first….
First up. You’ve tried on quite a few dresses in boutiques, but nothing is doing it for you.  Or maybe you  just know that what you want isn’t going to be available in a typical wedding dress shop. Where do you turn? I have three possible options for you….
The High Street.
I was nervous about looking here, worried that some of the dresses weren’t going to be ‘bridey’, enough. But I was worrying unnecessarily. There are some real beauties. In addition to good old  Debenhams and Monsoon (which by the way, has some fabulous dresses), it’s well worth checking out some of the higher end department stores – particularly Harvey Nics and Selfridges. Don’t worry – the dresses there can still come in at considerably less than the price of your average wedding dress.

These two lovelies are from BCBG Max Mara, avialable in Harvey Nics. And both for easily under the 500 pound mark….

Yep. Really. Under 500 pounds. Pretty good no? And pretty pretty too.


Charity/Vintage shops.
This is where you’ll find your real, one off, totally unique pieces. You will have to spend some time searching, but how flippin proud will you be when you find ‘the one’ for less that some people spend on their shoes. Any of the charity shops are worth checking out – Oxfam even have their own online Bridal Section, where I just found a lovely Stewart Parvin number for 250 pound!
If vintage is your thing, you HAVE to go to Fur Coat No Knickers. I am constantly amazed by the dresses that I see on brides who have been there. They have dresses and accessories from every era, and I can’t recommend a visit highly enough.
Of course, if you want proof of how jaw-droppingly fabulous a vintage frock can look, look no further than our very own Aisling. She totally rocked her charity shop find and opened my eyes to all of the possibilities out there.


The Dress Maker
When I was speaking to a dress maker about the possibility of her making a dress for me, it transpired that the particular material that I really liked, was in her words ‘pretty much the most expensive you can find’. (what can I say, champagne tastes, sparkling water budget). I then held my breath when she told me how much the total dress would be…and was gobsmacked to be told that it was still far less than the price of any of the dresses I’d been trying on in wedding dress shops.
And for this price, I would get a toile dress made up, then the real dress would be hand made, bespoke, for me. If you want the real, ‘I’m special’ experience, this is the one to go for girls. None of this having your measurements taken and then seeing which dress size they could best fit you in, and then having a dress made in a factory and altered to fit you. Nope. The dress maker dress is a one off, special edition, once in a lifetime piece.
Of course the downside with this is that you have to know *exactly* what it is you want.
On that note, for future reference, apparently ‘swishy’ isn’t a technical term. Who knew.
I can honestly say that I would look into all of these options if I were to do it all again. Really I would. Regardless of what the prices are, you will get real value for money with any of these options, and be highly unlikely to ever see any other bride in your dress. Which is a pretty good feel good factor I’d say.
On my next post I’ll cover the other three options I’ve found (yes, three! I’m good to you aren’t I)….

Fliss xx

Categories: Wedding Planning, Wedding Pretty
7 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted September 23, 2010 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    ach, swishy is such a real word.

    might be worth mentioning coast in that high street section too, most people head there for their bridesmaids dresses, but some of them are gorgeous.

  2. Posted September 23, 2010 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Swishy may not be a technical term, but it sums up what you mean pretty well!
    Looking forward to hearing about the other three (which is silly, because I don't need a wedding dress, what with being married…).

  3. Posted September 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    swishy so is a word!

    i totally agree with the dress maker 'having to know what you want' thing. I've gone to a 'designer' and dress maker – totally different as she really helped to pull together all my random ideas BUT more pennies, in fact, pretty much the same number of pennies as buying from a bridal shop.

    no-one else will have my dress though – hurrah!

  4. Anonymous
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    All good options, but buying from a reputable bridal shop shouldn't be discounted – a good bridal shop has a lot of value to add. I think the key thing when buying a wedding dress is to either be able to try it on before you buy (whether in a bridal shop or high street shop) or have it made for you by a dressmaker. Brides need to watch out for ebay sellers claiming to be able to reproduce a designer's dress… usually ends in disaster. (Very different of course to buying a previously worn original dress via the ebay channel)…

  5. Posted September 24, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Blog post of the week, Fliss! So useful – I would never have dreamed of looking in Harvey Nics but now I am totally there. What a brilliant, helpful load of suggestions.

  6. Posted September 24, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    true and true and true. :)

    sadly, with a lot of the vintage dresses, they are meant for small waists. :(

  7. Posted September 26, 2010 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Swishy may not be a word but swirly is and my dressmaker totally understands what that means!!

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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