Vintage Wedding Gowns - Not for the faint hearted

Brides of the past. Captured in time through fading photographs, or perhaps vividly preserved on the artist's canvas with mysterious faces and unique shapes and their gowns - absolutely exquisite.

Now that you are ready to walk down the aisle, you may be wondering if you can do so in a dress drawn from the pages of time. The lure of a vintage wedding gown can be strong. For a price that is often a fraction of the cost of a new gown, you can wrap yourself in a one-of-a-kind look that's as stylish now as it was generations ago.

  • Fabric deteriorates over time so you need to choose wisely or you could find yourself leaving bits of your dress behind as you march down the aisle. It is highly unlikely that a gown pre-dating the nineteenth century will be wearable.
  • Unless you're a veteran vintage shopper with an eye for spotting fabric damage, your best bet is to ask around until you find a reputable vintage shop. If you aren't sure where to begin, try contacting a nearby theater company or historical society for recommendations. Once you've found a good shop, be very clear with the sales staff about your intentions for a particular dress. A wonderfully preserved Edwardian gown may be perfect for a quiet, intimate wedding, but not for a wild bash with a swing band.
  • Don't expect the perfect fit. There are two different schools of thought when it comes to resizing a vintage gown. Many vintage clothing mavens insist that the only way to go is down. Vintage gowns often do not include additional material at the seams and new trims and fabrics will likely not match the original cloth in shading or quality. Others however, maintain that letting out a vintage gown successfully is possible, although extremely difficult - often requiring creative embellishments to cover gussets and new stitching. So if you happen upon a fabulous dress that is just too small, you may be far better off continuing your search than struggling with difficult restyling.
  • Perfect but unwearable? Create a reproduction gown. Find out if the gown you've fallen in love with could be used as a pattern for a seamstress to make you a new one. Their are even fabrics that have that vintage feel.

Finding your vintage gown can be a daunting journey, yet it could equally become an exciting treasure hunt.

It will require a little legwork, but with the rise in popularity of vintage clothing, you can be certain that the resources you need are within reach.

Old is new again. If you have a specific image in mind for your gown, or want an updated look on a classic style, you might want to opt for a reproduction gown rather than an authentic vintage gown. If you love the hourglass look of the 1890s but prefer a slightly less constricting neckline, it will be far less heartbreaking to rip apart and restyle a reproduction than an authentic piece of history.

Whether you greet your big day in a fabulous forties Dior design or a reproduction of a turn of the century lawn gown, a vintage wedding gown can transform your walk down the aisle into a magical moment plucked from an antique photograph. Who could imagine a grander entrance?

Photographs courtesy of Table4