Vintage is in and vintage wedding dresses are popular with many brides who seek to capture the romance and beauty of an earlier age. Although many brides-to-be find vintage wedding dresses in speciality shops that specialize in antique clothing or at used clothing outlets such as Goodwill and Salvation Army Stores, there is another place where some of the best vintage wedding dresses can be found – in Grandma’s attic.
Since many women treasure their wedding dresses, many have the gowns packed away in attics, cedar chests, and closets. Some families may have more than one vintage wedding dresses available from multiple generations. In my own family, both my mother and great-grandmother’s wedding dresses survived into the new century.
Like me, you may have a mother, grandmother, aunt, or other relative who kept their beautiful wedding dress. My mother’s gown dated to the mid-1950’s and fit me like a glove when I first tried it on. My great-grandmother’s dress was vintage 1912, a very romantic style trimmed in lovely handmade lace. With a professional dry cleaning and a little maintenance, both vintage wedding dresses were available for a brand new bride to wear down the aisle.
Here’s how to find the vintage wedding dresses of your dreams without going far from home.
1. Do a little detective work. Check out vintage family wedding photographs and keep a close eye on the gowns that the brides are wearing. Look for styles that suit your individual style.
2. Ask around the family. Find out who saved their heirloom wedding dress and ask if you can take a peek. Make sure that the vintage wedding dresses has been taken care of and that it was packed away properly. If you find a wedding dress that you want to consider, ask permission before you go any further with the gown.
3. Check the condition of the vintage wedding dress. Depending on the age, some wedding dresses may be too fragile to wear or may require some repairs by a professional seamstress. Vintage wedding dresses may also be yellowed with age (although this is not necessarily a bad thing; it gives garments an ivory patina that some brides crave) or require cleaning. Take any vintage wedding dresses that need cleaning to a profesisonal dry cleaner and you’ll be amazed at how well the gowns can look after a thorough cleaning.
4. Try it on with care. If alternations for hem length, waist size, or sleeve length are needed, find a professional to do the repairs to avoid damaging the wedding dress.
5. Find the right acessories. Vintage jewelery or retro styles like those made by 1928 (found in major department stores) can enhance the look of a vintage dress. Choose a hat or veil that suits the style of the gown and if you can’t find the right look, consider making your own veil – I did. Some vintage wedding dresses may be stored with the original veil. Keep the cap portion but have new veiling attached for the best look. Old veiling can be yellowed or too fragile for use. No bride wants the veil to rip when the groom raises it for that first kiss!
6. Take care of the vintage wedding dresses and return it to the original owner if asked to do so. Treat the dress with the respect and care any fragile antique deserves.
7. Enjoy the classic styling of an earlier decade or era as you plan your romantic vintage wedding!
If Mom or Grandmother didn’t have a formal gown or didn’t save the wedding dress, don’t despair – ask friends and neighbors. Another option is to advertise in the local newspaper or shopper paper for a vintage wedding dress that’s stored away. Most former brides will be swayed by the romantic idea that another bride wants to be wed in their special gown.
Vintage wedding dresses may be as close as the nearest attic so do your research and enjoy the results!