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Conscious Wedding Series: Why Choose a Second Hand Wedding Dress

by:   on: 18th April 2018
Charity And Second Hand Wedding Dress Styling In Norwich. Dress From Big C. Styling By Kate Cooper. Norfolk Brides 1

Charity And Second Hand Wedding Dress Styling In Norwich. Dress From Big C. Styling By Kate Cooper. Photo by Alexandra Blackburn. Norfolk Brides

In popular cultural opinion, choosing the dress you will get married in is one of the most important decisions you will ever make.

The quest for the ‘dream dress’ is the subject of countless magazine articles, blog posts and reality television programmes, as well as the product of (probably) countless billions of fraught, tear-stained, too-much-prosecco-fuelled internet-browsing sessions.

Represented in film, if Hollywood is to be believed, the search for this mythical ‘perfect’ dress is basically Cinderella undergoing the trials of Hercules, then finishing with that scene at the end of ‘An American Tail’ when the little mouse gets reunited with the rest of his family and everyone in the audience cries.

But while I would encourage a healthy level of cynicism around all of this, the fact of the matter is that in the same way that choosing to get married is hugely significant decision, the outfit you do it in has huge significance, too.

To start with, conventional wisdom would suggest that getting married is intended to be a one-time thing. Additionally, while the reasons couples might choose to get married can be varied, love is a pretty common denominator. In terms of outfit decisions, what to wear for a once-in a lifetime opportunity to stand in front of friends and family and pledge to spend your life the person you love, which will be likely documented via the medium of professional photography for perusal by future generations, is a pretty big one.

Charity And Second Hand Wedding Dress Styling In Norwich. Dress From Big C. Styling By Kate Cooper. Photo by Alexandra Blackburn. Norfolk Brides

Charity And Second Hand Wedding Dress Styling In Norwich. Dress From Big C. Styling By Kate Cooper. Photo by Alexandra Blackburn. Norfolk Brides

There is a lot of capital invested in finding the right dress; both emotional and financial. A recent UK survey demonstrated that the cost of weddings has reached a new high, with supplier costs ramping up the average spend. Included in these figures we can see that the average cost of a wedding dress and accessories is £1,329.

According to the same survey, however, couples are finding new and novel ways to spend less, including 5% of couples who choose a second-hand wedding dress.

If the latest trends are anything to go by, an increasing number of brides are choosing to think differently about what they want to wear on their wedding day, where it comes from, and also about what to do with it after the event. In a world where décor planning mainly takes place via Pinterest and the average wedding has its own social media hashtag, the climate is changing. Dress codes are relaxing, DIY reigns supreme, and many couples would rather prioritise spending on an exciting honeymoon than a wedding dress.

If thrift is the name of the game, websites like Bride2Bride.co.uk and StillWhite.co.uk for example, allow people to buy and sell pre-loved dresses online, with brides past and future liaising directly to source or pass on their own dresses. These sites also appeal to couples who are concerned about the ethics of buying a dress that will only be worn once; wedding dresses can be passed from owner to owner to be worn and enjoyed.

But sourcing a dress second-hand isn’t just about saving money; couples want their wedding to stand out from the crowd, and the wedding dress is the key to making a different sort of statement. As consumers, we’re much more conscious these days about where our money goes; lots of couples choose local, natural and organic suppliers. Choosing a second-hand wedding dress can be an opportunity to donate to charity, too. Various charities with a retail arm such as Oxfam , Red Cross and closer to home, Norfolk’s Big C have bridal boutiques, where dresses can be given a new lease of life and couples know the money they are spending on their wedding dress is going to a good cause.

One social enterprise which demonstrates this idea beautifully in practice is ‘Brides Do Good’. They sell pre-loved and designer sample dresses, with proceeds supporting their pioneering mission to eradicate child marriage worldwide by 2030.

The Brides Do Good website informs us that ‘each wedding dress is a love story’. If this is true, what’s more beautiful than allowing your love story, in small part, to help other people who need it?  A dress that can do that is surely the most beautiful dress of all.

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about the author

Kate Cooper

Introducing you to the Conscious Wedding planning series with Kate Cooper - a fashion stylist and designer from Norwich, Norfolk. Kate is a Conscious Creative, Feminist, Fashion Educator and Activist, focusing her efforts in promoting Ethical and Sustainable Wedding Design.

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