Buying a vintage wedding dress

Buying a Vintage Wedding Dress: Everything You Need to Know

Princess Beatrice stunned everyone when she wore a vintage wedding dress that belonged to the Queen for her secret lockdown royal wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.

Read more: Everything we know about Princess Beatrice’s lockdown wedding


It’s not what we’ve come to expect from royal weddings, but we were totally charmed by the idea of a bride wearing her grandmother’s dress on her wedding day.

A recent survey by hen party planning company revealed that 13% of their brides opted for a ‘pre-loved’ wedding dress, and out of those, nearly a third chose to wear one that had belonged to a relative.

Wedding photo from 1970s

We spoke to Kate Beavis, a vintage aficionado who, as well as running The Ethical Wedding Show (formerly The National Vintage Wedding Show), wore a vintage wedding dress on her own wedding day. She is pictured below on her wedding day in her vintage find!

What You Need to Know About Buying a Vintage Wedding Dress

What made you choose a vintage wedding dress?

I love vintage and have worn it since I was a teenager so it made sense that my wedding dress would be too. I have always liked to look unique and follow my own style plus I also love the sustainability of wearing vintage.

Read more: Listen to the eco-friendly episode of our podcast

How did you find it?

I bought my dress from eBay even though I ran the National Vintage Wedding Fair (now The Ethical Wedding Show). The reason was finding the right size – I found it with a badly lit photo and it needed repairs to the hemline. This didn’t matter as I took it up to be a midi length.

What was it like?

It was a 1950’s lace dress with a high slash neck with scalloped edge, long sleeves, fitted bodice and full skirt.

Read more: Short wedding dresses for a 1950’s feel

How did it make you feel, wearing it?

I felt lovely and very “me”. I actually had another vintage dress that I had planned to wear (1970’s pleated dress) but at the time I just didn’t feel like me in it. I loved that it was easy to dance in a shorter style.

What are the benefits of buying a vintage wedding dress?

So many! Firstly, it is unique – you can find amazing dresses from the 1910s onwards that no one else will have. Plus, it is more eco-friendly – while a new dress is wonderful, it will only be worn once, whereas vintage means you are giving a new lease of life to an old dress. Just think of the nostalgia too!

Read more: Gorgeous 1920’s wedding dresses for added Gatsby glamour

Finally, it is a cheaper option (mine cost £100 before alterations), which you can customise too.

Read more: How to make your wedding more eco-friendly

How can you buy a vintage wedding dress?

At wedding fairs, in specialist shops, on sites such as eBay and Etsy – we have a directory on Magpie Wedding with some amazing sellers on (plus loads of vintage inspiration!).

What should brides consider when buying a vintage wedding dress?

Firstly check the condition – will it need repairing? A specialist seller will have restored it but a private seller may well have not. Factor this into the price but do remember very old dresses are not easy to clean.

If it is too small look at the extra material within the seams -often a good seamstress can make it bigger (again specialist shops can help with this).

Keep an open mind too and try loads of styles on – you may think you want a 1950’s fit and flare dress but you may fall in love with a 1970’s boho one instead.

Read more: The most beautiful lace bridal gowns

Any other tips or things to consider when choosing a vintage bridal gown?

Consider customising the dress – there are some amazing embroidery experts out there that can add flowers etc. Think about vintage bridal accessories too – jewellery, head pieces and veils for example.

Buying a vintage wedding dress

If you have your heart set on vintage style, but you want a new dress, we’ve got you. We’ve rounded up the best vintage style wedding dresses to inspire you.

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