Vows in vintage: classic wedding gowns

YOU’RE only going to get married once, right? Right? Or maybe it’s second or third time round and this time it’s for keeps.
Picture: Dominic Ibbotson (www.dukestudios.co.uk)Picture: Dominic Ibbotson (www.dukestudios.co.uk)
Picture: Dominic Ibbotson (www.dukestudios.co.uk)

Whether you’re in the Joan Collins fifth-time lucky bracket or mating for life like Dustin and Lisa Hoffman, the only way to make sure your dress is a one-off is to go vintage. There’s nothing like a 1940s delicate pink handmade creation or 1970s flowing flower-child number to help you stand out from the bridezillas.

“Vintage style is for brides and grooms who want to put their own stamp on the day and are happy to take time out to source bespoke items. They want to be creative, and they want something unique,” says Mel Jarron, who runs the Vintage Wedding Show, with events in Edinburgh, Glasgow, 
St Andrews and Aberdeen.

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For those who prefer a new version but like the look of yesteryear, there’s vintage-inspired, a modern-day rendition of designs from the past. “There are brides who want the style and glamour of vintage but don’t necessarily want a vintage dress. Finding one is not always easy as they’re in short supply, and also they’re often tiny. Then there are brides who just want a new dress for the day,” says Jarron.

Picture: Dominic Ibbotson (www.dukestudios.co.uk)Picture: Dominic Ibbotson (www.dukestudios.co.uk)
Picture: Dominic Ibbotson (www.dukestudios.co.uk)

Highlights of the dresses on offer are a 1910 long-trained number with gold detailing, a 1930s drop-waist Gatsby-look gown, and a 1940s pale-pink creation. There are 1950s tight-bodiced, full-skirted styles and more relaxed 1970s fluid forms, with shoes and accessories too, and the grooms and bridesmaids are not forgotten. Featuring the best from independent vintage and vintage-inspired wedding suppliers, Jarron’s big days also have live music, vintage styling experts, Q&A sessions and tips from the pros.

“In the 1940s, the dresses were beautiful but not extravagant because money was tight,” says Jarron. “There’s less material in them and they’re very well cut. Other girls love the 1950s shorter dresses with the pinched-in waist and big skirt, which is good for curves, while the 1970s designs are often long-flowing and hippie inspired.

“The dresses have to be absolutely perfect, no stains or tears, but we find that the ladies of yesteryear took so much more care with their clothes. They’ve been carefully stored in boxes, wrapped in tissue paper and lovingly looked after,” she says. “There are two camps with vintage clothing. Those who like the idea that a dress has a history and you can wear it again and again, while others like the design and style and want it in a new version.”

Jarron knows a thing or two about dressing for the big day after her love of vintage led her into the marriage market. Taking vintage dresses to wedding shows, she felt she could add something to the events and set up her own vintage version. She also runs the Vintage Wedding Collection website, which is the go-to for sourcing everything for a wedding with a difference.

“My mum was an antiques dealer so I grew up with vintage. I’ve run a market in Edinburgh for ten years and one in Dundee too. I did wedding fairs and just thought they weren’t very stylish and were all traditionally led, so I came up with the idea of hand-picking really good quality stylish exhibitors, putting loud music in there and making it a more relaxing, informal experience where people could chat to small independent suppliers who always have lots of great advice. A lot of them do bespoke items, such as transforming a family heirloom into a hairpiece for the day,” she says.

She even met her husband, wedding photographer Dominic Ibbotson, at a wedding fair, and it’s his images that show the clothes as their best.

“Sourcing things for my own wedding was an inspiration and it all kind of stemmed from there. I didn’t feel there was somewhere you could go and speak to everyone under one roof,” she says.

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At today’s event in Glasgow there is a pop-up shop from Luella’s Boudoir showcasing wedding designers such as Rue de Seine, Gwendolynne and Sally Eagle as well as a wealth of blasts from the past. Prices range from £350 for a 1950s original to £3,000 for a vintage-inspired designer creation.

“A vintage wedding is something individual and original,” says Jarron, “whether you go all out and have everything from the outfits to the bunting to Victoria sponge cakes, or just a touch, say a 1957 Buick picking you up. And of course, the dress.”

Of course, because it’s really all about the dress.

Twitter: @JanetChristie2

• The Vintage Wedding Show, today, Trades Hall, Glasgow 12 to 4pm; Sunday 13 April, Norwood Hall, Aberdeen, 11am to 4pm; £5 entry (www.vintageweddingshow.co.uk), 

STOCKISTS Those Were The Days Vintage Boutique, Edinburgh (www.thosewerethedaysvintage.com): Rene Walrus, Edinburgh (www.renewalrus.com): Arabella Bridal, Edinburgh (www.arabellabridal.com): McCalls (www.mccalls.co.uk): Dragonfly Dress Design, Glasgow (www.dragonflydressdesign.co.uk): Melle Cloche, Glasgow (www.mellecloche.com): The Closet, Aberdeen (www.closet-vintage.co.uk): Gladrags, Forfar (www.facebook.com/pages/gladrags /138006369562285): Jewellery by McCalls, Aberdeen (www.mccallsjewellers.co.uk): Unbridaled Boutique, Ayr (www.unbridaledboutique.com)