Tips for Vintage Wedding Dress Shopping

As most already know, I am getting very close to my own little vintage wedding which has already created many special memories. After finding a glorious vintage wedding gown which I cannot wait to show off, I thought I’d create a list of tips and things to keep in mind when shopping for your own vintage wedding dress.
Also please note; the images used in this blog are not of my actual vintage dress but infact from a modelling shoot for Chein Noir Dezigns. All credits can be found at the end of this blog.

Miss MonMon wearing a Chein Noir dress by Beata Ridley and veil by Holly Barker. Makeup by Moving Makeup, Hair by Debbie Hone and photo by Nick Thake.

Have an idea of what you want
To the internet dear friend! Before you go shopping for your vintage dress, have an idea of what you want your dress to look like. Choose a decade or style and decide on things such as length, sleeves and details (lace, embroidery, buttons etc). Keep in mind that vintage means one-off dresses and your dream dress may end up being something you don’t expect to fall in love with.

Make sure vintage is something you really want
A vintage dress is a great way to add “something old” to your wedding day but it’s not something to do if you’re not a vintage enthusiast. It’s important to keep in mind style trends and fashions from certain decades and eras; if you’re not a fan of such styles then a vintage dress may not be for you. I’ve recently discovered a heart breaking show where young brides would bring in a vintage dress from either their mother or grandmother and alter it beyond recognition and it’s so painful to watch. If you’re planning on pulling apart a vintage dress, see if you can find something modern in that style as to not destroy a vintage gown. Yes I know, each to their own, but changing a vintage dress to the point it looks nothing like the original is destroying a part of history (possibly from your family), or someone’s dream vintage gown.

Research where to shop
I live in a city where a vintage wedding gown isn’t something easy to find unless you are very small in the waist, so I knew I would either have to find something online or travel. When I knew I was travelling for work (pre-covid), I took advantage of that and immediately started looking for somewhere to shop for a gown. Do as much research as you can on where to shop in person (which I recommend over online especially for a wedding dress), and if necessary, be ready to travel. If you are shopping online, I have a separate shopping tips list which may help (check that out here).

Miss MonMon wearing a Chein Noir dress by Beata Ridley and veil by Holly Barker. Makeup by Moving Makeup, Hair by Debbie Hone and photo by Nick Thake.

Ask for alteration advice
If you do need to alter a dress, ask the store owner if they have any seamstresses that they recommend. It’s common for vintage stores that specialise in clothing will have a seamstress they trust and recommend so use that recommendation because vintage is not always easy to alter. If you are stuck on finding a seamstress on your own, make sure you discuss with them how comfortable they are working with vintage. Look up recommendations, ask people in the vintage community and only leave your dress if they are confident.

Carefully inspect the Garment
If you find a dress you love, take your time and comb over the dress and inspect the lining, the bottom of the skirt, the condition of the fabric and the fastening (zip or buttons). Look for any imperfections in the dress and see if the garment needs any mending. Vintage is old (duh) and one-of-a-kind, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect so ensure you know the complete condition of the dress before you buy it. Pay extra attention to stains especially on the bottom of the skirt and under the arms. The dress may need a clean after purchase.

Make sure it fits well
Some vintage can be altered to be made smaller and if you’re lucky, can be made a touch bigger. If a dress you love really doesn’t fit well, maybe it’s not the best choice. Also, make sure you can sit comfortably in your dress as you will need to make sure it’s comfortable.

Listen to the store assistant
If you’re in a vintage dress store and especially one that has a selection of bridal gowns, please listen to the store owners when it comes to garment care especially when trying dresses on. It’s very likely that they will need to assist you in getting in and out of the dresses so please let them do their job for the sake of the dress. If a store assistant says the dress will not fit, please don’t force the dress as you risk damaging it and even ruining it. When you arrive for your appointment, please be kind and respectful towards the garments as well. Do not wear fake tan or a lot of makeup as you can damage the dress. Make sure you are clean and don’t rush the process. Also, please don’t make rude comments about the garments; if something isn’t your style, you don’t need to comment on it as another shopper may be put off their dream dress.

Miss MonMon wearing a Chein Noir dress by Beata Ridley, hair piece by Holly Barker and flowers by Miller Rose Botanic. Makeup by Moving Makeup, Hair by Debbie Hone and photo by Nick Thake.

Don’t hesitate too long
If you are in love with a dress and happy with it, do not delay and just buy it! Vintage gowns so not often have duplicates meaning that if someone snags it before you, it’s gone and not coming back. Yes, this happened to me and I am still kicking myself for missing that gorgeous dress.

Bring spare undergarments
Vintage gowns can be really sturdy meaning that some bodices will require a certain type of bra or no bra at all. I’d recommend bringing a strapless bra with you and perhaps your favourite bra as well but it all depends on the dress you find. Some dresses will not require a bra due to bodice boning so thats is something you should know when purchasing. Besides bras, perhaps bring some Spanx or scary stomach holding in underpants so you feel smooth and not lumpy and only in extreme cases, bring a corset.

Teach your bridesmaids about your dress
It’s highly likely that you will have someone with you when you shop for your dress; I’d recommend you bring a bridesmaid with you as they can learn about the intricacies of the dress itself. Vintage can have a very unique construction with inner waistbands, cummerbunds, side zips of special buttons. By learning about your dress with a bridesmaid, come the wedding day, you will know exactly how to put the dress on and there will be no surprises on the day.

Miss MonMon wearing a Chein Noir dress by Beata Ridley and flowers by Miller Rose Botanic. Makeup by Moving Makeup, Hair by Debbie Hone and photo by Nick Thake.

I hope these tips are helpful as you shop for your dream dress. All I can say now is enjoy the process, give yourself plenty of time to find your dress and if you don’t find what you want, tell the store to call you if something new comes in that could be what you are looking for. I wish you a dreamy and memorable vintage wedding.

If you’d like general vintage shopping tips, please click here or here.

I will have more vintage wedding blogs coming soon and of course, share plenty of images from my own wedding after it’s happened. I will also be sharing a detailed account of my own vintage wedding dress shopping experience so please check back soon.

More in the Vintage Wedding mini-blog series includes
My Favourite Wedding Dresses from History and Film.



  hours  minutes  seconds


Miss MonMon’s Wedding

Miss MonMon wearing a Chein Noir dress by Beata Ridley and veil by Holly Barker. Makeup by Moving Makeup, Hair by Debbie Hone and photo by Nick Thake.

Photo Credits:
Photographer: Nick Thake
Hair: Debbie Hone
Makeup: Victoria from Moving Makeup
Dress: Chein Noir Designs – Beata Ridley
Accessories and Millinery: Holly Barker Millinery
Flowers: Miller Rose Botanic
Shoes: Rachel Simpson
Location: Peel Manor House
Car: Belle Classic Limousines


Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made. 

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