Unless you’ve been handed down a precious wedding dress from your grandmother, you might not have considered choosing vintage for your big day. Apart from custom designed dresses that you’ll have to re-mortgage your apartment to pay for, vintage wedding dresses offer something special that other dresses just can’t—their uniqueness.
They also bring a sense of whimsy to your wedding day, having seen things you can only imagine as they fast-forward to present day with designs and aesthetics no contemporary designer has on offer. Sold, or sitting on the fence? Well, we recommend that you at least head on out to the streets of London and into the dress shops and boutiques that have the most gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, rarest-of-the-rare vintage wedding dresses.
First Stop: Pennies Vintage
If you’re obsessed with Downton Abbey, this is the boutique for you! Stocking elegant Edwardian style crochet gowns, a Pennies Vintage wedding dress was worn by none other than Lady Rose in the period drama Downton Abbey. And, not just exquisitely detailed crochet pieces, you’ll also find 1920’s style flapper dresses and a big selection of bridal accessories too. Located in Islington, their store hours are irregular so don’t be afraid to call in advance to book an appointment.
Second Stop: Fur Coat No Knickers
Love the name, right? Fur Coat No Knickers is the perfect address for a vintage bridal frock. Unfortunately, this year they’ve swapped their Cromwell Road storefront for a virtual Ebay one instead, but the goods are just as precious! If 1950’s is your ideal era, this is right up your alley with Dior’s The New Look silhouette dominating many of the sumptuous tulle designs. Prices range from £300-£500 which is an absolute steal for a true vintage piece. Although there will only be one size of each dress, they run up to UK size 20 to cater to everybody.
Third Stop: Jane Bourvis
Another boutique straight off the movie set, Jane Bourvis also based in Islington, specialises in restoring antique wedding dresses. Their era of choice is 1920’s-30’s and many of their pieces have been featured in films and television, including Sex and The City and Sherlock. Using high-grade silk and established embellishment techniques, Jane Bourvis also recreates vintage styles from her Portobello Road boutique.
Fourth Stop: Elizabeth Avey
Spanning every decade you could imagine, Elizabeth Avey collects stunning vintage wedding dresses, with particular attention paid to the 1960’s and 70’s. If you’re looking for something a little more unusual, this is the place to go. Their unique collection of full sequin dresses is something truly special, and perfect for a bride who wants to get noticed! Based in Greenwich, their prices start at £200, saving you a sizeable chunk compared to your average off-the-rack wedding dress. No appointment is needed for Saturdays but for Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays, you’ll need to call up first.
Fifth & Last Stop: Belle And Bunty
Not strictly vintage but vintage style, design duo Alice Shreeve and Hannah Coniam-Thompson can whip you up a dream. Working within a vintage palette and drawing inspiration from the decades gone by, they design with a woman’s natural shape in mind, ensuring your dress looks flawless and fits perfectly! Another great bonus about Belle And Bunty is their love of reducing their carbon footprint and supporting British manufacturing.
And, of course, after mapping out the best boutiques to shop for a vintage wedding dress in London, how could we leave you midway without shoes and accessories.
Paradox London Pink Harmony Round Toe Court Shoes, £59
Kate Middleton’s preferred shoe style for a good reason, these court shoes combine comfort and class in one kitten heel.
Balenciaga Feather Embellished Satin Pumps, £995
The drama of these feather pumps is perfect for the glamorous bride. Also, that colour is gorgeous.
Sophia Webster Evangeline Sandals, £525
Take flight with these leather sandals that are so much more than just pretty white heels.
Roger Vivier Flower Embellished Satin Pumps, £1,200
The royal blue, the flower brooch, and the satin finish on these pumps can make anyone feel like a princess on their wedding day.
Pearl drop pendant necklace, £85
Swarovski nude necklace, £149
Dogeared bridal large pearl necklace, £38
Tedora sterling silver bracelet, £509