Second Hand Wedding Dresses ~ River Elliot Bridal ~ Cambridge
All you need to know about having your wedding dress custom made by River Elliot Bridal, Cambridge. Find out about cost, timings and why it's more value for money.
Bespoke dressmaker, River Elliot Bridal, wedding dress cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridge wedding shop, Cambridge wedding, dressmaking, Cambridge, bride, bridal, Cambridgeshire, custom bridal
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-41752,single-format-standard,theme-cabin,woocommerce-no-js,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,select-theme-ver-2.2,smooth_scroll,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-7.3,vc_responsive

Top Tip for Brides on a Budget

Top Tip for Brides on a Budget

Wedding Budgeting

Weddings are expensive.


And because the wedding dress is the showstopper any wedding day, it’s the one element you want to be perfect.

But, it’s not always that easy when you are not as fortunate as others and you’re one of the many brides on a budget looking for second hand wedding dresses

Typically, before brides start looking for second hand wedding dresses they look online and get lured into the promise of beautiful wedding dresses made cheaply overseas. More often than not, these dresses are not the perfect imitation promised, but are poorly made, incredibly ill-fitting and made from cheap, wasteful fabrics.
Other brides may look for wedding dresses within their budget from high-street bridal shops. These dresses are equally cheaply made and may not include all the design elements a bride is looking for.
Most of the time it seems that if you have a low budget, then you have smaller options and choices to get a brand new wedding dress and are left feeling that second hand wedding dresses will not be personal or unique to you.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Today I am going to talk about a way to find a budget wedding dress or second-hand wedding dresses that tick all the boxes: style, cost, fit and most importantly individual.

New life – the beauty of second hand wedding dresses 

Before you click away! Wait. Refashioning vintage or second-hand clothing is growing as a big positive trend worldwide. With environmental issues currently at crucial levels, making sustainable choices in your clothing is more important than ever. And, if you choose to be more sustainable with your wedding dress, you’ll succeed in finding a one-of-a-kind, stylish wedding dress under budget.

What’s involved in upcycled second hand wedding dresses?

Essentially, brides should source vintage or second-hand wedding dresses and use the materials or existing foundations to turn them into new, unique designs. You can find second hand wedding dresses in charity shops, eBay and second-hand wedding dress websites. Furthermore, your Mum or family member may have their wedding dress sitting boxed away in the loft waiting for a second chance down the aisle! This is a beautiful and sentimental choice for any bride. Imagine walking down the aisle to your future partner wearing a wedding dress that is so symbolic? It’s such a lovely idea.

River Elliot Bridal Wedding Dress Refashion. Using second hand wedding dresses.

There are so many exciting options in refashioning an older wedding dress. For example, most older second hand wedding dresses, particularly from the 1980s, have an incredible amount of fabric. This gives you or your dressmaker scope for a larger re-design. Once the original dress is unpicked (if necessary) the fabric can be pressed and laundered (again, if necessary) and ready for the re-design. If you’re a whizz with a sewing machine, you may be able to use the fabric with a commercial sewing pattern. Various sewing pattern companies have wedding dress and evening wear patterns that can be used with the original fabric, zip and buttons. If you can’t sew, don’t worry, you can find a professional dressmaker to help you.

In my studio in Cambridge, I offer this service specifically. I am passionate about the environment and love the idea of more brides re-purposing vintage or second hand wedding dresses. Aside from bespoke wedding dresses, it’s a guaranteed way to get a truly individual one-of-a-kind wedding dress that nobody will have but you. It also is significantly cheaper!

What kind of vintage wedding dress should I look for?

 The world is your oyster when it comes to finding second hand wedding dresses to refashion. I generally only have one rule. If you think the vintage or second-hand wedding dress could be bought and worn in its original state then please don’t buy it to cut it up! Leave that for another bride who would wear it as it is.

For example, in my latest bridal refashion I found a gigantic 1980s wedding dress (see above picture) in my local Salvation Army charity shop. I was pretty convinced that nobody would buy it but I double-checked with a staff manager to find out how long it had been in the shop. It had been there months!

River Elliot Bridal Wedding Dress Refashion

As you can see it’s huge with iconic 1980s trims such as over-sized bows, padded sleeves and woven gold piping. I knew it could have a second chance at life, and used it for my participation in The Refashioner’s challenge. You can read more about the dress in my older blog post From Diana to Meghan: Refashioning the Wedding Dress.

I re-designed the dress to emulate Meghan Markle’s renowned style of fitted dress with chic boat neck/bardot neckline aiming for a sleek, sophisticated wedding dress for a modern bride.

River Elliot Bridal wedding dress refashion. Using second hand wedding dresses.
The Meghan-Givenchy tribute dress made from a 1980s wedding dress
River Elliot Bridal wedding dress refashion
Wedding veil with vintage lace trim

How much did it cost?

The wedding dress cost me just £17 from my local Salvation Army shop in Cambridge. Then it was just a matter of my own time. As a professional dressmaker, this would have cost approximately £700, which means a bride would get a completely unique, individual wedding dress for under £1000 while also contributing positively to help the planet. Win win!

Do bear in mind though, that your wedding dress refashion can cost less. You may find a perfectly good vintage wedding dress that needs more simple alterations or additions, such as adding some lace trims or appliques, or it may just need to be shortened. It’s worth really thinking creatively about what you can do and how so that you can cut your wedding dress budget while still looking absolutely amazing and unique. 

If you have any questions or would love to find out more about upcycling and refashioning a wedding dress, please contact me at 

For more inspiration check out my Pinterest board with lots of real examples of wedding dress refashions


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.