Tips on buying a vintage wedding dress | uk wedding blog

facebook-profile-picture By Phoebe

Afternoon all. If you are looking for a vintage dress then this is where you need to be this afternoon. This week, we met with Siobhan Mulholland-Cox, founder of Cambridge Vintage Bridal – an online vintage wedding dress shop, which sells and hires amazing vintage bridal gowns. Siobhan lives in Cambridgeshire and runs the online business from home, offering appointments for discerning brides in her studio within the grounds of her Grade II listed farmhouse.

words & photography | Cambridge Vintage Bridal

Tell us a bit about yourself and Cambridge Vintage Bridal

I set up Cambridge Vintage Bridal for a couple of reasons – firstly, when I got married in 2013 I failed to find ‘THE vintage gown of my dreams’, I tried so hard!

This became a sort of brief to myself, to curate and amass a collection of unique vintage gowns so decadent and diverse in decade, shape and size that a bride looking for vintage would have plenty of choice when she checks out Cambridge Vintage Bridal.

All my gowns are repaired (if required) and hand cleaned and therefore ready to wear – I wanted to take the chore out of vintage bridal purchasing, and let the bride focus only on whether a dress needs letting out or taking in – as with a traditional bridal studio.

My business is an online business first and foremost which allows me to put the savings into curating the best in class when it comes to vintage bridal gowns from across the world.  That said, I of course offer appointments for brides to come and try on a dress or two. I’m very happy to bring a seamstress / tailor into the studio and equally happy if a bride wants to bring along her own trusted or local seamstress / tailor.

(On cold days we retreat into the house as the studio has the chill factor! Keeps me on my toes when I’m shooting new stock!).

The second reason for setting up Cambridge Vintage Bridal is that despite a BAFTA-winning career in broadcast and digital that spans 20 years, I have always wanted to own a wedding dress shop, it’s as simple as that! So I started an online one.

There is something magical about that moment when you find your dress, that feeling and emotional connection – you can’t bottle that (I wish you could!) but you can certainly curate a collection of fabulous vintage wedding dresses that facilitate that moment, which is what I have done.

With that in mind, when we moved from Shoreditch to Cambridgeshire in 2015, I took the plunge and set up Cambridge Vintage Bridal – mostly during my maternity leave in 2016 (when my daughter napped and my son was at nursery!).

I believe that flexible working is important, especially when you become a parent. Sometimes in a specific industry that’s hard to pull off, therefore I created my own business that enables me to do what I love, work from home and do the nursery runs. I currently wear all the hats and I love it.

Cambridge Vintage Bridal stocks some of the most exquisite vintage finds when it comes to vintage bridal wear and this is because I work hard to find and secure these pieces, I’m obsessive about it. I’ve recently introduced a ‘partner’ initiative to ensure that premium vintage dresses come my way, that said, these ‘partner dresses’ must fit with the Cambridge Vintage Bridal brand and work as part of my curated collection, so if someone has a stunning vintage piece they are looking to sell, I’ll always take a look.

Why choose a vintage wedding dress?

A vintage dress is a one of a kind purchase – it’s a dress of unique beauty that no one else will be getting married in. Yes, vintage dresses can be much smaller than today’s creations but that shouldn’t be a barrier. Any vintage dress can be let out, taken in, tweaked, panels added etc., or even bits of another dress can be added to it, such as new sleeves for example, there are no limits really and I think that’s an important mindset to have if you are thinking about having a vintage wedding dress.

Lots of brides have a decade in mind, which is great but again, have an open mind, I’ve seen brides’ adamant that they want a tea length 1950s dress only to fall in love with a full length, boho, sleeved 1970s affair.

Recently a bride had already found her vintage dress but was looking for three vintage bridesmaid dresses and settled for three brocade pieces – they didn’t match in colour, length or pattern but looked fantastic as a vintage set.

Vintage is a bold choice and ultimately you are giving a fabulous vintage wedding dress another outing – another chance to shine and be at the heart of someone else’s new chapter – albeit 30, 40, or 50 years later. It doesn’t get more romantic than that does it?

Top tips for buying a Vintage Wedding dress?

OK, lets say you are looking for a 1930s, long sleeved wedding dress, with a train – these are rare, hen’s teeth rare! So, the best way to shop for a vintage wedding dress like this is to know all of your vital statistics and store them on your phone somewhere (bust, waist, hips, arm length, arm circumference, shoulder to floor measurements are a good starting point), so you can immediately ascertain if a vintage wedding dress will fit and/or if it will need work and how much work and then BUY IT before anyone else can!

That said, don’t shop just with size in mind though as this will limit your range, shop knowing that a great seamstress or tailor can make your dream dress fit you – by hook or by crook!

As with diverse, modern dress styles, try on as many vintage gowns as you can, experiment with different decades in order to experience the different shapes and styles, you might just surprise yourself. Don’t rule anything out until you try it on.

Treasure a vintage wedding dress, for it may well have a few more outings to come, be it in 20 years time.

Why should a bride check out Cambridge Vintage Bridal?

Cambridge Vintage bridal works hard to discover and bring together the best vintage wedding dresses out there. I always have around 50 vintage wedding dresses in stock and you can search these dresses by decade, sign up for new stock alerts and promotions too or follow me on instagram. I’ve always got a dress in the studio that I’m doing something to – so don’t miss out.



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