You all know the saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”  Wearing a wedding gown originally worn by another era’s bride can take care of several of those items, all at once. But a vintage or antique wedding dress will require special attention.  Follow these tips below and your search for the perfect vintage wedding dress will go much smoother.

  1. Start With a Clean Dress

Vintage gowns tend to yellow or become discolored over time. There may be stains in the armpits, or spills on the dress that have set in for 20, 30, or 50 years or more. Stains are difficult enough to get out after a year, just image how difficult they will be to remove when they are now vintage stains.  If you are lucky enough to find a vintage wedding gown that is perfect in all ways except it is stained or yellowed, make sure you invest in a thorough and professional cleaning and be sure the fabric is in good shape.  Hopefully the vintage fabric will hold up to the cleaning processes that are used now.  Make sure you talk to your cleaning professional about the delicate fabric.  The more information you give them about the possible age of the fabric and the fabric content, the more likely they are to treat the fabric correctly.

  1. Get the Right Fit

If you aren’t an accomplished seamstress or have one among your family and friends, consider hiring an experienced seamstress to alter the dress to fit you. If the dress is too large, it can usually be taken in. However, keep in mind, if the dress has a wide neckline and the shoulders hang off you, it is very difficult to make a smaller neckline.  Otherwise, it is best to go with a larger dress than a smaller one.  If the dress is too small, it may not be able to be let out enough for you.  Vintage dresses were not sewn with wide seams like our current bridal gowns are.  It may be very difficult to find matching fabric for a vintage gown to let it out without looking odd.  It is possible to hide some issues with trim.

  1. Update the Dress

An experienced seamstress may also be able to make design changes or add embellishments that will further individualize a vintage wedding gown. Options may include changing the neckline, sleeves or hem length, adding lace, trimming or beading; letting out darts; trimming long trains; completely changing a skirt; and using excess fabric from trims for bodice and sleeve additions.  In some instances it is even possible to use an existing train or veil to create long sleeves or a new veil.

  1. Hiring Tips

Always, always use a seamstress who specializes in vintage wedding gowns. Narrow your choices to those professionals who have great track records with the type of gown you are looking for and age of fabrics in your dress. Search online for vintage wedding gown shops.  Most of these are not your local bridal shop where you find all the name-brand designers.  These are personally owned shops, professionals who typically only do vintage.  You will get the personal attention you need.  This type of professional will listen to your needs, likes and dislikes and be able to help you with all your vintage wedding gown concerns.  Most of them specialize in repair, reconstruction, alterations and reproductions.  An experienced wedding planner may also be able to make recommendations.

  1. Cost Expectations

The price to restore, repair, reconstruct, fit and update your antique or vintage wedding dress will vary greatly. This is where it is important to make sure you have done your homework and hired the best vintage wedding gown expert in your area.  Stabilizing weakened fabrics of a dress only a few decades old, for example, will likely be less expensive than overhauling an antique dress from the 1800s. Some alterations can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, while others may require thousands. Since each dress is unique, expect to be charged for an initial consultation as well. A consultation will provide you with an estimate of total costs and a time frame for when your dress will be ready.  The best professionals will let you set a budget and will consult with you through every step of the process.  They will let you know whether or not your budget will actually fit with the work that is required

  1. Timing

Be sure you start early on preparing a vintage wedding dress, since the process can be painstaking.  Since each vintage wedding gown will have different requirements as far as repair, rebuild, altering, etc., there is really no way to know how long it will take until you talk to your desired professional.  Depending on the work load of the seamstress you choose some professionals may be able to deliver your dress within a few weeks; although it’s not uncommon for others to require six months or longer.

1950s Grandmothers Original Wedding Gown

Redesigned-completely taken apart, made to fit, lined and hemmed to tea-length. Plus pockets added!