How I customised a regular high street beach dress into a unique wedding for less than £300

The thought of a 4 digit price tag for a dress freaked me out and hunting for the prefect wedding dress takes too long. Having a wedding dress made from scratch was very pricey but buying a dress that fits me and changing the top part was the killing idea.

For my wedding I wanted a dress that makes me feel unique and represents my values. I am not the kind of person who would spend hundreds or thousands of pounds on an outfit! It’s so not me…I’ve never done that…why would I do so for my wedding knowing that I would never wear this dress again?

I started to look at second hand dresses. The hunt for it can be difficult and very time consuming. So I quickly switched to the idea of making my own wedding dress, or shall I say I found a dress maker that could make it for me, I am totally hopeless when it comes to using a sewing machine!

1. Find a dress maker

Quick search online for ‘Dress maker near me’ and I called the first 2 that were listed. Turns out making a dress from scratch will be quite expensive too but one of them suggested that I bought any white beach dress that fitted me and to only worry about how the bottom part looked.

Here’s the secret: what takes the longest to make (and the priciest) is the overall fabric, the shape and the fitting. The top part can be adjusted or replaced.

2. Find a cheap beach dress

I wanted an A-line style dress. So, I was looking for long, tulle, maxi dresses in my size. Try to ignore the horrible top part, the extra sleeve you don’t want or the weird keyhole opening at the front. The dress maker will be able to make a new front, exactly like you want. Just focus on the length, the colour and the fabric.

When you try it on and it’s a little bit transparent, don’t worry, your dress maker will be able to add a liner fabric underneath.

I found bought mine online, during sale for £49!

3. Buy some nice lace

I wanted my wedding dress to have lace on the front and at the back. I went to a specialist shop and bought 1m of very fine and good quality lace. This was the most expensive part, £100. (I still have some left).

I also bought silk ribbon to make fake buttons for the back.

4. From a regular beach dress to my unique wedding dress

Et voila the result! She made a Cache Coeur style front, with a layer of lace on top, made some shoulder sleeves with the lace running throughout the back and she’d hidden the back zip with a range of silk buttons.

I paid £150 for her work and along with my pre-loved beach dress, I managed to wear my dream wedding dress for less than £300, unique and made for me.

Are you planning for your big day? Become the sustainable bride by finding your perfect dress with Oxfam along with bridal accessories and shoes.

Written by Stephanie Shaw 

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