If you're the kind of bride who would rather be wed in a Victorian mansion instead of a chic uptown event hall, or plans to wear her great-grandmother's pearls and rhinestone brooch instead of a set of fresh and trendy modern jewelry, you can bet that finding a vintage wedding gown is going to give you more joy than something brand new from the nearest boutique. The question is where and how to look for one of these dresses.
Obviously the first place to look is to your female relatives. Your mother's wedding gown might be close enough to new that it still looks outdated, but this can be easily overcome with the assistance of a skilled tailor. That chokingly high collar and the mutton-chop sleeves from the early eighties could become a clean low-cut neckline and sweet, puffy cap sleeves with minimal effort and expense. Someone in your family might even have a gown from earlier generations, such as from a grandmother or great-aunt.
Unfortunately the discrepancies between dress sizes in the mid 20th century and today make figuring out what's going to fit you and what's not more difficult. When shopping online or in thrift shops for a vintage wedding gown, come armed with your full measurements. Some gowns can be tailored; for others, this might not be possible. Request of internet salespeople the full measurements for the gown you're considering. If shopping in a thrift or consignment shop, bring along a measuring tape so you can take measurements yourself.
Be cautious when trying on vintage wedding gowns - after all, it's not always possible to know the conditions in which they've been stored and they could be very fragile.
If you can't find the right vintage gown, go to your local fabrics store and sit down with the pattern books. Most pattern companies have numerous vintage gown patterns that could easily be translated into the fabric of your choice, be it bridal satin, silk, or a lightweight cotton lawn. If you plan to make your own gown, enlist the assistance of a friend or relative who knows how to sew, even if you yourself are an excellent seamstress. It's always good to have someone else on hand who might think of something you haven't considered, or help come up with some other good ideas for you.
Whether you plan to seek out and purchase a vintage wedding gown, borrow one from a relative, or sew your own lookalike, be patient and open and the right gown will fall into your lap and make your wedding day a dream come true.