Budget Wedding Dresses At Oxfam

Buying Bridal on a Budget

There are now so many options for buying a wedding dress, and buying on a budget doesn’t have to mean second hand.

If I say the word charity shop don’t think granny jumpers, but gorgeous designer bridal – and all brand new! Oxfam Bridal are dedicated bridal boutiques all over the country, such as the store in Heswall, Wirral, where they have up to 200 never-worn wedding dresses in sizes from 8-24 in stock at any one time. They usually sell these wedding dresses donated by top designers, which are often worth over £1000, for between £100-200, with the rare high-designer piece going for up to £300 – what a bargain!

At the Big Green Wedding Fayre the fashions shows from Oxfam Bridal were stunning, and I really couldn’t believe the prices, just because the designs are end of line.  My favourite was a long bridal coat from designer Neil Cunningham worth £5000, but this one Oxfam dont sell, they rent it out to brides so they don’t have to fork out so much to be able to wear it.

How do Oxfam get never-worn dresses?Oxfam are receiving donations all the time so the stock is constantly changing as a result. The gorgeous dresses in these photos are ones that have been sold previously in Oxfam Bridal shops, but numerous other styles and sizes and sizes are always available. So just find your closest store, pop along and see what you fall in love with – you can’t afford not to! The great thing is that the Oxfam bridal shops are staffed by volunteers so all the money for your dress does straight to charity – double bonus!

When the new collections come in, bridal boutiques donate their unsold dresses from the prevous season to charity so they can claim back the VAT. One of the winners of this is Oxfam who have a dedicated warhouse set up to receive the donations and distribute to their shops throughout the UK.

Remember, no-one is going to know where you got your dress unless you tell them. And even if they do, does it matter?

Time for tea

Tea Time

Vintage wedding ideas are becoming more popular. Why not have a wedding with a tea party theme…

Personally Tea has been part of my heritage as my Dad is a tea taster for a major brand, and my parents are from Yorkshire and drink gallons of the stuff. Between our wedding and reception we held a tea party in the church hall so we could invite a larger number of people. Friends and family brought a plethora of cakes and we were served tea by the Mothers Union.


Ideas for a tea themed wedding:

This table setting from Country Living (1) could be easily created with rented tea sets, flowers from the gardens of friends, and a selection of cakes and cucumber sandwiches!

Extend the party by giving your guests tea favours – fair trade of course.  The bags from Fair Trade Teas (2) are a special wedding blend in a silk bag.

Hire vintage sets from the vintage tea company (3) for an elegant picnic or tea party theme.

Tea was introduced into Britain in the 1650’s and since then has played an important part in British tradition and culture. Made fashionable in 1660 by Queen Catherine of Braganza, tea very quickly moved from luxury to staple. Ladies of leisure in Victorian England used ‘afternoon tea’ as a means of filling the gap between luncheon and dinner by inviting friends over, and this soon heralded manufacturers to create elegant designs for the occasion.

There are some gorgeous tea sets and accessories available that you can add to your gift list:

Ester Coombs creates decorative cake stands (1) from vintage tea cups and saucers and then illustrates them with graphic patterns.

Juliette at Home create scented candles and soaps (2) inspired by the English tea party. We love the rhubarb and custard kitchen candle.

Vintage cake forks can be found on Ebay – for the full tea party experience!

Try more exotic teas such as blooming jasmine from Emeyu teas (3)

Tea cosies (4) can be made from recycled fabrics and yarns to complete the set.

Kaoru designs ceramic tea sets (5)specifically to keep specialist artisans in business. The ceramic industry has been in decline in the UK as manufacturing moves overseas, but these designs keep skilled workers in trade so they can pass their skills to the next generation.

You can easily add any gifts to your wedding list with the new Wedding Notebook gift list service that will be launched soon, so you can create a new home as independent as you are!

Glamourous, wear again dresses

Glamourous, wear again dresses

Sweet jars filled with colour coordinated threads adorn the shelves in Sabina Ali’s East London studio where she creates her line of evening & cocktail style wedding dresses, Motasem dresses. When we meet, she is preparing for a sample sale where brides-to-be and fashionistas alike will be hoping to snap up a dress which is just as perfect for a bride as for an evening occasion.

After jobs as fashion designer for the high street stores Jigsaw and M&S, Motasem was born in 2005 when Sabina received her fifth comission for a cocktail style wedding dress. Further research showed that brides were looking for dresses priced between £500-1000 and felt that they were lacking choice. The Motasem collection provides a range of dresses that are affordable and are for the glamourous bride rather than the fairytale princess.

Not simply an off-the-peg dress, Motasem dresses can be customised from a template. Brides can choose the length of the dress and add sleeves, add a puddle train and choose the colour of the ribbon detail. Eco conscious brides can also have the dress made in organic silk.


How does Motasem contibute to an ethical wedding?
The range is created in ivory silk which is the natural colour, not dyed, so brides can feel comfortable even if they don’t choose the organic option which has no chemical finishes, but can cost 15% more. The dresses are made in the UK and can be worn again as the style is so versatile, rather than hanging it in a wardrobe for years. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing white as a guest at a wedding or evening occasion, then there is the option to dye it after your wedding. The Lotus dress has been designed so there is no stitching on the outside meaning it dyes really well.

The collection is championed by the professional woman aged 28-45 who doesn’t want to look frumpy. The most popular dresses are Cecaelia and Alaya. The perfect way to style the dress is with a vintage hair piece and feather shrug – Chanel with an edge.

Who would you most like to dress?
Natalie Portman. She is gorgeous, but not a girly girl. She is independent and has strong ethical principles. Natalie has recently launched her own vegan shoe collection and wears Beyond Skin shoes in her film ‘V for Vendetta’

What trends do you see growing in weddings?
There is a grown in off-the-peg dresses. In the last 5 years we have seen a development in weddings from church to civil ceremonies, destination weddings, second weddings and older brides plus mixed culture weddings. There are many smaller civil ceremonies and weddings where there is less money available but couples still want the glamour. People want the bridal experience.

More brides are now planning their weddings in their lunch hour as they lead busy professional lives so we will be seeing a growth in online shopping for bridalwaer. Like Natalie Massey did for Net-a-Porter, we will be able to buy designer bridal on the web. Motasem would be perfect for this as the dresses are not structured so dont need endless measuring and re-fitting – just pick your dress size and go! The dresses just take 5 weeks to make from ordering.

What about bridalwear trends?
There is much less strapless and more drapery – using the fabrics to flatter the body in the style of Amanda Wakely. Style is also moving from catwalk to bridal very quickly and picking up inspiration from celebrity weddings. The Alaya dress combines hollywood glamour with catwalk style.

There is a trend for the recessionista – as has been roumoured for SJP’s character in the new Sex and the City film.

What inspires you?
This collection is Grecian and nautical inspired. They are timeless and classsic pieces with a contemporary edge.

What’s next for Motasem?
In her next collection Sabina is planning on adding a bit of sparkle. The range is now stocked in a few stores including Bridal Path &  Berkshire Brides where Motasem hangs alongside lines from Jenny Packham and Amanda Wakely.

Stay tuned for big news that Sabina couldn’t disclose but I could see she was bursting with excitement…

The Story Of Stuff

The amazing thing about your wedding is that you are marrying the person of your dreams… When planning it can be easy to get carried away with all the excitement and start spending and adding more ‘things’ into the day.

I checked out this video which really brought me down to earth about the way I view stuff:

It has made me think more about what and when i buy, and to aim to be more ethically and environmentally conscious. Thrift, handmade and cutting down are all great ways to be individual and save money too!