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The rise of 'preloved' bridal boutiques

Mar 3

Written by:
03/03/2016 11:10  RssIcon

Guest blog: Lauren Packham on a phenomenon that is good for your wallet and the environment 


Vintage clothing, shabby chic furniture, up-cycling and re-using are on the increase. Gone are the days where there was snobbery about ‘second hand’ items.

‘Preloved’ is definitely in vogue and not only is this good for our wallets, but it is also good news for the planet.

image of newlyweds

Marriage is one of those times when people used to spend a fortune, and barely consider the cost. It would not have been considered abnormal to spend £20,000 on wedding before the recession. It was expected that the moment the word ‘wedding’ was mentioned, the price of everything went up exponentially. However this is now an area where people are looking to make savings which can also benefit the environment.

Wedding dresses are worn once for one day, in many cases less than a day.  And many are realising that the extortionate cost of these just isn't worth the expense. The price of brand new, made to order wedding dresses can vary from a couple of hundred to over £2000 for designer dresses. 


image of lace wedding dress


This has lead to the rise of the preloved bridal boutiques; shops which sell once worn bridal gowns. When Encore Adore first opened in 2013, a quick google search showed 3, though admittedly, there could still have been more. Now, there seems to be one in every major city.   

However preloved boutiques often stock ex-sample gowns too, so you could pick up a real bargain, saving half the recommended retail price (RRP) or more.  Encore Adore Bridal Studio in Plymouth stocks ex-sample and preloved wedding dresses, starting from as little as £100, up to £700 for the current and more expensive styles.  



Top tips for a low cost wedding



Another huge saving to be made is with the wedding bands.

Many people are re-using gold jewellery rather than buying new. This not only saves the pennies, but makes them a little bit more special too. You can even design how you want them to look. This can be done from £120 at a local jewellery design studio (area prices may vary and dependent on actual design). The cheapest white gold wedding band, which is probably quite lightweight, at a well known jewellery retailer is £149. Of course, you have to supply the gold yourself, but surely that makes it more personal. Not only that, the price you pay for new wedding bands is in no way reflective of how much gold is actually in it. Also, a brand new wedding band may only weigh 3 grams, so the scrap value would be around £30. 



Invitations should of course be printed on recycled card/paper and will still be as beautiful as ones that are not. Recycled paper may cost a little more than regular, but making them yourself could still be cheaper than paying someone else to do them. 



Hiring a photographer is often a big cost, however the price will come down if you are willing to sacrifice the album – going digital and having the best photos on a disk does bring down the cost considerably. 

wedding photographer 


Another way to save money is to hire the photographer for just half the day, perhaps up until the meal. Ask a student photographer who is looking to gain experience to take over from that point and offer them a nominal amount to make it worth their time. This way, the whole day will be photographed, but for a lot less.


A personal favourite of mine is re-using jars - they make great sweetie jars if you are having a sweet buffet, or candle holders, vases or centre pieces – jars from ethically produced foods preferred of course. They can be painted, filled or used as glasses with pretty straws.

reused jars

Re-used Glass Jars, photo credit: Stephanie Lynn 


Venue decor can cost a fortune if everything is bought new, and will take time to set up, as well as taking up space in the home; using a company that hires these items can save time on the day and money. So far I am yet to encounter a local company which offers ‘green’ decor, although Faithful Designs is highly recommended for venue decor in Plymouth and if you wanted environmentally sound items used, she would source them. 


For the flowers, go for local florists or if it’s a summer wedding, farmers markets often have great finds. 


The car

Some friends hired a nice old bus that transported them and all their friends



Select a caterer or venue that uses locally sourced produce and meats. Fairfoods in Plymouth offer catering and they are a very green company.



Bio-degradable, made from dried flowers – there are lots of companies offering this now as many venues demand it. 

There are always savings to be made as well as considering the environment and our carbon footprint.


See our Ethical Shopping section for ethics made easy.








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