when vintage becomes modern

So all we have heard when it comes to wedding styling is VINTAGE, VINTAGE, VINTAGE… vintage dresses, vintage decor; books, teacups, suitcases, vintage jewellery, vintage shoes, vintage accessories, the list goes on! But what styles and traditions have we truly taken from vintage weddings?

Lily Allen took inspiration from the 1920's with her Chanel Couture wedding dress (oh what dreams are made of!) especially with her vintage headdress. Princess Margaret was one of the most beautiful royal brides in 1960, with a simple but sophisticated wedding gown designed by Norman Hartnell.

Timeless style comes in the vision of Grace Kelly in 1956. One of the most elegant and best remembered wedding dresses of all time, her dress still influences now as seen in the Duchess of Cambridges dress in her wedding to Prince William.

What about digging out your Mum or Grans wedding dress from the loft and incorporating a piece of it into your dress, or better still, reworking it to become your own wedding dress! My friend Amy from Made Over Ladies had a bride who did just that! And the result was just gorgeous! Here's the story of Louise's dress...

When I sit down with a bride on her wedding consultation the thing that I’m usually most excited about seeing is the wedding dress. It is one of the most important details that gives me an idea of the brides personal style and the theme of the wedding. I see lots of vintage style dresses and wedding themes and I love it all. I love the tea cups, the bunting, the cap sleeves, the birdcage veil from the most sophisticated to the most quirky ‘Vintage’ works and the thousands of brides opting for vintage styling proves it. When I met bride Louise Prentice in April 2014 I knew her wedding was going to blow me away as soon as she mentioned her mum, Joyce’s, 1970s dress that she had repurposed into her dream wedding gown with all the character and history thrown in to boot.

Joyce’s dress was imported from Paris in 1979 “At the time it was an innovative and quite unusual style” Joyce recollects, “It was carefully packed away in its original box by my late mother immediately after the wedding and kept in the loft where it stayed until some 35 years later when Louise decided she might want to wear it”. 

Joyce in her 1970s French Lace wedding gown purchased from Norma Ann, Quarry Street, Hamilton.

Norma Ann also took the photographs at the wedding. Bride Louise says her favourite part of the wedding planning was redesigning her mum’s wedding dress to incorporate some of the original vintage design with some of her own ideas. The finished result was her prefect wedding dress. “I always remembered as a little girl seeing my mum’s wedding pictures and thinking how beautiful her dress was and how incredible she looked. When I got engaged I asked my mum if I could try it on when I stepped into it it was actually too small for me and we couldn’t quite get it zipped up! Some of the features like the high neck and the puffy sleeves were a bit dated but the French lace was stunning and I loved it.”

Louise enlisted the help of Andrina from Fabricated Alterations in Glasgow who specialize in vintage dresses. Andrina describes the challenges in making a vintage dress into a modern wearable wedding gown. “The main challenge is generally the size. It's very rare for vintage gowns to come in sizes much larger than a 10/12 by today’s standards. Also, very old dresses usually need lengthened, which can be a very difficult task.  If gowns need to be altered to be bigger, adding panels and other seamstress magic can be used however it is always important to be respectful to the dress. We take a lot of time in choosing new fabrics and laces to be as similar to the original as possible. Sourcing the correct fabric or lace can be very challenging, I tend to try to buy vintage trims for vintage dresses which involves scouring the internet, vintage fairs and charity shops. It’s such a great feeling when you finally come across that perfect match!” Louise’s wedding dress was in immaculate condition however Andrina explains that vintage gowns can be in varying states of disrepair, “Some need a lot of TLC to bring them back to life, however I love a challenge, especially repairing vintage lace. We also have to be super careful, as old fabrics are prone to disintegrating much easier than a modern gown, so when taking the dresses apart, it really is done by hand, stitch by stitch!”

Andrina describes the changes made to Louise’s dress. “The dress was a stunning gown even today, but it did just need modernising and it was nice for Louise to add a bit of her personality to it.  We added a large underskirt and some more linings so the shape of the skirt was perfect. As vintage dresses don't tend to have a lot of structure to them so we completely took the bodice apart, and created a new one. Opting for a very plain sweetheart neckline, boned, corset style bodice we overlaid it with a lace illusion neckline made from the original lace from the dress. The illusion neckline was shaped to have a deep V at the back which gave the dress a more modern look as it exposed some skin whilst still keeping the original demure look of the dress.”

Addressing the length issue the talented Glasgow based dressmaker created a dropped waist on the bodice so that the skirt would sit lower to the ground. “We then made the frilly 70's sleeves into elegant fitted lace sleeves and added a bustle to the dress so that Louise could hook her train up out the way for the Ceilidh!”

Choosing your wedding dress is probably high on the list of priorities for a bride-to-be and Louise did her fair share of wedding dress shopping “I did search many bridal shops for my perfect dress but I didn’t find any that I tried on and thought, yes this is the one. After all the alterations on Mum’s dress, when I had the final fitting, it was perfect” Without question Louise states that her dress was her most favourite detail of her day “Creating my dress and watching it all come together (thanks to the incredible dressmaker) and then feeling amazing in it on the day”.

The dress wasn’t the only thing that was repurposed and recycled on Louise’s big day. “I also had my gran's pearls in my head piece and Duncan proposed with his great gran's engagement ring” says Louise. Louise’s friend Natasha did her wedding flowers that were a beautiful mixture of cornflower blue and purple spring blooms with just the right amount of greenery.

Made Over Ladies did the bridal party hair and make up Louise chose a chic plaited and detailed up do and also wore her mums beautiful original veil. We chose a soft smokey charcoal eye and fresh pink lips to compliment the vintage feel and cool tones in the flowers.What’s so beautiful about Louise’s wedding is that the details were so personal to her and her family and in a way a part of those people and their stories were with the couple on their big day. A vintage wedding dress such as Louise’s is such a meaningful and thoughtful way to incorporate a uniqueness you just can’t buy from a bridal boutique.

Thank you to Amy for telling us all about Louise's romantic dress story, and to Green Wedding Photography for supplying the images of Louise's day.

Amy Hughes is a professional make up artist and beauty writer. Follow her blog at www.madeoverladies.com for all things make up related, wedding inspiration and some lifestyle observations too. She attempts to demystify make up with an easy to follow DIY make up series called #molmakeuplesson. Whether you are doing your own make up for a special occasion such as your wedding, or would like advice on your day to day face, you will be sure to pick up some hints and tips!

Catch Amy on Facebook or Twitter and keep up with her make up tips and tricks. I will soon be featuring some of Amy's make up tips on Braw Brides too, so keep your eyes peeled!