Meet the Brides Rethinking Their Wedding Dresses
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Meet the Brides Rethinking Their Wedding Dresses

Diamonds are forever… but what about a dress? Priya Raj meets the brides who have found different ways to repurpose their wedding dresses. 

Main image: Danielle Copperman and groom. Photo: Bertie Watson; Dress: Savannah Miller; Headpiece: Ann-Marie Faulkner

Three Ways to Repurpose Your Wedding Dress

Gone are the days of brides storing their wedding dress in a box under the bed or at the back of a wardrobe, never to be seen again. Many are instead turning towards thrifting and rental services for their big days, or choosing to don their gown for another special occasion, too.

Charlotte Stavrou, the founder of SevenSix Agency, rented her London civil ceremony look, a short, fun, statement dress from Rotate Birger Christensen. She said her decision was more logical than sustainable – while she could wear this dress again anyway, she didn’t feel any compromise by renting it. ‘Why do I need a dress in my wardrobe that I’m not going to wear again?’ Charlotte pondered. And she’s not the only bride asking this question.

Charlotte Stavrou and groom. Photo: Jacquetta Clark; Dress: Rotate Birger Christensen @ By Rotation

This shift in the bridal fashion market has a lot to do with couples becoming more environmentally and economically conscious. The pressure of social media might also play a part. Some modern brides are opting for multiple wedding looks and celebrations, each reflecting a different aspect of their personality and aesthetic. Renting gives brides more room to play, as well as the option to hire multiple looks with the same budget that might otherwise be blown on a single showstopper gown.

Model and creative director Danielle Copperman not only created her ceremony dress with Savannah Miller out of deadstock fabrics from the designer’s fabric supplier, but also thrifted her reception gown and re-wore it to a gala the following year. ‘For me, the option to re-wear was almost more important than getting something secondhand,’ she said. A fan of pre-loved fashion since her teenage years, Danielle hunted through sites like eBay and Vestiaire Collective to find her €38 gold beaded floor-length reception gown, which was modelled on a headless mannequin. ‘It was really not sexy,’ she said, but she had the creative vision to turn it into a one-off dress that’s totally unique to her. Danielle rewore her vintage dress a year later at a Parisian gala at The Ritz, and though it might seem a risky choice, she said it was ‘the best feeling in the world’. The beaded dress isn’t the easiest to maintain, and some of the beads at the hem have fallen off or been stepped on, but that it showed it has been loved and worn. ‘If it really brings you joy – it’s worth the risk,’ she says.

Danielle Copperman in gold dress

Danielle Copperman in her thrifted gold dress.

Danielle also found the bridal showroom appointment process overwhelming, and the pressure to choose there-and-then made it feel too serious, too quickly. ‘Secondhand shopping is a little bit more fun, and there’s no expectation,’ she added.

For those without galas to attend, or whose dress is too bridal to wear to another event, renting out their gown is also becoming popular for financially savvy brides who still want to hold on to their dress as an heirloom. Clothing rental platform By Rotation told us they saw a 130 percent increase in brides listing wedding dresses, shoes and bags in 2023. And demand is growing. Zoe Graham, stylist and co-founder of P.S. Bridal Rental, a hire platform for brides, has her own custom-designed wedding dress up for grabs for brides looking to borrow it for their own big day. ‘I really enjoyed wearing it and I would hope that other people would be interested in wearing it, too,’ she said.

Zoe Graham and groom. Photo: Bjorn Knight-Franklin; Dress: Jervoise @ P.S. Bridal

Her gown has been a popular choice among other brides, and is booked up for the ‘try-on’ service offered by the platform. For £20, brides-to-be can sample dresses at home, with the assistance of a stylist over Zoom who can discuss styling or alterations needed – which P.S. Bridal Rental can also carry out. This concept isn’t widespread, and might explain some brides aren’t initially keen to consider thrifted or rented dresses – the try-on experience still carries a lot of weight for brides who want the champagne, tears and ‘say yes to the dress’ moment with their family and friends. However, as P.S. Bridal Rental, with a little imagination it’s possible to do both.

Zoe also notes that it’s getting harder to find wedding dresses at a reasonable price, and as more people take to social media to find inspiration from luxury wedding pages, expectations are getting higher, even if budgets are not. But with rental and preloved options, you really can go out and find the dress of your dreams – and also be assured it won’t just sit at the back of your wardrobe for decades to come.