Starting the process of finding what to wear on your wedding day, whether you’re a bride or a groom, can be a bit overwhelming. Check out these top ten tips – all part of the free downloadable ‘Madame B’s Pocket Guide to Vintage Weddings’ – to help you get started.

1) The most important advice I can offer is don’t go for something that will require you to massively alter your body shape or that will be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time ­ it’s going to be a long day in the spotlight, and you’ll be on your feet for most of it. Ideally you need to be able to stand, sit, dance, and go to the loo in it unaided! Try out different styles and work with what nature gave you.

2) If you’re struggling to find inspiration, there are now an increasing number of wedding fairs that specialise in vintage weddings, such as Discover Vintage, Miss Vintage Wedding Affair, Vintage and Alternative Wedding Fair and Fusion Handmade and Vintage, to name a few UK based ones. Chat to as many people as you can at these events, you never know what you might find.

3) If you’re shopping online, look for sellers with a good rating, detailed item descriptions and at least two clear images of the item. This is especially important for vintage sellers as there are so many to choose from and the quality can vary quite a bit. It’s also worth checking their returns policy ­ although there might be exceptions for certain types of item (e.g. pierced earrings), most places will adhere to the 28­ day standard return rule. For more information, check out the Trading Standards website.

4) Beware vintage sizing! For example, a UK women’s size 16 from the Fifties is actually closer to a modern UK size 12. I like it when online sellers take the time to measure the garment themselves and put up accurate waist, hip and length measurements. This is the norm for menswear anyway, but larger gents may struggle to find their size, so look at vintage reproductions too. Some shops also provide alteration services for a little extra, so it’s worth asking about this.

5) Contrary to what you might think, if an online seller mentions damage to the item in the description this is a good thing because they are being honest about what they’re selling. A lot of vintage goods will have at least some kind of minor wear and tear, but if the seller is upfront about this you can make an informed choice about whether to buy it or not.

Sadly, I have come across one or two sellers who have tried to hide damage to items to get a better price, but this tactic is always going to backfire because it ultimately damages the seller’s reputation.

6) As with most things in life, if it looks too good to be true (say, a Fifties Dior dress for £10) then it probably is. Use your common sense and don’t be taken in by fakes!

7) Look out for hidden costs, especially when buying from overseas. There are lots of fantastic vintage sellers from the USA on Etsy, for example, but if you live in the UK you may have to pay extra tax charges when your order arrives. According to the most recent information I could find, any item worth £15­£135 sent to the UK from outside the EU will incur an import VAT charge and possibly a Post Office handling fee as well. Items over £135 will probably incur a customs duty charge too. For more information, check out HMRC’s guide.

8) Check the washing instructions on vintage clothing carefully. If it doesn’t have a care label or you are unsure about it, stick to hand­washing in lukewarm water with a little soap, or take it to the dry cleaners. If you order something online and you’re unhappy with the condition it arrives in, get in touch with the seller as soon as possible.

9) Some minor damage is usually easily repairable. However, look out for little round holes in clothing, as this may be an indication of clothes moth activity. To avoid unwittingly introducing these destructive little critters into your home, I strongly recommend wrapping the garment in a plastic bag and leaving it in the freezer for at least 48 hours before cleaning it. This will kill off any moth larvae left behind and keep the rest of your wardrobe moth free.

10) Don’t forget the details! Accessories can really help to finish your look and give it that extra period authenticity. Check out antique markets, charity shops and search online (eBay and Etsy are great for this) for unusual pieces of jewellery, cuff links or even shoes to finish off your outfit.

vintage wedding guideIf you’d like to read more tips and tricks like this for planning your perfect vintage wedding, click here to sign up for your free copy of the e-book ‘Madame B’s Pocket Guide to Vintage Weddings’, featuring:

– Simple guide to wedding fashion 1920s-1990s to help you get that authentic period detail
– Beautiful wedding flowers and their meanings
– A delicious traditional cake recipe
– Groom’s corner – inspiration for the vintage gent
– A list of great places to shop, plus tips on what to look out for


Main image: Walter via Flickr