Gabrielle, editor of our ethical shopping blog, Hippyshopper, is getting married soon. Here, she tells the story of how she found a wedding gown for £7.50.
Ever since he was a little boy, my intended has dreamed of a proper church wedding. Being a bit of a stoic noncomformist type myself, I’ve suffered this idea in comparative silence, until one day that we were cruising past a David’s Bridal and I hauled him in. "Notice," I said breezily, "polyester dresses starting at $300. Ooh look, this one’s nice. $800. Still polyester though." By the time we left, a scant fifteen minutes later, he was whiter than the gowns and paying close attention to my observation that our wedding clothes alone could cost more than two new laptops; that we could have one big party or a modest down payment on a place where we could live for the rest of our domestic lives. That day he gave up the idea of seeing me in glistering princess white – and three days later, the idea sprang back to life.
We’d just dropped off a slew of documents and were thinking about lunch when we stopped in a shop offering estate goods at a pittance – silver teapots for fifty pence and leather portfolios for £1 – when we saw it, draped over a vintage coatrack, next to a solid mahogany table with six matching chairs for £40 (albeit in need of refinishing and reupholstering). It was a wedding dress, with a tag for £15, marked down to £7.50. I sneered. I’d seen thrift store wedding dresses. They were invariably nylon horrors with plastic lace, plastic pearls, and leftover Christmas tinsel – and surprisingly expensive for how hideous they were. Later that same day we saw some of same, five to ten times the price, damaged, and again, hideous. Plus, I wanted a Chanel suit – something I could, oh, say, wear again.
We wandered the shop, bought a four-shelf bookcase for £1.50 and a copy of the Last Tycoon for fifty pence, and were rummaging through the silver sugar bowls when I got close enough to notice that the dress was, er… Satin. Crinolined satin. With rice pearls. And lead crystals. Pretty much as shown here – except it was £7.50. For £7.50, I thought dizzily, I might well be willing to be a glistering princess.
So I tried on the dress, and although it would need some alterations, felt not only lovely, but like it was something I would feel comfortable in, because it wasn’t a frivolous expense leaving a pretty but useless husk – like an elaborate Christmas cracker wrapping. It was a rare instance where decadence felt exactly the right ethical decision. Oh, and it made him happy too.
The dress hangs on the kitchen closet door now, since we’re short on storage space. We see it every time we come in the house, and feel stupidly happy. And once, I caught him standing there in the kitchen, with the dress crushed in his arms, and his face buried in the veil. He was smiling. [GT]
See more Green Weddings posts at Hippyshopper.
(He was not wearing the dress! Shut up.)