Why You Should Go Vintage When It Comes To Your Wedding Dress

Brides Do Good

by Rebecca Cope |
Published on

The dress. It's one of the most expensive (and important) elements of every bride-to-be's big day. But after splashing out thousands of pounds in cash, it's often never worn again, instead residing in your wardrobe (or worse, a box in the attic) forever. Wouldn't it be great if you could give it another lease of life? While many brides now opt to have custom outfits made that they can wear again (such as separates), some are selling their dresses on to be worn again by someone else.

Bridal boutique Brides Do Good does just that - buying your vintage wedding dresses and then selling them to new brides - while also donating two thirds of the profits to Plan International & Too Young to Wed - to eradicate child marriage. We meet founder Chantal Khoueiry to find out where the idea came from and why she thinks everyone should go vintage...

Where did the idea for Brides do Good come from?

One evening, about 8 years ago, I was having dinner with friends and learned that one of them had spent £8,000 on a wedding dress which was now in a box in her attic, at the same dinner table, another friend stated that she would love to have a designer dress but as she had just graduated she just simply couldn’t afford it. It seemed a no brainer, there must be hundreds of once loved dresses relegated to dusty attics, surely there must be a clever way to give these dresses a new story without feeling guilty of letting go. That night, all I could think about was “why shouldn't these dresses be given a new chapter? And, how many women out there have dreamt of a designer wedding dress they could not afford?”

When did you first become aware of the abominable practice of child brides?

I was born in Kuwait from a Lebanese father and an Ethiopian/ Italian mother. Since an early age, I have been exposed to various issues facing the different cultures I have been brought up in. A few years ago I started travelling to Africa and India to do some charity work on the ground. This is where I was exposed first hand to the horrifying issue of child marriage. Every 2 seconds a girl is forced into marriage – that’s 38,000 girls a day. Child marriage violates the basic human rights that every girl has to health, education and safety. The stories of violence and pregnancies you hear are just unbearable. If there is no reduction in child marriage, the global number of women married as children will reach 1.2 billion by 2050, with devastating consequences for the whole world.

How much have you been able to achieve so far?

We launched our social enterprise on 13th October 2016, the ‘International Day of the Girl’. And so far we have been humbled by the generosity of the women who have donated their dresses. Also it is amazing to see how many designers and retailers have joined the Brides do Good movement by donating sample wedding dresses to support the cause of ending child marriage by 2030, which is one of the UN sustainable goals. We are now entering the wedding season with many brides-to-be looking for their dream gown - and what better opportunity than at the Brides do Good pop-up boutique at Bicester Village.

Brides Do Good

What kind of women have been donating their dresses?

They are forward-thinking with social consciousness. They vary in age, from 25 to 55, with diverse nationality and background. Some want to simply donate their dresses and others would like to make some money out of it. They have one thing in common: they have all said “I do” to giving a new chapter to their wedding dress and a brighter future for millions of young girls.

What are the most common reasons for doing so?

Some women no longer have a deep emotional attachment to their dress, some would like to make some money out of the dress whilst also doing good, and some are simply focussed on the charitable angle. There are a variety of reasons but all fundamentally driven by the story behind Brides do Good and the work of our charity partners Plan International and Too Young To Wed.

For many brides, the dress is one of the most important things - how have you been able to convince people to donate them?

There is no doubt, each dress has its own unique story because it was chosen with love and worn with love. The emotional connection to the dress is very strong and letting go is not an easy option. However, you have the photographs and memories with you forever and as soon as you speak about the act of child marriage and its impact on society, and how one wedding dress can make a difference, you start seeing a change in the thinking. I believe the emotions that one can feel knowing that good has come out of your dress is way more meaningful than keeping it in your attic forever.

Why do you think it’s important to give wedding dresses a second life?

Brides around the world can take a stand and make a difference, whilst breaking the sad cycle of forgotten wedding dresses. One dress at a time, we can make a difference to the woman who dreams of a designer dress and to the vulnerable young girl who is robbed of her childhood. Brides do Good is about connecting women and protecting girls.

What kind of designers are stocked at Brides Do Good?

We stock over 30 brands, including Ian Stuart, Suzanne Neville, Elie Saab, Vera Wang, Temperley, Reem Acra, Valentino, Oscar de La Renta, Pronovias, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen as well as a selection of customised dresses.

What have been the most popular dresses?

We have seen a lot of interest in softer silhouettes including the A Line and traditional sweetheart dresses.

Have you noticed any wedding dress trends coming through?

So far, I would say embellishment and texture; lace and embroidery and coloured dressed are becoming more popular for the daring brides-to-be out there!

How do you advise people on what wedding dress is right for them?

We wanted to recreate the intimate, high-end experience that women expect when shopping for their dream dress. So to do this, we have included tips on what would suit specific figures and we shoot all our dresses professionally to ensure the brides-to-be can view all the details and features of the dress, including detailed measurements. For our pop-up store at Bicester Village, we have a professional seamstress on site - she has over 30 years bridal experience having previously worked for a high end alterations boutique in London.

Do you get a lot of non-traditional, non-white wedding dresses?

Yes we have a small quantity and currently stock some gorgeous light pink Lela Rose, Ian Stuart and Valentino gowns. However we are hoping to expand into the Asian market and stock some beautiful traditional gowns in the future.

Which celebrity brides do you think got it right when it comes to the dress?

I love the simplicity of Amal Alamuddin Clooney’s Oscar de le Renta dress. The Elie Saab dress worn by Princess Claire Lademacher is also superb. Louise Roe’s customised Pronovias is stunning and the good news is that she has donated it to Brides do Good in support of the cause. So for all the brides-to-be out there, you now have the chance to purchase it at the Bicester Village pop-up!

Where are you stocked?

We are an online social enterprise so all our dresses can be viewed and ordered online. However next month we will open our first ever brick and mortar pop-up at Bicester Village from 9th to 19th February.

Why do you think Bicester Village is a good fit for the brand?

Bicester Village has been in my veins for many years. We share similar brand values of authenticity and experience, as such I felt that it was the perfect match for Brides Do Good and I look forward to welcoming brides-to-be at the boutique!

The Brides Do Good boutique at Bicester Village is open 9th – 19th February.

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