Story: Kelly Lyonns / Research: Michelle Beesley / Models: Noah and Kat
Let me start by dispelling any rumours – Michelle and I are not getting married … our husbands would not be impressed. But we were spotted reporting from the Fortitude Valley Red Cross Op Shop where it has been transformed into a wedding wonderland with an exhibition of preloved wedding dresses now on display.
There’s something magical about a wedding dress; firstly, it makes people cry. Red Cross Op Shop Store manager Jenny agrees.
“When you put on the perfect dress everyone starts to cry. I know that was the case for me.”
Secondly, once the dress is right, everything else falls into place.
Every bride dreams of looking like a princess on her special day. Whether it’s Kate or Diana taking up your Pintrest page, the Red Cross charity traveling Bridal Dress Expo can deliver.
“You remember that dress Princess Kate wore?” Jenny asks pointing at one of the store dummies. “Long sleeves and sheer inserts are trending now.”
Don’t worry though if your style choice turns out to be more ‘oops’ than ‘wow’. Looking at the long rack of dresses there were plenty of alternatives, and the staff is more than happy to help.
Try a few different styles, you might be surprised. Our model Kat can attest to this. “The first dress I wore was my perfect dress. I didn’t think I was going to like the last one but it looked fabulous,” she says.
The dresses – Downton to Offspring
The Expo started in Kingaroy with 70 gorgeous gowns ranging from sizes six to 20. These beautiful, sometimes brand new, dresses cover all the satin, lace and sequined diamanté and pearl bridal fantasies you have ever secretly, or not so secretly, harboured.
Whether you are a:
- Vintage Downton Abbey cloud-of-lace;
- Don’t-fuss-me minimalist satin tube;
- Look-at-me sheer cut-a-away;
- Regal grace off-the-shoulder A-line;
- A lace-me-tighter beadwork trimmed bodice; or
- A Nina Proudman seventies Boho from Offspring
… kinda girl– you are covered.
Trends in bridesmaids fashion for besties
Also well provided for are your faithful, dearest, bestie bridesmaids. These days, the bridal party might be travelling from literally the other side of the world, so coordinating has become practical as well as beautiful.
Brides often pick the colour palette and let the attendants find their best style. Jenny says:
“Mismatched bridesmaids are the trend.”
No one’s going to be as beautiful as the bride of course, but realising that the baby-pink bubble hem mini is going to make bridesmaid-number-three look like a stick of fairy floss, may just save a friendship. No 27 Dresses for your girls! So pick a colour and let the party start. There are plenty of choices for the mums too.
Accessorise those accessories
But it doesn’t stop at dresses. “We see a huge interest in the accessories, hoops, veils, and petticoats,” Jenny says. You’ll also find flowers, table decorations, handbags—I saw a black satin clutch with feathers!—and shoes!
For the grooms
And guys, don’t worry, the groom hasn’t been forgotten. There are coats, suits, trousers, ties… need a buttonhole… got it.
Our model, Noah, ended up with a fabulous Pierre Cardin jacket for less than $30. Yes, $30! In fact, there are plenty of choices even if you’re not in wedding planning mode.
How the Expo came about
Believe it or not, the average wedding can cost up to $65,000 in today’s market. With prices like that, cold reality might be raining on your big day dreams.
The Expo came about when volunteers realised they could help put wedding dresses within reach of couples again. At the Red Cross shop prices range from $50.00 up to several hundred. One cream satin full-skirted beauty was going for a lovely $680.00, not bad, considering the $1595 original price tag.
Dresses in the Expo are high quality, even the pre-loved ones. Some have found their way there as donations from stores, or from brides who have bought one dress and then found something they have loved even more, or of course brides who know they are married for life and can give that dress away now!
Even if you don’t get a perfect fit, at these prices it is well worth considering alterations or buying a garment for the material.
The best part of shopping with Red Cross is not only have you helped divert an annual 450 tonnes of clothing going to the tip, but you have helped fund one of the many Red Cross programs.
Who the Red Cross helps
Red Cross is synonymous with disaster relief, but they flex their muscles daily, supporting communities across Australia and our region. Thousands of children across Australia arrive at school hungry – for $5, they get breakfast. Every day volunteers phone the isolated elderly to see if they are okay. You get the idea.
Now, you can help people in need, look gorgeous and save the planet – doesn’t get much better than that.
What: Fortitude Valley Red Cross Op Shop Wedding Dress Expo
Where: Shop 201, McWhirters Shopping Centre, Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
When: Until Sunday, 24 July 2016
Store Hours: Monday-Friday 8.30am-4.30pm, Sat 9am-3.30pm