By Alexandra Harrison, Professional Independent Celebrant.
What with the latest budget involving weddings and ‘Hitched’ having recently announced their wedding survey for 2018 (with the average wedding costing a whacking £32,273!), I thought I would take a look at what the costs were made up of, and where savings could be made.
While looking at the breakdown of the top ten items I noticed that the average price of a wedding dress was £1321. I started thinking about all those wedding dresses that get worn just once (and bridesmaid dresses etc). What happens to them? Perhaps some people keep them, potentially for their own daughter or simply because they want to remember the day. Some people may sell them on the likes of eBay – I know my niece bought hers from there, but I also know it was never worn because it wasn’t what she wanted and there was no sending it back! (Five year on and it’s still hanging in a cupboard – I think it will be finding a new home as a result of this blog post!)
According to the Office of National Statistics there were around 230,000 weddings in 2015 so that is an awful lot of dresses. With this in mind, while out searching for a dress for me (not a wedding dress but as a Wedding Celebrant we have to have quite a wardrobe!) I stumbled across a lovely looking wedding dress in a shop window. I looked up and saw that the shop was actually a charity shop. I went inside to ask if I could photograph the dress and realised that they had a whole wedding shop upstairs. I made my way up and to my amazement there must have been a choice of 50 different wedding dresses… and it did not stop there. Bridesmaid dresses, Mother-In-Law outfits and various men’s wedding suits. There were even suits for pageboys. And, of course, with a wedding dress you need accessories; shoes, tiaras, hats, earrings. They were all there.
I went downstairs to find the manageress, Lisa Jordan, to find out more. Where did the dresses come from? How much did they cost? The dresses, mostly donated by brides, were in immaculate condition. Some of the dresses were from shops that were closing down and had never even been worn – some even still had their price tags on (£1000!!). Prices range from an amazing £50-£350.
St Catherine’s Hospice is a local charity with a big ambition: to help everyone face death informed, supported and pain free. Providing expert hospice care, they’re there for people in West Sussex and East Surrey when life comes full circle. They also pioneer standards in end of life care through collaboration, research and training, reaching even more people facing death and bereavement.
I started to think about the ethics and realised that this was really quite a wonderful thing. St Catherine’s opened the wedding shop two years ago, as a result of the retail team brainstorming one cold wet winter’s day. They were looking at stock and realised they had several wedding dresses donated to them, and so the wedding shop was born.
To date the charity has raised about £15k which all goes to support the incredible work they do – not only do they support people with terminal illnesses, they supports people who may not be able to afford the dress of their dreams. Perhaps you’d like to shop with a social conscience – how great to know when you buy your wedding dress you are supporting such an amazing cause. Or equally when you donate your wedding dress you are “gifting” this brilliant charity a valuable donation.
If you want to donate any wedding clothing and accessories to St Catherine’s then you can do this by taking it directly to St Catherine’s Hospice, No 6 Bishopprick, Horsham, RH12 1QR. The Shop can be contacted on 01403 211 829.
For larger donations (eg more than 1 wedding dress!) the warehouse can arrange free collection. Please call 01293 583 077 and ask for further information.
Follow St Catherines on Facebook www.facebook.com/stcatherineshospicecrawley
It seems like a WIN-WIN to me.
Alexandra Harrison is an Independent Professional Celebrant who writes and leads completely bespoke wedding ceremonies. Through consultation and meetings she will create a completely personalised and bespoke wedding ceremony. Your own words, Your own music, Your own vision. Your Ceremony Your Way. Why spend thousands on your wedding day and not have a ceremony that is actually tailored to you and your own values?
The legal element with the registrar can be carried out either on the same day or a different day.
07983 415 784