A Stunning, Full Sleeved Original Vintage Wedding Dress for a 1940’s Wartime Inspired Bride…

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Hello you! Thanks for dropping by this morning 🙂 I hope you had a lovely weekend.

In the latest issue of Wedding Magazine, Editor Catherine Westwood picks Love My Dress as the focus of her ‘Blog Spot’ feature, and talks about how Wedding Bloggers are stepping out of the one-dimensional world of the internet to get involved in events taking place within the wedding industry.  She includes a picture of me at my exhibition stand at the inaugural Designer Vintage Bridal Show {next show takes place in October and I’ll be there too} at Highbury Hall in Birmingham.  The ‘DVB’ as I’ll refer to it from hereon was a huge success for all involved, and one of the best parts about it for me was that it provided a fabulous opportunity for me to meet up with some of my readers.  The reader I remember the most fondly of all the many who came by to tell me they loved reading my blog was Lucy.  Lucy was to be married in May and was so excited about her wedding, her beautiful original vintage wedding dress, and her wedding venue, Highbury Hall, also happened to be where the DVB was being held.

Well, Lucy’s wedding to her Beau John happened as planned on 14 May and when I saw these photographs for the first time two weeks ago, I found myself speechless.  Now, the enthusiasm with which Lucy talked about her gown and the whole war-time inspired styling of her wedding day made even more sense.  What a stunning vision Lucy looked in her exquisite, full sleeved wedding dress – such a find, after weeks of trying on various vintage and more contemporary frocks that just didn’t suit, Lucy explains how quite by chance she found her perfect wedding dress… 

“Really it was the most perfect dress I could have found and whilst it was really different to what I set out looking for (I was thinking Candy Anthony style!) I adore it. It was fate I’m certain and I loved it because not only did I feel like a bride, but because John loved it to (he’d had reservations with the snippets he’d heard of stains and huge shoulder pads), because of the love and care that my mum put into it and most of all because I am 100% certain that my Dad would have been incredibly proud of how his little girl looked on her big day…”

Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2011, Eliza Claire

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“I went on a girly trip to London to see Vivien of Holloway for the bridesmaids dresses and whilst staying in Covent Garden popped into this really tiny, dark Vintage Clothes shop. I was in the changing room trying on a couple of dresses when all of a sudden I heard all the girls oooohing outside. Stuck my  head out of the (very cramped) changing room and went WOW, I’m trying that one next!  The shop was so tiny that you couldn’t see how long the train was (other than big!) and it didn’t fit (couldn’t do up the back at all) but I just loved it. We all decided it would be worth coming back the next day and so it was that I spent half the night with mum talking about how we could make it fit. 

The next day, we discovered that the WHOLE dress was covered in brown foxing marks and I was devastated. I couldn’t afford £400 on a dress with stains that might not come out and so brokenheartedly left it at the shop where the owner said she ‘might’ clean it.

Full sleeved 1940s vintage wedding dress

Full sleeved 1940s vintage wedding dress

“A week later (having spent the whole week emailing photos of it to specialist vintage clothes cleaners including the company Harrods use for Dry Cleaning and them all saying that the stains wouldn’t come out) I got a call from the owner saying that she’d cleaned the dress and it was ‘perfect’ – I was sceptical, but couldn’t contain my excitement and knew I had to see it in the flesh again. I got the train down whilst not trying to get my hopes up as the owner had now put up her price to £700 and I’d have to negotiate hard). 

I tried the dress on and although it had shrunk a little, I couldn’t leave the shop without it….I negotiated hard (arguing my case for all the alterations and repairs I’d have to do) and managed to get it for £500 cash. I was so thrilled and Mum burst into tears (with happiness) when I phoned her straight after!

Full sleeved 1940s vintage wedding dress

Brooch Wedding Bouquet

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“Mum did the most amazing job on it, repairing the few holes in the train, letting out the sleeves and taking out the zips and creating the back without cutting away any of the fabric. We both agreed to try and keep it in as original state as possible so if anyone ever wanted to wear it again with a closed back they’d have enough fabric to do so…” 

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“My shoes were a pair of peachy coloured ballet pumps from TK Maxx – they have beautiful ribbons to tie around the ankle and had the added bonus that they were super flat (I couldn’t wear any heel otherwise the dress would have been too short). I had a pair of 1930s dress clips with one missing a stone in the centre so I wired a tiny glass flower button onto it and then wired it to the front of the shoe and did the other to match…”

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Lucy had drooled over the brooch bouquet designs by DC Bouquets but had been unable to get items to Debbie in time for her to create a bouquet. Instead, she made her own…

“It all worked out beautifully and was finished on the morning on the wedding and was definitely a feature of the day. I’d specially chosen a lot of the pieces for their meaning; a Victorian paste ‘M’ brooch for my Dad who was called Martyn, a horseshoe for good luck, a marcasite ivy brooch for longevity, some 1930s glass buttons by a company called Bimini that I’d found in a charity shop, an RAF Military button for my brother, a pair of 1930s heather brooches to echo the beaded detail of my dress and of course lots of blue and old in there!

My something borrowed was the 1930s bow brooch that was at the bottom of my back on the dress and the new was my underwear…”

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“I didn’t wear a veil, but I had a 1930s style beaded head piece which was £3 from Primark (which I was excitedly telling everyone on the day!!!!”

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“I’d initially decided that I was quite happy for the girls to each whear whatever they liked as they’re all adults, have different personalities and the whole indentikit bridesmaid thing freaked me out a little. Anyway they decided they did want to look like bridesmaids but after trawling through Coast, Monsoon and all the usual suspects I found Vivien of Holloway. We visited the shop and the girls all quickly decided this was the style they liked but picking which pattern to have proved a nightmare as their stock levels seems to be all over the place!

I was close to buying all black ones and accessorising with colour but in the end I left the issue alone for a week to concentrate on making the invitations and then when I checked the website they had a sale on and one in each of the right sizes of this beautiful rose on navy blue pattern which I loved …you’ve never seen things go into the online shopping basket quicker!!!!!

The petticoats and belts were from Swing Time collection – they were fab, have a great range and sent them out superquick time.”

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“Despite loving all things vintage I knew I didn’t want a ‘normal’ wedding car like a rolls royce and it seemed silly to hire one seeing as it was only a short journey to church and also the reception. One of our ushers, Dan has a Series One Landrover (60 years old this year) and he drove me to the church along with Mum and Joe – even wearing a fine vintage tweed jacket to complete the look!!! It was such a lovely quirky mode of transport and we had great fun waving everyone off with a glass of champagne from the church!!!”

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“My wonderful brother Joe gave me away. He had a big task in stepping into my Dad’s shoes but he really did a fantastic job. I consider myself incredibly lucky that instead of mourning my Dad not being there, I was able to feel so blessed when looking across and seeing my little brother walking me down the aisle. Whilst I obviously missed my Dad beyond expression he wouldn’t have wanted it to be a day for mourning him, it was a day for celebration and he more than anybody would have wanted that. Walking down the aisle I felt truly honoured to have a brother who loves me dearly, walking me towards my husband who loves me without condition and watched by a mother who loves me …all in the knowledge that Dad had loved us all.

My Dad would have been so incredibly proud of the job Joe did on our wedding day and I’m forever thankful for him for making walking down the aisle such a special memory…”

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“We had our friends Karen and Liz lead the prayers in church which was beautifully as they wrote very personal ones for us and really made the ceremony all the more special.  The first reading was Colossions 3.12-17 read by my aunt Christine who had flown all the way from South Africa for the big day. The second was an excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit, a children’s story by Margery Williams from 1922; read by our good friend Catherine who’d come over from Ireland. Both are lovely passages and again something different from the Corinithians or ‘On your wedding day’ train of thought!!!”

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The Wedding Ceremony took place at Bournville Parish Church in Birmingham…

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“We chose Highbury Hall for our reception as I’m a bit of a vintage (of all eras) girl at heart. I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by lovely old things as mum and dad had a passion for anything quirky and scoured antique shops, car boots and auctions for interesting buys. I went to my first auction at 6 weeks old and remember playing under our antique fair stalls as a child with my brother so really being surrounded by antiques is where I feel happiest. John has learnt to appreciate (if somewhat reluctantly on occasion!) my love of antiques and we both love something that is a little bit ‘different’.

As soon as we walked into Highbury we both knew that we loved it…something unusual and historical and definitely different from the seemingly endless list of generic hotels that you find when searching for wedding venues around Birmingham. We lost my father last summer and we knew that it would have been a venue he would have loved and we could accessorise with lots of things from home which would make it feel as though Dad was with us on the day.” 

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 When it came to venue decor, Lucy said she practically emptied the contents of her Mother’s loft and used items she had also picked up from car boots and charity shops.  They included:-

“….a selection of glass vases from  Georgian through to 1950s. Also teacups – I’d been purchasing vintage teacups and saucers from every conceivable place I could find and managed to hit my aim of 80 by the day! Ranged from Victorian gothic designs to 50s floral prints…so cute and they really added a lovely spplash of colour to the venues.

We also used placecards – I personalised luggage labels by adding stamped designs (such as perfume bottles and pocketwatches) to the labels and wrote everyone’s names and menu choices…”

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“The table plan was put together mainly by John and my brother JOe and was a large gilt victorian frame, some old wallpaper and home printing. The oversized knife/fork were another TK Maxx buy which hang in our kitchen normally...”

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“We’ve always found at weddings we’ve been to that guest books rarely get filled, people tend to want to write on the same page and don’t write very much as a result. Instead of a guest book I collected old postcards – some personal to us and some just fab old designs and put them in a Fortnum & Mason wicker hamper. I’d got two bay trees and strung twine up between them -the idea being that everyone could write us a postcard and peg it up using the blackbird pegs we’d got.

It was a brilliant idea as it meant that people wrote more…filling a postcard each, chose a design personal to them and added details such as handdrawn stamps on them – it looked supercute 🙂 I’d seriously recommend that as an idea to any bride.”

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“I created a pictoral family tree by getting all the family wedding photos and framing them up in beautiful vintage frames, and I wrote out luggage labels for each and it was a real talking point for the guests.

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“We accessorised mantlepieces and side tables with interesting books with fabulous vintage bindings on them. It was lovely to see guests flicking through them…eg looking through the big atlasses or finding their names in the Dictionary of Titled Families.

We also had old candlesticks and bookends to help dress the mantlepieces…”

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“I’d collected hats, scarves, bow ties, sunglasses, an old box brownie camera, perfume bottles etc in a huge old suitcase and we invited people to have their portrait taken whilst dressed up.

My Nanas old fur stole and the fake moustaches on sticks went down a storm!”

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“I think my background and passion for antiques inspired how our wedding ended up looking but we didn’t have a specific theme  or era or try hard to be ‘vintage’ it was just what came together naturally. If you’re having to plan it too hard I don’t think its really ‘you’.

In the end it seemed to reflect  both our personalities really well and John did admit that all the little touches fitted beautifully into the day!”

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“We have a Gramaphone ourselves and so during the reception drinks our fab friend Dom played our and his own grampahone – beautiful 30s and 40s tunes.

Our first dance was to our own Gramaphone – ‘When Somebody thinks youre Wonderful’ by Fats Waller’ which is just lush! The only thing we didn’t have time to do before the wedding was practice our first dance so we didn’t have a routine but we managed (hopefully) to avoid the penguin waddle 😉

For the evening John and I were convinced we didn’t want a cheesy disco and although we both love our rock and metal that wouldn’t have been quite right for the venue. We hit upon The Sugar Band and booked the quintet and they played a beautiful set of relaxed and elegant jazz and swing music just perfect for the venue. Seeing everyone on the dance floor showing off their best Fred and Ginger attempt to ‘Cheek to Cheek’ was brilliant. It was followed by an hour of rock and roll at the end of the night….”

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Lucy opted to changed into a 1950s style cream lace knee length dress with towering Kurt Geiger for John Lewis navy satin heels…

“….both finds in the sale from John Lewis because a girl doesn’t want to be in flatties for the whole of her wedding day!”

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Words of Wedded Wisdom…

“Ignore wedding magazines!!!!!!!! Trust your own taste. And also avoid taking future husband to wedding fairs!”

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Brides dress – Original Vintage + 50’s style dress from John Lewis for the evening
Brides headpiece – Primark
Brides shoes – TK Maxx + Kurt Geiger
Brooch Bouquet – Made by the Bride
Groom – Ted Baker
Bridesmaids – Vivien of Holloway + peticoats from Swing Time collection
Venue – Highbury Hall, Birmingham
Photographer – Eliza Claire
Flowers –  Forget Me Not, 1891 Pershore Road, Stirchley
Makeup – Emily-Jayne Image Consultancy
Hair Stylist – Sarah Anwars
Transport – Landrover  

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This is by far one of my favourite weddings to have ever featured on Love My Dress and I would like to congratulate Lucy and John on their wonderful war-time inspired wedding and thank you both so much for allowing me to share this wonderfully inspirational day with my readers.

Huge thank you to my lovely friend Eliza Claire of Eliza Claire Photography too…

“What to say about Eliza, where do I start?! OMG just brilliant! Photography was the one thing that John and I knew from the off that we wanted to invest in as we both love good photos and having seen the terrible results of a lot of ‘wedding photographers’ we wanted someone we could trust.

We met Eliza  and immediately loved her and her work – she’s an absolubte professional and it was a joy to have a friend there on the day  not an anonymous person with a lens! We’d also absolubtly recommend having the pre-wedding shoot that she does as part of her work anyway….such amazing fun!”

Take a peek at more 1940’s inspired Brides on Love My Dress, or browse through all the vintage inspired weddings here.

Have a good Monday morning everyone,

Much love,

Annabel xXx


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, getting in the sea, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.

33 thoughts on “A Stunning, Full Sleeved Original Vintage Wedding Dress for a 1940’s Wartime Inspired Bride…

  1. what a beautiful, beautiful dress. The vintage look is very popular now, but Lucy has got it perfectly. Her choice of accessories is so original. Wonderful. It looked like a lovely wedding. Many congratulations to them both.

  2. Thank you peeps! This wedding is so special in so many ways, I have loved reading Lucy refer to her Father too – so moving.
    I’m so lucky that I get such beautiful content to share with you all 🙂
    Much love everyone,
    Annabel xXx

  3. Absolutely LOVE this wedding. What a stunning dress on a stunning gal! Every little detail was so carefully executed! Gorgeous Wedding. Thanks for sharing.

  4. We say this a lot as photographers, but it was truly a huge honour to photograph Lucy and John’s wedding day and to get to know them and their families a little. Lucy is one of the most warm, most genuine people I’ve ever met and John is her perfect foil, calm to her craziness, sense to her insanity and dry wit to her incorrigible giggles! Their day worked so well because it was so very genuine, not themed from ideas in magazines but themed from ideas from Lucy’s childhood and their life together. It was full of gorgeous detail, but more than that, it was filled with love.
    E xx

  5. I can’t believe that DRESS. What a bloody find.
    And I was thinking “I love that JP headpiece”. Ummm PRIMARK?! £3. I would have told the world too!
    Gorgeous Gorgeous Gorgeous.

  6. That dress is unbelievably stunning and I love the story around how she managed to nab it – good work! I also love that the transport was a Land Rover!

  7. Love the Landy.
    And the fact that the vicar must have lead the whole service looking at this terribly demure bride – and then when she walked back down the aisle, he must have had quite a surprise!

  8. Have to echo Eliza and Annabel – Lucy was an absolute pleasure to work with, and although I didn’t get to meet John, the rest of the family were completely lovely. So happy that the rest of the day was as beautiful as the morning of the wedding!

  9. By far one of my fave weddings that I’ve seen! Absolutely stunningy beautiful. Love it love it love it! And I am definately getting those amazing tights! Fabulous!

  10. Simply gorgeous all of it, what a stunning dress, never seen anything like it. What an achievement to have pulled it all off too. Absolutely wonderful x x

  11. I have just ordered a pair of those ASOS tights. Couldn’t resist it! ;))
    I’m so so thrilled you are all loving this wedding as much as I do. I can’t stop looking at it!!
    I think Lucy should come and work for me as my fellow Blogger for Love My Dress. What say you Lucy? ;))

  12. am so in love with this wedding, one of the most stunning wedding dresses i have EVER seen, how beautifully it photographs! Congratulations on such an amazing wedding, your dad would have been proud

  13. What an absolutely beautiful wedding! I love the care the bride & her mum put into making the dress perfect while retaining it for future brides.

  14. Oh my word, what a reaction! Thanks to all you lovely peeps for your very sweet comments – it really was a wedding from the heart. Eliza I think you hit the nail on the head…it worked well because it was genuinely reflecting our tastes and backgrounds, not following a trend for vintage. Much love to you all and Annabel I’d be honoured but I don’t think I should give up the day job just yet!!!

  15. Did I not comment on this? I LOVE this wedding, it’s absolutely stunning! I sent a link of it to my bridesmaids with the subject title ‘I am in love with a pair of tights’…

  16. Wow, this dress is stunning, you can never go wrong with a long train- they’re so stylist and vintage.
    Her evening dress is stunning also, I hope Lucy had a lovely day! It looks like she did 🙂

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