How to make a hand-me-down wedding dress yours

There’s something particularly heart-warming about being gifted a wedding gown that your mum, grandmother or another close relative or friend said their vows in. The reality of wearing a hand-me-down dress however can often be far from uplifting.

Whether the dress you’ve been gifted has fallen quite considerably out of fashion or it simply doesn’t fit, you may not be overjoyed at the prospect of wearing someone else’s wedding gown on your special day.

Before you deliver the bad – even heart-breaking – news to that very generous loved one, it’s important to note that it is possible to make it your own. Here we share our top tips for making your gifted gown the dream wedding dress it should be.

Begin with the basics

How you feel in your wedding gown is just as important as how it looks. A great fit will make you feel your most fabulous, and with this, hand-me-down and heirloom dresses should be fitted like any other.

A professional seamstress should be your first port of call. They’ll have the skills and tools to make all the necessary adjustments to alter your hand-me-down dress’ size, shape and fit.

You should also get your dress professionally cleaned. Even the best-preserved dress may need cleaning and even some restoration. Vintage gowns in particular are prone to discolouration over time.

Consider what YOU want from your gown

Whilst mum or granny may not be too happy to see their beloved wedding dress refashioned in such a way that it’s unrecognisable, your seamstress can make the alterations needed to bring your dress into the 21st century. Whether it’s shortening the hem or restyling the neckline, subtle changes can make a big difference to your wedding look.

That being said, vintage gowns are very in fashion at the minute, with styles of the early 1900s and 1960s particularly popular amongst the brides of today.

Put your signature stamp on your final wedding look

Adding details to your dress and accompanying accessories can really help to bring together a final wedding look that’s yours, and you can be as personal as you like.

From stitching your wedding date or monogram into your gown to sewing in a patch of special material that belonged to a lost loved one, you can customise your hand-me-down any way you like.

If your hand-me-down gown isn’t suitable for your wedding for whatever reason, ask your family member if you can take a swatch of the fabric to incorporate into your chosen dress. This fabric can be sewn into the gown, used as a waistband, wrapped around your bouquet or even fashioned as a DIY garter.

Want to return the favour?

Whether you personalised and wore a design that was passed down or had fun shopping for a wedding gown of your own, you may want to save your wedding dress so it can be worn by your child or their future partner. Yeah Weddings offers their advice for doing just that:

“Although there are many phenomenal organisations to donate your wedding dress to, you may want to save your wedding dress for a close friend of a family member. Passing on your wedding dress is a lovely tradition. If you’re planning to pass down your gown, remember to preserve it so it’s in a beautiful condition for your loved one’s wedding day.”

Giving or receiving a hand-me-down wedding dress is a real honour. It is however important to remember that it is your big day. It can be difficult to say “no” if a family wedding dress isn’t what you had in mind, but fitting, restyling and personalisation could provide the answer.

To get in touch with a member of the team, please email or call us via the contact details below. Alternatively, if you'd like to request a brochure or enquire about date availability, please click 'request a brochure' in the menu at the top of this page.


T: 01787 472 914

FLASH SALE - your winter wonderland wedding for just £5995Tell me more!