There are many places to find an inexpensive vintage wedding gown such as: thrifts shops, yard sales, consignment shops, antique stores, and even on E-bay. Shopping on E-bay will require you to look at the seller's feedback. Make a list of questions, and offer to speak to the seller by phone.
When inspecting the gown, look carefully to see what damage, if any, has occurred over the years. Some things are very easy to repair. These might include: missing beads and buttons, broken zippers, open seams and loose hems. Fabric deterioration is much harder to repair. Dry rot in fabric or lace, or badly torn lace (especially on the bodice), might come apart during the course of a normal wedding day's events.
Small, inconspicuous stains could be covered with well-placed appliqués that match the gown's color and fabric. Minor hem dirt usually cannot be detected unless you lift up the edge of the gown. Visible underarm stains are virtually impossible to repair.
Be very careful before sending your vintage gown to the dry cleaners. Pearls can disintegrate or discolor, beads and sequins fall off or become loose. Many dry cleaners will steam or press your gown at half the cost.
If you know an excellent seamstress, you can have a vintage looking gown made. You will have fun looking for vintage fabrics (silks, brocades, chiffons, satins, taffetas and velvets). Vintage lace, buttons, bows and appliqués will be needed to add glamour to your gown.
There are several companies online that sell discontinued vintage sewing patterns. They range from $5.00 to $100.00, depending on the age, condition and availability of the pattern. This is a "hit or miss" way of looking at patterns, and it might be time consuming to find a style that you like in your own size. These sites usually show a picture of the pattern, the pattern number, the date it was made available, the size, and also whether instructions are included. They will tell you if the pattern is in mint condition, or has been cut. These are the same things you will want to ask the seller if you are shopping for vintage patterns on E-bay.
You can match your vintage wedding gown with an authentic headpiece, shoes, gloves and antique jewelry. And don't forget a Victorian bridal bouquet. It consisted of loosely arranged blossoms, with slender streamers of white silk ribbon and greenery cascading halfway to the floor.