Thrift shop bride: How to source your entire wedding from your local charity store

If you love op shopping – and even if you don’t, you’ve got to admit they make for great treasure hunting activities. If you’re an avid op shopper you’ll know what we mean; the hunting, the scavenging, the poking around in baskets of who-knows-what. The thrill of uncovering coveted items is akin to the rush of gambling, and it keeps us coming back for more.


So what better way to source necessary items for your wedding than by visiting your local thrift store? If you’re new to the whole op shopping game but would like to see what it’s all about or if you’re an old hat, this article will spark some ideas as to what kind of things you can find to fit out your wedding and point out some tips and tricks along the way. If you do get addicted to op shopping in the process, don’t say you haven’t been warned. It’s a highly addictive activity, which makes it all the more fun. Let’s get started.

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First things first: your wedding dress. While you have to be quite lucky to find a suitable bridal dress in your size, keep in mind that if you do find a dress you love and it doesn’t quite fit, it can be altered. If it’s a size or two larger, it can be taken in and the extra fabric can be used to create a matching head piece or veil. If it’s a little too small, alternate fabrics can be added to create a paneled effect. If you’re still not having luck in the dress department, try searching through the fabric section. An embroidered or lace vintage tablecloth can be the starting point for a one-of-a-kind vintage-inspired dress. Another idea is to find pieces that are not meant to be bridal related and, with the help of a talented dressmaker and your imagination, turn them into something amazing. For example, a vintage white lace bustier can become the bodice of a dress or an intricate, delicate slip can be transformed into the skirt part of a dress.

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But dresses aren’t the only thing you can source from op shops. If you’d like to create a unique décor with a strong vintage vibe, try collecting vintage lampshades of various sizes and styles. These can then be strung in your venue and, if you so desire, actual lights can be placed underneath each shade to add that extra bit of pizazz. Hand knitted blankets can be used to create cozy talking spots. They work well especially for outdoor weddings where they can also provide warmth for your guests. Another thing that can easily be sourced from op shops is candles. Collect as many candles as you can find and place them all around your venue. Candles are great for adding to the intimate atmosphere. You can also try gathering a collection of empty picture frames that you find in your local op shop and placing photos of you and your fiancé inside them on display or even using the frames to announce the table settings. Remember that there is no limit to how creative you can be. It’s just a matter of seeing the potential in objects you would usually only associate with one purpose, stretching your own imagination and allowing yourself to be totally creative.

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A few additional tips: stock changes daily and sometimes even hourly in op shops. Be consistent and re-visit your local haunts if you weren’t successful the first time. If you see something you like, grab it, because there is a big chance it will no longer be there if you come back. Some op shops will let you put items on hold, but many will not. Shop with cash. Most op shops will only let you use your card for purchases over $10. Some op shops will not even have eftpos machines, so cash is a necessity. Bring your own carry bag. These are especially useful if you’re doing an op shop trail. Try not to have too many expectations – go with an open mind and you will reap the rewards. Enjoy the hunting and the digging. It’s a right of op shopping us op shoppers wear with pride and you have just been initiated into the club. Welcome and enjoy.

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