The real cost of dressing your little darlings on their Communion Day
Caitriona Redmond looks at dresses, suits and accessories for a range of price points
Arnotts have a tradition of dressing First Holy Communicants from head-to-toe that goes back several generations. This year their Isabella dresses are available in a wide range of styles and priced from €170-€290, however the matching accessories are in the more affordable range for those on a budget; gloves (€9.50), Headband (€22), Bow Bag (€23), and veil (€37). Boys suits from the 1880 range start at €125 for a jacket and trousers, waistcoats are extra. Arnotts, arnotts.ie
Cinderella's Closet in Cork is a bridal boutique that also specialises in dresses and accessories for girls.
Their prices range from €150 for their discounted 'Megan' dress, to €375 for their 'Aria' dress. They tell us that they currently have a sale rack with suitable dresses reduced to half price, ranging from €100-€199.
Accessories are individually priced: gloves (€24), tiara (€45), bag (€35), veil (€35), and parasol (€30).
Cinderella's Closet are available only by appointment, but you can look at their online gallery for a better idea of what they have in stock. They also have a strict 'one dress per school' policy to ensure no double dresses on the day. Cinderella's Closet, cinderellascloset.ie Tel: 021-4225000 North Point House, North Point Business Park, New Mallow Road, Cork.
If you'd rather a more down to earth experience, you don't need an appointment to visit The Sisters in Tallaght which has been operating for over 16 years. It's open 7 days from 12.30-5.30pm, and also operates a deposit scheme so that you can spread the expense of your First Holy Communion outfit from December to April.
The dresses, however, are on the more expensive side and range from €250-€599, and they do stock a wide range of suits for boys which range in price from €79.99-€220. The Sisters, thesisters.ie. Tel: 01-459 8822, Unit 13, New Village Green, Tallaght, Co Dublin.
Littlewoods have two suitable dresses in their bridal range that are definitely affordable. There is a beautiful lace organza dress priced between €48-€56 (depending on size), and an ivory bridesmaid dress in sizes from 0-age 16 for €37-€48. The budget pricing continues when it comes to all-important shoes and ballerina shoes will only set you back between €10-€15.
Boys clothing is also in the affordable bracket with a shirt and tie set priced at just €23 and occasion trousers for €28. Boots and shoes are a little more expensive but at least they'll get to wear these again in the future. For more see littlewoods.ie
Oxfam Bridal Shop
Have you heard of the Oxfam bridal shop on George's Street in Dublin? It's a secret area upstairs from their regular Oxfam shop where designers send their end-of-season gowns, and ex-display products to be put on sale for charity. You won't get access without first booking an appointment, but it's well worth it because it's a little known fact that they do have limited products suitable for First Holy Communion wear, including tiaras, veils, and often the dresses themselves. Many charity shops, not just Oxfam, have a limited number of second hand First Holy Communion dresses in stock at the moment. Why not shop for a bargain dress (or suit) while helping a charity at the same time? For more information and to book a viewing visit oxfamireland.org or telephone 01-4780777.
On a budget? You only need to nip into your local Dunnes Stores to see the range of Paul Costelloe dresses; prices range from €70-€100 for simple, tailored dresses. Accessories are keenly priced as well; we particularly like the simplicity of the hairbands priced at just €8, and not forgetting the all-important socks and tights priced at €5 per pack.
For more information see Dunnes Stores nationwide or visit dunnesstores.com
First Holy Communions have the potential to be a pricey affair so we have taken a look at the wide range of items (and prices) on offer at the moment nationwide. From chain-store to high-end, there's something for every budget and taste in our First Holy Communion shopping guide.
Before you take the plunge and start looking at outfits, it's worth checking with your school/church for their dress guidelines. In recent years some schools require children to wear "albs" which are altar serving robes, so as not to detract from the ceremony itself. In this case you simply pay a nominal rental fee for the First Holy Communion day.
While some might baulk at spending over €200 on an outfit that will be worn only a few occasions, bear in mind that First Holy Communion dresses, suits, and accessories hold their value extremely well.
If you can ensure your child doesn't damage their outfit (a tall order in some cases we know), a dry clean will bring it back to sale condition and you can then sell it on the following year.
There is a thriving market in second hand dresses and suits on eBay, DoneDeal, and locally based buy-and-sell groups on Facebook that are worth checking out. See ebay.ie and donedeal.ie for more information.