Say yes to your dream dress at SVDP bridal shop
Dundalk St Vincent De Paul has launched the charity's first dedicated bridal boutique in Ireland. Olivia Ryan reports
'Why can't everyone have a dream wedding day, no matter what their budget is?' says Ashling Mathews, manager at St. Vincent de Paul's Jocelyn Street store.
It was this savvy thinking that got the former retailer thinking as she looked at the increasing donations of wedding dresses, bridesmaid gowns and flowergirl frocks which the charity were accumulating not just in Dundalk, but across the country.
'We were getting in a large supply of brand new wedding dresses from a shop which closed down, and on top of the new and nearly new stock we already had, there was just an opportunity there to make something really special out of these fabulous dresses,' said Ashling.
From there, she worked on developing a dedicated wedding room at the rear of their popular Jocelyn Street shop, launching in May with little fanfare but a growing number of appointments.
'We can't believe how well it's taken off to be honest. There have been around 30 appointments over the last few months, and we haven't even promoted it at all really.'
With nearly 200 wedding dresses on display alone, the boutique already has the feel of an ideal bridal boutique space, complete with podium for brides to be to get a proper feel of each dress they try on.
'We are working on an appointment only basis, as it just gives the bride and her family and friends the time and space in private to look through all the dresses. It is a really nice place here to take the time needed, and enjoy the whole search for the perfect gown,' added Ashling.
'We've actually had some ladies in checking out what we have in bridesmaids dresses, and they were sorry they hadn't come to us for a wedding dress as well!'
And she added the range of shades, shapes and designs can often mean a bride to be choosing a beautiful dress she might not otherwise have considered.
'We've seen it happen so many times, a lady comes in with one type or style of dress in mind, only to find something completely different here.'
With sizes ranging from 6 to 22, and the most expensive dress coming in at around €200, there is a huge variety for anyone planning their big day.
For some who feel they just can't justify the idea of spending thousands of euros on one dress they may never wear again, and equally for those working on a small budget, buying secondhand is a great option to keep the costs down, stretch the budget further and still have a stunning wedding dress.
It's also an ideal opportunity to snap the designer label or particular dream dress at a fraction of the cost.
'What we would say to anyone searching for the perfect dress is to consider making an appointment with us, as you really will be surprised at what's available here.'
'It is important for us that if someone has a smaller budget, that doesn't mean they can't have the same day,' said Ashling.
Along with bridal gowns, the boutique also stocks a range of Mother of the Bride outfits, along with debs gowns and Holy Communion dresses.
Ashling added that the shop is unique in that it is 'possibly the only place where you can buy wedding dresses and bridal wear, and also help out people in need in your local community as well.'
St. Vincent De Paul shops are the lifeblood of the charity, providing the main source of income for their admirable, yet often unassuming work.
Charity shops have enjoyed a renaissance since the recession, becoming the go to place for those vintage, unique and must have clothes, shoes, and furniture, and despite the economic upturn they continue to grow in popularity.
'We are hoping to have a fashion show in the next few months,' says Ashling. 'With models showing of some of the beautiful wedding dresses, along with the rest of the shops's top stock.'
The shop are continuing to accept donations of new, nearly new and pre-loved bridal wear, along with bridal shoes, veils, and headpieces, hats and fascinators.
'In some cases we can have the complete wedding day look available which is ideal, so all donations are welcome.'
To book a private appointment at the new wedding room, please call 087 0572221 #svpireland SVP - Vincent's Shop Jocelyn Street.
*St. Vincent De Paul are currently appealing for more volunteers, for their shops and other aspects of the charity's broad work in the community. If you or someone you know can be of help and would like to volunteer drop into either of the shops at Jocelyn Street, Clanbrassil Street or the Castletown Road, or make contact through the St. Vincent De Paul facebook page.