It’s the season to get wed but for many bride and grooms, the joy of nuptials can also mean big bills.
The average cost of a wedding has come down in recent years but couples in the UK can still expect to pay around £14,000 for their big day.
Help is at hand, however, at the RSPCA charity shop on Queens Road in Halifax, which opened three years ago with a whole section devoted to wedding wear.
Deputy manager Paul Greenwood and his wife Julie both found their outfits for their wedding at the store,
The couple married last September, Julie in a stunning £5,000 designer gown that she paid £150 for and Paul in a suit worth around £150 but that he was able to buy for £35.
“I’d trailed around all the shops in Halifax and Bradford but when I tried their dresses on their just wasn’t that wow,” said Julie.
“Then I came here and it was the first one I saw.”
All donations are sorted through and priced accordingly. If there is a dress that could fetch more than £200, the charity will sell it on ebay as they say they are unlikely to get that kind of money from charity shop visitors.
The dresses they stock go up to £200 and they often include designer gowns in modern styles.
“I think more people are bringing their dresses in,” said Paul.
“Sometimes we find it’s 30 years after the wedding and the wife is begrudgingly handing her dress over while the huisband is saying they don’t have enough wardrobe space!
“When we got married, we decided we didn’t want to spend £10,000 on the wedding. We were setting up our house and we felt that that was more important.
“When Julie came here and tried her dress on, her mum was in tears, her bridesmaid was in tears and she was in tears. That was definitely the one.
“She looked beautiful. She took my breath away.”
He said more and more people are coming to the store looking for their bridal wear.
“You don’t have to spend £1,000 to £2,000 on a wedding dress,” he said.
“We’re coming through a rcession and people don’t have that kind of money to spend.”
The shop’s volunteers say they have had some gorgeous gowns donated including one stunning lace dress from the 1960s.
They also get given outfits for the rest of the bridal party - from bridesmaids and flower girls to mothers of the brides, page boys and grooms.
And they have a wide selection of hats, fascinators, veils, shoes, jewellery and tiaras.
Particularly popular recently have been vintage tea sets and cake stands for bride and grooms wanting tea party and country garden themes.
Volunteer Jan Dodsworth said people don’t seem to passing their dresses on to their daughters as often any more, and she sees it as a waste to leave lovely dresses in a box never to be worn again.
“I personally don’t understand why people want to keep their dresses,” she said,
“They’re beautiful then in the momet but even after five years they’ve often gone out of fashion.”
She said if brides get their gowns cleaned and sold quick enough, they can often make some money back online or help someone else by donating it to charity.
Oxfam’s online shop also has a beautiful range of second-hand wedding dresses and one-off pieces for the groom, best man and bridesmaids. Many of their dresses are also donated by designers.
“People often come in here asking for a cheap wedding dress and veil for a hen night but they don’t realise how nice the dresses are,” added Jan.
“They’re too nice for a hen do.”