For brides-to-be, choosing their wedding dress is often both the most stressful yet exciting part of getting married.
For some, many hours are spent in bridal shops trying on dress after dress, for others, they choose the first one tried on.
Though when the wedding is over, the fairytale gown is boxed up, hidden away in the attic or on top of the wardrobe, never to be seen again. Save for the few times dresses are passed on as family heirlooms, their fate is sealed.
But fear not oh dreamy taffeta, lace and bejewelled beauties, help is at hand, for Ann Hollings-Tennant, is coming to the rescue.
The married mum of one, and owner of Very Vintage Bridal in Melling, is a woman on a mission.
A self-proclaimed charity shop lover, Ann simply cannot stand to see donated wedding dresses tossed aside in a forgotten corner.
“The gowns we have are sourced from charity shops, the internet, and in some cases donated to us,” says Ann.
“A wedding dress should not be worn only once, it should be enjoyed and appreciated and given the chance to make another bride feel just as special as the original owner.”
Ann, who also works part time as a staff nurse at Royal Preston Hospital, had the idea to set up the wedding gown business that specialises in niche and vintage wedding attire, while on maternity leave last July, and runs it from the front room of her parent’s private country house set in the Lancashire countryside.
“Part of the fun of getting married is trying the dresses on,” says Ann, “we’re a little more laid back than some wedding dress shops and allow our customers a good two to three hours to go through the dresses, have a glass of champagne, and really get a feel for what they want.”
All 70 of Ann’s dresses date from the 1930s through to the 1980s and offer up delights such as classical ballgowns to soft Boho designs.
Ann says, “We spent a lot of time sourcing the gowns which we then refurbish to the highest standard.
“Where possible we like to find out a little about its history and origin and in the past we have given our brides a photograph of the bride who originally wore the dress as a little reminder of their big day. We have a lady that has taken a particular interest in my grandma’s wedding dress which was a pale pink colour - very different.
“Looking at some of the dresses it is really interesting to see how much women’s shapes have changed from the 50s and 60s to now.”
Ann is particularly keen to help brides to be to find their dream dress - before her own wedding she found it so difficult to find a dress she loved, she had one made herself.
“Everything was strapless and just not what I was looking for.
“When a bride comes to look for a dress, the friends that attend with her may not be engaged or due to get married but if they see something they like that she doesn’t, we’ll be remembered and perhaps will find ‘the one’ for her in the future.
“I genuinely love doing what I do, it’s like planning a wedding every day.”