Bride ties the knot wearing a £35 dress she found in a charity shop the day after getting engaged

Cat married Mike wearing a £35 dress she found in a charity shop (Picture: Jack Cook Photography )

The average cost of a wedding in the UK is £14,740. Quite a sizable sum, we think you’ll agree.

The pressure to spend on every little detail – the placecards, the bridal lingerie, the flowers – can make what should be a happy occasion deeply stressful.

But you don’t have to spend a load of money to have a wonderful day.

That’s the message Cat Wilkinson wants to share.

Cat, a 29-year-old senior lecturer in education, recently got married to her boyfriend of five and a half years, Mike. For the wedding day she chose to wear a dress that she’d bought in a charity shop for £35 – and it was a huge hit.

After being asked by guests where the gorgeous dress was from, Cat decided to share the story of how she and the dress met.

‘On the day that Mike proposed to me he took me for a night in York,’ Cat wrote on Facebook. ‘The next day I was looking in the charity shops (as I often do) and saw the dress on one of the rails.

Cat found the dress the day after Mike proposed (Picture: Cat Wilkinson)

‘It was a charity shop on two floors and I was upstairs. [I] phoned Mike to tell him not to come up while I tried something on and to ask if the shop volunteer could come up to take a photo.

‘I bought the dress there and then for the small sum of £35.’

What was pretty magical was that the dress fit perfectly.

Cat tells Metro.co.uk: ‘When I first saw the dress hanging on the rail I couldn’t believe it, I loved the lace design and it was bright white.

‘I had often spoken to my sister and friends about my dream wedding dress (long before the proposal) and my key criteria were long sleeves and a high neck.

Cat in the charity shop, trying the dress on for the first time. It fit perfectly. (Picture: Cat Wilkinson)

‘I never expected the dress to fit me – my main reason to try it on was to see if the image of what I wanted that I had in my mind for so long was correct – and it was!

‘Myself and the lady who worked in the store couldn’t believe that the dress fitted me perfectly, it was as if it was meant to be.

‘The lady kindly took a photo of the dress and I excitedly sent it to my sister and mum who gave me the reassurance I needed to buy the dress. Although with the £35 price tag I didn’t need much reassurance!

‘I was so pleased and couldn’t quite believe that I had found my wedding dress the day after being proposed to.’

There was no need to make any alterations, but Cat made a few small tweaks to make the dress absolutely perfect for her big day, replacing a zip for buttons, adding buttons to the sleeves, and moving the placement of some flowers on the front.

In total the alterations cost £200, bringing the total spent on her dress to a very reasonable £235 – but Cat is quick to clarify that she just as easily could have worn the £35 dress as it was.

Cat had a few adjustments made, including having buttons added to the sleeves (Picture: Jack Cook Photography)

Intrigued by how the dress had made its way to that charity shop at just the right time in just the right place, Cat took the gown to a vintage bridal store to find out more about its history.

There she was told that the dress is from the 1950s, and had been made at home rather than by a bridal store. The flower embellishments are even older, meaning they were likely passed down from an older relative.

‘Finding out the history of the dress made me love it even more,’ Cat tells Metro.co.uk. ‘I would really love to find the person who donated the dress to Sue Ryder in York to show them photos from my wedding day.’

Cat would love to connect with the original owner of the dress and find out more about its history, so if you know anything about how it ended up in the Sue Ryder charity shop in York, do contact Cat through Facebook.

Cat also hopes that by sharing her story, she’ll show other brides-to-be that their perfect dress could be tucked away in a charity shop, and that a wedding dress doesn’t need to be expensive to be perfect for you.

As you’d expect, the dress received a lot of compliments (Picture: Jack Cook Photography)

‘I shop in charity shops weekly,’ Cat tells us. ‘I would say 95% of my clothes are from charity shops, and our entire house is kitted out in charity shop furniture. I often donate to charity shops too.

‘I think buying from charity shops is such an amazing way to give money to charity, and I also love the buzz of finding lovely preloved items of clothing.

‘I had no doubts about getting the dress, I knew it was exactly what I wanted. I may have missed out on the glass of prosecco you get when you go dress shopping in bridal stores, but I was delighted with my £35 wedding dress.

‘I haven’t quite decided what to do with my dress yet.

‘I would either like to keep the dress and have it made into a christening gown if we have children in the future, or I would donate it back to a charity shop so that another bride can have a chance to wear it.

‘For now, I would like to keep the dress in case the person who donated it gets in touch and wants to see the changes I had made.

‘There are so many charity shops on the high street that people may walk past on a weekly basis.

‘I think there used to be a certain stigma attached to buying from charity shops and wearing second hand clothing, but this has never concerned me and I would love for others to be open minded about it too.

‘I would encourage any brides-to-be to look in charity shops if they are on a low budget, or looking to be cost-effective, or even if they want to save money on the dress to then spend on other aspects of their wedding.

‘My dress was from Sue Ryder in York, but there are other charity shops which have specialist bridal sections, such as Oxfam, which may be a really good place for a bride-to-be to begin their search.’

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by – metro.co.uk