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How to get your dream dress for less

Helen & Douglas House Charity Shop in Bartholomew Street, Newbury has an extensive collection of wedding dresses - many of which are new, designer label dresses, at a fraction of the cost. They also stock outfits for other special occasions - from prom dresses to mother-of-the-bride outfits - and they don't cost the earth. Pop in for inspiration

Geraldine Gardner

Geraldine Gardner


01635 886684

BUYING a  dress can be one of the most expensive individual items you buy for your wedding, so many brides-to-be will welcome an opportunity to keep the costs down. Looking fabulous shouldn’t have to cost the earth. One way of doing this is to buy your dress from the bridal boutique at the Helen & Douglas House charity shop in Bartholomew Street, opposite St Nicholas Church.

Here you will not only be able to buy a beautiful pre-loved or brand new dress at the fraction of high street prices, but also receive personal service and there's a large bridal changing suite upstairs for you to try dresses on. 

The proceeds from all  items sold at the shop go towards helping local terminally ill children who are cared for by Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice.

What many people do not know is that this shop is packed full of wedding dresses, many of which are brand new and have designer labels - the shop regularly receives donations from local wedding dress shops that are clearing old stock or closing down. 

This has recently included dresses from one of Europe’s leading bridal designers Suzanne Neville and donations from Ellie Sanderson Bridal Boutique - Helen & Douglas House currently has one of their dresses in stock which retailed for £2,999 and  is selling for £450. There is also a matching lace jacket, which originally retailed for £595 and is on sale at Helen & Douglas House for £25.

The shop also stocks bridesmaids dresses and currently has around 100 brand new dresses donated from these wedding shops.

Marian Hart from Newbury is getting married to in September at Durlston Castle, Swanage. She frequently walked past the shop and saw the displays in the window.

Marian said: "I was struggling with the traditional view of buying a dress from a bridal boutique and what I might end up paying for it. And a dress that I wouldn’t wear again – seemed very extravagant and as I’ve been married before it made me feel even more uncomfortable. I was really pleased to be able to find a dress which had been donated and I was also really happy to be contributing to a very worthwhile charity.

"I had been to a few bridal boutiques and had mixed experiences. I am an older bride and at a few boutiques and fairs have been ignored as they thought my daughter (who was with me) was the bride. Some were also quite pushy and other than the fizz and slightly more space/luxurious surroundings, I did not particularly enjoy the experiences.

"The service we received at the Helen & Douglas House Shop was excellent - very friendly and we did not feel pressured at any point. We were left to it and took our time browsing before trying on. The manager Diane was particularly helpful and gave useful feedback.

"The dress was perfect and when I noticed it was called Joyce - which was my late mother’s name - it seemed all the more fitting and appropriate. 

" I tell my friends ’Go and have a look and try a some on‘ and remind them that they are not all previously owned, they have new ones too, but also about the valuable contribution they are making to a charity.

"I love my dress, which is brand new, and am so pleased I came here."

There are also shoes and accessories for brides as well as mother-of-the-bride outfits with hats and fascinators at a fraction of high street prices.

Manager of Helen & Douglas House Bridal shop in Newbury Diane Batten said: "I am so pleased Marian found her dream dress at our shop. 

"Marian and other brides who visit our shop are amazed at the range and prices of our dresses and accessories. We have more than 100 amazing wedding dresses in stock at the moment including brand new designer dresses. 

"We also stock prom dresses so it is worth popping in to take a look at our wonderful collection which are priced from just £30."

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