Photo by Heather Miller

Ask The Expert

Wedding dilemma: I'm getting married in a few weeks and I'm struggling to find an off-the-rack wedding dress

"My fiancé’s mum is seriously ill and we have decided to bring forward our wedding date.

"The venue is sorted but I’m struggling to find a dress in such a short space of time. Anywhere I look has a lead time of around six months, which is way too long for me. Is there anywhere I can go to buy a wedding dress off the rack? I know I may need to factor in time for alterations, so am keen to find something as soon as possible. I live in Dublin but am happy to travel."

From the experts

First of all, don’t panic!


The good news is that you can buy a wedding dress off the peg, and a beautiful one too, once you know where to look.

Firstly there’s Barnardos Bridal Rooms in Dun Laoghaire and Wexford, which both stock brand new gowns donated by designers and wedding boutiques.

These are usually sample sizes and not, as some people think, second-hand dresses. Prices start at €250 and your money goes to a worthy cause. Oxfam Bridal Boutiques in Dublin and Bangor operate a similar model, and while almost all their stock is brand new too they do offer a small selection of once-worn gowns donated by former brides. Prices range from €50-€400.

Many leading wedding boutiques run sample sales once or twice a year. This entails selling off current stock they hold in the store and often means bagging a designer dress for a fraction of the original cost. You can try it on in store and buy it on the same day, and the good news is that you often don’t need an appointment on sale day.

Have a look online to see which stores stock designers you like, then ring up and ask if they have a new year’s sample sale lined up.

Some stores, such as McElhinneys Bridal Rooms in Donegal, have a ‘buy now’ section on their website which shows specific styles in individual sizes that can be bought off the rack. The selection may be limited, but you could be lucky and spot something you love.

Don’t rule out the high street either. Coast, Monsoon, Debenhams, House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols all sell beautiful wedding gowns off the peg. Phase Eight, stocked by many stores in Ireland, offers one of the most stylish and chic collections, is well priced, and can also be bought online. French Connect too recently launched a capsule collection for brides with lots of chic offerings perfect for the big day.

Other top websites with bridal collections include Needle & Thread, The OutNet, Matches Fashion, ASOS and Net a Porter. There’s a good selection of prices here to suit all pockets.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to call up a wedding shop and explain your personal situation. Some boutiques have suppliers that can offer a rush order option, while others will happily sell you a sample dress off the rail, and help line-up alterations to ensure you have your dream dress for your dream day. Good luck!

-- From Irish Brides Magazine

Do you have a wedding dilemma you need help with?
Contact our experts at with your query.