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Buying an amazing new dress, often thousands of dollars worth, is for many the most extravagant fashion purchase you might make. Lucky to see the light of day for 12 hours, most bridal gowns then make their way into the back of a wardrobe or boxed on a top shelf. Can seem a little mad, no? Cue, Savvy Brides. Owner Mandy knows the value of giving dresses a little longer life with her Sydney store of second hand bridal gowns, meanwhile offering the chance to pick up the loveliest of designer frocks for a smidgen of the price.

Tell us a little about your background? I am a corporate lawyer. I really enjoyed working as a lawyer. However,  I always dreamed of having my own business. When I saw a gap in the wedding market I knew I had to take a chance and start Savvy Brides.

How did you get into the wedding business? When I was a bride I knew the designer I wanted a dress from, but her gowns were way out of my budget. So I decided I would try and find one second hand. I couldn’t believe there was no store in Sydney that sold preloved wedding dresses. I went online hunting for a gown and found it too hard and ended up having no luck. I decided that there was definitely a gap in the market. My vision was to have a luxurious boutique stocking high quality, budget friendly designer wedding dresses in great condition. The week after my wedding I launched the Savvy Brides website and slowly over the last three and a half years it has grown and grown.

What’s a typical day like for you? A typical day at Savvy Brides involves opening the shop and getting it ‘bride’ ready with fresh flowers, scented candles and wedding dress shopping music! There are normally lots of calls to return and emails to reply to. One of us will normally be doing tasks like visting a fabric shop, dropping gowns at the tailor, picking them up from the dry cleaner and posting off gowns and accessories at the post office. Then of course, the main part of our day involves us helping lots of brides find their dream dress and gorgeous accessories to help them sparkle on their big day.

Tell us about the typical Savvy Brides customer? The typical Savvy Brides customer is of course ‘savvy’ and looking to find a designer dress without the price tag! We normally find our brides tend to be educated professionals that do not seem to have princess fantasies for their big day. We often have interstate brides visiting us and most of customers are looking for a high quality designer dress and want to find a bargain but also want to have that special experience in a boutique.

What do you think is so great about second hand wedding dresses? The reality is that wedding dresses can hardly be considered ‘second hand’. They have literally been worn for about six hours and so are really almost brand new! For the most part, once the dresses have been dry cleaned, they look as perfect as they did the day they were made. I think it is great that brides are able to get a beautiful, high quality designer dress that they may never have been able to afford simply because it has been worn before for a few hours.

Do you ever find there’s a stigma attached to second hand dresses? I think as brides are becoming savvier and more practical the stigma or hesitation attached to a second hand dress is becoming less and less. When brides realise they can literally save thousands of dollars by buying secondhand most of the sentimentality goes out the window!

Favourite part of what you do? My favourite part of my job is being there when a bride has that one perfect moment when she knows she has found the dress. There is no mistaking it because everyone in the shop can see the smile on her face and most of the time I end up with goose bumps and a tear in my eye. That is definitely one of the best things about having my shop.

What’s next for Savvy Brides? We have just received the first of our Anna Campbell gowns and accessories that we will be stocking which we are really excited about! We will also be hosting an Anna Campbell Sydney trunk show very soon. We are also always getting great new dresses in each week. This ensures that our dresses are always current and in season. We also have new ranges of accessories coming in including some pieces that are exclusive to Savvy Brides.

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CREDITS Bridal gowns Savvy Brides // Photography Photography by Nadean