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Retro & Throwback Styles Reign Supreme At Weddings

Vintage Italian Wedding Dress (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Where To Find The Best Wedding Stores
In The Bay Area For The Vintage Shopper

With the spotlight on "Downton Abbey," how many more modern brides will be dreaming of a vintage wedding gown for 2014 nuptials? Vintage wedding dresses deliver in a number of ways that a store-bought gown cannot. A vintage gown sets an ultra-romantic mood, is guaranteed one of a kind, allows the bride's personality to shine through, is eco-friendly and offers handmade quality well beyond the price tag. Plus, the search for a wedding dress is made doubly fun for a vintage lover.


Vintage à la Mode
3234 Sacramento St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 440-1554

This treasure chest of a vintage shop, with a truly spacious fitting room filled with natural light, has a special corner for bridal. But don't let traditional gowns prevent you from browsing all of the vintage styles that might suit a bride. Imagine a dramatic 40s full-length satin with a flirty peplum for an art deco venue, a 50s eyelet lace organza in ecru for a beach wedding or a 50s knee-length dress to show off on the steps of San Francisco City Hall just like Marilyn Monroe did in 1954. Proprietor Springer knows her stuff inside and out. She'll walk you through the selection including wraps, hats, jewelry, shoes and provide a seamstress, too. Appointments are recommended.

Emerald City Gowns
1822 4th St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 725-7771

Pinterest is a wonderful way to browse highlights at the ever-changing inventory available at this bridal shop. If your idea of vintage is a more contemporary consignment piece that is gently pre-worn and carefully dry-cleaned, you'll find labels you know here. And, talk about instant gratification; take your dress home the same day you find it instead of waiting weeks for an order to arrive. Emily, the owner, points out that a glamorous bride can be a green bride by both buying and consigning. Veils are stocked as well. Bring family or friends and a camera.

429 San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo, CA 94960
(415) 459-0574

Get inspiration, get an appointment, get a gown. Shadows features both vintage style emphasizing beaded lace and embroidery as well as authentic vintage dresses. A 1912 dress of cotton and lace shown with a delicate wide-brimmed hat is straight out of "Downton Abbey." A vintage Jean Harlow-style sleek gown deserves as much attention to the back view as Pippa Middleton's dress. This is a family-run dress shop that can serve two brides at a time, so appointments are requested.


...And Something Blue
3600 Sacramento St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 409-0217

This elegant wedding shop has a curated collection and holds designer trunk shows throughout the year. Daughters of Simone, a San Francisco-based bridal gown maker with an emphasis on romantic vintage style, has a small authentically vintage collection available through this Presidio Heights location. Designer Brit Castanos launched Daughters of Simone with a handful of 60s and 70s reconstructed vintage gowns that expanded into more lacy and bohemian dresses. Call to book your appointment.


Recapture Vintage Bridal Couture
1652 MacArthur Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94602
(510) 931-9173

Whether you have your own vintage gown needing re-styling and fitting, or you'd like to shop the collection, Recapture offers a solution. A wide variety of gowns from Victorian-era to the 70s will suit your taste, your budget, your venue and your wedding day theme. Gowns, veils, hair combs, keepsake boxes and even vintage venue decor are right up Robin's alley. She's even authored the book, "How to Restyle Your Vintage Wedding Gown" available online at or on her website. Make an appointment to see the collection or arrange for a consultation.

Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things in her adopted San Francisco. A dedicated urbanite, she's a transplanted New Yorker by way of a couple of decades in London as a hotel sales and marketing manager. Follow her work on @ReferencePlease, USA Today, Yahoo! and on


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