Op shops can be the most wonderful treasure troves.
Aside from discovering unique finds, when you buy at an op-shop, you’re not only recycling clothing that might otherwise go to landfill–you’re also giving money to an organisation that will use it for good.
However, while most people have at least one treasured item found at an op-shop (if not a whole closet), some would likely baulk at the idea of buying their wedding dress second-hand.
But not Serena Huynh. A dedicated op-shopper, Serena didn’t plan to find her wedding dress in Tuggeranong’s Communities@Work Best Dressed store, but when she laid eyes on the lace-overlay gown, she knew it was the one.
“I love going op-shopping because I can get good quality things for much cheaper and buying second-hand clothes is great for the environment too,” says Serena.
“At the time I wasn’t even looking for a wedding dress at all but I saw it and I instantly fell in love,”
The dress didn’t have a label, so Serena still doesn’t know where it came from or the size, but luckily it fit like a glove.
“The style of the dress was pretty much exactly what I was wanting to get so I had to try it on,” she says. “When I did, it fit pretty much perfectly. I didn’t need to get it altered at all.”
Serena wore the dress to marry Ben, her high school sweetheart, at a ceremony at Hughes Baptist Church followed by a reception at Grazing in Gundaroo.
“It really was the best day, it was so special to have pretty much everyone that we love in the same room there to watch us get married,” says Serena. “It was extra special to have some members of my family attending the wedding that flew in specially from Malaysia.”
“I really loved the whole day but my highlights were going out to the field and taking photos and also the dancing at the reception.”
While Serena didn’t do any further wedding shopping at op shops, she did find items on Facebook Marketplace in order to stick to a budget.
“We knew that we wanted to spend more of our budget on a great photographer so we could get some amazing photos that we could keep forever,” explains Serena.
“My tip would be to see what you can buy second hand. Usually, people use wedding things for a few hours so the condition is still great and you can save heaps for money.”
Ruth Zanker, Director of Social Programs and Volunteering at Communities@Work, says that Serena’s purchase has been a gift that keeps on giving.
“I’m so happy we were able to help make Serena’s wedding day special. Not only that, with Serena’s purchase, we’ve been able to help several families in need in the local community. It’s incredible how generosity spreads–this wedding dress was donated to us and has now touched so many lives.”
“If you’re looking for some clothes and accessories for a special occasion, please drop in. Who knows, you may discover a hidden treasure, and with prices starting at just $5, everything is a bargain.”
Communities@Work helps the local community through initiatives such as its community pantry, sustainable food rescue service and the Best Dressed store at South.Point Tuggeranong.
“Communities@Work’s Best Dressed store is a great success story,” says Andrew Chenery, Acting CEO of Communities@Work.
“Not only does Best Dressed raise much-needed funds for our community pantry, providing food for individuals and families experiencing hardship in the Canberra region, we’re ensuring high-quality clothes and accessories don’t end up in landfill.”
As for those who remain unconvinced about the possibility of finding an outfit for their big day in an op-shop, Serena urges them to keep an open mind.
“I would say go for it–it is fun to go searching around to see what you could find. As I said, I wasn’t looking for a dress at the time but I just happened upon it and I was so happy that I did.”
You can find the Communities@Work Best Dressed store at South.Point Shopping Centre, cnr Anketell Street & Reed Street, Greenway. Or click here for more information.
Photography: Josh Jay. Images supplied.