Here comes the bride
Grafton store gives new life to wedding gowns

By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Correspondent

Oct. 28, 2014

Susan Gray’s Grafton business, Always a Bride, focuses on giving wedding dresses a chance to shine again.
Submitted photo

GRAFTON - For many years, the average wedding dress has a pretty set lifespan.

After being pulled into service for a few hours to assist a bride in looking her most beautiful, it was sent off for its very own dry cleaner spa day and then packed away for a perpetual nap in tissue paper and a box that never should be opened.

Not anymore, thanks to a new Grafton business that is giving wedding dresses and other special occasion dresses a chance to shine again, while returning some cash to their owners.

“I worked in consignment for 10 years and wanted to buy a consignment business, but it fell through,” said Always a Bride owner Susan Gray. “Then I was bitten by the wedding bug after my own wedding, and I realized I could do something different.”

Gray opened Always a Bride, a wedding consignment shop, on Aug. 1.  While there are other consignment shops located in the area, Always a Bride focuses solely on wedding attire, décor and other special-occasion clothing.

“I put the word out on Facebook and Craigslist and online and the response has been great,” said Gray. “In fact, on one recent Saturday, I had six former brides bring in their dresses for consignment.”

While it’s tradition for brides to hold on to their wedding dresses, it’s a concept that is starting to fade. Between changes in fashion trends and the differences in sizes between mother and daughter, the odds are against a wedding dress actually being reused within a family, at least in its original state.

“It’s very rare for daughters to wear their mothers’ dresses,” she said. “Sometimes parts are re-used or altered, but it almost never happens.”

While most of the bridal gowns in Gray’s shop are no more than 5 years old, she said she was attracted to and recently took in a 40-year-old bridal veil.
Submitted photo

According to, the cost of the average wedding dress in 2013 was $1,281.

“Because of their cost, when a bride consigns her dress to Always a Bride and it sells, she receives 50 percent of the sale price,” she said. “I also work with them on deciding on a price because of the investment they’ve made. If it doesn’t sell, we can always adjust it down the road.”

For all other dresses - bridesmaid, special occasion, prom/homecoming, quincea–era, First Communion - as well as shoes, accessories and décor, Gray returns 40 percent of the profit to the consignee. She also sells new décor items and bridal/statement jewelry.

“I also take consignments of little boy’s tuxes,” she said. “You have to just buy them outright now from the menswear stores instead of renting them for a wedding party.”

For the most part, Gray only accepts items that are less than five years old, though she will occasionally make an exception. She currently has a 40-year-old bridal veil that spoke to her, both in its condition and design.

“It’s quite beautiful, and it’s something I could see someone wanting,” she said. “But in general, there’s just not a lot of interest in vintage gowns here.”

Consignments are accepted on a continuous basis, and all items must be clean, wrinkle-free, in good to excellent condition and not in need of repairs.

Specific needs are listed on the store’s website and on its Facebook page. The store is open Tuesday through Sunday; hours vary slightly.


Always a Bride
1540 Wisconsin Ave.