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Get a wedding dress for less at the Cotswold Care Hospice bridal boutique

By Weekend  |  Posted: February 22, 2013

  • Charlie Chapman models one of the dresses from the Cotswold Care Hospice bridal boutique

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As the saying goes,  "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue".
In these times of tightened purse strings, brides-to-be, like the rest of us, want the pennies to stretch farther.
A slap-up wedding can leave you with little change from £25,000. The sky's the limit for the dress alone.
So a new charity boutique offering beautiful gowns at a fraction of the cost is a welcome addition to the Cotswold shopping scene.
It is the brainchild of Karen Egan, who manages the Stroud charity shop for Cotswold Care Hospice.
When she took over the shop six months ago she saw the upstairs space, used for storage, as a hidden gem and set to work with her team of volunteers to transform it.
Now there is a sweet little changing room, vintage lace curtains in the windows and lovely little finishes and touches throughout.
But it is the merchandise that will take your breath away. First there are the dresses – something to suit every girl's taste.
Some are second-hand. Others, like a beautiful dress by Lyn Ashworth, have never been worn. Off the rail it would set you back around £1,500. Here it is a snip for £500.
Every space, every shelf reveals a treasure with veils, shoes, confetti, earrings and cake boxes. It is the pick of the crop from Cotswold Care Hospice's 14 charity shops across Gloucestershire.
And it's not just for brides. There are little outfits for flower girls and page boys, dresses for the mothers and gowns for the bridesmaids.
If you have a special occasion, the boutique has some  gems including a vintage Christian Lacroix jacket, a vintage Harrods red trench coat and dinner jackets to transform your man into James Bond.
Karen is determined that visiting the boutique is an experience. At the moment, the boutique is open by appointment only. That way Karen and her team can ensure the perfect shopping experience.
"There is no one else in the area doing what we are doing," said Karen.
"People often think of charity shops as not being private or very nice. We have a lovely private space that people can book and enjoy their experience."
The shop is also working with nearby traders including Kendrick Street Deli, Cotswolds Vintage Party Hire and JKC Complete Finishing Touch Hair Salon to offer a complete service.
All proceeds from the boutique go to the charity. Every year Cotswold Care Hospice cares for more than 500 people with life-limiting illnesses and their families. All  services are provided free of charge.  Ninety per cent of the money needed – a total of £2.8 million – to provide these vital services comes from the community. 
All the clothes and accessories have been donated to the charity. Some have come from commercial shops and the rest from individuals. It goes without saying Karen and her team are also appealing for donations.
"We can only be as good as our donations. All the money we raise here will go toward helping people who desperately need our services. As they say, every donation helps."
The boutique in Kendrick Street, Stroud, is open by appointment only. Contact the shop on 01453 768876 for further details. 
To find the charity's other locations in Gloucestershire, log on to www.cotswoldcare.org.uk

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