A Beautiful Bride Tied The Knot, But A Secret About Her Dress Has Left People Dumbstruck

While a wedding should be one of the happiest days of a person’s life, the build-up can often be incredibly stressful. Indeed, during the planning stage there are many things that require the full attention of the couple, including the selection of the bride’s dress. Cat Wilkinson could certainly relate to that, as she prepared for her big day.

A senior college lecturer, Wilkinson and her partner, Mike Purves, had been together for a few years ahead of their engagement in August 2018. The wedding was eventually scheduled for July 2019, with the ceremony itself taking place in Doncaster, England. And after Purves popped the question, the pair went out to celebrate later that evening.

Wilkinson and Purves marked their engagement with an evening out in York, a city located in the English county ofYorkshire. The following day, the bride-to-be and her future husband went out again, looking around the local shops together. Few people could’ve predicted what happened next, however, as the couple entered another store.

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Shopping for a wedding dress can be tricky even at the best of times, as the bride wants to look perfect on her big day. Wilkinson, though, was able to avoid all that stress. Indeed, she found exactly the right outfit in that York store, some 24 hours on from the engagement. But that wasn’t the only surprise.

Throughout a person’s life, they will experience a number of defining moments. From finishing school to earning their first job as an adult, these landmarks aren’t easily forgotten in the years that follow. However, some individuals also get to enjoy another significant event in their lives that’s arguably even bigger.

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Indeed, for many happy couples across the world, their wedding day is the most important moment of their lives. In addition to the ceremony itself, the big event brings together a lot of people, as they look to celebrate the union. With that in mind, the planning stage can be somewhat exhausting for both the bride and groom.

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Due to all of the moving parts, it’s believed that the average wedding in Great Britain costs over $18,000. But while certain aspects of planning the big day can induce real stress, one thing continues to stand out for the bride-to-be. Indeed, finding the right dress is pivotal during that stage.

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For hundreds of years, brides have been expected to look the part for their wedding day. Unsurprisingly, their traditional attire has gone through some significant changes during that time, with the Middle Ages marking an interesting period. At the back-end of that era, in fact, the role of the bride-to-be took on some additional importance.

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Indeed, in an attempt to showcase the social status of the bride’s family, she would often be outfitted in a very lavish dress on the big day. Contemporary wedding dresses, as a result, varied in color and material over that period, depending on how much money you had to spend. In 1840, though, everything changed.

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That year, Queen Victoria of the British royal family tied the knot with Prince Albert. During the ceremony she sported a white wedding dress, which was subsequently shared with the public via published sketches. From there, more women wanted to follow the monarch’s lead, opting for the now traditional look.

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Since then, the outfits have gone through some other minor changes, but the overall look of the dress has remained the same. Just like in the Middle Ages, though, money continues to be a factor when looking for the right wedding attire. Today, brides can pay thousands of dollars for the perfect dress.

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On that note, Cat Wilkinson had all of that to look forward to after her boyfriend proposed in the summer of 2018. A resident of Liverpool, England, she enrolled at the city’s university in 2012, where she became an Environmental Science student. Some three years later, though, her time at the college came to an end.

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Off the back of that, Wilkinson eventually returned to college in 2019, but in a somewhat different capacity. Indeed, she now worked at the city’s John Moores University, a facility that caters to over 20,000 students, as a senior lecturer. A few months prior to that big moment, though, her life changed forever.

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Indeed, Wilkinson got engaged to her partner, Mike Purves, the previous August, scheduling the wedding for July 2019. When the big day finally came around, the bride-to-be sported a long-sleeved white dress, which drew the attention of everyone in attendance. And after the pair exchanged vows, the newlywed then went on to Facebook to share some interesting information.

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As it turned out, several wedding guests had questioned where Wilkinson originally bought her outfit. So with that in mind, the newlywed recounted what happened in a lengthy post on the social media website, looking back at the purchase. But few people could have predicted what they were about to read.

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“Since our wedding I’ve received lots of lovely compliments about my wedding dress with people messaging asking where it was from,” Wilkinson wrote on Facebook in July 2019. “So I thought I would share the story.” And in a surprising twist, it all began a just few hours after Purves popped the question.

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Wilkinson continued, “On the day that Mike proposed to me, he took me [out] for a night in York. The next day, I was looking in the charity shops, as I often do, and saw the dress on one of the rails. It was a charity shop [spread over] two floors.” Filled with pre-loved treasure, the lecturer went hunting for bargains.

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The store in question was part of the Sue Ryder charity, an organization based in London, England. Established back in 1953, the charity was born after its namesake set up a care home in the U.K. county of Suffolk. After that, people suffering with various illnesses could turn to the foundation for help.

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Now the Sue Ryder charity boasts several Care Centers across Britain, but other countries have also benefited from it. Indeed, in locations such as Malawi and Albania, the organization has helped set up several facilities to assist those who need help. Due to its extensive work, however, the charity relies on money from the public to keep running.

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In addition to fundraisers, the Sue Ryder charity brings in that money thanks to its hundreds of stores around the country. On that note, some eye-opening numbers came to light at the back-end of 2013. It’s believed that, during this period, the organization was making over $40 million each year via the shops.

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Wilkinson certainly looked to do her part when she found the wedding dress at the York store, as she planned her next move. “I was upstairs and phoned Mike to tell him not to come up while I tried something on,” the lecturer wrote on Facebook. “And [I told him] to ask if the shop volunteer could come up to take a photo.”

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Following that exchange, Wilkinson was snapped in the white dress, surrounded by several other items of clothing around the shop. And as she cast her eyes over the resulting photograph, the future bride then made a bold decision. She, in fact, opted to purchase the outfit straightaway, but the price left her somewhat shocked.

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“I bought the dress there and then for the small sum of £35,” Wilkinson continued, which works out at just over $43. “I had a few alterations made to it to make it just how I wanted. [Those included] adding buttons instead of a zip to the back of the dress and buttons on the sleeves. And [also] moving the placement of some flowers on the front of the dress.”

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In making those changes to the outfit, Wilkinson spent close to $250 on top of the original sum. As a result of that, the dress ultimately cost her just under $300 in the end. But the lecturer was, perhaps unsurprisingly, still intrigued about the gown’s background at that point, so she did a bit of digging.

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“I took the dress to a vintage bridal store, as I was curious,” Wilkinson wrote on the social media website. “And [I] found out that the dress is [from the] 1950s, made [at] home rather than a bridal store, and the flower embellishments are older still.” With that in mind, the newlywed brought up an interesting point.

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Indeed, Wilkinson couldn’t help but think of the previous owner when she discovered that piece of information. “[That means the flower embellishments] were likely passed down from an older relative as a ‘something old’ keepsake,” she explained. From there, the newlywed then offered some advice to any other brides out there.

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While weddings can be incredibly expensive, Wilkinson suggested that certain aspects of it shouldn’t leave you out of pocket. “I hope my £35 wedding dress is a small reminder that something doesn’t need to cost the Earth to make you feel special,” she added. And on that note, the lecturer’s Facebook post came to an end.

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Not even Wilkinson, however, could have predicted what happened next, as her post quickly went viral. The bride’s story earned over 7,500 likes and more than 1,000 shares, with online users flocking to read about the dress. Alongside that, the 29-year-old’s words also generated over 200 comments on the social media website.

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“Oh my God, Cat!” wrote one Facebook user in the comments section. “The number of likes on this post is insane! You looked unbelievably beautiful, and the dress [now] has another fantastic piece of history to add to it.” The kind messages didn’t end there, though, as another person shared their thoughts.

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Much like the previous comment, the social media user focused their attention on the outfit, before looking ahead to the future. “Beautiful,” they wrote in response to the post. “What a lovely story to remember your wedding [by] and [to] pass down to your children and grandchildren. So much love in that dress.”

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As the positive comments continued to flood in on Facebook, one other message stood out from the rest. “What a lovely story,” the online user wrote. “I hope the original bride is beaming with pride from up above. Wouldn’t it be nice to find out who she was? It’s beautiful!”

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Once Wilkinson’s story grew in popularity on social media, other outlets started to take an interest as well. As a result of that, British newspaper the Metro scored an interview with the senior lecturer in July 2019. And during their conversation, she revealed a bit more about her trip to the Sue Ryder charity store.

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“When I first saw the dress hanging on the rail I couldn’t believe it,” Wilkinson told the publication. “I loved the lace design and it was bright white. I had often spoken to my sister and friends about my dream wedding dress, long before the proposal. And my key criteria were long sleeves and a high neck.”

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However, the surprises didn’t end there, as Wilkinson made an interesting admission. “I never expected the dress to fit me,” she continued. “My main reason to try it on was to see if the image of what I wanted, that I’d had in my mind for so long, was correct – and it was!”

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At that point, Wilkinson recalled the moment that the shop volunteer came to assist her. The pair were both shocked by what they were seeing, which led the lecturer to claim that “it was meant to be.” From there, she looked back at the photograph that was subsequently snapped in the store.

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“The [volunteer] kindly took a photo of the dress and I excitedly sent it to my sister and mom, who gave me the reassurance I needed to buy the dress,” Wilkinson said. “Although with the £35 price tag, I didn’t need much reassurance! I was so pleased and couldn’t quite believe that I had found my wedding dress the day after being proposed to.”

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Wilkinson, meanwhile, then touched upon all the research she did regarding the dress. In her mind, the trip to the vintage bridal store proved invaluable as she finally got some answers. But after uncovering that information, the lecturer also admitted that she wanted to connect with the outfit’s previous owner.

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Indeed, as Wilkinson told the Metro, “Finding out the history of the dress made me love it even more. I would really love to find the person who donated the dress to Sue Ryder in York to show them photos from my wedding day.” Off the back of that, the newlywed made another intriguing revelation about herself.

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It turns out that Wilkinson is, in fact, a frequent visitor to charity stores, claiming that “95 percent” of her outfits were purchased from various outlets. So with that in mind, the thought of buying a wedding dress there didn’t phase her at all. Following that bit of insight, the college lecturer had one last thing to say.

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“I haven’t quite decided what to do with my dress yet,” Wilkinson added. “I would either like to keep the dress and have it made into a christening gown if we have children in the future. Or I would donate it back to a charity shop so that another bride can have a chance to wear it.”

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