It was the perfect melding of romance, fashion and history for a social cause.

When the Society of St Vincent de Paul’s Dunedin pastoral area food bank was running low and funds had to be raised to augment supplies, Elegant Events director Sandy Jeffries stepped in.

“I just finished doing a vintage bridal runway at the Dunedin Wedding Show. So, I thought I would put one on for St Vincent de Paul,” she said.

With her extensive network in Dunedin and family connections throughout the Southland, plus the motivated volunteers of St Vincent de Paul Dunedin, they held a “Vintage Bridal Runway” show on October 2 at the Burns Lodge (at Holy Cross Centre) chapel in Mosgiel. They were able to raise about $2000.

The show presented more than 40 brides’ and bridesmaids’ dresses ranging from 1920’s to the 1970’s. Some of the gowns, Mrs Jeffries would find out later, came from women who worked at St Vincent de Paul.

One of the gowns came from Mrs Jeffries’ grandmother.

“My grandmother got married in 1943. She had a really, really simple dress. It was during the war and (a gown) costs so much money during the war,” she recounted. “My grandfather who was stationed in Egypt came home to recuperate from a lung disease. And then, they got married.”

Her grandmother worked for SVDP Ashburton until she died in her 80’s.

Mrs Jeffries said another vintage dress from 1946 was lent by Molly Crequer, who at 95 years old, is still an SVDP volunteer.

Mrs Jeffries found out about Mrs Crequer’s dress from a friend whose son was in the same school as hers.

“She (Mrs Jeffries’ friend) said, ‘my wedding dress had been worn for three generations’,” said Mrs Jeffries. “So, there were really bits of history and generations of people wearing their grandmothers’ wedding dresses.”

She added the dresses also represented the history of the Catholic Church in Dunedin as most of dresses were from women who married there.

“A lot of them were married by priests in Dunedin. So there was a lot of information on who married whom and in what church,” she said.

Sixteen dresses came from opshops. One of those will go to an Auckland designer who will use the fabric to create a new wedding dress.

SVDP area president Lynlea Forbes also lent her mother’s wedding dress, which was worn 58 years ago.

She expressed her appreciation for the hundreds of work hours and massive effort that went into preparing the show.

“What Sandy did for SVDP was awesome because it gave us wonderful advertising as well as highlighted the fact that it was to help with our food bank,” she said.

She added the organisation used the money for two cook-ups that, with the help of Cadbury volunteers, produced a total of 300 meals, with “a bulk of them being double and family size meals”.