Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

Eye Candy Interview: White Room Bridal Sheffield

October 5th, 2011 | Julia Braime

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: The White Room/ S6 Photography

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I recently took a day trip to Sheffield to meet the gorgeous Chloe, the owner and manager of White Room Bridal Sheffield, a beautiful bridal boutique on a pretty little street in the town centre. 

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I came away in a bit of a rage.

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Why?  Because the Bridezilla inside me was screaming “Why wasn’t Chloe’s shop open when I was shopping for my wedding dress!?!”  and “?!x5%6!!”, “!*fstxf$!”. 

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A little bit of road rage and a glass of wine later that evening and I felt a little better.  “At least I get to share this amazing find with my readers”, I consoled myself.

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So here we are, introducing the wedding blog’s latest Featured Supplier and amazing bridal boutique, White Room Bridal Sheffield.  To me, it’s like a little piece of couture heaven, and it’s SO worth a visit.

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And ok then, I lied.  I’m still fuming.

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: The White Room/ India Hobson

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How did White Room Bridal Sheffield begin?  What is your story?

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A rather crazy one! My interest in the wedding industry began in March 2008 when I was studying for my Psychology degree at Sheffield Hallam University. It was dissertation time and every angle was I wanted to research was shot down so on the day of submission, I literally had 10 minutes to choose a path. I thought about what I liked, what was going on in my life at the time and who I could access for interviews. As a huge fan of the You and Your Wedding chat forum, in the midst of planning my wedding and stressed at looking for a dress, I picked that!  What my paper ended up looking at was the expectations from marriage on a female sample group, looking at the psychological and emotional effects of marriage and long term relationships, including the search for the ‘perfect gown’.

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After graduation and my own wedding in 2009, whilst working within the Substance Misuse field, I continued out of work to research the wedding industry, focusing on bridal retail and expectations from dress shopping as this is what flagged up in my under grad research as a massive element of stress. This research again suggested significant gaps in the industry, such as lack of access to designers in the North of the UK, poor customer service and just a general lack of interest and regard for a shopping bride. I found it was all to fluffy, too fake and that most girls I spoke to said that the shops they had visited just didn’t offer what they wanted or expected.  Basically, no-one seemed to enjoy buying their dress. The interviews I carried out flagged up huge gaps in the industry such as:

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lack of knowledge of the dresses and how this would work with the entire day, showing no interest in the theme of the wedding, the venue or being able to offer additional ideas as to the styling of some dresses;

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over crowded changing areas – with 3 or 4 women waiting for dresses and the feeling of ‘one size fits all’ syndrome;

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rules of the number of dresses allowed to be tried on – 6 maximum in one store with a £25 weekend booking fee and hour only appointment;

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dirty gowns – which were handled with little care or regard;

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pushy sales assistants – misrepresenting discounts and ‘special offers’;

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poor surroundings including worn and tired furniture, old underwear offered to try with gowns and no shoes;

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bad lighting including no outdoor space to see dress in ‘true light’ or mirrors in which the whole gown could be viewed; and

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little communication in regards to appointment availability and letters to inform of progression of the gown when it was being made.

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It was then when I started to think about developing White Room Bridal Sheffield. When I set out to create White Room Bridal Sheffield, I wanted to make a space that was calming, cool and edgy. White Room Bridal Sheffield is my interpretation of how bridal should be done for the bride of today: creative, innovative and inspiring. As a lover of music, individuality, people and fashion, I blended all my passions together and created a place where all women could go.  The boutique’s goal was and still is, to fill the segment of the market for women who wish to experience a unique, consultative and memorable approach to finding their wedding look rather than the “retail” approach that dominated the region.

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: The White Room/ India Hobson

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What sort of bride is a White Room Bridal Sheffield customer?

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She is confident and aware of what she wants from her bridal gown and the service that comes with it. She is a little quirky, not afraid to embrace her individuality and express that in the wedding gown she chooses. The lines we carry I believe attract a fashion forward bride, but one who wants to shout about her femininity, sophistication and individuality on her wedding day. She is also aware that by coming to White Room Bridal Sheffield, she don’t need to get dressed up to walk over the door step, nor need to have dreamed of her dress since she was 5 years old, love weddings or pink or pretend to like huge skirts and taffeta! The girls we are attracting are the real women of the world. Intelligent, funny, those happy to sleep in a tent at Glastonbury but who would kill for Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe. Women who want to show who they are on their wedding day rather than conform to tradition, whatever their view of tradition is. You can see if you are a White Room bride by clicking here…. http://www.whiteroombridal.co.uk/news/read/aware

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What designer’s lines do you carry?

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We hold Claire Pettibone, Jenny Packham, Stephanie Allin & Cymbeline bridal gowns, so a very strong collection offering variety, affordability and styling. For shoes we stock Rachel Simpson and Filippa Scott, two designers who offer vintage inspired and beautiful footwear! Accessory wise we have a great selection of veils as well as headpieces from the vintage and crystal work of Jenny Packham & the softer, pearl and flower pieces of Rosie Willett. We are also a huge fan of supporting smaller, local businesses and have vintage & vintage inspired headpieces from Sheffield’s own DC Bouquets as well as garters and fabric headpieces from Manchester based Silver Sixpence in her Shoe.

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: The White Room/ India Hobson

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Why did you choose to stock these designers?

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When I was looking for gowns to stock, I felt that I wanted quality but something with a strong design ethos, that I not only believed in, but who I could represent and who I believed was represented badly in the North of the UK. My first quest was Jenny Packham, as I wore one of her gowns on my wedding day and I love the vintage beading and the silhouettes that they create for all shapes of women, not just the editorial models that most brides think you have to be to wear one! I went to London with a concept and my raw passion for what I wanted to achieve. After coffee in Belgravia, we were informed that we had secured Jenny Packham two days later, fighting off many local established competitors to boot!

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Cymbeline came second. I loved their revamp of the stale lace traditional gowns that dominated the region, and I also loved that they push the boundaries of traditional bridal with the fluffy skirts and asymmetric neck lines. Such a great price point but outstanding design! Stephanie Allin was a designer that I would have loved to have tried when I was marrying but there was just nothing in the North. Upon meeting Stephanie and looking at her collection, it was so evident that not only was she so passionate about her business but also about the brides and their gowns. Her corsets are exceptional, the best and her take on the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s and translating that to bridal is amazing. Finally we chose Claire Pettibone for the vintage, feminine and quirky romanticism that her gowns omit. Again, with limited representation in the North, brides were travelling to London just to see if they liked her designs! I also wanted to show brides that Claire’s gowns are affordable and unique, starting around £1,500.

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: The White Room/ India Hobson

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Claire Pettibone…

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Claire’s designs are just amazing; the cut of the fabric is such that each and every gown shows off all your feminine curves without the need for a heavy corset or structure. Made in LA, with vintage silks, lace and appliqués, I adore the mixture of colours in all of her gowns, from the subtle blush in Larissa to the striking platinum detail and beading on Mystere. Claire was poorly represented in the North but so many brides want her and were lead to believe that she was unreachable. We wanted to squash that thought and bought a collection that not only represents Claire’s collections with a bohemian but rock and roll feel but that were at a price point brides could afford! I adore all of her gowns; even the more out-there creations which we see on the catwalk each year! We start at £1,500 and have one show stopper at £3,000 with the others in the middle!

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Cymbelline…

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A French design house, Cymbeline create wedding gowns that are chic, luxurious and feminine but are able to wow with the materials and cut of the gowns. They are heavily into the fabrics and blend Calais lace with silk organza and embroidered taffetas so well, creating a fun twist on traditional wedding gowns. We hold a mixture of Cymbeline’s sleeker lace gowns like Fatima with its sexy cowl back and puddle train and blend these with the bold yet elegant Futur which looks sensational on everybody! Working in the French couture style, Cymbeline are well known for the smaller details which make the dress pop.  Cymbelline also has a great price tag, all of our collection is under £2,000.

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: The White Room/ India Hobson

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Stephanie Allin…

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One of the strikingly obvious things about Stephanie Allin and her team is their unrivalled passion for the bride and her wedding gown, going the extra mile as par for the course so that every bride loves her dress. The other is the exquisite fabrics and the way the gowns are made: flawless and immaculate aren’t words enough to describe! One of my favourites here is Frankie, for its 1950’s tulip skirt, which when paired with the Tilly shrug makes every bride fall in love! We also melt a little when we see Loren, such a simple gown with a sweetheart neckline and full lace overlay, but the shape her corsets create can’t be beaten! All the gowns are handmade in the UK too, which was a massive pull for us here at White Room Bridal Sheffield.

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Jenny Packham…

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Many brides have heard of Jenny Packham, if not for her bridal gowns which the likes of Liz Hurley and Denise Van Outen have worn but for also dressing Kate Middleton, Cheryl Cole and Nicole Kidman for evening wear. What I love about Jenny’s designs is that there is a gown out there for every bride in her collection. Not only does she do the soft chiffons with the delicate crystal beading like Saskia for the romantic, feminine bride but also creates gowns like the stunning 1930’s inspired Eden in platinum to really wow! Throw in the Hollywood glamour of the 100% silk charmeuse gowns and you have a collection that just oozes elegance, variety and cutting edge design. I wore a Jenny Packham when I married in 2009 and I felt just amazing in it.

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: The White Room/ India Hobson

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Tell us about the Cymbelline designer weekend that you have coming up? 

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The amazing Cymbeline 2012 complete collection will be at The White Room, Sheffield for 3 days only on Friday 18th, Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th November 2011 for all Brides Up North! We love to do these events as it not only allows us to showcase all the new collection to brides who love Cymbeline but it also allows us to have a party and celebrate doing what we do best! Showing off their chic designs of delicate lace, sensual satins and full and fluffy tulle, Cymbeline encapsulate the modern bride and her look perfectly. We’ll be serving champagne, Sheffield baked cupcakes and throwing away goody bags full of amazing offers all to be enjoyed! We’d love brides to bring friends and indulge, plus with Brides Up North’s very own wedding blogger on hand {that’s me!} to offer advice and help, it’s an event not to be missed! All we ask is that brides make an appointment to see us for the weekend and that you are super close to choosing your gown, and know you love Cymbeline, so we can really keep the day focused on you and your wedding dress needs.

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Do you have any other special events coming up?

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The one thing White Room Bridal Sheffield will always be is fresh, innovative, inspiring and current! We will never rest on our laurels and will continue to be the boutique all others aspire to be and imitate… So, with that said, we are constantly evolving and doing something new! September has seen us deliver our first ever Stephanie Allin trunk show which went down a storm and we also created a ‘real women’ photo shoot in the most beautiful sunset. Pictures to follow soon!

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In October we are launching Sheffield Fashion Week and hitting the catwalk on 11th October at Sheffield Cathedral with the more ‘out there’ creations of Claire Pettibone, Cymbeline, Jenny Packham and Stephanie Allin. On the 18th October we are doing a gothic inspired shoot with Orchis florist and Wigs & Warpaint hairdressers which is very much looked forward to and then we begin to work on the possibility of launching our very own bespoke bridesmaid collection for the new year…

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What sort of price points are your gowns?

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We wanted to create a realistic price point for our gowns and focused much of our research before opening on what brides wanted and how they felt about spending money on a gown. We kind of came up with the analysis that a gown purchase is an emotional purchase, something very hard to put a price tag on if the budget isn’t a significant factor. However, recognising the economic climate and that many brides pay for their weddings with their fiancé and little external help we wanted to cast the net wide. So, we stock two gowns from the Cymbeline Pour Une Oui collection, which is the diffusion range of Cymbeline and these start from £900. Cymbeline gowns are around the £1500 – £1700 range, offering great quality for a great price. Jenny Packham and Claire Pettibone sit within the same bracket offering gowns from £1750 to £3000, yet the majority are well under £2,200. Stephanie Allin gowns start at £2000, with the most expensive gown at White Room Bridal Sheffield sitting at £3080.

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Where is the boutique located?

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We are in a beautiful grade II listed building right in the heart of Sheffield, a stone’s throw from the theatres and across the road from the stunning St Marie’s Cathedral. Being in Sheffield, we are so central for so many brides, and have had girls from all over the UK including York, Leeds, Scarborough, Manchester, Newcastle and Carlisle!

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.Brides Up North Wedding Blog: The White Room/ India Hobson

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Do Brides Up North need an appointment?

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We do work on appointment only, just so we know that you are coming and that we can dedicate the whole boutique to you and your wedding party. We work on a 1.5 hour appointment schedule for your first visit and lock the door, get comfy and settle down to help you chose your perfect wedding gown. We open 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and do late night appointments by request. We even have an on-line booking service too, so should you want to make an appointment at 3am, you can!

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What can Brides Up North expect when they come to White Room Bridal Sheffield?

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What we set out to do and what we know we do is offer something more than the typical bridal boutique. All our brides can expect 1:1 service, we only operate one appointment at a time so the full appointment is dedicated to you and your wedding look needs. You can also expect current, young and honest service, delivered by myself in a fun and approachable way. You can also expect to walk in to a boutique that offers you space, choice and relaxation. We have a wonderful selection of gowns but not too many to confuse, we deliver on offering a calming approach to finding your gown, allowing you time and space to make choices. We also offer a drinks service as standard for all brides and their party, ensuring that your guests are made to feel as special as you are.

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How far in advance should Brides Up North start looking for their dress?

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I think it’s always safe to leave 6-9 months between the order date and the wedding date, just to ensure that everything is well planned, you have everything you need for your fittings and so that the rest of the wedding can be moulded around your gown. We are getting a mixture however at White Room Bridal Sheffield from brides getting married in 5 months to a few not till 2013! We will always accommodate every bride and support her 100% no matter when the wedding is though, after all, who said planning a wedding was easy and timings ideal?! We can do rush orders and have even got a bride whose getting married overseas and her fittings are been done on me! We are flexible!

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: The White Room/ India Hobson

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What are your top 5 tips when choosing a dress?

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Be aware of your expectations – don’t feel pressured to find ‘the one’. Go with your gut – just because you don’t cry, you may have some emotional connection and you have to listen to that.

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Be open to try everything – so many girls bought what they never liked in the magazines.

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Chose what you want, not what your mum likes or your bridesmaid wishes she could wear so talks you out of it, it’s your choice!

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Chose something that you are ‘you’ in! Let your personality shine through, be who you are now, not what you might think you may be in 10 years time!

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Don’t try too many, I made the mistake of trying on over 50 and I became bored and unhappy. Limit it to 3-4 shops maximum initially and then give it a break if you don’t find the one.

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And your no-nos?

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I’m biased, however out of principle I would never buy from anywhere who did/said:

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Are you sure you can afford that?

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It’d look much better if you lost 3 stone…

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You’ll need a cage to hold the skirt in place.

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Can you change in the toilet please, we have no fitting room.

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If you buy now, we’ll take 10% off but this offer ends tomorrow…

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Are you looking for your daughter?

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How can Brides Up North find out more/ book an appointment?

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Take a look at our website www.whiteroombridal.co.uk or call us on 0114 2722336 and we will be as helpful and creative with you and your wedding gown ideas as we can!

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Brides Up North Wedding Blog: The White Room/ S6 Photography

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Is there anything else that Brides Up North should know?

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We rock… look what other brides have said about us here: http://www.whiteroombridal.co.uk/news/read/Recommendations

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Fashion Images Credits:

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Photography: India Hobson

Hair: Wigs & Warpaint

Make up: Nicki Donohoe

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  – Images © 2011 White Room Bridal Sheffield / India Hobson (fashion photographs) / S6 Photography (exterior and interior of boutique)

White Room Bridal Sheffield is a Brides Up North Featured Supplier

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about the author

Julia Braime
Former lawyer and bride to be Julia founded Brides Up North in 2010 with a chip on her shoulder. Frustrated by the poor Northern presence in glossy bridal magazines and online, she decided to do something about it herself. Astounded by the rapid growth of her blog and brand, Julia now manages Brides Up North’s online content alongside their busy wedding exhibition season, industry events and related commissions. And she’s always, always, got a new project on the go…

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