January 9th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Cou-ture: Origin: 1905–10; French: literally, sewing, seam
This morning I am thrilled to share the beautiful work of one of our newest Brides Up North Featured Suppliers, Jessica Bennett Bespoke Bride. The creations of the mother and daughter team are couture in the truest sense of the word, and you are so very lucky to have them on hand to create your dream dress.
Compiling this interview I was struck not only by the gorgeous gowns that comprise this their launch shoot, but also by the amount of work, fittings and personal service that goes into creating each and every unique garment. Once again, I have discovered a fabulous Northern service that I just wish I have known about when planning my own wedding. That, to me, is what Brides Up North is all about.
Ladies, you are in for a treat. Explore your options!
Images by Kirstie McNulty Photography.
When did Jessica Bennett Bespoke Bride open and what is your background?
We are a very young business, only launched in December 2013, although this business has been years in the planning. Jessica Bennett Bespoke Bride is run by mother and daughter, Sheila and Jessica.
Sewing has always been in our family, as my Mum designed and made her own wedding gown 35 years ago and has done the same for many family, friends and clients since then, so I grew up around beautiful fabrics and dresses from a very young age.
Whilst this has always been a passion and a hobby of my Mum’s it was never her profession until now. She took redundancy in early 2013 as a biochemist at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in order to pursue her love for sewing, designing and weddings! My Mum’s 35+ years experience is of such value to our company, she is able to offer our brides advice on not only designs but the best fabrics to use for various styles, the most effective bodice foundations for each style of gown, fastenings, linings and the list goes on!
I graduated from the University of Leeds two years ago in English Literature but have also adopted my Mum’s love and passion for sewing during the past five years.
Our business is run from home – a converted vicarage in Liverpool. As we work from our home, our working hours are extremely flexible as we are able to hold our appointments around our client’s working hours, offering weekday, evening and weekend appointments. Our work environment is relaxed and personal whilst maintaining the professionalism and customer service of other bridal boutiques.
Tell us about your bespoke service?
The bespoke process is one that centres on our bride/client as we bring ideas presented to us into a finished garment that is exactly what they had wished for. The process begins with a free design consultation which gives the bride opportunity to discuss their design ideas, fabrics they would like, colours, time scale, wedding venue, budget and anything else about their wedding that they feel will be important to the design of their wedding dress. If the client is happy to proceed with us we will collect a £100 deposit at this appointment. Following this we will collate these ideas into a design and will source samples of fabrics for our clients to view at the next meeting.
We will arrange the following appointment and fitting at the client’s discretion (generally we ask brides to give us 4-6 months from first appointment to date of their wedding). At this second appointment we will discuss the fabrics we have sourced, finalise the design, take an initial measurement and book in the next series of fittings. At this point a further 40% deposit will be taken.
Before we make the design up in the final fabrics we always do a mock-dress in a toile foundation, this will help us to ensure the fit is just perfect for the client and will give the client the opportunity to see the shape and silhouette and make any changes to the style before the final fabrics are used.
Following this, the next appointment will show the client the final shape and silhouette made up in their desired fabrics. Another fitting will be done so as to ensure it fits perfectly. At this stage we will agree on the final fitting date with our Bride.
As we follow the above process, the final garment that is produced is one that our client has had tonnes of input into. We encourage the Bride to make suggestions to the design at each stage so as to ensure they are 100% happy with the final dress. The numerous fittings also ensure the fit is just perfect. This teamed with the fact that all of our wedding gowns (if wanted by the bride) have a boned corset style bodice underneath the top layer fabric to help the Bride feel secure and supported in her gown.
Why should brides choose to go bespoke?
A wedding dress is arguably the most important dress a girl will ever wear. It is something that is dreamt about for years and we don’t think the purchase of such a dress should be taken lightly. From speaking to so many brides in the past we have found that a lot of the time when choosing their ‘off-the-peg’ wedding dresses they have to make certain compromises somewhere whether that be in the style, the fabric, the fit, the fastenings, the embellishments…this is something that we are really opposed to at Jessica Bennett Bespoke Bride, we feel that there should be no compromise on the most important dress you will ever wear! With us they are able to hand pick every element of their wedding dress if they so wish. The series of fittings we offer enable the bride to see their dress at every stage and make alterations as they wish, the fit will be perfect for them, without the costly alteration fees.
Bespoke is also perfect for those brides that want something truly unique, something that no other bride can be seen to have worn. Having something custom-made enables the bride to give a true reflection of their personality, find a style that suits their body shape perfectly and they can also design their dress around the style of their wedding day – say they are getting married abroad, we can help them design a gown that is perfect to be worn on the beach, one that won’t be too heavy or hot to wear in the sunshine.
We also have a lot of brides who have had a style in mind for years – this may be a red-carpet dress they saw in a magazine, a famous wedding gown or a thought up design that they have held onto. To go bespoke means our Brides are able to have exactly what they want, with no compromise.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Inspiration for our recent collection came from all things luxurious. The fabrics used are all of the highest quality and this is something we really pride ourselves on, we feel every bride deserves to feel a million dollars on their wedding day and the best quality laces and silks teamed with a perfectly fitted gown will help to achieve this. When designing our gowns the bride is at the forefront of all of our thinking, their body shape is the most important feature and whether our ladies are tall, petite, curvy or very slim our designs help to accentuate the best features of our brides whilst ensuring they feel confident and glamorous in their dress. Our latest collection, whilst showcasing a range of varying styles and silhouettes all fit perfectly under a ‘vintage glamour’ story. Although, we do love meeting brides with really unique and quirky design ideas too, so all designs are welcome.
What sort of fabrics and embellishments do you use in your designs?
The fabrics used for our bespoke gowns are mainly decided by the bride, the design they choose, what will work best for their type of wedding etc. However, we always use the best quality fabrics we can for the bride’s given budget. The fabrics used for our samples collection showcased on our website range from French Corded Lace to beautiful Duchesse Satin. We source all of our silks from British silk supplier James Hare and have various suppliers for our laces around the world. Likewise, we have a range of embellished waist belts that we can add to our gowns if our brides so wish.
Is there a particular style of dress that is popular with your brides at the moment?
We have found that brides of 2013 loved an open back. A statement back to a wedding gown is really popular at the moment whilst still being tasteful and classy. A number of our gowns on our website show varying ways of achieving the ‘statement open back’ whilst still remaining covered and respectful for those that are having church/religious weddings.
We have also found that a lot of brides that we spoke to are looking for a style that they are able to transform from day to night. This may be for the reason that they wish to be more covered up for the ceremony but then want something a little more glamorous for the evening. With this we have designed a selection of wedding gowns that all centre around one simple column silhouette dress (silhouette is bride’s choice) and with this we have added three different looks ranging from lace bolero top, beaded lace box top and a Duchesse Satin shoulder shrug and sash. With these separates this helps our brides to achieve two different looks without having to purchase two separate dresses.
Where are you located? Do Brides Up North need an appointment?
We are located in Windle, just off the East Lancs road and just outside of Liverpool. This is a perfect central location for Brides in Liverpool, Lancashire, Cheshire and Manchester. Brides do need to arrange appointments with us and this can be done via our website, email, telephone, Facebook or twitter. We do offer weekday, evening and weekend appointments to fit in with our bride’s busy lives!
Can you give Brides Up North an idea on price?
Our bespoke gowns are affordable whilst not making any compromise on style, quality or customer service. Our dresses begin at £780 (for the silhouette dress to be paired with one of our separates) or for full gowns £1180
However, if a Bride has a tighter budget we will do our best to try and source different fabrics to match their budget.
What can Brides Up North expect when they come in for an appointment?
We offer a very relaxed atmosphere for brides and their bridesmaids, Mother of the Bride or friends to come and discuss ideas with us and also have fittings for their gowns. We will show our range of Samples from our silk suppliers, showcase samples of wedding gowns we have done and can show testimonials from our past brides. This can all be done over a lovely glass of bubbly or other refreshments.
How does Jessica Bennett Bespoke Bride provide a superior experience to other wedding dress boutiques?
We are able to offer a very personal and friendly experience to our clients. We like to get to know our clients and learn as much as possible about their wedding. We do not hurry our brides during their appointments as other wedding dress boutiques do. We encourage our brides to have as much input as they wish and they can give us a call any time with further queries or suggestions. Furthermore, as they are having their item custom-made their alterations will be included in the price (all of our client’s are given two lots of alterations for wedding gowns, anything additional will be charged per hour). Following the completion of the garment we offer additional services to dress the bride/ bridal party on the day of the wedding and to also dry clean and package their gown after their wedding day.
Can you also create bridesmaid and Mother of The Bride dresses? Tell us about your bridesmaid collection?
We do also offer the bespoke service to bridesmaids, Mother of Bride/ Groom and wedding guests. We are currently working on our Bridesmaids Collection – a collection of nudes and soft pink dresses each of different style. Something we have found to be increasingly popular is for bridesmaids to each wear slightly different style dresses. After speaking with lots of past bridesmaids we have found that sometimes it is very difficult to find a style that suits up to 4/5/6 different girls all with varying shapes and sizes. We encourage our clients to select bridesmaids styles that their maids will feel confident and gorgeous in. Our bridesmaids collection will be a range of long and short dresses, some strapless and some with straps, appealing to all shapes and sizes!
In the past our Mother of the Bride/ Groom outfits have been done by individual referrals rather than based on a collection. We have made some beautiful outfits in the past in either plain or printed silks, with matching bolero or long jackets. These outfits will also include a boned bodice within the fabric to add extra support and comfort for our clients.
What sort of accessories do you offer?
For brides we can create veils of all lengths and style from Birdcage to Cathedral and we are able to match these to their gowns and laces used. In addition to veils we can also do covered clutch bags to match our Mother of the Bride/ Groom outfits or bridesmaids dresses. We welcome people to get in touch with us if they have any other design ideas and we will always do our best to create these.
Who would be a ‘Jessica Bennett Bespoke Bride’?
A ‘Jessica Bennett Bespoke Bride’ is a Bride that desires a unique and design-led wedding gown. One that will be suited exactly to them and that will be a reflection of their personality and individual style. To have a bespoke wedding dress is to have a wedding dress that nobody else will wear, something that is truly unique and special to them.
Many of our brides have been disappointed with dresses they have tried on in other wedding dress boutiques or have found a style that they really like but it has features such as straps or fabrics that they aren’t happy with. For these brides we are able to develop their design ideas and offer them something that is exactly right for them without the compromise.
What would you choose to wear if you were getting married?
I’m not married yet, although I do already know what style gown I would like. I am torn between an all lace strapless fitted bodice, fishtail train gown with lace shoulder cape to be worn in the day (taken off at night). If I don’t go for all over lace I would have the same style in a stiff Duchesse Satin, very fitted with a narrow bow around my waist but again with small shoulder cape to cover any cleavage or arms during my day ceremony and allows me to take off for the evening and transform my gown for the night by adding an embellished waist belt.
How can Brides Up North get in touch with you or find out more?
You can visit our brand new website at www.jessicabennettbespokebride.co.uk, contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 07852 158 566. We are also on Twitter and Facebook, come and say hello!
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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…