Charlotte Balbier

best dressed: tips on wedding dress shopping

September 7th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

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image source, photography by Jess Yarwood Photography

Following the summer, we’re welcoming a new surge of readers to the blog *waves*, mostly whom accepted a proposal while away on their holidays (you lucky things!). A good way to avoid those post-holiday blues setting in would be to throw yourselves into the wedding planning – and girls, we’re here to help.

Though daunting, it’s also a very exciting time as you begin to piece together your dream day. In the most sensible of terms, we’d advise you to start off by looking for, and securing, your top choice of setting and photographer – however, we know how easy it is to get caught up in the desire to dress shop!

I mean this isn’t just any outfit; as a main focal point of the day this is a moment to shine in front of your family; outdo, we mean, impress your friends, and feel amazing, not ashamed, when you come to show your children, and possibly, your grandchildren, your wedding album in years to come.

So, in preparation of your boutique-visiting expedition, we gift you the following top tips…

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image source, photography by Sarah Beth Photo

research, research, research

As if you haven’t already been pinning wedding dresses quicker than a Kardashian can contour her face, now is the time to expand the research beyond just the appearance of the dress, to the designers that you like, the price tag of such dresses, and in which boutiques you can expect to find them. Often designers will have a certain signature look – vintage-esque Eliza Jane Howell, girlie Charlotte Balbier, sweet So Sassi and beautiful boho by Rembo. This means by studying their collections you should be able to get a feel for the designer’s overall style, and perhaps even pick out key designs that you’re particularly drawn to. You can then research which boutiques stock such designers and in what proximity they are located to you. Some will share the price range of their dresses on the boutique’s website, so it’s worth having a quick search before booking.

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image source, photography by Sean Elliott Photography

timing is everything

Though we know you’re itching Muriel-Heslop-style (a 1994 film reference for any babies out there) to get trying on those dresses, you don’t want to begin visiting boutiques too early, or even too late. Most dress shop owners recommend starting around 12 to 18 months in advance of the wedding to allow time for ordering in the dress and making alterations ahead of the big day. While you can start a little in advance, the danger of picking out a dress too early is that you might change your mind before the wedding arrives (numerous of our featured real brides have admitted falling victim to this). A change of heart can be very costly, so regardless of exactly when you pick your gown, we suggest you don’t actively continue your search beyond that point.

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image source, photography by James Tracey

safety in numbers

While it’s natural to want to share your dress shopping experience with you mum, nan, sister and aunt, not to mention your #girlsquad, too many opinions can hinder, rather than help, when it comes to making your decision. Most boutiques suggest picking no more than three shopping companions if possible, and selecting those that you can trust 100%. So before booking appointments, think about whose opinion you will value most, and who you want to share that special moment with.

that loving feeling

You will have heard the expression “I knew it was the one” used by brides on many an occasion, but what they report is real. The intense gut feeling that they know they have found their dream dress for their big day, whether it be the first or 50th gown they try on. If you’re just not getting that loving feeling though, try not to settle or feel pressured. Take time to go away and think about it, is there any dresses that you are being drawn back to, or do you need to expand your search further before making that final decision?

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image source, photography by Melissa Beattie Photography

trust the experts

Trained bridal stylists know their Peiros from their Packhams, the style, detailing, cut and fit of a gown, and so it’s worth taking their suggestions and advice on board. Often, they will begin a consultation with a chat about your personal style and the type of wedding you are planning before helping you to pick out gowns to try on. If they suggest a wild card, give it a try. No end of brides have said the dress they ended up picking is nothing like what they thought they would go for, but a bridal stylist persuaded them to try it on and they’re so glad they did.

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image source, photography by Melissa Beattie Photography

stay true to you

Overall the decision comes down to you and what you feel most confident in. Don’t forget you will be wearing the dress all day; eating, drinking, dancing and (if your groom struggles to get you out of it) possibly sleeping in it, so you need to feel comfortable too. Most of all you want to feel like you; don’t be tempted to play ‘dress-up’ with something too far out of your comfort zone. So, if you’re naturally a fashionista go bold with an on-trend design, but if classic chic is more your thing, an elegant princess-style gown will ensure that you do go to the ball!

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look book – decolletage display

August 29th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Anna Campbell - Raine Dress

The décolletage takes centre stage in our look book today, with a handpicked selection of gowns that beautifully expose the neck, shoulders, back and upper chest in the most sophisticated and elegant of styles.

There’s a certain allure surrounding this part of the body, so you’ll want a dress that will accentuate this area in a demure yet discreetly sultry fashion – think strapless numbers, gorgeous Bardot styles or barely there spaghetti straps. For the more risqué brides-to-be among you though – a plunging neckline is a bold and sexy statement, to say the least.

The key to puling off this look, however, lies not just in your gown of choice but also in prepping your skin, ready to bare (almost) all. Stay on top of your skincare regime in the lead up to your big day (we’re talking regular exfoliation and indulgent body creams) to ensure this delicate zone is hydrated and smooth. And don’t forget that a sun-kissed glow will do wonders, too, when it comes to your wedding photography.

All set to now show off your glowing décolletage? Here are a few ideas to get your wedding dress inspo in full flow…

Anna Campbell - Mia

First up, we’re spotlighting breathtakingly beautiful dresses from the mesmerising Anna Campbell. The elegant Brooklyn gown typifies this bridal collection, embodying a romantic, bohemian vibe with its strapless sweetheart neckline, silk bow, low exposed back and detachable off the shoulder silk tulle sleeves. As for the v-shaped Ruby dress – it’s all about the detailing with its low, open back, paired with a delicate fringed lace fabric for an ultra classic look. The shimmering ivory Raine, meanwhile, combines a V-shaped bust with narrow straps and an open back – a sparkling, embellished design with the most flattering of silhouettes. And for a heady dose of vintage glamour – look no further than Chloe – a design that’s brim-full of sparkle, complete with cascading hand-beaded shoulder loops.

Anna Campbell - Brooklyn Dress

Daughters of Simone offers up a more carefree, contemporary look with its latest collections, which we simply adore. The floral lace Iver dress is one of our favourites – who could possibly resist this strapless gown, complete with top ruffle and scalloped eyelash trim along the hem? By contrast, the chiffon Miller gown presents a more minimalistic style – we just love how the ruffle, with its beautiful crochet lace, is intentionally longer to the back, helping to accentuate the waist. And for a peek-a-boo moment on your midriff as well as your décolletage – the Ono dress boasts a crochet-lace fitted bodice and playful off the shoulder flutter sleeves.

Anna Campbell - Ruby Dress

A long-standing favourite here at Brides Up North – Enzoani combines fashion-forward styles with those sought-after fairy-tale moments thanks to its luxe fabrics and fabulous detailing. It has an array of classic styles perfect for baring the décolletage area. From the tumbling ruffle A-line skirt, ruched tulle bodice and sweetheart neckline of the Jacqueline, and the beaded spaghetti straps and low v-backed Jamila to the whimsical strapless Luanne with its voluptuous beaded corded lace skirt – there are lots of exquisite, couture styles to fire up your wedding dress wish list.

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diary date: sarah seven designer event at love bridal boutique

August 17th, 2017 | Julia Braime

Goodwin

Gals, it’s time to get those diaries out once again, as this afternoon we’re bringing you details of a very exciting and exclusive event set to be hosted by our wonderful Sponsor Emma Draper, owner of LOVE Bridal Boutique.

On Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd September, Emma will welcome top bridal designer Sarah Seven to her Altrincham boutique for a special designer day event. This will be a rare opportunity for brides to meet the creator of the stylish gowns, enjoy a personal styling session with both Emma and Sarah, and pick from an extended selection of Sarah Seven dresses. Oh, and those purchasing will get an incredible 10% discount too.

Sounds amazing, right?! To ensure you’ve got all the lowdown ahead of this fabulous event we’ve invited Emma to fill us in on all the details, including how to bag yourself one of the limited appointment slots…

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Can you tell us what brides-to-be can expect from the Sarah Seven event?

emma says: Sarah Seven will be bringing her full ‘The Romantics Collection Part II’, so you can snag your favourite dress long before it “officially” hits retailers. This will be the epitome of the LOVE experience. Brides will enjoy an hour-long personal appointment with myself, and Sarah Seven herself will be on hand to help style and advise brides on the perfect dress and fit. There will be a fab 10% discount on all purchases on the day too!

And what are the benefits to attending this exclusive event?

This is Sarah Seven’s only stop in England on her Trunk Show tour of America and Europe this year. Most of the gowns from her new The Romantics Part II collection will only be available during Sarah’s two-day visit, so this is a rare opportunity to find the dress. Brides will not only get an exclusive look at this new collection but also meet and be styled by Sarah Seven herself!

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How many appointments will be available over the two days?

Each appointment will last an hour and there is a limited amount of appointments available over the two days, so those wanting to attend should get in touch ASAP.

Tell us a little about Sarah Seven’s designs…

Sarah Seven’s designs are unashamedly feminine and whimsical; awash with masses of soft tulle, sequins, lace and plunging necklines. Her designs have a young aesthetic, but take inspiration from eras gone by, making her collections appeal to a broad range of brides.

Starting at around £1,800, these gowns are beautifully embellished and heavy on detailing and texture, all whilst retaining simple, clean cut lines and elegance.

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Any particular favourites or stand out pieces within her collections for you personally?

The Milo gown has already stolen the hearts of so many brides on Sarah’s Instagram feed with its heavy lace detail, plunging neckline and dramatic cape-like sleeves. It just screams wow! What’s not to love?!

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What sizes are Sarah Seven’s designs available in?

Dresses can be ordered from UK size 4 to 18, with plus sizes available too.

And what is the price range of the dresses?

Prices start from around £1,800 up to around £4,000 with the majority sitting around £2,000 to £2,500.

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personal & unique: introducing one fine day bridal

August 15th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

One Fine Day Bridal (7)

Our online ‘Suppliers We Love’ directory is a go-to for our readers looking for professional and trusted local businesses that can help to bring their wedding visions to life. From photographers and florists, to entertainment and accessories, there is a category for every requirement.

And this afternoon, we’re delighted to be introducing another gorgeous boutique to our ‘bride’ category, a useful source for those of you on the dream dress hunt. Our new Sponsor, One Fine Day Bridal, based in Hoole, Lancashire, was set up by owner Claire Bland after feeling underwhelmed by her own wedding dress shopping experience.

Running the boutique with her mum Pam, the duo have created a warm and welcoming atmosphere and have filled the shop’s rails with beautiful and unique dress designs to offer brides and memorable and exclusive experience.

Here to tell us more is the lady herself. Take it away Claire….

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Where is One Fine Day Bridal located and can you describe the style and feel of the boutique?

claire says: One Fine Day Bridal is in a small village called Little Hoole, Lancashire – we are located just of the A59 so you can’t miss us! Our boutique has a warm, friendly, homely feel. We want all of our brides to feel relaxed and at ease when finding their dream dress.

Can you tell us about the designers that you stock at the boutique and what type of brides they would appeal to?

We stock the Spanish designer Rosa Clara & Rosa Clara Soft, perfect for the bride who loves something a little different, using luxurious fabrics, such as silk Mikado, ottoman and brocade. Also in our boutique is the fabulous Watters Bride & Bridesmaid collections, both absolutely dreamy ideal for the modern bride. Nicole Spose is our last collection, gorgeous crepe fabrics and masters of ‘slinky’ gowns, perfect for the bride looking for a figure-hugging dress.

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How do you select the designers that you stock?

We like our designers to be unique, so we don’t stock designers that you will find in every other boutique. We make sure the gowns are well made and are of a great quality, but we also like to ensure that nobody else with our area stocks that particular designer. We like to be individual and make sure are brides are choosing something exclusive.

Can you tell us about the accessories that you stock at the boutique?

We stock Linzi Jay and Ariana Tiara for our head pieces, jewellery and veils, we also use Elizabeth Dickens for our veils ensuring we have a wide variety of choice to suit all dresses.

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How do you help brides to find their dream dress and to complete their look with accessories?

We like to make sure our brides try one of every style, even if they have an idea in their head, this some of the time doesn’t always look how they expected. Once they think they have found ‘the one’ we like to add in veils and accessories so the look is complete. Even once they have found their dress with us, we encourage them to come back for a styling appointment after their hair and makeup trial so the full vision can be seen.

What are your top tips for brides when dress shopping?

Be open minded and try something you never imaged you would go for – you could be surprised.

Even though it is nice to bring family and friends to enjoy the experience with, don’t be swayed by too many opinions – it’s the bride’s day! It is good to get a feel for style but when you think you’ve found the one, stop trying and stop looking, it is very easy to become overwhelmed and it can get very confusing.

What sets One Fine Day Bridal apart from other boutiques and what can brides expect from an appointment at the boutique?

We are a mother and daughter team here at the boutique. We decided to do this because of my own experience which I didn’t enjoy so we try to make sure our brides don’t feel deflated or under whelmed by their experience, like I did. We offer a relaxed and luxurious experience, we let the bride lead the appointment and offer our advice when we feel appropriate. We always offer to dress our bride the morning of the wedding, we know how stressful it can be so we like to ease the pressure wherever possible.

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What trends are you seeing coming through in bridalwear and accessories?

A flutter sleeve or capelet – we think these could be a huge trend for 2018, along with a statement bow which is a theme that runs through our Rosa Clara gowns.

What is the size and price range of the dresses that you stock?

We stock sample sizes from 6 to 16, and price range between £950 and £3,500.

What is the feedback like from brides who found their dress and One Fine Day?

Our brides always comment on what a lovely personal service we offer from beginning to end. We get a lot of comments about how welcoming and professional we are and how beautiful our boutique is. Our brides love that we are not pushy, in some cases we encourage the bride to go away and have a think, then come back.

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lookbook: so sassi 2018 collection

August 3rd, 2017 | Julia Braime

Roxie

Ladies, we think it’s high time for a little dress candy – and the treats we have in store today are nothing short of delicious!

Courtesy of our fabulous Sponsor So Sassi, we invite you to swoon over the new 2018 Collection from this fabulous set of designers.

Made up of a bright collective of fashion graduates, the So Sassi design team works hard to develop unique, individual and fashion forward styles, giving their brides a collection, which is not only all those things, but one that is created with love and passion.

According to its creators, the 2018 collection celebrates brides who want to embrace their own style, brides who are not afraid to make a statement and brides that want a twist on tradition. Tick, tick, tick!

There is a gorgeous blend of styles, silhouettes and fabrics, with new design elements including cold shoulders, fringed back details, feature sleeves and ballerina-length tulle skirts.

Having already poured over the collection numerous times, highlights for us include Charlie, Rosie and Scarlett, but we’d love to know which of these beauties melt your heart most, as we take you through the designs, one by one!

Annalise

Annalise: Beautiful soft fishtail gown with gathered tulle bust and diamante detail.

Aria

Aria: A wow gown with lace side and back cut-out detail gives this gown a real edge. Style with Aria shrugette for an alternative look.

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Anya: A striking fishtail gown with soft sweetheart neckline – perfect for accessorising!

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Bianca: All about the bohemian vibes with this stunning lace column gown and v neckline detail.

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lookbook: a lot of front

August 2nd, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

Julie Vino 2

For our latest lookbook post, we’re taking lead from gossip mags’ favourite and reigning Brides Up North gym inspiration Pippa Middleton – seriously though, I would swap one of my legs for those biceps. Sigh.

Prior to the wedding of the year, fashion commentators consulted their crystal balls and clamoured to predict the style the Duchess’ little sister would go for – arguably it was all a bit more, well, interesting than the 2011 debate about Kate’s dress decisions because so much (length, sleeves, modest front) is set in stone for a Royal bride. Pippa however, could freestyle it a little – and so she did, surprising the world’s media with her unexpectedly classic Giles Deacon princess gown.

We’ve already fully dissected the new Mrs James Matthews’ bridal style in a Get The Look special, but today we’re zooming in on one of the key details of her stunning frock: namely, the high-neck. We’ve been thinking: what inspiration is out there (other than the £40,000 bespoke designer option, obvs) for a girl who wants a lot of front in her frock?

Main feature images from Julie Vino

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Well, first up is Ersa Atelier, with their to-die-for designs from Bucharest. Sisters Gabriela and Cristina make much artful use of the high-neck in their most recent collections and the results are just – well, see for yourself. Serena with its delicate beaded and detailed sleeved top and plain waisted frothy skirt gives the impression of separates and pulls off the almost impossible feat of being both regal and ‘fashiony’. Pea is at the opposite end of the formality spectrum and is everything its short ‘n’ sweet appellation suggests, with its dropped waist and simple crochet-style fabric. Celie, with its glorious Art Deco-style scallops, speaks of another era, and its high-neck almost looks like a little lace collar – statement and simplicity all at once. If you’re a fan of the high-neck, this collection demands closer inspection.

Julie Vino

Jesus Peiro’s current collection also embraces high-necks but takes the look in a slightly different direction. Dresses 7019 and 7002 – the first a halter-neck with a draped sash and large bow at the waist, the second a breathtakingly simple origami-style bodice with subtly slashed neckline and full-on princess skirt – are almost sculptural in design and certainly current rather than classic in feel. Dress 7074 is more conventional – delicate lace overlay and elbow-length sleeves balanced by a mermaid flare – but no less attention-grabbing. The Nanda Devi collection heads for more ethereal territory, so if a Midsummer Night’s Dream-slash-fairytale vibe is your bag, JP’s website is definitely worth a trawl: drifting skirts, pretty lace crop tops and full-length lace sleeves abound. Dreamy bridal design brilliance.

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You might be forgiven for thinking that ‘high-necked’ as a descriptor automatically aligns itself with ‘modest’ or even ‘prudish’, and that a high-necked dress is definitely a distant cousin of ‘modern bride’ and even further removed from ‘sexy bride’. Allow us to dispel all misconceptions with Julie Vino’s daring Napoli, Roma and Venice collections. Here we see the modesty of the high neck neutered with plunging backs, daring sheer panels, Swarovski and exposed shoulders – what on earth would Ms Middleton think?

And finally, in more situations than I’d like to admit I find myself asking the question “what would Vera Wang do?” and, in the case of designing a wedding gown for her Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 collections, the answer seems to have frequently been “put a high-neck on it”. Thank you, Vera, for showing us the way with the halter-neck wonderfulness of the Galilea, the all-over lace glamour of the Cecile and the wow-factor of Clemence’s peasant gown perfection. Inspiration overload.

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