Charlotte Balbier

best dressed: tips on wedding dress shopping

September 7th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Pic 3

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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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….

One Fine Day Bridal (10)

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.

One Fine Day Bridal (4)

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.

One Fine Day Bridal (3)

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.

One Fine Day Bridal (5)

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: power skirts

July 19th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Morilee Mystique

When it comes to finding the perfect wedding dress, it’s all about the finer details. The neckline, the sleeves, the detailing to the back, the train, the fabric – they all play a special part in creating your bridal look.

But for us, one of the most captivating features of a bridal gown has to be the skirt. This is what, by and large, defines the overall style of the dress – whether it’s vintage, boho, ethereal, all-out flamboyant or something else just as gorgeous, prim or fantastical.

And that’s why today’s look book spotlights some of the most irresistible on-trend styles with wow-factor skirts from some of our very favourite designers. Gals, you’re in for a treat!

Morilee 1959

ball gown

We’re opening our look book with the definitive all-time classic – the ball gown. It’s the stuff of fairytales and let’s be honest, we all want to try on a skirt in this style at least once, just to experience our very own Cinderella moment. The ball gown skirt doesn’t need to be an extravagant puffball or meringue, as perfectly showcased by Morilee with their variety of chic, understated styles – all with a magical sprinkling of va-va-voom that’ll be sure to make you feel like a modern-day princess.

ruffles

If the classic A-line skirt seems a bit too conventional for your special day, the ruffle offers up an alluring alternative that will add dimension and movement to your silhouette (we’re already imagining this skirt whooshing its way down the aisle). Wavy, fluted, cascading, spiraling or even frilly – ruffles come in so many gorgeous styles and sizes, all perfect for accentuating your figure and adding a playful twist to your bridal look. For sublime sophistication, look to Justin Alexander for gorgeous skirts designed with layers upon layers of tiered ruffles in sumptuous tulle or organza.

Morilee 2887

splits

Skirts with a sassy split are still very much an underrated option, but for the bride who likes something a touch risqué this is the choice du jour for a look that will be unlike anything else your wedding guests will have seen before. There are lots of variations – the split can be to the front or the side, knee-high or (hold your breath) thigh-high. Keep things romantic and sophisticated by teaming this style with luxe fabrics such as lace, organza or silk, and exquisite sweetheart necklines or embellished illusion bodices. One of our current favourites perfecting this style is Pronovias, with their delicately flowing fabrics and flawless, demure designs.

high low

Another style that we simply adore on the runways (yes, we’re looking at you Monique Lhuillier) but which we rarely see worn by real brides is the high low skirt. For the style-savvy bride who wants to make an entrance – the high low skirt is one of the few designs that will put your wedding shoes (and your pins) firmly in the spotlight. Combining the glamour of a mini dress with a classic long train – the high low hemline is bold, beautiful and flagrantly chic. Consider voluminous ruffles for added drama or a slinky lace skirt for a flattering silhouette.

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stop press: see caroline castigliano’s 2018 collection before anyone else

July 3rd, 2017 | Julia Braime

Celebrating Romance - Caroline Castigliano (1)

We’re just dashing in this lunchtime with news of a very rare opportunity to view the brand new collection by one of our very favourite designers before it’s available anywhere else!

The Caroline Castigliano 2018 Collection celebrating romance will be available in the Knightsbridge flagship store for an exclusive preview ahead of the launch all this week, until 8th July.

Celebrating Romance - Caroline Castigliano (2)

Drop everything.

Celebrating Romance - Caroline Castigliano (3)

This is a fantastic opportunity for brides-to-be to get an exclusive look at the latest bridal collection and to order their Caroline Castigliano bridal gown from this unique collection before anyone else.

Celebrating Romance - Caroline Castigliano (4)

The team here at Brides Up North have been lucky enough to get a peek at the gowns in person and we can vouch that you won’t be disappointed – this multi-faceted collection features timeless designs with ultra-feminine twists, elevated textures and highly luxurious accents. Basically, we fell in love.

There is a light airy feel throughout the collection, with a range of silhouettes from A-line, to circle skirts and fishtails, all creating beautiful movement and a powerful but understated vision. And if these sneak peek images are anything to go by, I think a few of you lovely lot might be about to fall in love too!

Appointments can be booked on 0207 590 9120 or requested online by clicking here.

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look book: sheer sublime

May 26th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

Symphony - Charlotte Balbier

Here at Brides Up North we love nothing more than the unveiling of new bridal collections that will determine brides’ big day looks. And every season now it seems designers are getting more daring with their creations, particularly when it comes to the sheer trend – see-through fabric panels that create the illusion of bare skin – as brides are encouraged to take a less is more approach to their attire.

We love this fresh take on bridal, giving ladies the opportunity to flaunt their figures whilst still technically keeping flesh under wraps. There’s no denying however that it takes one heck of a brave bride to go against the traditional demure grain – but what if you don’t want to be smothered in fabric, but you do still want to retain some style? If you’re after something clingier, slinkier, dare I say it sexier than a meringue, but don’t want to blow Uncle Dave’s pacemaker into oblivion?

Poem - Charlotte Balbier

Well, that makes sheer panels, barely-there lace and see-through chiffon your new best friends, and luckily for you, dresses with such detailing are the focus of today’s look book. From long-time fans of the look Berta Bridal to the stunning new Bohemian Blush collection from Brides Up North sponsor Charlotte Balbier (as featured recently on these pink pages), it seems everyone is getting in on the act. Though fierce, such designs featuring cleverly-positioned lace, illusion necklines and backs will still preserve your bridal modesty (and Dave’s pacemaker).

Berta Bridal are industry champions in creating dare-to-bare gowns, with style 17-113 and 17-130 from the F/W 2017 collection being seriously brave takes on the trend – all dangerously plunging necklines and sheer lace. Design 17-136’s sheer chiffon skirt puts legs at centre stage, whereas 17-144 is like the love-child of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and Jennifer Lopez circa 2009 made into wedding dress form – sexy, sassy, righteous.

Klara - Charlotte Balbier

Charlotte Balbier’s newest offerings are typically soft, feminine and fairytale-esque, but still offer a glimpse of what lies beneath. Symphony from Bohemian Blush is to die for, with its slinky A-line cut, sheer bodice and appliqued lace. The prettily-named Poem features a plunging neckline but saves most of its sheerness for the bodice back, making the whole look arguably more realizable. There’s also Sonnett, with its delicate sheer detailing and peach and pistachio colour injection – definitely worth a lingering look.

Many a real wedding favourite, Maggie Sottero is also getting in on the flash of flesh action. Verina has a dramatic illusion lace v-back and sleeves, looking regal but not matronly. Blanche is a whole lot of daring with its double keyhole back and lace illusion sweetheart neckline and the Maren – well, just wow. More Swarovski than you can shake a stick at.

Sonnett - Charlotte Balbier

And then there’s the inimitable Elie Saab, offering up everything from sheer sublime to the slightly bonkers but beautiful. Check out that potentially pant-flashing lace number. Would you? Could you?

We say, she who dares… wins.

Main dress images by Charlotte Balbier

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highs & lows: daring bridal gowns with love our wedding

May 9th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

David tutera 117265

David Tutera – 117265

This evening we’re handing over the blogging reins to our guest writer, the lovely Sophie Grabham, Online Editor at Love Our Wedding Magazine, who is focusing on some revealing bridal dress trends for those of you that dare to bare…

Sophie says: When it comes to bridal fashion for 2017/18, it’s all about sexy and sophisticated designs that flash a little flesh without being too revealing. From plunging v-necklines and daring back details to high leg splits in the skirt; there are plenty of ways to adopt this trend in an effortless and fashionable way.

Blue by enzoani Jamari gowni

Blue by Enzoani – Jamari 

plunging neckline

Confident, fashion-forward brides are embracing the current trend for stunning deep-v necklines, for a flirty, feminine look. Many bridal collections are now working this style, often with illusion panelling for added modesty – especially important if you’re having a church ceremony and want to be on-trend but not too revealing! This style is perfect for smaller busts that need less support, while creating the illusion of a cleavage. From long or capped sleeves to strapless designs, this look comes in many forms to suit your personal style and body shape. See gorgeous examples from Bonny Bridal, Enzoani and Kenneth Winston.

Modeca Aurora gown

Modeca – Aurora 

low backs

If you want to show off a little skin, but aren’t quite brave enough to wear a low neckline, v-back detailing might be right up your street. Back detail is a real focus this year with many designers placing a lot of emphasis on this area of the gown. All eyes will be on your back during your ceremony, after all, so it’s a great way to make a statement. Whether you choose an open v-back or a little illusion detailing for extra coverage, low back details are where it’s at for this year and beyond. Remember you won’t be able to wear a bra with this style, so a great fit around the bust is key. Check out stunning styles from Casablanca Bridals, Mark Lesley and Mori Lee for inspiration.

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