Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

creating couture: blossom & belle’s unique wedding gowns

February 8th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (3)

While there are numerous stunning wedding dress designs hanging on the rails of boutiques, for some brides nothing completes the dream wedding picture like having a couture gown specially made for their big day.

Brides Up North Sponsor and dress-maker extraordinaire Antonia Aitken of Blossom and Belle, is fully versed in the art of creating beautiful bespoke wedding gowns, from the structure and cut to the fabric and finish. As such, we’re putting the blog in her skilful hands this afternoon so she can tell us exactly what couture is, and how she goes about creating it through her one-off, timeless wedding gown designs.

She also has news of a fabulous Blossom and Belle charity tea party event taking place in York on Sunday 26th February, which will feature workshops, high-end suppliers and delicious treats, so be sure to read to the end of the post for full details.

With images by All You Need Is Love Photography

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (22)

How would you define a couture wedding gown?

antonia says: Couture is not ‘dressmaking or copying a design’ – rather it is the creation of a luxury item which starts from design through to pattern cutting, toiles and fittings and the final amazing result.

Couture is not off the peg. It is a unique creation that no one else will have. It is a process that takes time, not something that can be made in an instant. Specialised elements, from hand stitched hems and embellishments, to steel boned bodices and button and loop detailing, are the epitome of a couture gown. It is timeless piece that will look just as wonderful in years to come as it does on the day of the wedding.

What skills must you have as a dress maker to craft such creations?

As the design director at Blossom and Belle I pride myself in my skill to create a one-off bespoke gown or outfit.

It’s having the ability to see a client for the first time and knowing exactly what she will suit. It is the art of how fabric will work and fall on the form. Knowing about colours, textures and the cut and line of a design. How to emphasise the best features of a client and disguise those that they are less keen on.

I do not work from someone else’s pattern, I make my own, which is a meticulous process requiring great skill and an art form in itself.

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (9)

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (30)

What do brides enjoy about having a couture gown for their big day?

For my clients, it’s the knowledge that they are wearing something truly unique and luxurious and in their own size – not mass produced and not off the peg – something made especially for them.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the process a bride can expect to follow if she decides to have a couture Blossom and Belle gown made?

The whole process of having your own gown created is really quite lovely. After your first free consultation, where we go over ideas and look through fabrics and any trimmings or embellishment ideas, I will design a range of gowns for you to choose from and take your measurements. I also say at this point that the bride should get their underwear as this is vital to the fit of the gown.  A toile is then made in calico, which is a mock-up of the wedding dress and where tweaks and design decisions are made. Having a couture gown made just for you is a very private affair and no one else, unless you want to, will see your gown being created.

There should be no more than five fittings, although some brides like to have more as they love to see everything taking shape and enjoy the process so much.

Finally, for the full experience, I’m available to dress the bride on the day of the wedding to make sure everything is perfect.

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (12)

What would you say to brides who are worried that having a couture dress made will be expensive and time consuming?

A couture gown is unique and made just for you, which is why it can cost more than an off the peg gown. Only the finest of fabrics are used, meticulous hand beading and hand stitching are all involved in the process of having a couture gown made. It can take several months just to make one gown, which is why fittings are spread over time to suit the bride and to allow for any tweaks to be made.

We never ask for the full price of the gown to be paid upfront, rather it is paid by instalments, which takes the pressure off.  I do say that you never lose money on a couture gown as it becomes an heirloom passed down through the family.

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (13)

What is the feedback like from brides who have had a Blossom and Belle Couture dress made?

I always receive wonderful feedback from brides, and have even been invited to the wedding. Over the time of the dress being made we get to know each other very well.

I have had one bride recently send me a photograph of her 17-year-old daughter wearing her gown that was made by me 20 years ago and it still looks wonderful and timeless. I also had one bride love the style of her vintage inspired gown so much, she had another two made in different colours!

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Fabulous Photographer: Jonny Draper Photography

April 1st, 2013 | Julia Braime

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Consider this little introduction to a guy that I consider to one of the best and most exciting wedding photographers in the business my Easter egg to you.  And yes, it’s the first of April, but this is no April fool!

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When you book Brides Up North Featured Supplier Jonny Draper Photography for your wedding day, you know you’ll get a set of clever (yes clever!) and stunning images: full of beauty, emotion and also some humour – and therefore the best possible record of your big day.  High accolades, true, but I am wholly confident that Jonny’s work speaks for itself. 

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Plus, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him in real life – at my North West Tweet Up – and anyone who likes a glass of wine as much as I do (previously unheard of) can’t be bad in my book.

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Let’s meet Mr Draper…

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Jonny Draper Photography

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How did you get into wedding photography?

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I think like every other wedding photographer I know, I kind of fell into it!  To cut a very long story short, my ‘proper job’ used to be filming and editing viral films, corporate videos and adverts for a creative ad agency and one day somebody who I worked with asked me to film their wedding because "I filmed and edited stuff"!!!  I’d never even been to a wedding never mind filmed one, but I instantly fell in love with capturing the story of the day, being around people who were all there to have a great time and the adrenaline rush of knowing that you only got one chance at every part of the day.  That was over 10 years ago and I flipped over to stills around 5 years ago.

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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What is your favourite thing about being a wedding photographer?

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Even now, having been involved in weddings for over 10 years, I still get nervous the day before each wedding.  Then in the morning as I’m getting ready to leave the house the excitement and anticipation starts to build and as soon as I arrive at the bride’s house the adrenaline rush starts that doesn’t let up until well after I get home – what an awesome feeling!  That, coupled with being given the opportunity to ‘do my thing’ week in, week out for brides and grooms who fall in love with weddings they’ve seen I’ve shot – what’s not to love?!

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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What is your biggest professional achievement to date?

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I’m honoured to have won The Wedding Industry Awards – North West Wedding Photographer of the Year this year.  This finally feels like an awards body has arrived that is truly credible which made me even more delighted to have won.  The voting process begins by your brides and grooms who’s weddings you have photographed in the previous 12 months voting for you.  If you achieve above the average points total for your category you then get shortlisted.  I was stunned to even get shortlisted as I was up against some of the best wedding photographers in the UK in my opinion.  I was even more stunned when I found out I’d won!  The shortlist is judged by a panel of industry experts (again, this is where I felt the credibility really became obvious as these judges were all hugely well known and respected in the industry, so it was an honour to know that they were even discussing my work, never mind deciding that mine was the best!) and I’m still trying to get my head round receiving such an amazing accolade. 

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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How do you get couples to relax on the day?

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I do a pre-wedding shoot for all my brides and grooms and this is where getting them to relax starts.  Giving them the opportunity to experience what it’s like to have their photograph taken professionally ahead of the day, so that they have a real understanding of what actually happens when the camera comes out the bag on the wedding day morning.  And it’s a great reassurance for them that I’m not going to have them doing anything daft or anything they’re uncomfortable with.  I also get to understand how they want to be photographed so that I’m approaching things in the right way for them on the day of their wedding.  And it’s brilliant just being able to spend a couple more hours with them ahead of their day so that I really get to know what they’re like, not just as a couple, but as individuals too.

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Any advice to any brides who don’t like to have their picture taken?

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Again, one of the reason’s I do the pre-wedding shoot is to help brides and grooms get over that kind of feeling.  I honestly think that most people don’t like having their picture taking – in fact, I think I’d be worried if I met with couples and they said "We LOVE having our picture taken"!

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Any really memorable weddings that you have captured?

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There’s too many to list!  From weddings in New York, Tuscany, Santorini and France, through to weddings right on my door step in Manchester and Cheshire, every single one is special and different.  I’m so lucky to work with the kind of brides and grooms who I work with – everything is important to them, from the photography to the flowers, to the entertainment to the food, they’re never just ‘ticking things off a list’.  Every decision they make is a carefully considered one, which means they genuinely care about every single detail of their day.  Which includes the photography.  They book me because they love how I shoot and how I approach a wedding and that is a wonderful feeling to know that a couple have chosen you to capture their wedding because they want you to capture it your way.

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Are you married? Tell us about your day.

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I am married, to my amazing wife Emma (who is also a Brides up North sponsor with our other wedding business, LOVE Bridal Boutique – shameless plug!)  We were married at The Inn at Whitewell in Lancashire in December 2007.  It was an amazing day and trying to keep focused on things photography related, it was one of the most amazing learning curves I’ve been on as a wedding photographer.  The rain was RELENTLESS all day.  In a torrential manner.  I learned two massive lessons.  Number One:  As the groom – did I care about the weather?  Did it ruin anything for me?  (And I can speak for Emma here too)  The answer is no.  We were surrounded by our friends and family in an amazing venue and we didn’t care about the weather.    Number Two:  As a photographer – did the weather ruin our pictures?  No.  We had an awesome husband and wife photographer team (Jonathan Harris Photography) who were calm, who helped us with umbrellas, who looked after our guests and who shot amazing photographs.  I learned more about how to handle bad weather in one day by being right in the middle of it myself and it’s really shaped the way I approach weddings.  Jonathan and Christine are my original photography mentors and Emma and I are very lucky to be able to call them our friends now too.

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Go on then Jonny, tell us about LOVE Bridal Boutique

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Emma and I also own Cheshire’s most exclusive bridal experience – LOVE Bridal Boutique.  We opened the doors in August 2012 and it’s been an amazing experience so far – Emma and I already have a growing number of mutual brides, they love that they’re getting a service from a family owned and run business and we’re loving working with them!  

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?

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I’d like to think the overall approach to how I work with my brides and grooms is unique.  From where I meet them to chat about their day, to how we work together through the pre-wedding shoot and in the overall build up to the day onto the wedding day itself.  I don’t worry about what other photographers offer, I only want to know about what my brides and grooms want from me and how best I can fit into their day.

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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What can a couple who book you expect on the day?

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They can expect to spend lots of time with their friends and family.  I hate the idea of dragging a bride and groom away from the party for hours on end and if I let them get stuck into their drinks reception and give them the chance to actually spend time with people, then I get the opportunity to shoot all those wonderful moments between people.  Excited faces, hugs and kisses, tears and laughter – this is what my brides and grooms want to see photographs of.  Of course, we’ll shoot the all important family group photographs that they require, but I like to fit these into the day when it feels right to do so, rather than worry about doing them all at a certain time.  This helps us avoid a formal feeling to the proceedings (I hate the idea of being that photographer who stands on a chair and shouts names off of a list!  There’s ways of approaching group shots without having to be interruptive and invasive and I work really hard at ensuring everything feels relaxed, not just for the bride and groom, but for all their guests too.

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Jonny Draper Photography

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What is included in your "package"?

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My attendance starts at whatever time in the morning the bride wants me to arrive and I shoot right through until after the first dance.  This enables me to really tell the story of the day with no compromises.

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The attendance fee includes a disc of hi-res images with permission to print/distribute.  I also include lo-res versions to make it easy to email/Facebook etc!  I also supply all of the shots from the day on a DVD slideshow set to music of the bride and grooms choosing – this is a great way to show friends/family the story of your day without always having to carry an album around!  The attendance fee including all of the above is £1,995.

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I also include a pre-wedding shoot for all my wedding clients which is so useful for so many reasons.  It’s great for my brides and grooms to spend a bit more time with me ahead of their big day and vice versa – it really gives us all a chance to get to know each other better which is so helpful on the wedding day – I know what they’re comfortable with, they’ve gone through the nerves of having their photograph taken before their day so those kinds of worries aren’t there – and it’s a good excuse to go for a beer afterwards! (have a look at this link to get a feel for the sort of thing people go for: http://blog.jonnydraper.co.uk/category/pre-wedding/)

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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How can Brides Up North get in touch with you/ see more examples of your work?

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There are lots of ways…

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WEB: 
www.jonnydraper.co.uk/

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EMAIL: 
info@jonnydraper.co.uk

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BLOG: 
www.jonnydraper.co.uk/blog

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FACEBOOK:
www.facebook.com/JonnyDraperPhotography

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TWITTER: 
twitter.com/JonnyDraperfoto

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Anything else we should know?

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A new string to my bow – I won’t go into too much detail (as details of Jonny’s next two Day Masterclass in Wedding Photography will be appearing right here on Brides Up North very soon!) but right now, check out Jonny Draper Photography Training for details!

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Jonny Draper Photography

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2013 Jonny Draper Photography

Jonny Draper Photography is a Brides Up North Featured Supplier, and this is a sponsored post

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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