July 19th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
Having just shared details of my own dress shopping experience in this wedding diary instalment (I’m a 2019-bride-to-be don’t you know?!) this afternoon’s post further backs-up my findings as we hear from industry expert and Brides Up North Sponsor, Hayley Hoyle, on why ladies should visit independent bridal boutiques when searching for their dream gown.
As the owner of not one, but two top Yorkshire boutiques – The Harrogate Wedding Lounge and The Bridal Collection Harrogate – Hayley is well placed to speak on this topic and advise brides-to-be on how to get the most out of this precious part of the planning.
A far cry from a high-street changing room, Hayley explains the welcoming ambience, top styling and seamstress service and aftercare that awaits brides and these small, professional businesses. She also makes clear that ladies of all budgets can shop at independent boutiques and the service is warm, friendly and fun – not at all like the Pretty Woman style connotations that some conjure up in their heads.
My experience of such businesses was exactly as Hayley describes – real women dressing real women to help find that one special gown that ticks all the boxes while providing professional support along the way that you just won’t find elsewhere. So, ladies, here’s why you’ll want to support your independent sisters…
hayley says: For some, buying their wedding gown is a prospect filled with excitement, giddiness and hopes of the perfect shopping trip filled with friends, fizz and finding the one. For others the thought is nothing short of terrifying. Fears of being squeezed in to samples too small or bulldog clipped into samples three-sizes too big while your nearest and dearest pick fault at every part of the dress, or even worse, your body in the dress. Whatever your inclination toward it, after more than ten years in the industry I can confirm that for the most part finding, buying and fitting your wedding gown is an intimate, emotionally charged, sometimes nerve wracking but ultimately beautiful experience, or at least that’s what my hope is for all of my brides.
It should be undertaken with your most trusted advisors; the person or people who know you most and who’s number one priority is your happiness. This also applies to the place you choose to shop for your gown. As an independent boutique, myself and my team make it our business to get to know you. Your hopes and dreams for the dress and the day. We understand your fears, your hang-ups and all your insecurities. We are women too remember. We don’t care that your pants don’t match your bra today or that you have just had lunch and feel like have a food baby going on, all we care about is you relaxing and having fun finding a gown that truly represents you, and that you feel and look incredible in.
Independent boutiques go much further than selling wedding dresses, I certainly don’t see that as my job at all and I am pretty sure other independents would say the same. We are councillors, confidants, mediators, the shoulder to cry on, the person who holds the tissues – and the prosecco! But above all we are stylists. Our space and that of many other boutiques I know are beautifully created and full of inspiration. Everything matters; the calming atmosphere, beautiful scents, gorgeous flowers, endless accessories, soft music and of course the beautiful gowns and the team of experienced stylists that know our products inside out and are passionate about your experience with us.
My team accompany me to all of our designers’ collection launches, they know about construction, fabric options, possible changes that can be made and make personal recommendations for you based on your body type and desires. Unlike many other less personal options available to brides when choosing their dress, our team are trained to work with you individually, hand pick gowns we know will knock your socks off and give you the very best advice on fit. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach, we can recommend options such as bespoke sizing – like a size 14 top and 18 bottom. Made to measure for a large bust or a short torso. The result? A unique experience totally tailored to you, your ideas and your body.
April 13th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
Luca Latrofa – Sassi Holford
You may recall from our social media feeds being flooded with catwalk shots and videos that we headed down to London a few weeks’ ago for the bridal fashion event of the year – The White Gallery. Combined with London Bridal Fashion week for the first time, the event was bigger than ever with a host of both British and international designers in attendance to showcase their new collections to bridal boutique owners and members of the press, like us!
As always, we were totally blown away by the designers’ stunning creations and their ability to reinvent what we know to be wedding dresses time and time again while also pushing bridal boundaries to incorporate more fashionable elements for full-on style, impact and individuality.
Whilst there we always love to catch up with the northern boutique owners that we work closely with on both Brides Up North and UNVEILED magazine. This includes fabulous bridal fashion guru Hayley Hoyle, who is the proud owner of Yorkshire-based boutiques, The Bridal Collection Harrogate and The Harrogate Wedding Lounge.
With an expert eye for what brides want in terms of style, fit and functionality, Hayley is 100% in the know when it comes to spotting the next big thing, and so we’ve invited her to the blog today to report on the collections that caught her attention at the latest White Gallery event so you lovely readers are well informed of the upcoming trends when setting out on your dream dress search.
Images provided by Hayley Hoyle unless credited.
Jenny Packham – Rosa
hayley says: Buying new collections is such a big and important part of our job in the bridal industry. Forward thinking stores use the opportunity as staff training and by way of ensuring stylists and seamstresses are invested in the product, the brands and as a way of introducing the team to emerging trends. I have always involved my team in the selection of our collections, it keeps our team at the top of their game, knowledgeable and enables them to provide an exceptional and authentic experience to our brides back in the boutiques.
A couple of weeks ago myself and a few team members went along to our biggest buying event of the year. London Bridal Fashion Week and The White Gallery, this year the shows occupied one space all together at Excel London and we also attended 2019 collection launches at The Ritz and Home House by both Jenny Packham and Suzanne Neville.
In my honest opinion there is very little out of fashion in bridal at the moment; as an industry very much focused on embracing your individual style and executing it perfectly. However, there are some notable trends emerging and staying put. Here’s our round up of the hot looks to watch out for in the coming season.
Suzanne Neville – Orianna
This season we are seeing a big emergence of the scoop neckline. We saw soft and flattering versions for designers such as Caroline Castigliano and Suzanne Neville finished with delicate lace shoulders or subtle shoe string straps. Keep your eye out for new dresses Sakura from Caroline Castigliano and Floriana from Suzanne Neville.
The plunge neckline is also here to stay. As brides are getting braver and designers getting more adept at pulling this look off with class and sophistication we will be seeing a lot more of this sexy statement look. Some of our favourites for this season is Rosa by Jenny Packham and Vivian from Sassi Holford.
March 6th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
As the shopping trip of all shopping trips there is no doubt visiting bridal boutiques in search of that one special dress is one of the most exciting elements of planning a wedding.
You’ll want the experience to be fun, enjoyable memorable and stress-free, which is why we think its uber-important to enter into the search fully equipped with all the dos and don’ts that will see you well on the way to securing your perfect dress.
And who better to deliver such golden advice than a lady who has helped to dress hundreds of beautiful brides for their moment in the wedding spotlight, Hayley Hoyle, proud owner of top Yorkshire bridal boutiques, The Bridal Collection Harrogate and The Harrogate Wedding Lounge.
So, we’ll waste no time in handing over to Hayley to impart her insider knowledge in the form of a handy step by step guide to make your dress shopping, an absolute dream!
Homework – what research/preparation can brides do when initially beginning their wedding dress search?
hayley says: There is certainly no shortage of wedding inspiration in this world. Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, social media, magazines, wedding fairs, designers’ websites the list goes on – I would start a Pinterest board specifically for your gown and keep it as a secret board, use it to collate a collection of images you like; from a fabric, a neckline or even a specific dress or designer. This board will be useful when you start the shopping process, show your stylist and ask them to select some styles for you based on what you have been liking so far. If you are a technophobe a scrap book works just as well.
Booking appointments – how should a bride go about selecting the boutiques she makes appointments at?
First of all, I would consider the designers that have caught your eye from your research, check their websites and find your nearest stockist. Get on social media and check out the profiles of your local boutiques and see what resonates with you, each boutique will have their own brand personality and it should inspire you. Check out their reviews on Google and Facebook and look at how they respond to complaints as well as praise. Most importantly try to support your small, independent, service driven boutiques, to them you are special, you are a unique bride not just another sale.
Attending appointments – what advice would you give to brides when attending boutique appointments?
Most importantly – relax, remain open minded and let the stylists do their thing. It might be wise to wear modest seam-free flesh coloured underwear and a good strapless bra. Don’t slap on the fake tan before your appointment as it may damage the dresses and definitely don’t take too many people shopping with you! Remember the less people that see the dress the bigger the impact on the day. Finally remember to ask your boutique what extras will need paying pay for? Do they have an in-house alterations team, can you use it and how much are anticipated fittings?
Making a decision – what would you say to a bride who can’t make up their mind on a dress or that is unsure whether to visit more boutiques before making up their mind?
Don’t over think it. Think about both of the gowns in the setting of your wedding, does one work more than the other? Is there anything you would change about either of the dresses? Do they make you feel amazing? Over shopping will only make the process harder and more choices will only confuse you more. Remember there will always be more dresses and selecting yours is not the end of the process, it’s actually just the beginning. If after all of that you still have reservations, chances are you haven’t yet found your gown so head to your next appointment and keep looking, the perfect one is out there.
Fittings – is there anything you would advise brides to be mindful of during their fittings?
By the time it gets to your fittings your weight needs to be stable and you need to have the correct shoes and underwear, so your gown can be fitted to perfection. It is impossible to make a garment fit a moving target and because we want your gown to fit perfectly we advise no further weight loss once your gown has been pinned. Don’t take photos during your fittings, the gown isn’t perfect yet and looking back at a photo of a dress that doesn’t fit correctly will only cause you stress and anxiety. Trust the professionals and leave the photos until the day.
Accessories – after the dress comes the accessories. What elements should brides take into consideration when it comes to picking their finishing touches?
Your accessories should be the icing on the cake, they should complement the gown perfectly and not overpower you or the dress. When styling any outfit, I believe that less is more with regards to accessories and a wedding gown is no different. Choose one piece to shine and keep everything else simple. Oh – and always try a veil, there is only one day in your life you can wear one.
The big day – any tips on how brides can look and feel their absolute best in their wedding gown on their big day?
Make sure one of your bridal party knows how to get you in to your gown and how to bustle the train for dancing if there is one. Try practicing at your final fitting to avoid unnecessary stress on the day.
Most of all, keep calm and remember what the day is really about: you and your partner celebrating each other. Everything else is just stuff.
Aftercare – once the big day has been and gone, what should brides do with their dress/what are the options?
Depending on your sentimentality there are a few options you can choose post wedding to either preserve or recoup. If you intend to have your gown professionally cleaned I recommend you use a specialist gown and luxury fabric cleaner. We offer a post wedding dry cleaning service in our boutiques with the option of a long-term storage box in a design of your choice. Speak to your boutique to see if they do something similar or have any recommendations.
Timeless dress design: Swanson by Suzanne Neville
Showstopper dress design: Margo by Enzoani
Favourite dress trend: I love unusual fabrics, so I’m a big fan of gowns that have plenty of texture to them such as brocade, printed organza and thick textured Mikados. There is nothing more beautiful than a simple gown, expertly cut in a beautiful fabric so I’m a big fan of the simplicity popular with brides at the moment.
Celebrity style: For everyday fashion I love Holly Willoughby, she always looks expertly put together and I am constantly Googling where her outfits are from.
Favourite wedding trend: We have seen so much in the way of blush pinks, rose gold, greys and mixed metallic colour palettes over the last couple of years, I am very excited to see some strong opulent tones coming through now too – think peacocks, exotic landscapes and rich jewels.
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