Today the wedding industry spotlight is shining on Kerensa of Bijou Bridal Boutique as she imparts some of her wisdom and top tips for brides who’ve still to find their dream dress.
With a pretty interior, friendly and experienced service and a cup of tea from a lovely bone china tea set, we reckon you’d be smart to make UNVEILED Network Member Bijou Bridal Boutique your destination for dress shopping in or around the Holmfirth area of West Yorkshire. And we totally love it when a boutique or business champions homegrown British design!
Kerensa has been chatting to us about her favourite parts of the job, the trends she’s seeing becoming or remaining big in the not-too-distant future and she’s even passed on some great pointers for you lovely lot that you may or may not have considered, so take heed and make sure you avoid spray tan and wear underwear, ladies!
Images provided by Bijou Bridal Boutique
Well, hello there!
Hello! I am Kerensa, I own and run Bijou Bridal Boutique in the beautiful market town of Holmfirth in West Yorkshire.
Where did your passion for bridal fashion begin?
My passion for bridal fashion started over 30 years ago when I was an excited bride-to-be myself, looking for the perfect wedding dress. There weren’t as many boutiques around back then but the experience I had sowed the seed to one day have my own beautiful bridal boutique.
Tell us about what makes your boutique special?
Bijou Bridal Boutique is special for a multitude of reasons but I would say that the main one is it’s unique interior colour choice. Most bridal shops tend to go for different shades of pink but I wanted to step away from that tradition and so I decided to incorporate my own personal wedding colour into the interior; subtle shades of silver grey, ivory and sherbert yellow, giving it a fresh and spring like feel, and also adding a bit of my personality and style into it. The carpet in the bridal lounge area is extra special too as it is a very sparkly carpet! Who doesn’t love a bit of sparkle?! Pre-Covid, I was even using our bone china tea set that we received as part of our wedding gifts! My past brides have loved that extra special touch. So overall, I’d say it’s modern, bright, spacious and at the same time, feminine and welcoming.
Does the boutique have a signature style of gown?
Yes, our signature style of gown is classic and timeless but with a modern edge. Our British designers are at the forefront of cutting edge bridal style and so their collections that we showcase reflect this.
Which labels do you stock and why did you choose them?
My very first label was Ivory & Co. and I am very proud to still be a premier stockist of their gorgeous silk collections. I then very quickly fell in love with Alan Hannah, followed by their Mia Mia collection and, sticking to my USP of British Designers, have added the beautiful Olivia Rose Bridal collection by Romantica and the latest addition, Nicola Anne.
What sizes do you carry?
I carry sizes 10 to 16.
What sort of price point are your gowns?
From £1,000 to £2,500.
Where would you advise couples to look for inspiration when beginning the dress hunt?
I would advise brides to search online for reputable directories in their area, for example, Brides Up North or UNVEILED. Also search for bridal shops that are fairly local to you and see what designers and styles they carry before booking an appointment when shops reopen. People buy from people so make a connection if you can with bridal shop owners and be open minded about trying different styles. You never know until you have a dress on how you are going to feel in it.
How do you approach each appointment?
I am fortunate to have an online booking system on the website and so as soon as a booking comes through, I will contact the bride and introduce myself. It is always good to make contact before the appointment to help the bride feel at ease. She may have questions or need advice.
When the bride and her guests arrive for the appointment, she is greeted and welcomed and they are all escorted to the bridal lounge area and offered refreshments. I get to know the bride, asking her about her groom, ask to see her engagement ring and we go through what she is looking for in a dress. When everyone is comfortable, we will then focus on the different designers and dresses and take it from there.
During the entire appointment, the focus is on the bride and helping her to find her style. It might be asking what she likes and dislikes and choosing different options for her to try. Teasing out the little details and getting her to express how she is feeling in each dress she tries on.
A dress changes when you factor in accessories and, so as long as the bride is happy to, we will always complete the look with a veil and perhaps a headdress. Sometimes these items can be the deciding factor. It’s the whole look that can make all the difference and get those tears flowing!
Tell us about the fittings and alterations process?
Our fittings are usually carried out approximately 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding date on a late afternoon/early evening on a designated day but we are flexible if the bride doesn’t live locally and needs an appointment at a different time. I have a dedicated professional wedding dress seamstress who comes to the boutique for fittings and we work so well together. There are always lots of giggles during these fitting appointments! We like the bride to feel at ease in the run up to her wedding day and we like to keep these appointments as relaxed as possible. Hand on heart, I can safely say we have never had any tears or tantrums during our fittings. I trust my seamstress implicitly. Any charges for alterations made to a wedding gown are made directly to my seamstress for the work she has done. A lot of bridal shops offer packages but I feel that this can be unfair if the cost of alterations is smaller than the package charge. The bride has already paid a great deal for her gown and accessories!
Why should brides shop in independent boutiques?
Brides should shop in independent local boutiques because the level of customer service they will receive is second to none. It isn’t everyday that you purchase a wedding gown at such great expense and, when you purchase from a small independent boutique, you are in the very best hands. The bridal experience that each bride deserves, the knowledge of the products they sell and that one point of contact for everything, is vitally important to ensure the wedding day is as special as it can possibly be.
What do your brides love about your service?
My brides love the personal touch. Through the entire process it’s me, the face of Bijou Bridal Boutique, that they are dealing with at every step of the way. If anything goes wrong, which it usually doesn’t, they know that they can contact me and I am the one who is responsible for putting it right. There is no other member of staff that can be blamed or referred to. There is complete consistency through the entire journey and one contact, and they love it.
What are your top 3 tips for dress shopping?
- Start the wedding dress hunt at least 9-12 months in advance of the wedding to keep stress levels down and ensure you have plenty of time for fittings and choosing accessories.
- Keep the choice of boutiques you visit to local ones and also to a minimum. Think about whether you are happy to drive for an hour for fitting appointments and if you choose too many shops to visit you will be overwhelmed with too much choice. It will be harder to make a decision.
- Keep your guests to those around you whose opinions really matter and who will have your best interests at heart. Don’t forget that your ‘tribe’ can sometimes change into green eyed monsters, even for your wedding day!
What trends do you see emerging in bridal fashion for 2021 and beyond?
2020 going into 2021 has been an unpredictable year for the bridal industry as a whole. None of us have experienced much of it, apart from inside our homes! Fashion trends usually go full circle and I believe that, because of the pandemic, we may see a lot more smaller intimate weddings with a lot more focus on the couple and the meaning of marriage, rather than the reception party. Something that has been key for this year is sleeves, full length and floaty, and sometimes detachable, so that the bride can switch up her look from daytime to evening. A floaty chiffon sleeve showing a hint of skin can be very sexy but demure and romantic, and accentuate the beauty of the dress. I can see sleeves going into 2022.
And what about accessories?
I have a wonderful collection of hair accessories and shoes by leading British bridal names, Ivory & Co., Richard Designs, Joyce Jackson, Harriet Wilde and Diane Hassall. Coming soon to the boutique is the beautiful floral bridal accessory brand Vivi Embellish which are all handmade in England. I chose these because of their floral and feminine uniqueness, and the ability to create a bespoke piece if requested. Choosing a classic styled gown doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate your feminine side by accessorising with a beautiful floral headband!
Tell us about your beautiful treat for your brides?
Any brides who book and find their perfect dress, will all receive a beautiful handmade kimono in a colour of their choice and the date of their wedding embroidered onto the back, as a gift from the boutique. We want every bride to start their wedding day by feeling incredibly special, and wearing one of these for the wedding prep is sure to make you feel just that!
Have you got any special events or trunk shows coming up?
I am currently confirming dates with my designers for Designer Days and so keep an eye out on social media and the website for dates!
Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about?
One very important piece of information is for the bride who might be concerned that she doesn’t have enough time to order a brand new gown. Here at Bijou, three of our British designers can create your special gown within a matter of weeks instead of months and this is because their collections are made right here in the UK. Don’t hastily purchase an off the peg or sample gown before seeing what we can offer as we would hate for any bride to think she has to ‘settle’ rather than choose the perfect dress.
Pick a favourite…
Dress for 2021? Either Alan Hannah’s Erika or Nicola Anne’s bohemian sleeves.
Trend for 2021? Long, chiffon, floaty sleeves.
First dance track? The Power of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Iconic wedding dress ? It has to be Princess Grace of Monaco’s dress, and more recently I also loved Kate Middleton’s dress too!
Celebrity crush? Holliday Grainger. She is a true English Rose.
How can couples get in touch with you and book an appointment?
We have an online booking system for VIP bridal appointments and bridesmaid appointments. There is a nominal charge as we have had to reduce the amount of appointments we can currently carry out in the boutique in one day and so we direct everyone to the booking link which is www.bijoubridalboutique.co.uk/booking