From financial services to helping brides find their dream gown, Keeley has certainly been on a journey in her career. Now successfully running the beautiful Eden Wedding Boutique in Penrith, she’s found her happy place and we’ve loved hearing all about it.
Let UNVEILED Network Member Keeley answer your questions, help you find The One and put you at ease in her calm boutique oasis, offering the dedicated service you’d want for such a special time. With someone else taking the reins you can just let yourself relax into the process and be swept away by your dream dress when you first try it on, and then have it made exclusively for you so it fits like a beautiful white glove. Excited? So are we and it’s not even our wedding!
Let’s hand over to Keeley to walk you brides-to-be through the dos, don’ts and general insider intel so you’re even more prepared, ready and raring to go on your own dress hunt.
With images by Bridgette Ibbotson Photography.
Hi! I’m Keeley, owner of Eden Wedding Boutique in Penrith, Lake District. I opened our boutique in August 2017, providing private and exclusive appointments in a relaxed setting.
Where did your passion for bridal fashion begin?
I’ve always loved bridal and to run my own business has always been a dream. I worked in financial services for 15 years before taking the leap. Although I came from a very different industry, I think the knowledge and experience I gained was a massive help with the running of Eden. Making my first fact-finding visit to London Bridal Week, I soon realised what a fantastic industry I was about to join!
Tell us about what makes your boutique special?
A word that’s used a lot by people to describe the boutique when they walk in is ‘calm’, and that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve. With neutral and grey tones throughout and open spaces our brides feel instantly relaxed and at ease. Our appointments are completely exclusive, giving brides my undivided attention and the privacy that they deserve.
Does the boutique have a signature style of gown?
I suppose our range could be described as ‘classic boho’. In the lakes we’re lucky to have such a diverse choice of venues so our brides could be getting married in anything from a barn to a castle. Our carefully chosen collection of gowns can suit most venues so we usually have something for everyone.
Which labels do you stock?
We stock four bridal labels; Ellis, Wendy Makin, Wtoo and Willowby, and one bridesmaid label, Sorella Vita.
Ellis is our British label and has been with us from the start. Our Ellis gowns offer more of a classic feel, our mikado ballgown is a firm favourite with brides. Even if they know they want a fitted gown, most brides can’t resist trying a ballgown on to fulfil their childhood princess dream – and they often fall so in love with it that their dress choice can completely change!
Wendy Makin’s style is effortlessly elegant! I fell in love with the clean lines and simplicity of her gowns so just had to bring them to Eden. Wendy’s gowns prove that sometimes less really is more.
I’ve always loved Wtoo so I was so excited when we took the American label. Their designs are so diverse, offering classic styles so something a little more ‘out there’. I love to see my brides embrace their braver side when it comes to dress shopping – nothing makes me feel more accomplished than watching a bride’s confidence grow throughout the appointment until she’s absolutely rocking a gown that she never felt she was brave enough to wear!
Willowby is our most recent addition to Eden! The Lake District lends itself so well to boho style weddings so it made perfect sense to bring Willowby into the fold. Relaxed gowns, subtle tones and gorgeous fabrics mean that Willowby brides can achieve the boho look without sacrificing their bride style!
What sizes do you carry?
Our samples in-store range from size 10 to size 22, with our average sample size a 12/14. Our designers all offer gowns up to a size 30.
What sort of price point are your gowns?
Our made to order gowns range from £1,195 – £1,899. We also have a sample sale rail of ready to wear gowns, all under £1,000.
Where would you advise couples to look for inspiration?
Instagram is a fantastic platform when it comes to wedding planning so I would probably start there. Magazines are also a brilliant way to gather ideas, make notes and circle favourites then pop it in your memory box when you’ve finished, leaving you a lovely keepsake to look back on.
How do you approach each appointment?
Prior to each appointment, I ask the bride to provide some information into the type of wedding she has in mind, any factors she’s looking for in a dress, special requirements to consider etc – that way I already have a pretty clear picture of what she wants from her dress.
I always start an appointment with a nice chat. I completely understand that walking into a bridal shop can be daunting for some brides so, before we even look at a dress, I like to have a relaxed conversation with them so we can get to know each other. It’s also a good time to pick up on any body hang ups (we all have them) so I can get a feel for what they’re going to feel confident in.
If it’s a bride’s first appointment I’ll go into more detail around how the made to order process works and lead times etc. I will also give a brief overview of our designers – I’m careful at this stage not to bombard my bride and overwhelm her though. Usually by this time she is more relaxed and easing into this brand new experience, so we’ll start to look at the dresses. I encourage brides to consider all shapes and styles and not focus too much on one style. It can be trial and error at first – and more often than not they will fall in love with a gown that they never expected to choose!
Tell us about the fittings and alterations process?
When her dress arrives, I always invite my bride to come in and try it on for the very first time. It’s usually 3-4 months since she originally chose the dress so this is a brilliant opportunity for her to get that feeling again! It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous at this point and ‘what if I don’t like it any more?’ and ‘what if it doesn’t fit me?’ are very common questions, but once they get their gown on the excitement comes bubbling back to the top and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it.
Although we don’t have an in-house seamstress we do have a list of recommended seamstresses. Not all of our brides are local so it helps to be able to recommend a seamstress closer to their home. We always recommend starting alterations 2-3 months prior to the wedding but advise brides to book their seamstress appointments in advance.
Why should brides shop in independent, local boutiques?
Independent boutiques are run by real people with a passion for the industry. We really care about the experience we offer and it’s paramount that you leave us happy – even if you didn’t find ‘the one’. Word of mouth is still a huge factor when brides are considering where to shop. I love that our brides can ask us anything – whether it’s our opinion on colour choices or recommendations for local cake makers, or even just to have a vent that the chief bridesmaid is refusing to wear pink! We’re here for our brides every step of the way – you just wouldn’t get that in the larger chain stores or on the internet.
What do your brides love about your service?
Our feedback is always that we made our brides feel so relaxed and at ease with no pressure to buy. A bride needs to love her gown, not be pushed into it.
What are your top tips for brides when choosing their wedding outfits?
- Keep an open mind and be willing to try dresses on that you haven’t considered.
- Work out your budget. It’s important that you don’t let costs spiral out of control.
- Make sure you choose what YOU want, although we all value other people’s opinions, try not to let them sway you away from what you love.
And your no-nos?
- Don’t be tempted to bring your entire bridal party to your appointment. You will end up with so many differing opinions that you won’t know what to do.
- Although it’s normal to want to try every dress possible try not to overdo it. Visiting 1-3 boutiques should be enough – any more than that and you might go ‘dress blind’, not being able to remember where you saw that dress you loved and finding that they’re all merging together.
- No fake tan or heavy makeup – it’s all too tempting to bronze up for the dress shopping but this can really damage the gowns. It’s also lovely to see your natural self in the dresses – let your own beauty shine through!
What trends do you see coming up in bridal fashion for 2021 and beyond?
I love how the range of designs are broadening. Brides are able to show their personality through their gown rather than conforming to tradition. 2021 is definitely the year for pushing the boundaries! Bolder fabrics are emerging with the focus on floral and even celestial themes. Sleeves are becoming more popular too!
And what about accessories?
We stock accessories from Ivory & Co and Arianna Tiaras. Ivory & Co offer a slightly more traditional look, but often with a modern edge. Arianna Tiaras pieces are all made to order so brides can choose from a wide range of colours, metals and stones to complete their look. The statement pearl tiara is my absolute favourite!
Pick a favourite…
Dress for 2021? I think at the moment it has to be Cosette by Willowby. I absolutely love the floaty cap sleeve and the fit of Cosette. The fabric is absolutely stunning. It’s a real ‘wow’ gown!
Trend for 2021? Pockets will always be a winner! Who doesn’t love a pocket?
First dance track? If I was getting married now I think it would have to be the silky tones of John Legend!
Iconic wedding dress of all time? In recent times it has to be Kate Middleton but Audrey Hepburn’s dress was absolutely stunning and will always be one of my favourites. You can see many elements of Audrey’s gown in today’s styles.
Celebrity you would most want to dress? I’d love to dress Stacey Solomon for her wedding to Joe! Stacey is such a lovely, normal person and she deserves the best day. Her bubbly personality would shine through so really it would be no challenge at all to make her look stunning!