UNVEILED Network

Everlasting: Love Story Bridal Boutique

15th December 2021 | Alexis Forsyth

It’s all in the name. Love Story Bridal Boutique is all about you and your unique love story, helping you to handpick the wedding dress of your dreams and bring the next chapter of your romance to life.

Owned by Stephanie Harlow, UNVEILED Network Member boutique Love Story Bridal Boutique is based in Longridge, Preston and opened its doors back in January 2017.

Since the age of 16, Stephanie has worked as a bridal consultant in various boutiques, so she really knows her stuff when it comes to wedding dress shopping and helping brides discover ‘the one’.

She was keen to create a boutique with a warm and relaxed ambience, with no pink or beige in sight, but with a classic timeless twist. And we think she’s nailed it. Obsessed with Old Hollywood and the glamour of black and white movies – Stephanie has a sprinkling of this magical bygone era inside her boutique, making it a shopping experience to remember.

Handpicking each and every gown from a pool of truly stellar designers – Stephanie ensures her collection suits every bride, no matter their personal style, size, or shape. Let’s delve into her rack of beauties now and find out more about her fabulous business.

Images supplied by Love Story Bridal Boutique

Where did your passion for bridal fashion begin?

Stephanie says: I got a Saturday job by chance at 16 in a bridal boutique near my college and loved meeting brides and hearing about their day, then finding the right dress for them. I seemed to have a knack for finding shapes and styles that worked for people’s bodies and I then became a consultant for various other boutiques in the North West before opening my own store once my youngest child turned two so that I could focus on the business.

It’s a myth that it’s all happy faces and pretty dresses. Admin and being on the ball are 90% of the job, as brides can go through all kinds of life stresses while planning their day that you must support them through. I thrive on taking stress off the bride’s shoulders though – there’s nothing a brew and a chat can’t fix!

Tell us about what makes your boutique special?

We’re a very relaxed and friendly bunch. The kettle is always on and Grandma is here baking regularly! Our ethos is ‘timeless’ and the ‘Love Story’ theme runs throughout the boutique with old books and gold frames that nod to the glamour and style of Old Hollywood that I love so much.

I’ve worked in bridal for such a long time and have seen many trends come and go. I want every bride to adore their dress 20 years after their wedding day. Your wedding pictures will be in people’s front rooms for years to come – you shouldn’t cringe at them!

Does the boutique have a signature style of gown?

Although we do specialise in vintage style gowns, we have all styles, shapes and sizes from modern fitted dresses to ballgowns plain and simple or covered in bling, but the main theme is that our gowns won’t date.

Which labels do you stock and why did you choose them?

Sophia Tolli – I’ve worked with Sophia since I started out in bridal at 16, so I know her style and how reliable the company is. Her dresses are divine and beautifully made.

True Bride – Our vintage-inspired gowns with Gatsby-style beading and classic lace detail. We also stock their tea-length range Brighton Belle inspired by the 1950s and 60s.

Casablanca – Our amazing show-stopper label from America. They offer amazing customisation options that brides love and they’re such a nice family business.

Enzoani Beautiful/Etoile – This label is all about shape, lush fabric, and glamour. Very little beadwork or bling and beautiful simplicity – perfect for the pared-back bride.

St Patrick & La Sposa – Spanish lace with a boho vibe!

What sizes do you carry?

Our samples start from 0 up to a size 20 but we can – and have – ordered sizes over this.

What sort of price point are your gowns?

We keep our gowns under £2000 as a guide so our tea-length and sample dresses start at £850, with gowns most commonly ranging from £1200 -to£1600 but nothing over £2000 unless it’s a special designer event and we loan in extra gowns.

How do you approach each appointment?

We make a brew then sit and listen as the bride tells us all about her big day. It’s the best part of the job and so important to chat with the bride and her guests about her vision for the day and what she feels comfortable in. The bride can then choose which gowns she’d like to try on and we advise some choices of our own. It’s a lovely, organic process to get to ‘the one’.

Tell us about the fittings and alterations process?

Again, it’s a process between the bride and ourselves. I’m a bit OCD about dresses fitting correctly – I can’t stand when they gape at the top! We can customise by adding a detachable capped sleeve or by moving lace around to make your gown ‘yours’. We cap our alteration costs at £250 and they can be less than that.

Why should brides shop in independent, local boutiques?

So many reasons! You’re creating a story of how you found your dress and you only do it once (well, with that partner at least!).

Good bridal boutiques are so much more than wedding dresses – we are a wealth of knowledge and advice on fit, cuts, fabric, problem-solving, shapes…I could go on and on. We’ll guide you from the initial enquiry right up to steaming your gown the day before you collect it and you’ll have the most beautiful story to tell.

Buying a gown from an independent boutique is buying from a small business, but also the designer and seamstresses that create your gown. You are supporting so many people with your bridal purchase.

What do your brides love about your service?

Read our reviews – you won’t find a single review under 5*. Brides know that if they book an appointment at Love Story they won’t be pushed into anything, as we are discreet and friendly, our dresses are gorgeous and well-made, and our prices are fair. Brides love coming here, in fact 80% of our brides are recommendations from friends and family!

What are your top tips for clients when choosing their wedding outfits?

  1. Bring the right people – but not too many. It gets overwhelming with more than 2 or 3 guests and brides can become confused and stressed. You can always bring more people once the decision is made for a ‘reveal’ and make a day of it.
  2. Decide on a budget before you go dress shopping. Feel free to call shops and ask their price ranges then decide on an amount that sits comfortably with you. We never want a bride to fall in love with a dress she can’t have.
  3. Research two or three boutiques that you feel drawn to, find out their style, personality and price points and then book in. Call for a chat, if you’d like to get a feel for us, but don’t overwhelm yourself with ten shops!

And the no-nos?

  1. Again, don’t bring too many guests! It’s such a common mistake that brides comment on.
  2. Don’t book appointments ‘just to get an idea’ because chances are, you’ll find The One and you won’t have the right people with you, or you won’t feel your best and it may be out of budget.
  3. Absolutely do not be nervous! This is fun! You’re about to create a story you’ll tell for the rest of your life so don’t be self-conscious of size, scars, rolls, bumps, or anything. We’ve seen it all – we just want you to have a lovely time.

What trends do you see emerging in bridal fashion?

Our ethos is ‘timeless’ so we don’t necessarily follow trends as they can date quickly, but there’s definitely a lot more fitted, sexy dresses emerging. I think after a year of sweatpants, brides want to dress up and show off their figures again!

And what about accessories?

Oh, we love customising brides with accessories as it can change the whole look of a dress! We have subtle hair combs, blingy tiaras, and all varieties of belts, veils and capes made by the best creators, varying in price from £20 to £250.

Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about?

Every bride that purchases a Love Story gown gets one of our infamous goody bags and gains entry to the Love Story Brides community on Facebook where brides can share recommendations, ideas and tips for their wedding days.

Pick a fave…

Dress – Jocelyn by Casablanca – the pictures do not do this gown justice!

Trend – Bishop sleeves.

First dance track – ‘Iris’ by The Goo Goo Dolls

Iconic wedding dress –  My Grandma’s tea-length gown she wore in 1954. There’s a picture of it on the website and it hangs up pride of place in-store – she styled it with a veiled headpiece and looked stunning.

Celebrity you would most want to dress – Hedy Lamarr – my absolute heroine! Or I’d re-do Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, it just didn’t fit well.

Find out more and make your appointment at www.lovestorybridal.co.uk

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