Buying Your Wedding Dress: Tips From Suppliers- Part One

When you get married one of the most exciting things is buying your wedding dress! But it can also be one of the scariest and daunting parts of planning your big day!  At the end of the day it is supposed a happy occasion and shouldn’t cause you stress. There seems to be all these traditions and rules about buying your dress. So….we know quite a lot about weddings but when it comes to your dress we decided to ask the experts. Thanks to some ladies on our Lush List we managed to pop these jewels of information together and hope that they help you out. 

Who should you bring to your bridal appointment?


Rachel Burgess Bridal BoutiqueThere are no rules whatsoever about how many people you should take with you when trying on dresses. Here in the Boutique I meet Brides who prefer to look at dresses on their own, and other Brides who like to bring key members of their family and closest friends with them – I’ve even had Brides who have brought their husband to-be with them to help make the decision.

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My advice would be to trust your instinct and take people along to help make that decision who know you well. This is your time to try on as many dresses as you like – but stay true to who you are and find a dress that represents that perfectly, so that when you look back at your photos you think ‘yes, I totally did that my way’. If a dress makes you emotional and you fall in love with it – trust those tears! If you can’t stop thinking about a particular dress then that too speaks volumes!  My biggest tip would be to – HAVE FUN! This is such an exciting time and don’t ever feel any pressure to make a rushed decision!

photo-12-10-2016-16-25-58Photos Courtesy of Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique

Dress alterations and fittings.


CocoMio Bridal BoutiqueThere is huge celebration when you find your dress. Then the important question arises of what size and how will the dress fit to me?

We are very experienced and we will always measure your bust, waist, hips and length. We will also measure your arms if the dress has a sleeve. We will check all designer sizing charts and will choose the size based on the largest measurement in accordance with the dress style and knowing our expertise in this field. We make all brides aware that alterations are required with every dress and we recommend a seamstress so brides can book in with advance notice for two months before the wedding. Some of our designers will allow customisation with a heavy fee but if you change size wise then you are again paying double so most brides stick to the size being ordered and then get the dress altered after.

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Alterations can cost anywhere between £80-£250 and again it may cost more if the dress has more work in it or heavily beaded. The alterations cost in Wales is only a fraction of some cities like London where it can cost up to £500 to alter an evening gown, no mind a wedding dress so don’t fret over the charges as it could be worse. We get many brides who travel from London and the surrounding areas to see our collection and use the work of a skilled seamstress here because it is cheaper to travel and gives the girls a road trip to look forward to.

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So what happens at the seamstress? Well it is usually set out over 2-3 fittings. First one is trying on the dress and letting the experienced seamstress pin and tuck the dress in the correct places to ensure it fits and looks perfect. You leave your dress with them over a few weeks while they carry out the work and then you go back for your second fitting. The dress should be perfect at this fitting and if you are unhappy with anything then you should speak now so it can be sorted and a third appointment arranged. The dress will be steamed and ready to go for the wedding and placed back in the gown bag. If a bride wants to use their own seamstress then that is perfect. We have no obligation to our seamstress but we will always recommend a professional.

cocomioPhotos Courtesy of CocoMio Bridal Boutique

Why is it important to book an appointment?


One1 BridalA brides search for her gown can be a roller-coaster of emotions. There is the excitement for finding her dream dress, combined with a few nerves of the unknown when trying bridal gowns for the first time! Your consultant should consider your overall big day style, budget and body shape when guiding you towards the perfect gowns to try.

Since bridal gowns are generally grander than anything you will have tried before so our consultant is on hand to assist you in getting into them! The second step is pinning the gown as required so that you have the best idea of how you will look when the size is correct. Our samples range from a size 10-18 but with some insider tricks we can make most of our sample gowns fit all! Once duly accessorised you are ready for your big reveal to your nearest and dearest. Knowing you are the only bride in the store and receiving our undivided care and attention definitely gives you that luxurious experience you have always dreamed of!

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It can take a surprising amount of work to organise a visit to a bridal store, rallying your entourage to find a day and time when they are all available. It would be extremely disappointing to go to all of that effort and arrive at a store only to find that there are no available appointments. By booking your appointment in advance you can relax and look forward to the wonderful experience that awaits you!

If you plan on visiting a few stores in the same day having appointments booked and a schedule in mind means everyone will know where they should be at what time and you can even schedule in a little lunch/dinner or some cheeky cocktails!

We always recommend booking an appointment although we are not strictly appointment only, so of course if a bride arrives and we are available we happily offer her the full ONE1 Bridal experience.

one1weddingdressescardiffPhotos Courtesy of One1 Bridal

I hope that these have helped! Make sure you check back over the next few weeks to get the next installment of Buying Your Wedding Dress.

Bride to Be Diary: Claire finds THE Dress!

Our Bride to Be Claire is back this week to talk about the big one- dress shopping! She also has a HUGE announcement to make!

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Plus +1…

Hello there cwtchers! You might recall, way back in my first blog post, that I mentioned that I would be working my way round to discussing that all important topic… THE wedding dress! Well, that post has arrived!

In all honesty, this is not going to be the same post as I had planned all those months ago as I have some news to share with you all… At the time this post goes to press, I will be approximately twenty eight weeks pregnant!! Our little baby Double L is due to join us on the 3rd June 2015… Squuueeeeeeeeeaaaallll! baby

Christian and I say “I do” on the 15th August 2015… Nothing like a bit of pressure to squeeze your post baby body into a size 10 wedding dress that has already been ordered and paid for, is there?!  I will most definitely be needing this…

But fret not, I’m not going to make this post all about the joys of pregnancy as this is a wedding blog, right? But, I am hoping this post, if nothing else, gives a bit of support to any of you bride to be’s who find yourself in the same position as me!

Before I get to most recent events, I want to re-live and revel in my wedding dress shopping experience which took place around three months before I found out I was expecting Little Baby Double L! I’ll admit quite freely that I’m not a full on shopaholic but neither do I detest shopping… so I probably fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes!

I was pretty determined from the outset though that while I wanted to make sure I’d seen a good selection of dresses before making my final choice, I did not want to trawl around a million shops trying on a ridiculous amount of dresses just for the sheer fun of it… If this happened, I had visions of completely forgetting what I had tried on where, and what I loved the most.

Aside from this, there was also the fact that my shopping partners in crime (my best girls on one trip and my mother and sister on the other two trips) would probably have lost interest at dress 550 and been more interested on what time they could get the hell out of the bridal shop, never to return with me again! So, as with all things in my life, and especially when it comes down to the C&C wedding, I had a plan… Bridal shops, including their reviews and online stock, would be researched online and, coupled with any general gut feeling I had about the shop (I think instinct has got a lot going for it!) my search would be narrowed down to three shops.Obviously, I wasn’t going to force myself into finding a dress just in these three shops but, if I couldn’t find the dress of my dreams, I would go back to the drawing board.

My wedding dress inspiration came from good old pinterest and my specially dedicated wedding dress board started to fill up at the rate of knots!

Image Source

Image Source – Berta Elite on Pinterest

Image Source

Image Source – Sophia Tolli on Pinterest

Image Source - Anna Campbel on Pinterest

Image Source – Anna Campbel on Pinterest

Appointments were made at each of my chosen shops and I will openly admit that, at the first shop and at about five dresses in, I was convinced that I had found “THE dress.” Note to all fellow bride to be’s, however obvious this may sound – DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT NOT LOOKING AT ANY OTHER DRESSES IN ANY OTHER SHOPS! After much encouragement, I doddled along to my next appointment around two weeks after my first wedding dress shopping experience and, at about three dresses in, convinced myself again that the dress found on my first wedding dress shopping expedition was no longer for me and this newly discovered dress was definitely “THE dress!” Worried that I had could have potentially missed the dress of my dreams by choosing the dress at the first bridal shop, I was hell bent on visiting my last shop, just in case the same thing happened again.

My last shop to visit was All About Eve in Newport and, from the minute I stepped through the door, I really really hoped that I could find “THE dress” there – My gut instinct had definitely kicked in. I just loved the atmosphere in the shop and Nicole, the lady assigned to help me couldn’t have been more helpful and encouraging. I picked out around five dresses myself – the last but one I tried on I just knew was “THE dress.” It sounds really strange but with other dresses I had tried on, I just felt as though something wasn’t quite right with them and, if I could, I would have changed something about each one of them. With “THE dress” though, there is literally not a thing I would change about any of it and it felt perfect for me.

So, in dizzy excitement, my pre-baby-growing body was measured up, “THE dress” ordered and the deposit paid. I trotted off from the shop completely pleased with myself and remember thinking that the due in date for my dress of February 2015 was soooooo far in advance, I had plenty of time to hone my body into perfect fitting shape for when it arrived and enough time to shed those Christmas pounds I would more than likely have gained.

Little did I know that come February, I would be sporting a very shapely baby bump and would just be looking at my dress when it arrived rather than trying it on! At the time of writing this, my dress hasn’t yet arrived but when it does, I plan on having a sneaky peek then finding the best seamstress in town who is prepared to give me a final fitting potentially two weeks before the wedding and make the alterations in that time too… If my calculations serve me correctly, I will have (taking into account me being overdue and having the longest labour in history) approximately six weeks to get my post baby body in shape to fit my dress… P.R.E.S.S.U.R.E!!

I have obviously thought about what’s going to happen in the event that I just can’t, as much as it makes me teary thinking about it, get into my dress. I’m preparing myself for the situation where I may have to buy another, last minute dress, which may not be as perfect as the one I’ve ordered. But hey, apart from me, my mother and my sister (who are the only other two people to have seen my dress), who else is going to know that it wasn’t my first choice? Not only that but marriage, to me, is about, pure and simple, love, love, love and heaps of it, not the dress you are wearing or how groomed and styled you are on the day… It goes without saying though that with a newborn baby to look after in the build up to the wedding, the Touche eclat will be out in full force on our wedding day together with every available tool to make me look good and camouflage any signs of new baby stress and tiredness!

Lots of people asked me when I announced my pregnancy whether we would be postponing the wedding. In a build up to any wedding, I’m sure that any bride to be who is stressed enough as it is trying to hold down a full time job, plan a wedding and then have the impending arrival of a mini them to plan for too may consider, even if only for one fleeting moment, postponing, but, my honest view is that, the only effect the arrival of our little bundle of Double L joy will have on our wedding will be my ability to possibly not be able to squeeze myself into my lovely dress. Take that out of the equation and nothing else is affected – City Hall and the Norwegian Church will still be as beautiful as ever, our friends and family will still be our amazing guests and, most importantly, I will still be marrying the man of my dreams who will also, at the time of our wedding, be the father of our child – what more could a girl ask for?!! Perspective is key and when you think about it in these terms, the dress really is a tiny part of a day that will be truly amazing regardless as to the dress that you’ll be strutting down the aisle in and looking amazing in!

Massive CONGRATULATIONS to Claire!!! 

I would love to hear from you in the comments, have you discovered you are pregnant during wedding planning? How did you work around it, are you postponing or are you carrying on with your plans like our Claire? Have you any advice for anyone else in the same situation? Pop a comment in the box! Xx

 

High Street Wedding Dresses

We know that not everyone chooses to, or has the budget to buy their wedding dress in a bridal shop, and with so many gorgeous alternatives on the high street that doesn’t mean you can’t still wow on your big day. Classic Bride Charlie is here with some of her favourite High Street wedding dresses to give you some inspiration.

Hi Cwtchers!

Continuing my series of High Street fashions I have decided to go for the big one- wedding dresses! Some of these dresses are gorgeous and for a bride on a budget would be perfect. I have tried to narrow down a selection of different styles and lengths, I hope you see something you like!

Sylvia by Ghost

Sylvia by Ghost

Diana by Ghost

Diana by Ghost

Fiona by Coast

Fiona by Coast

Jacinti from Coast

Jacinti by Coast

Breita by Coast

Breita by Coast

Elodie by Phase Eight

Elodie by Phase Eight

Sally by Phase Eight

Sally by Phase Eight

1920's Style dress from Etsy

1920’s Style dress from Etsy

1950's style tea length dress from Etsy

1950’s style tea length dress from Etsy

Embellished Maxi from Miss Selfridge

Embellished Maxi from Miss Selfridge

Blue Sequin Maxi from Miss Selfridge

Blue Sequin Maxi from Miss Selfridge

Carlotta from Monsoon Bridal

Carlotta from Monsoon Bridal

Iris from Monsoon Bridal

Iris from Monsoon Bridal

What do you think? Would you wear a high street wedding dress? I honestly can’t see why not when they look as gorgeous as this!

Charlie x

 

The Mother of All Dresses

Today, We have our Classic Bride Charlie offering her advice on Mother of the Bride outfits!

Mother of the bride (or groom) shopping can go two ways- lots of fun or lots of stress! I loved going shopping with my mum for her outfit for my wedding although we did worry we would never find anything suitable. A lot of traditional mother of the bride outfits were a bit too… old for my gorgeous young-looking (and acting!) mum. We found her dress in good old Debenhams in the end, she was dead set on gold but settled for this lovely dusty pinky gold (is that a colour?) shift dress. The search for shoes however…. well we eventually found her dream pair about 4 months after the wedding!

My mum in her dress, I hope you agree that she looks beautiful. Image by Maria Farrelly

My mum in her dress, I hope you agree that she looks beautiful. Image by Maria Farrelly

And in the Photobooth, rocking some perfect accessories!

And in the Photobooth, rocking some perfect accessories!

When it comes to Mother of the Bride shopping on the high street the department stores are a great place to start. They have a real selection of outfits ranging from traditional to modern with loads in between, if you are lucky you can buy everything under one roof! My mum’s hairband was also from Debenhams, she really didn’t want to wear a hat, and we bought her accessories from Next.

While looking for some inspiration for you lovely lot I came across these pearls of wisdom from Phase Eight:

1. “Don’t wear the same colour as the bride”
This should go without saying but for some reason not everyone thinks this rule applies for the mother of the bride or groom. Obviously not all brides will mind but the courteous thing to do would be to ask.

2. “Nothing says ‘wedding’ like a fabulous occasion dress”
There is something to be said for a fabulous dress. Once you have the dress in place it should be easier to visualise the trimmings such as jacket or bolero, jewellery, shoes and accessories. (I say SHOULD because us women know that these things are never as easy as they SHOULD be!)

3. “Dress for the location”
Great advice here, as they say in the main article a church wedding outfit is very different to one worn for a beach wedding and it’s a long day so do make sure your mum will be comfortable.

4. “Wedding hat or fascinator?”
Less advice, more food for thought. As I mentioned, my mum wasn’t keen on a hat and although fascinators are a great alternative she didn’t really feel comfortable in one of those either. Sometimes it’s better to just keep it simple, after all your mum should be able to feel comfortable on the big day.

5. “If you see something you love, buy it!”
This is what we did, after all most mother of the bride outfits are seasonal or limited edition and you never know how long they might be in stock. Don’t run the risk of the perfect dress getting away.

I have sought out a little bit of High Street Mother of the Bride inspiration for you, but don’t forget- if traditional mother of the bride doesn’t float yours or your mum’s (or mum in law’s) boat then you really don’t need to follow tradition. A few years ago my auntie Tina found her dress for my cousin Jade’s wedding in New Look and she looked amazing, real boho chic.

The proud Mum with the bride and groom

The proud Mum with the bride and groom

I absolutely LOVE these Jenny Packham dresses from Debenhams, I’m pretty sure my mum would have been trying these on if they’d been out a year ago- wouldn’t you mum?!

Phase Eight have a really good selection, I have picked out a few favourites here:

And lastly here are a few more High Street gems:

Tell me about your Mother of the Bride/Groom shopping experience, have you been? Was it fun or more like hell on earth?! Or are you planning to go, are you looking forward to it? Drop a comment underneath, would love to hear your stories!

Charlie x

A Guide to Buying a Vintage or Secondhand Wedding Dress

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Vintage bride Sophie is here with a guide to buying a vintage or secondhand wedding dress. If you’re looking to save money or just really love that vintage feel then read on! :)

 

 

vintage-guide

Hi Cwtchers and a very merry Christmas to you too!

We’re feeling very Christmassy here at Cwtch HQ. I’m feeling particularly nostalgic and have been crafting and baking my heart out. There is no time of year I prefer more than the lead up to Christmas for sitting down with a hot toddy, sourcing vintage finds and I’ve been super busy putting together my guide to buying a vintage wedding dress as a Christmas present to you.

Buying any wedding dress can be a very daunting prospect. There are so many styles out there so it really helps to narrow down your search early on. As with any age of dress, new or old, it always helps to know which style suits your figure.

I would recommend trying on as many styles of dress as possible (dare I say it, even before he pops the question!) When you have your styles nailed you need to pin down the era of dress you are looking for. You can use my previous posts for inspiration and I have a catalogue of images available in my Pinterest boards for you to peruse if you are still undecided.

Choosing and locating your dream vintage dress is no mean feat. When, and if, you find your dream gown (in your size of course), you should be very proud indeed. It is unfortunate to say but I will be upfront; vintage wedding dresses are a lot harder to source in larger sizes. I say ‘larger’ in the old fashioned sense. Being a modern size 12, I struggled, and failed.

You will find that most vintage dresses are modern sizes 6, 8 and, at a push, 10. I would suggest buying and viewing dresses 1-2 dress sizes larger than the size you are as dress sizes were smaller back in the day and you can always have a dress taken in if need be. But do not be defeated, those larger sizes are out there. You may need to be a little less picky but if you have the time and patience, it really is possible to find it.

I will begin by giving you my round up of generic sites, so get them saved to ‘Favourites’ and schedule in an hour each day to review the latest picks. You need grit, time and determination to go vintage. You also need to be prepared for heartache (as I will cover later on). So if you are up for the challenge, let’s get searching…

eBay

 

The old favourite for second hand bargains. Dresses are usually sold privately on this mammoth online auction site so expect to see everything from 80s meringues to Grandma’s beautiful lace. Dresses can be shipped from all over the globe so the world really is your oyster!

Of course, unless the dress is local to you, it will not be possible to try before you buy so you do run a risk of it not fitting. Get Mum or your bridesmaids to take your measurements and if you are unsure, buy larger than you think you need. Vintage wedding dresses sell well so if you do buy something that you deem a mistake, you could relist it and sell it on yourself.

With any auction, there is the possibility that you will encounter your share of heartbreak. This happened to me. At 2am, I sat blurry-eyed, glued to the laptop, not anticipating the late night bidding war which was about to commence. The dress I had seen was in the US and I decided that I would not pay more than £450 for it. It was an original 50s number, white and adorned with exquisite black flocking around the hemline.

It was so unique and so, so beautiful. The price rose and exceeded my budget. I put in a higher bid anyway and with 3 seconds to go, I lost it by a mere £40. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried, a lot. So my advice to you is that if you do find the dress of your dreams, don’t just ‘budget’, really decide what the dress is worth to you emotionally. In hindsight, I would have paid much more and actually ended up paying a lot more for the dress I wore. Choking up, let’s move on…

Etsy

Known for its handmade treasures (perfect for unique favours and accessories), Etsy also has a vintage section – the site brings together individual sellers in an online ‘marketplace’ and there are shops on there who sell the most gorgeous vintage wedding dresses at very reasonable prices!

With no bidding, the transactional process is very straightforward: simply buy from the seller and have the dress shipped. The bonus of Etsy is that you are buying from a shop. This means you can send sellers a message before buying, asking questions, negotiating returns if it isn’t right and even making an offer. Etsy is very addictive and is a truly incredible source for unique buys for all areas of your wedding so you’d better set some time aside before popping on to this one!

Oxfam

Yes, you heard right! Oxfam have rightly cottoned on to the huge demand for vintage and preloved wedding dresses and now have a specific area dedicated to them on their website. They also have dedicated areas in selected shops (although unfortunately not in Wales: maybe we can change that!) which gives you the huge advantage of being able to try dresses on.

Again, prices are reasonable and it’s a fantastic bonus knowing that the money you spend on your dress is going to a good cause. I’ve been to the Leicester store a number of times and I did experience a lot of puffballs but that’s not to say that that dream dress isn’t lurking somewhere. Who knows what will be donated tomorrow so it is always worth a look!

Preloved

A great little site for, well, preloved anything really! The quickest and easiest way to locate what you are looking for is the search engine. It is a favourite with bridal boutiques who use the free-of-charge site to advertise their sample gowns too so let your bride-to-be pals know as it’s a great all-rounder.

You can find dresses in your area and contact the seller to arrange a viewing time. It’s a personal site so you will interact with the seller. The potential is that you could really find out the story behind the dress. I love a dress with a story and imagine if the seller has photos!

Gumtree

A bit of a long shot but miracles do happen! This is another free ad site which covers the whole of the UK. You can search by area so again, you stand a chance of finding a dress which is local to you. The whole transaction will be direct with the seller and most are paid via cash on collection, also giving you the opportunity to try before you buy!

& The Rest

Over the years, and especially in the lead up to my own wedding, I’ve put together my own little directory of bridal shops around the UK who stock and specialise in vintage wedding dresses. Some are a little further afield so may mean a weekend away but what is the harm in that?! Grab those bridesmaids and follow that star (or the shop front of choice)! :)

My Top Secret List of Stockists (shhhh)…

  • Emily Rose Vintage – This little Welsh gem is tucked away in Griffithstown, just a few miles from Newport. Not only do they have vintage gowns but you can also have a bespoke vintage style dress made! With vintage styling and bridesmaids dresses covered too, what’s not to love about it!\
  •  Charlie Brear – Flagship store in London. Prices from £1200

And that wraps up my most epic of posts to date! For those who have found or are looking for your dream vintage wedding dress, please get in touch. I will be posting a ‘Vintage Pick of the Week’ on a brand new Pinterest board especially for you lovely lot so if you are looking for anything in particular, comment below and I will do my best to find it!

I wish you all a very merry everything and a happy always,

Love

Sophie x