Linda, expert bridal stylist for Limelight occasions advises brides on wedding dress styling and fitting

It has to be perfect, you will be the centre of attention – everyone has advice to offer, there are bridal forums, magazine timelines and horror stories galore – but choosing your wedding dress is supposed to be fun! As bridal stylists, we spend hours talking with brides. We have come to the conclusion that to really enjoy the experience you need find the bridal suppliers who best suit your individual needs, so it helps to understand three key things before you start your bridal shopping:    

NUMBER ONE: THE WEDDING DRESS CYCLE

STAGE ONE: GIRLIE DAY You are getting married! Your first thought after the engagement ring is the wedding dress. At this stage you want to rush out with your friends and try on lots of frocks to get some ideas – its fun, its frivolous – it’s a girlie day out.

STAGE TWO: I LOVE THAT MAGAZINE LOOK BUT WILL IT SUIT ME? You have chosen the venue and are now researching wedding dresses seriously. You love a particular dress style in the magazines/internet, you’ve cut out the pictures and put them in a look book/Pintrest page. You’ve considered bridesmaids, colours, chair covers and flowers. Now you need to find wedding dress boutiques to help put the look together to see if it works for you. Friends and family make recommendations, you research wedding shops on line and book appointments

STAGE THREE: SPOILT FOR CHOICE Wedding dress designers are a talented bunch. There are thousands of fab frocks out there and it can be confusing trying on lots of different dress shapes and fabrics to work out why some work better than others. How quickly you find your direction depends on how you well you communicate with your stylist. If you give honest and detailed feedback on each dress , a skilful consultant will listen carefully and guide you towards finding dresses that are perfect for you.

STAGE FOUR: THE SHORT LIST Because there are so many amazing wedding dresses, we think the idea that there is only one perfect dress is now a bit of a myth. By this stage you will probably have found several dresses that you really love and you may have a front runner – but you need to be sure, so you book retry appointments at your favourite bridal shops.

STAGE FIVE: THE DECISION You have some decisions to make, you have a timescale. You must order your dress in time for it to be made, delivered and fitted perfectly. You know this is ‘the one’. Time to order and celebrate, stop looking at wedding dresses, focus on other aspects of your wedding and look forward to the day your dress arrives.

NUMBER TWO: BEFORE YOU START BRIDAL BASICS – STRAIGHT TALKING  – A WEDDING SHOP POINT OF VIEW

A bridal boutique is a bit like an iceberg. When you first arrive to look at wedding dresses, you only see the tip of it – attractive and exciting – but a wedding shop is not just about selling dresses, there is so much more going on than meets the eye. Here are Limelight’s top five before you start bridal basics:

 1. Book an appointment: The best bridal shops will go to great lengths to make you feel like the only bride in the world, but in reality they are working very hard behind the scenes to make sure that twenty or thirty brides get married in perfectly fitting wedding dresses with immaculate accessories each month. Large boutiques will supply outfits for the entire wedding party – groom, ushers, bridesmaids, mothers of the bride and groom – that’s a serious time commitment with each outfit being steamed and pressed, altered and sometimes made from scratch to suit exact requirements. So when you bowl up with your friends excited, unannounced and oblivious at stage 1 of the wedding dress cycle, ready for a lovely girlie day out trying on wedding dresses, it can be very disappointing to be greeted with ‘I’m sorry but you need an appointment.’ You may well think the shop is unfriendly and unhelpful. This is not the case, it simply means there is no consultant available to help you because they are already booked by other brides or are preparing dresses for collection. They will be sorry to disappoint you, but may have no choice but to suggest you browse and make an appointment for another day.

Other alternatives include taking the girls to a bridal outlet where they can pull out lots of dresses for you to try on, or ringing to ask a bridal shop if the girls can help you into sample sale dresses without consultant service, or you can ask to book a special girlie appointment – there will be a charge for this but consultant service and hospitality such as a cream tea or bubbly and nibbles will be provided. 

2.  Bridal stylists offer you time and expertise – value your appointment. Bridal shops understand the cycle of choosing a wedding dress. Good bridal consultants are invaluable in your search for ‘the dress’ and won’t rush you into a decision you’re not ready to make. In appointments they freely commit significant amounts of time to you, knowing full well that you may simply use their expertise to help you buy elsewhere. Yet, inexplicably, there is a growing trend for brides to cancel appointments the same day or worse still, not show up at all – try doing that at the dentist! This denies other brides on the waiting list an appointment. As a result some shops now charge for bridal appointments and sadly we predict that this may soon become the norm.

3. Start shopping nine to tewelve months before you get married: the wedding dress cycle takes time. So does making your wedding dress, delivering it, having accessories made to compliment it, fitting it and steaming it. Wedding dress shops ask you to order at six to nine months in advance of your wedding, not because they want to hurry you into parting with your cash but because it genuinely takes that long to bring it all together.

4. Make wedding dress fittings your priority: the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes in bridal shops is centered around the sewing room. Expert bridal seamstresses work long hours to help perfect hour glass figures and they work to very tight schedules during peak wedding season. We understand that the run up to the wedding is a busy time for brides, with hair and makeup trials, hen dos and spa days to fit in; but your wedding dress is a vital part of your day! If you change your fitting appointment with your seamstress it affects the sewing schedule and has a knock on effect for completing your dress so it needs to be your number one priority.

5. Decide where you will store your dress before the wedding: Bridal shops will aim to have your dress fitted and steamed two weeks before your wedding day. Once steamed your dress needs to be hung with the train spread out in a room where it can be kept undisturbed and pristine. Brides often ask us to store their dress  right up to the day before their wedding and we have to refuse. Wedding shops simply do not have enough private space to store lots of dresses that have been prepared for collection so it is really important that you ask a friend or relative with a spare room to store your dress for you.

NUMBER THREE: WHAT KIND OF BRIDE ARE YOU?

If choosing your wedding dress is going to be fun, it is important to recognise what you want from your wedding shopping experience and to choose your bridal suppliers accordingly.

 I am very indecisive and will struggle to make a decision: Too many opinions will confuse you. Take only one or two people who know you really well to your appointments. Research bridal shops with a good reputation. Ask the stylists to help you find a direction and try on only the dresses which fit your criteria. Give your self a timescale and stick to it. As soon as you decide on your dress order it and focus on another aspect of your wedding.

I am interested in keeping the budget low and don’t need bridal consultants to help me: A bridal warehouse or outlet may be a good choice but be aware they do not offer a seamstress service and bridal shops will not fit dresses that have been purchased elsewhere, so you will need to organise your own alterations.

I want to buy from a bridal boutique but am worried about cost and sales pressure: Do your research – find out which bridal labels fall within your price range and which bridal shops stock them. Ring the boutiques and ask if you can call in to browse – you will get a feel of the boutique and its consultants before you book an appointment. Good bridal boutiques don’t pressurise you and will help you work within your budget.

Considering buying from the internet? Beware!  

FAKE BRITAIN ETERNITY BRIDAL

 

The  Retail Bridalwear Association takes daily calls on their Helpline from disappointed brides who have been let down by fraudulent online traders. Distraught brides who have had poorly made wedding dresses in cheap fabrics delivered to their door often ring our store to ask if our seamstresses can help, unfortunately there is nothing that can be done to make a cheap copy look like the real thing!When you buy from a reputable retailer, you know what you’re purchasing – a quality wedding dress from a genuine bridal label and that you will receive good service throughout the entire process. 

I want to buy off the peg: Most bridal shops will have some samples to sell off the peg. Allow yourself plenty of time to look for your dress because you are not just looking for one that you love, it must also fit you! A wedding dress can usually be altered down by two sizes but no more.

I want to buy from a bridal shop but I expect a good deal: Bridal shops are not car dealers – try asking John Lewis for a discount after a sales consultant has spent hours trying to help you. You would be better asking up front for a pricing policy. Some wedding shops will offer discounts depending on how much you spend with them overall – for example if you hire so many mens suits you will get one free. Bridal stores hold trunk shows and sample sales regularly so if getting a bargain is your priority look out for these events.

The whole experience of buying my dress is very important to me. I really want to spend time on the styling of my dress: Research bridal shops with reputations for excellent stylists and read testimonials to see what other brides say about them. Choose boutiques that carry a range of quality labels and call into the shop to browse to get a feel of the store before booking. Book your appointments well in advance, preferably during the week, as Saturdays are often very busy. Make sure you know exactly where the shop is and parking arrangements so you are not late and can maximise your appointment time. Wear your hair and a light facial makeup as you might on your wedding day. Talk honestly with your stylist so she knows exactly how to help you find your dress. Enjoy!

Vintage style wedding shoes by Rachel Simpson at Limelight Occasions

 

This season many Limelight brides are following in the footsteps of the ultimate style icon, Audrey Hepburn and opting for a tea length wedding dress. Why? Well for a start check out these waistlines:

 

 1950’s style dresses look amazing on petite brides.

Then there is the styling opportunity …

ooh … and the shoes …

elegant vintage shoes …

                                              And there you have it  – the tea length wedding dress is trending because it is so versatile. It can be elegant and sophisticated …

 fun and flirtatious … you can dance in it

marry in a botanical garden, in a barn, on a beach …. upgrade and travel home in your dress …    the perfect wedding day – your way!

 

 

 

 

Limelight Occasions buys wedding dresses by Caroline Castigliano, Ian Stuart, Stewart Parvin, Ellis Bridals, Rachel Simpson shoes, White Gallery, 2015 bridal collections, 2015 brides

We had been looking forward to it for months and White Gallery lived up to all our expectations. Going to buy new wedding dresses for the coming season is absolutely our favourite thing to do. We set off down to London on Saturday after a busy day in Limelight and had a wonderful meal at the Linnea Restaurant in Kew – Swedish flavours meet nouvelle cuisine – absolutely scrummy – the service was excellent and the puddings were to die for…… a perfect start to the weekend!

We arrived at the White Gallery in Battersea Park bright and early next morning for our first appointment of the day and were absolutely wowed by Caroline Castigliano’s new collection of wedding dresses for 2015. Choosing the right gowns for our brides involves much passionate debate among the team. As we are taking on the Castigliano label for the first time Caroline spent lots of time talking us through her stunning collection which is really versatile with lots of opportunity for our brides to style their own gowns. Then it was off to see Ian Stuart’s Lady Luxe 2015 collection on the catwalk – gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous! As usual we were completely spoilt for choice – dramatic, romantic, show stopping – everything you would expect from Ian Stuart.

Ian Stuart Lady Luxe 2015 Catwalk show – check out a little preview of whats in store for the lucky ladies getting married in Ian Stuart’s fabulous wedding dresses next season:

Still buzzing from Ian’s new collection there was just time to grab a quick bite before heading across town to Stewart Parvin’s showcase at Beauchamp Place. Stewart’s show was wonderfully intimate with dress after breathtaking dress gliding by … how would we choose? The beauty of these dresses, apart from the fabulous fabrics, is the styling opportunity. Stewart and his team showed us the infinite number of ways we could change the look with an amazing array of belts, shrugs, jewellery and veils and we came away inspired and excited.

Six o’clock – we had just made it back to White gallery in time to choose our Rachel Simpson shoes when we were stopped in our tracks by a glimpse of these gorgeous dresses by Karen Willis Holmes ……….  mmmmmm …….how fantastic would these dresses look on Limelight brides?

We would have to sleep on this label because it wasn’t in the plan! We were now out of time – we would have to come back in the morning to look at shoes before heading across London again – this time to Olympia, to view the latest collection from Ellis bridals. For now it was time for a well earned glass of wine and a pair of flats!

Shoes are a particular weakness of ours and Rachel Simpson shoes are irresistible, so by 9.30 Monday morning we were back at White gallery, with a renewed enthusiasm for heels, drooling over beautiful blue shoes and  Rachel’s new clutch bags.

Next stop Ellis Bridals at Olympia and another treat in store. Ellis has produced an amazingly eclectic collection  with sensuous silhouettes and every neckline imaginable in feather light fabrics  – exactly what we had been hoping for.

Our will power was weakening and a whopping 14 dresses from the 2015 Ellis Bridal collection will be arriving at Limelight from July onwards!

As we made our way back to White Gallery to pick up the car and head back to Yorkshire, we couldn’t resist another peek at those KWH beaded beauties before we left.  Of course, the temptation proved too much, the plan was abandoned and six stunning dresses from the Karen Willis Holmes label will be appearing on our catwalk in the near future.

We had lived and breathed wedding dresses for the entire trip. We were weary but content that we had fabulous gowns on order that will truly delight our brides next season. So what did we talk about all the way home? Our favourite wedding dresses from each label, wedding dress trends, how we would rearrange the shop to accommodate all the new arrivals, how we would style them …… as I said buying new wedding dresses is absolutely our favourite thing to do……..

 

Millie 19033 wedding dress Ellis bridals at Limelight Occasions

Love Ellis wedding dresses as much as we do? Then book an appointment to see the full range from the 2014 collection. Many of these fab dresses are exclusive to this show and will not be available after the event; so if you have your eye on that special dress, take advantage of the exclusive 10% discount available on the day.

Appointments are limited so book now to be sure to be there!