As of February 23rd, I’ll only have five months to go until my wedding day! I’ve always been the kind of (insert cheesy here) person who dreams of having the fairy tale wedding – albeit the nonchalant, carefree and bohemian version. But I also have to admit that I had a short-lived phase where I was obsessed with Vera Wang gowns featuring tulle skirts bigger than planet earth (think Kim Kardashian’s wedding dress from 2011). So it’s quite surreal to me that what was once a dream will soon be reality (see, told you I was cheesy).
A lot of progress in terms of wedding planning has been made so far and we’re very close to sending our invitations out. It’s hard to choose which part of the wedding planning process is the best but I think most brides-to-be will agree that picking out the wedding dress will always be up there. Because it’s such an exciting moment, I’ve decided to share my dress shopping experience with you on Valentine’s day. It actually took place last year in October/November and I’ve chosen to go to two London-based bridal boutiques and one in Ireland: The Lovers Bride, The Mews of Notting Hill and Folkster Bridal. I didn’t actually manage to visit the latter physically but more on that ‘risky badass’ adventure later.
I hadn’t properly researched bridal brands and shops before and only really knew of Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier and Pronovias who really had focus on bridal dresses – but, unfortunately, all of them lacked that effortless bohemian element I was desperately looking for. In my head, the gown had to be timeless, elegant yet nonchalant but with that bohemian touch. Before visiting any shops, I spent countless hours on Pinterest going through wedding dress boards like a madwoman. Thanks to Pinterest (all hail Pinterest) I was able to identify the labels and shops which had what I was looking for.
The Lovers Bride was the first shop I visited. What drew me to them in the first place was the fact that all of their dresses possess effortless silhouettes; modern yet timeless. Charley Bishop, the owner, curated the shop so well, stocking labels such as New-York based Houghton Bride, Australian Bo & Luca and Odylyne the Ceremony from California. I was very nervous before I arrived as it was my first time trying on wedding gowns and didn’t know what to expect for the next hour. As soon as Charley opened the door to her den (as she likes to call it), I immediately felt at ease. She was very welcoming, chatty, warm and made me feel at home (a home filled with beautiful white dresses that is). We (my mum, future mother-in-law, two of my bridesmaids and I – yes, I almost took an entire football team with me) took a seat on Charley’s uber comfortable velvety sofa and were given a nice glass of water to calm our nerves.
And then it began…At first Charley asked what I had in mind but she still showed me all of the designs. I actually liked that because sometimes what you initially think you’re looking for turns out not to be quite right. The sample dresses which made the cut were then put in the biggest changing room I’ve ever seen, ready to be tried on. Each dress was adjusted with pins to fit me properly and I left the changing room to look at myself and get the opinion of my ‘audience’ whether the dress had the x factor or not. A lot of people say you shouldn’t take too many people with you to a bridal appointment, but for me it was less about the number of people but more about those whose opinion you trust and value the most. As the appointment went on I also felt that I could rely on Charley’s opinion- she wasn’t pushy but attentive and honest. What’s also worth noting is that the experience here was very personal as you have the shop to yourself for one hour. It made me feel more relaxed (I’m relatively shy) and special. It was a very good experience overall plus the den offers some serious decor inspo as a bonus.
The Lovers Bride
Archer Street Studios
10/11 Archer Street
Dresses range from £1,000-£5,000
What a shop, right? The decor and colour palette of The Mews of Notting Hill is every blogger’s dream. The shop’s gowns also turned out to be every bride’s dream in my case. Like The Lovers Bride, The Mews also specialises in free-spirited, understated boho dresses, although in this case, all from France. And as well all know, no one does effortless chic better than the French. So it only seemed right to pay a visit to The Mews in the super picturesque Notting Hill in my quest to find the perfect dress.
The stylist there first asked me what I was looking for to then show me every sample dress which corresponded to my description. Upon seeing and touching the fabric of each piece, I let her know which ones I wanted to try on. Looking back, I probably tried on every single one which was shown to me as none of them disappointed fabric- and design-wise. What really stood out for me was the intricate lace and embroidery on almost all of their dresses by Laure de Sagazan and Rime Arodaky. There’s lace and then there’s lace. Originally, I didn’t actually want to give anything with lace a chance but I in the end I felt most drawn to two dresses which had lace details. Anything can happen during a bridal appointment – who knew? Another aspect which I really appreciated was the stylist’s knowledge. She seemed to know exactly what she was talking about in terms of the shape, fabric and style of each dress. It was a lovely experience where I felt super welcome and the hour-long private appointment went by so fast. A really good sign, right? P.S.: The Mews is the place to go if your dream wedding look is not a full dress but a collection of separates.
The Mews of Notting Hill
202 Kensington Park Road
Dresses range from £600-£3,500
The probably most adventurous wedding dress shopping story of all time has been saved for last. Are you ready? I actually first heard about Folkster Bridal through a friend of mine who also kindly revealed that chances are they might have my dream dress. So I googled Folkster Bridal only to realise that they’re not based in Dublin but in Kilkenny. Then I googled again. My million-dollar question to Google was: ‘how the heck do I get to Kilkenny?’ Google of course gave me an answer but to my dismay not the one I was hoping for. Turns out it’s something of a trek to get to Kilkenny! But alas, I didn’t give up here. I went to great lengths. Not physically but emotionally.
I emailed the shop and Roisin Hennessy, Head of Bridal at Folkster got back to me almost immediately confirming that she had the exact dress I was looking for. When I read it I was desperate to purchase the gown without trying it on. Roisin kindly asked me if I really wanted to do it since all gowns are non-returnable and I assured her that I was ok with it. This is where Roisin impressed me: although she was abroad for work at the time and probably really busy, she replied to every single email, answered every question of mine, gave me advice and made me feel like it would all be okay without the need for a fitting. I sent her my measurements and she compared them with the dress’ size and fit. After 21 emails and my mum’s blessing, I decided to go ahead with the purchase. I know…Who the heck buys a wedding dress without trying it on, right? That’s pretty badass or some might call it stupid. In this case, however, it was the right decision. I have of course now seen it and it’s everything I imagined it to be and more. Some people say you know when you see or try the wedding dress. I totally know what they mean now. It’s a rather indescribable feeling but you suddenly just know and feel more sure than ever. Sometimes it really pays to go with your gut feeling. It obviously helped that Roisin was so helpful and supportive and I can only recommend Folkster Bridal. There’s only one regret here: the fact that I didn’t go to Kilkenny to experience this gem of a bridal shop in person (hello it’s cheesy me again).
27 Patrick Street,
Dresses range from 700€-6500€
The quest is now over. You now know where I got my wedding dress from. But surprise, surprise: I’ve also got a second dress. Now it’s up to you to guess where from. All will be revealed after July. Wedding dress shopping really lived up to my expectations. It’s the moment where you realise that you’re about to get married. Obviously, you know it before but it really hits home when you try on the one(s).
Photos: The Lovers Bride, The Mews of Notting Hill and Folkster Bridal