Lead designer Laura starts her dream wedding dress search; will she find the one?
It was the perfect proposal. While on a romantic holiday to Italy last summer, my partner William took me completely by surprise by popping the question with a beautiful Katie Lees ring I’d had my eye on (working
for SWD, it would be impossible not to pick up a few ideas!).
I had spotted it online at work one day and fell in love with its trilliant-cut stones and unusual grey diamond. Unbeknown to me, SWD’s editor Natasha sent a picture of it to William ‘just in case’. Having it put on my finger in real life was a very emotional moment!
WEDDING INSPO OVERLOAD
We started planning the wedding the minute we arrived back in Scotland. I’ve learned from working at the magazine that it’s important to get the big things nailed down early, so we booked our venue and photographer within the first few months and set the date for June 2019.
We know who our bridesmaids and best man will be, and I have a good idea of the décor I’d like.
However, there is a downside to having so much inspiration at my fingertips.
I’m amazingly lucky to work for a bridal magazine, but I’m beginning to think there’s such a thing as too much knowledge. I’ve seen so many stunning dresses over the years in our photoshoots that when I initially started thinking about what I might wear on my own wedding day, I felt overwhelmed.
PICK OF THE BOUTIQUES
So when Natasha (who happens to be one of my bridesmaids) suggested we go dress shopping to help me get a better feel for the style of dress I should go for, I jumped at the chance.
I researched the designers and dress styles I liked and picked three boutiques I felt would suit my taste: Eleganza Sposa in Glasgow, Olive Jones Bridal in Edinburgh, and Alison Kirk Bridal in Dundee.
It was an amazing experience, but here’s lesson number one for you: going to three boutiques in three different cities is a tad ambitious!
I would definitely recommend limiting it to two in one day, and if you wanted to do more than that, make sure the shops are close to one another.
People often ask what you should wear to go dress shopping, and my advice would be to wear comfortable clothes that are easy to take on and off. You probably won’t need heels, as most boutiques will be able to give you a pair to try on.
In terms of underwear, I wore a strapless bra and a pair of pants with a sheer panel at the back – next time I think I’ll just wear a very plain pair of nude knickers with no see-through elements, as the staff in the boutiques have to get quite up close and personal when helping you into the dresses!
Lastly, before I hit the shops I went to the mega talented Mitchell and Maciness Makeup in Glasgow to get beautified for the day ahead and I can’t begin to tell you how special this made me feel.
If you can organise who you’d like to do your make-up and have a trial before you go dress shopping, I highly recommend it. It gave me such a confidence boost and definitely helped visualise myself as an actual bride when I was trying the dresses on!
FIRST STOP: ELEGANZA SPOSA, GLASGOW
I had a phone consultation before I went to Eleganza, and was given a log-in so I could go on their website and make a ‘love list’ of the dresses I liked ahead of the appointment.
This was a really useful process, and helped my lovely consultant Laura prep some dresses in advance.
“I wouldn’t have considered a floral dress before, but I loved this Savin London style”
The boutique, situated on Bath Street, is insanely gorgeous – white and airy and elegant with a floral archway and an enormous gold-framed mirror – and the dresses are too.
When I arrived, I sat down with Laura to talk more about the style of my wedding, the venue and the type of dresses I’m drawn to.
“I felt so pretty in this Noya by Riki Dalal gown. The floral appliqué detail is stunning”
My venue is a converted barn and I’ve always been a romantic at heart, so I wanted to try on boho styles.
Laura put a rail together of dresses by designers such as Noya by Riki Dalal, YolanCris and Savin London; some were my own choices and some were Laura’s.
“Another beauty by YolanCris, this was a close contender for my favourite”
Every single one was amazing and I found myself saying “Ok, this one is my new favourite!” about them all!
“This was my favourite dress at Eleganza – absolute boho perfection from YolanCris”
But the one that really stole my heart was the YolanCris ‘Incahuasi’ dress (pictured above) from the 2018 Boho Chic collection.
I love that it’s not too traditional and the skirt is so floaty and romantic – exactly what I envisaged!
ADVICE FROM THE EXPERT
Laura Martin, Eleganza Sposa
“When dress shopping, always keep an open mind and trust what your stylist says!
I’d also advise you don’t go dress shopping until you’re genuinely ready to buy your dress, as you don’t want to fall in love with a style then come back a year later to find out it’s been discontinued and the sample’s been sold.”
SECOND STOP: OLIVE JONES BRIDAL, EDINBURGH
After first seeing them on Instagram, I was really excited to visit Olive Jones Bridal, one of Edinburgh’s newest bridal boutiques.
Located on Dundas Street, the boutique is owned by the uber-stylish Rachel Iravani, who has expertly curated a selection of seriously beautiful dresses by designers such as Augusta Jones, Karen Willis Holmes, Elbeth Gillis, Wtoo by Watters and Mikaella.
“The bodice on this Elbeth Gillis gown is just amazing”
Rachel and I chatted about my style, my wedding and my budget over a pot of tea, and she picked out some dresses.
I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about a couple of the dresses because while they were gorgeous, I didn’t think I’d have the figure to pull them off (I’m a bit self-conscious about having a small chest and
not being very toned).
“Sequins aren’t normally my thing, but this Karen Willis Holmes gown changed my mind”
But I trusted Rachel’s judgement and tried them on anyway, and I’m so, so glad I did.
“The Bardot neckline on this Wtoo dress is so intricate”
I adored the boho styles I tried on – a beautiful lace dress with a bardot neckline by Wtoo and a high-necked sequinned and beaded number from Karen Willis Holmes – but the dresses I loved the most were styles I would never have picked out for myself!
“Another Mikaella dress I liked; such a flattering shape”
One, an Elbeth Gillis gown with a beautiful 3D pearl-and-floral detailed bodice, had a figure-hugging skirt that I’d normally shy away from, but it looked incredible on.
And when I tried on a fitted lace Mikaella dress with cap sleeves, a fitted skirt and sweeping train, it was a completely game-changing moment.
“I honestly would never have imagined suiting a dress like this Mikaella one, but it was my favourite of the day!”
That ended up being the dress I thought about before I fell asleep that night!
ADVICE FROM THE EXPERT
Rachel Iravani, Olive Jones Bridal
“Try on dresses you wouldn’t normally, and don’t be too swayed by what’s of the moment – you don’t want something that’s too ‘of the era’.
Pick the stores you visit wisely, and don’t try to replicate an expensive dress with a cheaper alternative; it will never match up.”
FINAL STOP: ALISON KIRK BRIDAL, DUNDEE
I live just outside of Dundee and had long been a fan of the dresses stocked in Alison Kirk Bridal in Perth, so it was music to my ears when the ladies at Alison Kirk opened a second boutique on Dundee’s Gellatly Street at the end of 2016, carrying a different range of dresses but with the promise of the same award-winning customer service they’re renowned for.
“I hadn’t considered a halterneck before but I like how chic and elegant this looks”
I was welcomed in from the chill outside by warm and friendly owner Lindsay Brown, who invited me to browse the rails of beautiful gowns from designers including Justin Alexander and Sweetheart Gowns, and pick out what I fancied.
“I loved the flattering cap sleeves on this dress”
The boutique is gorgeous and really spacious with an area for wedding dresses as well as a bridesmaids’ section, and I think it would be so much fun to come on a shopping trip here with your BMs in tow!
“The chiffon skirt on this Sweetheart Growns dress was so pretty”
Although I’d started out my day with a boho style firmly in mind, by this point I was far more open to experimenting with different types of dress.
I tried on my first halterneck gown of the day and really loved the way it looked, which I wasn’t expecting.
“I couldn’t stop smiling when I tried on this beautiful Justin Alexander Signature dress!”
But the real ‘wow’ moment came when I put on a Justin Alexander Signature dress with a scoop neck, embroidered lace appliqués and long, sweeping veil.
It was the perfect gown to end my shopping day in!
ADVICE FROM THE EXPERT
Lindsay Brown, Alison Kirk Bridal
“Think carefully about who you’re going to take with you – it’s not always wise to bring loads of people!
Use your stylist and ask them for recommendations, and remember to give them a rough idea of how much you’re looking to spend so that they can show you dresses that fall within your budget.”
READ MORE ABOUT LAURA’S WEDDING JOURNEY IN HER SCOTTISH WEDDING DIRECTORY MAGAZINE COLUMN