Last October, I married Alex, my partner of 20 years.
As our budget was fairly modest, we had a small, intimate ceremony and only spent money on things that were really important to us.
I knew that I didn’t want to make my own wedding dress. That felt like way too much pressure and I wanted to enjoy the experience of wedding dress shopping and choosing something that would be way beyond my skill level. I went to a few different wedding dress shops but in the end chose a dress by Rosa Clara at The White Outlet in Bristol. This shop started as a pop-up shop, and is now permanent. They offer sample and off the peg gowns at pretty reasonable prices. I found the gowns there to be of a high quality and was glad to have my knowledge as a dressmaker to steer me away from cheaper, mass produced dresses. I did try some on where the finishing wasn’t great so it was good to have a comparison, especially when you are spending a considerable amount of money.
I started from a place of what I didn’t want in a dress. I knew that I didn’t want long sleeves, or strapless. I knew that I wanted to be comfortable, so lots of boning was out. I tried on lots of different styles, but in the end, what drew me to the dress I chose, was the stunning beading on the bodice, as well as the big poofy skirt – I felt like a proper princess in it! Here it is when I first tried it on.
I decided to leave the dress alterations to the professionals and one of my lovely customers also happened to come highly recommended for bridal alterations, so off I went to my first fitting with the brilliant Sarah Shepherd. The dress that I had chosen had a giant fluffy train, which I wasn’t 100% sold on. I worried that it would be all a bit too much, and I didn’t want to spend the whole wedding moving it out of the way or getting it trodden on, and I’ve never been a big fan of bustles, which never seem to work! So, once the dress was on me and pinned, we decided to level out the hem so that it was all one length, and then I could add a long, cathedral length veil for the ceremony and pictures, that would be removed for the reception. Hooray, no annoying bustle needed!
Sarah is so good at her job – she spotted minute rogue beads that were missing and fixed them up – she suggested adding rubber to the inside of the straps to prevent them from irritating my skin and she worked her magic on the buttons and loops that were in need of attention. She worked so hard to get the level of the skirts absolutely perfect. Not a small task as there were so many layers in my dress!
I had tried on a few veils when dress shopping and had seen one that had crystals around the edge in a vintage shop. As there was no lace on my dress, I felt that a lace veil wouldn’t go with it, but I didn’t want just plain tulle so I decided to DIY!
I ordered some ivory veiling from Bridal Fabrics – and used a YouTube tutorial to work out what I needed to do. Once I had the shape of the veil cut and had it attached to the comb, I then set to work on gluing approximately 900 crystals to the edge! I did this over a couple of days and I was so pleased with the result. I used a combination of clear and AB crystals, painstakingly alternating them!
I was wearing some gorgeous blue suede heels with Liberty fabric lining for the majority of the day, but I knew that I would probably want to wear something comfier for the evening so I took to some trainers with glue and crystals a couple of days before the wedding! I used the AB crystals as they looked so gorgeous against the pink of the trainers.
I was very fortunate to have two highly skilled seamstresses as my bridesmaids so we figured that between us, we could make some beautiful dresses for them to wear. We decided on the By Hand London Anna dress, as it is one of my favourite bodices and both Stacey and Vicky had attended Elialex’s Bodice Fitting Masterclass, so were fully equipped to alter the pattern to fit them perfectly.
I toyed with what colour to choose for a while, but in the end decided why not go for my favourite colour of all – leopard print! We used our Mini Leopard Cotton Sateen as it is a beautiful fabric to work with, has a lovely drape and would work really well with the Anna pattern. We booked in a fun sewing day for the three of us to get the dresses made and the girls put the finishing touches to them at home.
We lined the bodices with black cotton lawn, rather than using the facing pieces, as it gives a much more elevated finish. We went with the longer length with the side split for maximum drama and I have to say that they both looked absolutely stunning. Also, 10/10 would highly recommend both of them if you ever need a bridesmaid of your own!!
We used some of the leopard print fabric in my bouquet to tie it all in together. I ripped a width of the fabric and then frayed the edges for a distressed look.
I made a pocket square out of the leopard print fabric for Alex – simply taking a square of it and adding a narrow hem all around it. It just helped to bring it all together.
Upcycled dressing gown
I wanted a dressing gown to wear on the day of the wedding, while I was getting ready, but really couldn’t justify the prices of a personalised item that I might only wear once. I had a lightweight grey jersey dressing gown that I had bought from Ted Baker years ago so I decided to get the Cricut out and add some iron on vinyl to that. I used some of the Happy Flex vinyl from Happy Fabric and I think it came out really well.
We had the most wonderful day that we will treasure forever. We chose some amazing suppliers who I can’t recommend highly enough if you are planning your own wedding.
Our photographer Sam Box was an absolute legend – such a fun addition to the day – completely relaxing the whole wedding party and his pictures are just stunning.
As I have a gluten allergy, I researched wedding cake makers that could cater for this and found a Bristol-based small business who specialise in gf cakes. Ali from The Local Bakehouse was so lovely to work with and we were so pleased with the cake.
We ordered the cutest cake topper from a small business on Etsy, as we wanted our two cats to be present in some way.
If you are looking for a charming, intimate venue with some outdoor space and a quirky personality, I would highly recommend The Radnor Rooms. We visited there with a view to using it for the first Sewcialite Soiree but had to discount it as it wasn’t fully accessible, but I had loved it so kept it in the back of my mind for future events.
(These opinions are my own, we paid all suppliers and none of this post is sponsored)