The National Wedding Show (London) is literally like letting kids wander free in a sweetie shop. Thousands of brides to be, their mothers and maids of honour roaming the sweetie isles of sparkling tiaras, colourful rose buds and rails of princess dresses. These grown women turn into giggly, screeching teenage girls. And I was one of them. I walked into the exhibition with my MOB (mother of the bride) in tow, convinced that I was different from all of these other clueless brides; I knew exactly what I wanted. I have followed fashion my entire life, I know how to dress for my shape, no-one can tell me what I should be wearing for my wedding day. I was wrong.
The first boutique we came across (Bombshell by Katya Wildman) offered beautiful couture style dresses inspired in my mind by SATC at its simplest. I was fortunate enough to meet the designer of the dresses who was friendly and enthusiastic. Katya has worked in costume design for TV and more recently specialised in wedding attire for guests of the wedding before launching her bridal range this year. The secret appears to be in her side panels. MOB glided through the rails of jewel coloured wrap around dresses with a childlike grin; thus allowing me time to look closer at the well-structured wedding dresses I never thought I would try on [I am unable to give too many details away as my husband to be may read this], the only reason being that they are merely the complete opposite to what I thought in my mind would be my ideal dress. I fortunately tried one of them on and I am so pleased that I did as it completely changed my entire concept of my bridal look. Being helped into the dress by the boutique’s pattern cutter in a luxuriously laid out fitting room, I felt I was watching someone else try on the well cut, high fashion bridal piece. This was the first wedding dress I had ever tried on. Floating out of the fitting room to show MOB, I was greeted by oohs and ahhs from passer bys. The dress I tried on was not only the most stylish and best cut out of all of the wedding dresses I tried on that day, but it was also surprisingly the cheapest. The dress I tried on came in at £880; made to order and including 2 fittings www.bombshellbykatyawildman.com .
After trying on my first wedding dress, MOB and I giddily wondered through the exhibitors towards the Bridal Fashion Show. One thing I must mention is the sheer volume of sales people. At the end of the day all of the people on the stands – whether it be a bridal boutique or a wedding singer – are there to sell their product or service to you. Don’t be intimidated and don’t be too shy to politely say no thank you. There is absolutely no point in wasting either yours or their time when you know that you don’t want or need what they are selling. The fashion show consisted of several ‘scenes’ or themes to you and me of beautiful dress after dress, modelled by stunning women gliding down the catwalk. Throw in a couple of cute children and a pair of smouldering hot guys to model the grooms wear and both MOB and I were so high on dream like excitement that we had to retire to the Canteen for lunch. Another warning – food is VERY expensive. There is nothing you can do about it, just suck it up and be prepared to pay £7 for a jacket potato.
Throughout the afternoon I tried on various different wedding dresses including the style I thought I wanted of which although looked nice, was just not me. Nothing compared to ‘the dress’ I tried on at the beginning of the day. Again I was convinced that I knew how I wanted my hair and the accessories to go in it. Wrong. I tried on various boho forehead bands, halos and bridal fascinators. All of which were beautiful, but ‘the dress’ was a game changer and my original hair concept was no longer going to work. By Harriet (www.byharriet.co.uk) and Gillian Million (www.gillianmillion.com) were my two favourite bridal accessories stands, both designers were on hand and assisted me personally. I just need to decide on my concept and style before I can choose my accessories. Whilst passing a large stall of tiaras and veils Ivory & Co (both of which I have always insisted I will not wear on my wedding day) MOB and I thought we had nothing to lose, I therefore participated in a game of grown up princess dress up – www.ivoryandcotiaras.co.uk . As I tried on a small gold tiara a gasp escaped my mouth and I found I was grinning insanely at myself in the mirror. A few tiaras later (including an extremely large one that would rival the Queen’s coronation crown) I moved onto the veils. This time a shriek escaped me. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would like a veil (I am a post-feminist after all) yet here I was trying on veil after veil spinning and twirling in the mirror. Suddenly I am approached by a Producer for Channel 5 asking if I would sign a release form for a bridal documentary as they had filmed me trying on the tiaras and veils. Caught up in the moment I girlishly agreed. This however means that at any time in the future there may be an insane version of myself spinning with tiaras and veils while giggling and squealing appearing on your screens. I apologise now to anyone who actually knows me.
One thing I can say for definite is that I found my shoes. Pink is an affordable collection from Paradox London that specialise in special occasion shoes that can be dyed to any colour to fit your colour scheme. My shoes came in at £70 www.paradoxlondon.com/pink.html .
As a bride to be I would definitely recommend attending a wedding fayre generally and The National Wedding Show specifically. I would however, advise taking a day off of work and attending on the Friday. I have heard horror stories about weekend days at the show that were confirmed by exhibitors I spoke to. On the Friday although busy, we were still able to access stands and try dresses on. If attending on a weekend day, go early and have a plan of your priorities as you may have to queue for many of the stands. But most importantly – HAVE FUN – after all we only get to do this once.
The National Wedding Show
21-23 February – Olympia London
28 February-2 March – NEC Birmingham
15-16 March – Manchester Central