Friday 18 November 2011


Today I'd love to introduce you to an extra bit of Friday feeling - FANTASY FRIDAYS. I know there are many, many more pressing things on most brides and grooms minds when it comes to weddings, but every Friday henceforth I'm going to feature something that takes my breath away. It could be a gown, it could be a real wedding, it could be a groom (just kidding) or just anything awfully inspiring that I couldn't not share, but didn't necessarily fall into the realms of planning resources, news, bridal or groom fashion or anything else more practically applicable.

So today, the lovely Lauren Bush Lauren, and her staggeringly cool, wistful wedding. Held on her father-in-law's ranch replete with navajo blankets, aged tan leather and lots of timber, the bride rode in a carriage with a real cowboy driving, dressed in a period-influenced lace gown and married her equally dashing groom before posing for Vogue photographs that mimicked the tin-type images of the old wild-west. Almost as rock and roll as her new married name; and another example of that homely, simple country wedding we've seen enjoying a real moment.


Wednesday 16 November 2011

Put a spell on you: Vera Wang

Lunchtime on a Friday afternoon in Brook Street, and I find myself mingling with some of the most beautiful bridal gowns I have ever clapped eyes on. To be honest, I did not even realise they made gowns this beguiling, all swan-like grace and stardust lightness. But here's the catch - of the 10 or so gowns the lovely team at Browns Brides showed me as part of a limited chance to see this, Vera Wang's latest collection fresh from the catwalks of New York Bridal Fashion Week - most were cinder-coloured. Yes, black wedding dresses.

Inspired by Degas ballerinas, and I suspect a certain Swan Lake character, the line-up featured fluid silhouettes of overlaid silk chiffon with fan detail pleating around the waist, drawing the eye into its dainty proportions before slinking down to an eruption of degrade-effect tulle (sure to cause a stir up the aisle) and romantic frothy ballgowns in inkiest black. For the uninitiated, the legendary queen of bridal wear Vera has been in the bridal fashion industry for over 20 years, so is unlikely to be ditching her respect for tradition anytime soon. These dresses do remain faithful to her romantic standing, and fit the bill for the catch-your-breath impact many brides seek. Channelling the same luxurious feel of all her collections in textures of undulating millefeuille that are almost shockingly light - I found myself happily swinging one from its hanger a finger - these gowns are pure haute couture in their exquisite construction.

On the face of it, it is hard to see many brides being brave enough to give these bewitching gowns a whirl. But I think Vera has a point about the often staid, overly-girly aesthetic of much bridal attire. As she explained "I found black to be fresh and tongue-in-cheek". And, increasingly, I don't think brides want to settle for the safe or commonplace etiquette of weddings. They are actively seeking if not such a break with tradition-bound bridal frocks, something that at least makes them feel very much themselves. Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City's Carrie) wore black when she married Matthew Broderick, so there is a iconic pedigree to this dark-dress lark.White or ivory are timeless, they will not fade or date if chosen carefully - and if you only get one chance at your wedding dress, is this a wildcard too far for most? Us lucky brides should be thankful then, that Vera has been fairy godmother-ish enough to do them in ivory, too. Phew.


Browns Brides
59 Brook Street, London W1K 5HS
Tl: 44 (0)20 7514 0090

Thursday 10 November 2011

Maids to Measure

I have a confession to make. Not for want of showing willing or any dislike (I hope) friends may feel, I have never been a bridesmaid. Yet with my dress ticked off, I am quickly becoming well-acquainted with the fact that there are very few dresses that manage to blend fashion glamour, allure and are discreetly demure enough so as to let the bride shine through.

Traditionally, bridesmaids were plucked from a bride's most eligible, unmarried family and friends in a bid to bring them to the attention of the groomsmen and members of the wedding party who were also not attached or promised to anyone. It was effectively an open auction and bathing-beauty style parade of women dressed to ensure that while they didn't out-do the bride in beauty, it was a near miss.

Not that much has changed except for the fact that most female relationships have evolved with the times, and the statistics that show that a bride is now on average 30 years old when she marries - this will naturally mean her bridesmaids will be of a similar age. And no 30 year-old would want to make her friends stroll up the aisle in anything that didn't make them feel pretty and womanly. The only thing that perhaps has not altered is that many bridesmaids dresses remain staid and stuck in some nineteen-nineties timewarp - criminally expensive gowns in ill-fitting, shiny satin colours such as coffee, wine and violet. Whilst my four bridesmaids are my dearest girls, and I want them to garner the wolf-whistles and admiring glances they deserve, I am not a confident enough bride to risk a repeat of the Royal Wedding's 'Bottomgate' and the focus on Pippa Middleton's rear which nearly upstaged Catherine's beautiful Sarah Burton number.

Thank goodness then for Maids to Measure. Newly launched by London-based sisters Sinclair and India Sellars, with backgrounds in many turns as a bridesmaid and working as part of Vera Wang's team respectively. Both shared the frustrations of shopping for bridesmaids dresses that bridged the gap between wow-factor style and design, and affordable options for the modern bride who would no doubt still be paying for them. Hitherto the preserve of the lucky few, they struck on the idea of couture bridesmaids dresses - offering an online design process whereby you simply input your measurements under their expert guidance, your colour, style and fabric choice, and you are good to go. Alternatively, you could attend their Fulham atelier and enjoy some Champagne and cake whilst bridesmaids put their personal touches on their gowns.

At the launch party on Tuesday of last week, studded with some of the wedding world's star players such as the Conde Nast Brides Magazine team and OK! magazine's wedding editor, all were struck by the dresses shown in refined silk chiffon layers that would cling in all the right places and move beautifully, and cocktail numbers in colour-pop pink or sorbet yellow. They presented lovely options for the modern bridesmaid. What's more, I'd be proud to wear these as a bridesmaid - I think we might even have another hunt ticked off the list.

All photos from the launch kind courtesy of Emma at Smartography (

The Conde Nast Brides girls

Emma at OK! magazine

The lovely Festival Brides gang

3 Knivet Road, Fulham, London SW6 1JJ

Thursday 3 November 2011

The 2012 Wedding Trend Edit!

Although we are firmly knee-deep of this cosy season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, my thoughts have been firmly turned towards spring and the weddings of next year by two key events:

1. The Luxury Wedding Show - a fantastical wedding feast for the eyes. Featuring established and rising star wedding talent, suppliers and designers.


2. The number of 2012 weddings now being brought together by the team I am fortuitous enough to work among. Seeing them about their daily business of putting a wedding together cannot help but inspire and inform.

There's a whole new cast of spellbinding, accessible and inspiring trends on their way to reimagine the wedding in 2012 with personality and style.

If you are planning to wed next year - or, indeed are a late 2011 wedding looking for those final nuances to give your wedding that wow-factor - these are boxfresh ideas I predict will make weddings even lovelier...

Let me know your favourites [email protected]


Folkeloreish throwbacks to a simpler time - medieval handfastings, wiccan blessings and humanist services.

Hymns that aren't really hymns: Kate Moss choir sang the Rolling Stones 'You can't always get what you want'. The rule of thumb here is that most non-secular services will ask that you include one traditional reading and song, but there is room for the more unconventional as long as it is not blasphemous or inappropriate.

The 3 day wedding festivities: go big with a rehearsal supper, followed by the wedding day itself and a traditional wind-down Irish 'after' - each day is understated and makes the wedding more of an event. It's about spending real time with loved ones and friends who have travelled far and wide to share it with you. It evokes the spirit of great house parties past where a social group would retreat to a bucolic pile or city ball as an extraspecial occasion.


Real World Luxury: call me a over-prudent sort, but overawing glitter, ostentation and a tendency towards excess just doesn't feel right anymore.

Luxury now is about meaningfulness, taking the time to enjoy and the personal touch. Not unlike the integrity of the farm-to-table movement, or the baked potatoes and caviar of Natalia Vodianova's Love Ball and the Fillet Mignon and Frites served at a recent autumn wedding organised by the team because it was the couple's favourite supper, rather than it being all about impressing their guests. This is why I think more modest celebrations that are designed around everyone having a ravishing day in each other's company appeal more than ever. Image above courtesy of Shanna Jones

With the rise in the taking of high-tea and swoony pretty vintage tea-set hire companies (our favourite is Vicky Rowe's we'll be seeing a lot more stylish tea-party orientated celebrations in place of costly sit-down dinners.

Iced Cider 'Champagne': a refreshing, cost-effective and delicate sparkler. Biddendens newly launched fizz is perfect for a reception drink served in gold-trimmed coupes

Photobooths go 3D: recreate glamorous silverscreen moments with

Give a winter wedding that Narnia, ethereal touch with the help of, who could make your tablecentres look as fantastical as these...


'Floating' embellished lace bodices at Mira Zwillinger and Marchesa 2012 collections make for an enchanting yet demure adornment. Stiched on to sheer ivory tulle, they make me think a little of ice-skaters costumes and nymphs. No bad thing.
Shapes and silhouette go fluid or airy ballgown - meaning both are as light as a feather and easy to wear.

Embellishment glittered as if woven from stars on gowns from Vivienne Westwood and David Fielden at the Luxury Wedding Show catwalk show as styled by Conde Nast Brides Astrid Joss.

Plus, when our friends at Brown's Brides showed us Vera Wang's newest creations, fresh from the catwalk at New York Bridal week, my jaw audibly bumped the floor - not just because these gowns were the most beautiful ever from Vera, but most of the collection was in black (yes, black!).

The renaissance of the veil continues apace - look to Kate Moss' ethereal Juliet cap veil from Johanna Johnson (Lucy or Ava) or birdcage veils perched on pillarbox hats from Candy Anthony for a little My Week With Marilyn old-school glamour.

Grooms go high-fashion: at Jimmy Choo's new dedicated mens store at the Burlington Arcade. These shoes were made for sweeping a bride off her feet in.

The return of proper millinery - no more flightless birds or concoctions of fascinators please. Just good old-fashioned, handsome hats. Try Louis Mariette's staggeringly glamorous numbers for size.

Thank goodness for the newy launched Maids to Measure - a lovely gang of girls who understand adult bridesmaids wanting to look more fashion-forward like Pippa Middleton or Emilia Wickstead's bridesmaids as featured in Vogue, and less safe, staid second-fiddle to the bride.


Hair goes loose and childlike, and is a welcome antithesis to fussy excess. The gentle highlights are achieved using a technique called balayage, and hair is twisted around fingers when trying to create softly undone, innocent waves. Try the style at Daniel Hersheson - and look at Kate Moss and Lily Aldridge for inspiration.

Master perfect skin (or the illusion of ) with Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua foundation, with the compact version set to launch early next year.


Will increasingly tend towards a little undone, natural beauty. There is a hint of the influence of the chivalric romance of the Language of Flowers (see Royal Wedding florist Shane Connolly for more) and a shift away from unpragmatic hothouse flowers that dominate a room leaving guests playing peekabo around big, lusty displays as they cannot see those sat opposite!

Blooms evoke a woodland nymph mood as seen at Mulberry, using native flowers such as Cornflower, baby's breath, Larkspur, garden roses, flowering herbs and interesting leafy foilage to create dell-like settings. Scarlet & Violet lead the field here with their wild arrangements - pull up a chair and enjoy their pleasingly English book of Vintage Flowers...

Also, note the rise of enchanting woodland weddings in established forests of ancient trees: Wasing, Wise's Wedding Wood or the National Trust's Nymans Gardens.

Cotswolds countryside idylls will still be going strong - it must be something about the pale honey stone, corbels and scenery straight out of Thomas Hardy. The line-up boasts Thyme Southrop Manor, Cowley Manor, Babington House, and Calcot Manor.


Putting your own idiosyncratic stamp on things - literally - with monograms, interlocked thumb print hearts for your Save The Date cards, and Fiona Leahy lace curtains woven with your initials.


The end is night for L-Plate, poor-taste hen dos. Click HERE to read more about Cliff Barns.

Paul Antonio launches his astonishing calligraphy and stationary atelier early next year. Keep eyes peeled here...

PLUS See more catwalk images from the Luxury Wedding Show at our Flickr page.