Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Now taking bookings for our annual Maggie Sottero Trunk Show (21st/22nd Nov 2015)

It's that time again!  We're now taking bookings for our annual Maggie Sottero Trunk Show Designer Weekend which will be held on the 21st and 22nd of November.  If you're wondering what exactly a trunk show is, read on........

When the designers have finished showing the shop owners their new collections, each shop owner gets a chance to take 30 of their favourite dresses to their premises to show them off to their customers.  These are the dresses which are worn by the models at the catwalk shows and are generally size 8 dresses (suitable for trying on for brides size 12 or smaller). 

When the dresses come to our shop that weekend, we will be putting away any dresses which are not by Maggie Sottero and the dresses on show during the event will be our current Maggie dresses (ranging from size 10 - 18), plus the 30 dresses that are on loan.  We work strictly by appointment only and all appointments must be confirmed in the week of the event.   Anyone who decides to put their full deposit on their Maggie Sottero dress during the event will also get a special offer and discount of 10% off plus a free petticoat or £50 credit for accessories.

Please note that if you fall in love with one of the samples on loan, you will not be able to come back and try it on again as the dress has to be sent back after the event, so it's a good idea to make sure you bring any key decision makers with you that day.  You can't bring your mum or your best friend back the following week for a second opinion on a dress that we won't have again!!  So if you can't pick a dress without them, then make sure you bring them with you. 

If you are the sort of person who feels that they can't commit on the first appointment, it's always a good idea to have been out looking beforehand so that you feel ready to buy if you do find 'the one' without feeling the need to come back and see it again. 

Key points to remember
- 30 dresses on loan for 1 weekend only straight from the catwalk.  These dresses can't be re-visited!
- Borrowed dresses are size 8 (will normally be suitable for trying on for brides up to size 12).
- Discount for purchases made on the day (cannot be backdated to previous orders or cannot be used in conjunction with other offers) 
- Bring your key decision makers with you that day (unless you are going to be making your own choice).
- Have a good idea of what you are looking for before you come.
- Book an appointment in advance (which must be confirmed nearer the time) 

Hope to see lots of you there!!

Ciara xx

Beautiful Day Bridal Cottage, Greysteel - 1 mile from the City of Derry airport.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Win a Randy Fenoli goodie bag plus a £100 voucher!!

If you go to our Facebook page this week, you'll see that we are running a fantastic competition - and if you're a Randy Fenoli fan, you'll not want to miss this one!!
We're giving away a signed photo (A4 framed) of the star of 'Say Yes to the Dress', plus a signed copy of his book, 'It's all about the dress' - a brilliant read for all brides to be, and one to treasure if you are a Randy fan!!  Plus, you'll get a goodie bag and a £100 voucher to spend at Beautiful Day Bridal Cottage.

To enter, you need to take a selfie or picture of yourself and caption it with Randy's special phrase, 'Hello Beautiful!   Follow the link to our page to find out more about how you can make your picture win.  

The winner will be the picture with the most likes this Saturday the 3rd October at 7pm.  Good luck, and I hope this prize finds a home with a big Randy fan!!!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Hello Beautiful!!!!!

Wednesday the 16th of September 2015 was a pretty exciting day!  Only those who are obsessed with weddings, and in this case, TLC's 'Say Yes to the Dress' will get it (and who will understand the blog title!!)  and if you watch the show, you will understand the excitement of it all.  For someone like me who works with brides everyday and helps them to find their dress, it was a pretty big deal to get to go to a seminar where Randy Fenoli was the guest of honour (and we were going to have afternoon tea with him!)

From listening to him talk about his early life to how he got where he is today, one thing that is crystal clear is that this is a man who is passionate about dresses - and most importantly, how a dress can empower a woman and make her feel special and beautiful.  Not only does he sell dresses, but he's made loads of them (he made his very first one at age 9 for his mother!) and is an award-winning designer too.  He's a man who knows his stuff!!!  In relation to helping a bride in her quest for the dress, I found a lot of the things he talked about were things that we focus on in our shop, and have for a long time.  Randy, like us, is a strong believer that a bride buys her dress with her heart and not with her head.  If I don't see a huge smile, if I don't hear the 'love' word, and if a bride doesn't want to stand in a dress for ages, I'll get her to take that dress off and keep looking.  She has to feel beautiful in it and hopefully she should even get butterflies in her tummy. It doesn't matter how long the train is, or what type of fabric it is or the design of the beading, whether she knows someone who wore something similar or whether it is the opposite of the dress that she imagined she'd wear.  It's all about how the a dress can make her feel beautiful.  And if a bride feels beautiful, her confidence and posture will make her look beautiful, and she will have found the dress she will walk up the aisle in. Randy believes that the dress should sell itself - when the bride finds the one, she'll know.  I often get very positive feedback from brides about our approach to selling, and I'm often told by brides that they felt pressurised elsewhere.  But I am in the Randy Fenoli school of thought - it's all about how the bride feels, and if she's not feeling it 100%, we'd rather she walk away and make the decision when she is positive that she's saying yes to the right dress for her, so you won't get the hard sale from us!!

Randy's enthusiasm was infectious, and I hope I've brought some of that back to the shop with me.   My customers often tell me that I have the patience of a saint, but this man even leaves me trailing behind in that department!!  The time he spent talking to all the retailers who attended the seminar - taking selfies, recording video messages for them, signing books and photos, posing for photos and chatting with us about our shops (God love him though, he really struggled with my Northern Irish accent!!) - this man has a way of making people feel special.  I can see why so many people love him.  I told him I'd traveled the furthest in the room to see him - almost 500 miles from Ireland to Sutton Coldfield (on planes trains and automobiles!!!) and I have to say, it was well worth the journey.  He's a warm and genuine man with a passion for wanting women to feel beautiful, and I hope I will get the chance to meet him again someday.

Randy and Ciara selfie!

We may not have a big store like Kleinfeld's in New York, but our humble Bridal Cottage in Greysteel has been a place where we've made a lot of magic happen,  and we hope to have many, many magical, special and beautiful moments for a long time to come.

My customers have been all asking me about him since I got back and telling me how they'd loved to have come along too ..... and I've brought back a little treat with me to share - I'm going to be giving away a signed copy of Randy's book, 'It's all about the dress' (an excellent guide written for brides who are planning their wedding) and a framed signed photo too.
Make sure you follow our Facebook page or follow our Twitter account over the next few days to find out how you can get your hands on one of these. Good luck to all who enter!!!!  Ciara xx

Click to go to our Facebook page

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Our 11th birthday - and a busy week ahead!!

This time 11 years ago I was starting out from scratch with a brand new business.  We've come a long way in that time; it's great to have watched the business grow from nothing into what it is today - and it's still going from strength to strength.  I was delighted this week to meet one of my former brides again - I've met loads of former customers again over the years, but she was one of the brides who put her faith in our new business and ordered a wedding dress the week we opened - and her sister came and bought her wedding dress off us this week too!! So a double delight!!

On Sunday, I'll be off to Harrogate to visit the annual British Bridal Exhibition where I'll be visiting the teams from Maggie Sottero, Essense of Australia, Mori Lee and Special Day and seeing what they've got in store for next year for our brides getting married from late 2016 onwards.  Watch this space!

And then it's off to Birmingham for a retailer seminar with Randy Fenoli from TLC's 'Say Yes to the Dress', so it's going to be an exciting week!!!!   

I'll be back on Wednesday evening, so the shop will be closed for a few days and reopening on Thursday 17th September.

If you need to contact me between the 13th and the 16th September, send me a message on our Facebook messenger or an email on and I'll do my best to get straight back you!

Ciara  xxx

Saturday, 11 July 2015

2015 Summer holiday closure

Just a heads-up on our summer holiday opening hours for this year.

We will be open as usual until Saturday 19th July.

Then we will be closed for two weeks, re-opening on Tues 4th Aug.

Our messaging system will be switched off on Facebook and on the telephone for that two week period, but you can still email us on, but emails will not be viewed or replied to until I return from my family holiday.  I'm trying to do a proper work switch-off on my campervan trip this year!! 

However, one of my staff will be in a few days in between for steaming dresses, taking deliveries and for brides collecting and having try-ons etc. (ie. on the morning of Wed 22nd July, the morning of Wed 29th July, and the morning of Saturday 1st August, just in case anyone who I've told to come is panicking that no-one will be here!)

If you're looking to visit our shop in this period on these dates for any repeat try-ons or collections, please get in touch asap before we close up on Saturday the 19th!!

By the way, Lorraine next door who does most of our alterations will have different holidays from me (with a week overlapping)

Monday, 15 June 2015

My big fat fake wedding dress!!! The world of counterfeit wedding dresses explained.

If anyone follows my social media posts or picked up a 'Brides Beware' leaflet at my shop or at a wedding fayre, they'll have noticed that I feel very strongly about counterfeiting in our industry and I often highlight the dangers with pictures of 'real versus fake' to illustrate the point.  I have been thanked by numerous brides over the years for making them aware of the fact that counterfeiting goes on - many brides have told me that they were on the verge of buying a copy of a designer dress with no idea that they weren't getting the exact same dress as was shown in the picture. But what I haven't done is to explain to people what goes on in the world of counterfeit wedding dresses and why we should stop and think about the industry as a whole and the implications of what 'buying fake' means.

The sad reality is that counterfeiting goes on with many products.  If anyone watches 'Fake Britain' they'll know that there are people out there making everything from fake food products and alcoholic drinks, to fake DVDs, perfumes and electrical items.  It seems that in this day and age there are fake versions of almost anything!! And fake designer wedding dresses are a big thorn in the side of most of the top wedding dress designers and the stores which invest in their labels in bridal boutiques all over the country.

I've blogged and shown pictures on my Facebook page before and shown the scary reality of what many of these dresses look like - I even have a few in my shop that were given to me by disappointed brides who had believed that they were going to get a dress that looked identical to the one in the photograph, but were left bitterly disappointed when they received their gown.  The two below aren't the worst to be fair, but they show dresses that some people would call 'passable' beside the authentic version.

The fake one on the right may not seem so bad - but compare it to the one on the left...

I guess it's like everything in life - some people are more easily pleased than others.  For many brides, they will accept nothing short of the high quality that you get from a designer dress for one of the biggest (and most photographed) events of their lives, but for others, they are pretty clued up on the fact that they are getting a fake dress and will settle for a cheaper version of the dress in the form of a counterfeit dress.  They know what they are getting and are happy to settle for something that isn't up the same standard as the real deal.

 'Sure what harm is there in buying fake goods?' many would say.  But there's a lot to consider when going down this route....

The first issue is related to the factories in which these dresses are made.  Dress designers have a constant fight on their hands trying to target the factories which are illegally using their copyrighted images and designs and who are then supplying fake dresses - and the thing that makes it so hard is that these are 'back-street' set ups which are operating illegally and are hard to track down.  Often the only thing visible is a website which doesn't even supply a phone number or address.  When I buy dresses from my designers, they use legitimate factories which they either own or lease.  These factories follow strict guidelines when it comes to things like health and safety, and there are labour laws in force to make sure that employees are working in good conditions, get a decent wage and get things like holiday pay.   They also have restrictions on their working hours to make sure they are not exploited.  Okay - it means that we pay more for items that come out of these factories, but I for one can sleep better at night knowing that my business isn't selling goods that are made in sweat shops with 10 year old children sewing beads on dresses, or knowing that a person isn't doing a 80 hour week with no overtime in factories with no air-conditioning.  Back street counterfeit factories can produce dresses that we can buy for a cheaper price, but at what cost?  I find it sad enough that the designers of the dress are losing out on getting their cut for having their designs stolen, but when people are getting exploited, that's a whole league of it's own.  The price is cheaper, but at what cost?

Quality control is extremely suspect when it comes to fake designer goods.  Wedding dresses have to pass certain tests so that factories are not forwarding goods that may be extremely flammable for example.  Another one is to make sure that you don't get a dress that has a nest of baby spiders in it (yes - wedding dress parcels from our designers' factories have to treated to make sure that no foreign critters arrive as a nasty surprise!)  One of the realities of fake wedding dresses is that gowns can come apart on the wedding day (followers of my Facbook page may remember one that went viral a few years ago where a bride bought a fake dress and it fell apart on her wedding day... and she had told her guests it was from my shop!)  Whilst I was angry that she fibbed about getting the dress with me, I did feel sorry for her that  her day was ruined due to shoddy workmanship.  You can't undo your wedding day, the pictures or the memories of a dodgy wedding dress that fell apart on the day.

Fake goods being destroyed at customs
When you buy a genuine dress through a wedding shop, you also know that they have went through all the proper channels. When a bride is waiting for her dress to arrive and it has come from a source that is above board, the bridal shop owner is not panicking that the bride's dress will be confiscated by customs. When I track parcels and hear that a dress has arrived at customs, I'm thinking 'great - this dress is almost here!'.  When a bride buys a fake dress either directly online or through a home seller, it's fingers and toes all crossed that customs don't seize it.  A change in European laws last year now means that products entering the EU will be seized and destroyed if intercepted, and they already have destroyed billions of pounds worth of counterfeit goods since this law has come into effect.  Follow this link to a BBC report to find out more. 

With an imminent wedding on the cards, is it worth taking the risk when you could have bought a wedding dress elsewhere that would have fitted into the same budget?  (eg. at a wedding dress sample sale)    Counterfeiting has huge implications for the local and wider economy. Avoiding taxes and customs affects every person in our country who uses services that depend on these taxes, whether it is for educating our children or having an illness treated at your local hospital.  Top celebrities have been named and shamed in recent years for tax avoidance - counterfeiting is no different in respect this issue.   It's on a smaller scale for each individual, but a much larger scale when they are all added up!!

At the end of the day, I can't stop brides buying fake wedding dresses (or any fake goods for that matter), but what I can do is highlight the dangers and make them stop and think before they go down that route.  It's very tempting when you are presented with an image stolen from the designer's website and a price tag that seems too good to be true.   I can guarantee that if you put the fake dress and the genuine designer dress side by side, the quality, the fabrics, the beading, the cut and structure of the dress and the workmanship will be of a very different standard.   Buy a designer dress at a sample sale,  or even buying pre-loved, you get what you see, you have it that day, you won't be worrying about it getting seized at customs and there won't be any nasty surprises.  Buy cheap - buy twice.  I've come across that scenario many times.  Brides who have told me that they chanced a fake dress and ended up down in my shop looking for a new dress on the run up to their wedding. Just  be careful and don't set your expectations too high if you do decide to go against the advice posted here.  A wedding is one of the biggest days of your life, and there's no doubt that the bride is the focal point of the big day.  With all eyes on you, is going down the counterfeit road the best way?

Friday, 12 June 2015

Summer sample sale at Beautiful Day Bridal Cottage

All dresses in the sale are dresses which have been used as sample dresses, and will be reduced by AT LEAST 50%, with discounts of up to 75% (starting at £195).  The selection of dresses will include current season dresses (reduced for that day only and then reverting to full price) and discontinued dresses.  Most dresses will be Maggie Sottero gown and  Essense of Australia, with some by  Special Day and White One. 

Book now to secure your  private slot 

Thursday 9th July 2015.

 Many dresses will be from our current collection and will only be reduced for the 1-day sale and will then revert to full price once the sale is over.  Full price dresses will not be on show that day - just the sale dresses, so if you want to see non-sale dresses, please book an appointment for a different day.

People always ask me about sale days and what advice I would give anyone looking to come to one, so here's a list of top tips that I've put together which should help you to on your quest to find a dream dress at a bargain price!

Top tips for attending a sample sale..

1. Get out beforehand and try dresses on.
Don’t make a sample sale your first bridal shopping trip.  The girls who come prepared with ideas from trying on beforehand are the girls who have the most success at getting a bargain.  You will be restricted to the number of dresses you can try on (5 max in your allocated time slot!!)  so you don't get the normal private consultation to try and figure out what shapes and styles you prefer and which ones flatter your figure.  When you come to a bridal sample sale, you should already have a good idea of what style you are looking for, what size you need and what suits your shape.

2. Bring a friend

Don’t bring a whole entourage, but bring someone who will be brutally honest. Weddings are expensive and any discount you can get, especially if it’s on your dress, is well worth it - but only if you will be happy with it. Brief your friend to be brutally honest and listen to  her (or him!)  And remember that on a 1 day sale,  you can't go for a look and come back again the next week.  So if you need your friend/sister/mum with you to help you make the final decision, then make sure she comes with you to the sale event. 
3. Wear the right underwear
This is a wedding dress appointment necessity regardless, but make sure you wear the right undies! You need to do everything you can to see how the dress will fit you.   Plus, we ask for no fake tan, and that only light make-up be worn.
4. Bring your purse!!!!!!!!!!!
You'd be surprised at how many people don't think about this one - remember, it's a one day sale, and we don't hold items over.  So bring your purse (we accept all major credit/debit cards) so that if you do find 'the one' then you can actually buy it!!! (and many of the dresses will be reverting to full price after the event). 
5.  Ask the sales assistants about sizing.
Bridal sizes are generally a bit smaller than high street sizes, so when you are looking, bear that in mind.  But also, don't be afraid of looking at dresses which are a little bit bigger as they can always be taken in.  If in doubt, ask one of our sales assistants for guidance on the sizes when you are looking through the dresses.   All dresses will be grouped in sizes to make it easier.  The majority of dresses will be in sizes 12, 14 and 16, but we still have a good selection of smaller and larger dresses (it just means that the 12-16 bride will have a better picking choice!) 

Please note that the vast majority of dresses will be ex-sample dresses, which means that they have been tried on in our shop and/or have been worn in fashion photoshoots/catwalk shows.  They may have minor issues that need addressed, for example, some may need dry cleaned or spot cleaned or may have a few missing beads or buttons, and we have priced each dress accordingly to take this into account.   You are getting a genuine designer dresses for a fraction of the full retail price and are able to see them and try them on , unlike shopping online where many of the 'bargains' are in fact poorly made copies of designer dresses, made with inferior materials.  

Beautiful Day Bridal Cottage, Greysteel, Co Derry -  Tel 028718 13682