Monday, 28 January 2013

A cake inspired by your wedding dress


I was approached recently by local cake maker Miriam (Cakes by Miriam) who asked me if I would help with a new project.  She had been asked by a few brides to design cakes which were based on their wedding dress.  At first, I had a giggle to myself as I had recently saw a picture online of a bride who took this idea a little too literally…….
A bit nutty of you ask me!!  But what Miriam was looking to do was not to recreate a dress in a cake form, but to use the dress as inspiration for her cake.  So she came to visit me a few weeks later and took pictures of a few dresses and I got to see her creation during our Maggie Sottero designer where we got to display her cake alongside the actual wedding dress that she picked out to go alongside it (plus we were treated to some tasty samples!!!)  Here's what she came up with - a cake to go along with out Maggie Sottero Morgan dress - wasn't it beautiful?! 

Miriam’s website

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Storing your wedding dress

I remember one of the first things I did when I got engaged.  My mum sent me upstairs to find her wedding dress and she wanted me to try it on.  It was one of those special mother-daughter moments that I’ll always treasure, and  I have a picture of me wearing the dress standing by the door in our living room (with part of my mum’s finger covering the lens of the camera – back in pre-digital days when you couldn’t see what you’d taken!!)
I can’t say I would have worn my mother’s 1970′s high necked and long sleeved dress, but if I’d have wanted to, I’d have been gutted as my mum hadn’t stored her dress properly and the years had taken it’s toll.  Someone had told my mum to store her white wedding dress in a black plastic bag and over the years the dress had turned from a pure white colour to yellow.  My mum was heartbroken when she realised just how much it had discoloured. Perhaps this is the reason that I am always telling brides to look after their dresses.  Even if no-one ever wears it again, it’s lovely to look back at your dress and see it looking like it was when you wore it on your big day.  And maybe one day you’ll be taking a picture of your newly engaged daughter, niece or granddaughter wearing it, even if it’s just playing dress up in the living room.
Giselle from The Empty Box Company has compiled this list of tips for storing your wedding dress. We have a selection of these boxes in our shop in various sizes and colours, and shown at the bottom of this page are examples of some of the beautiful designs you can choose from. Perfect for co-ordinating with your bedroom!!  From funky to traditional and floral, you’ll be spoiled for choice!!  And if you buy the box from us, we can organise dry cleaning and pack your dress away for you at no extra cost to you.
For destination brides, there are also travel sized boxes which fit onto airplanes as hand luggage so you can take your dress away with you and then use the box afterwards to store your dress.
Wedding Dresses can pack away beautifully and remain as white and perfect as the day they were worn: but there are some simple essential rules for brides to follow:
1) Plastic dress covers are not suitable for long-term storage:  They do not allow for changes in humidity, or protect from light and can leave particles behind after several years.
2) Normal cardboard or fabric boxes can contain acid that causes the material of the dress toyellow” or discolour. Avoid flat pack storage boxes that offer limited protection, or ones that let in light.
3) Do not store the dress next to the wood of a wardrobe, drawer, suitcase lining, or other clothes, as these mediums will have an effect on the purer fabrics of the wedding dress if the it lies next to them.
4) Do not wrap a wedding dress in coloured tissue paper.Tissue paper to pack a wedding dress should be white and acid free.
5) Do not hang a dress long term on a clothes hanger (short term is fine), as it places stresses on the seams and shape of the dress.
6) Do not store your dress in the attic. All sorts of disasters here such as a leaking roof, damp, changes in humidity, and insects can affect a dress in the attic; even if it is well protected.
1) Do have your dress cleaned after the wedding, by a dry cleaner that specialises in wedding dresses. Marks can show later even if a dress does not appear stained now.
2) Follow simple sensible rules e.g. store away from light, heat, damp, etc
3) Store the dress in a warm dry spare room, that has no history of insects, instead of an attic.
4) Ensure the dress lies in a pH neutral material such as a wedding dress box and is packed withacid free tissue. (Acid free tissue paper will become acidic if kept in a non acid free box.)
5) A storage box should eliminate light, should be breathable (i.e. non plastic), protect from dirt, dust, and spillage, in addition to pH neutral i.e. contain no acid or alkali.
6) Do choose a really strong, sturdy box as it needs to last a lifetime. It might even need to protect from disaster such as fire or flood so a flimsy box might not be up to the mark!
7) Do choose a box that you love: it will be with you for a long time, holding one of the most special items of clothing you will ever own.
8) Once packed away, check on the dress every 6 – 12 monthsto ensure nothing untoward has happened, and repack e.g. once a year to help prevent creases becoming too permanent.
This guide is written by The Empty Box Company, who specialise in beautiful Wedding Dress Boxes that preserve the dress to last a lifetime. Their wedding dress boxes are handmade in the UK.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Put on a wedding dress and help break a world record!!!

What are you doing on the afternoon of Saturday April 27th?
How would you feel about dressing up as a bride and heading for the Peace bridge?  

When I first heard about the idea I thought it was a great fun way of attempting a world record, but it made it even more worthwhile doing when I heard that all proceeds were going to the Foyle Hospice.

We're helping to spread the word to see if the Foyle Hospice can gather at least 2013 'brides' together, and the response we've had so far from our customers, friends and family has been unreal!!  Loads of our past brides and brides-to-be have decided to take part (any excuse to get a wedding dress on!!) and we've even had a few who have started fitness regimes to get into their own dresses which are a bit on the tight side!!   (I didn't stand a chance of getting into mine but my mum is currently working on letting the seams out, so fingers crossed!!)

You don't have to be a past bride to take part - as long as you are wearing a traditional wedding dress (from any cultural origin).  And if you haven't got a wedding dress, perhaps you could borrow one?  Or hit the charity shops perhaps?   Our shop has donated 5 big boxes with 20+ wedding dresses and veils to the Foyle Hospice to try and do our bit - they will be available very soon at the Foyle Hospice fundraising centre on the Culmore Road for any of you who are on the look out for a dress, and all proceeds from their sale will go directly to the 'Brides on the Bridge' fund.   I'll be on the lookout to see how many Beautiful Day dresses I can spot on the day!!!

Like many families in the North West, our family has availed of the services of the Foyle Hospice.  My daddy's sister - my aunt Mamie - spent almost 3 months there before passing away.  It was 9 years ago, but our family always feel indebted to the hospice for the kindness shown to her and the dignified way they dealt with her suffering and her passing.  I remember being shocked when I discovered how much the hospice rely on donations from the local people and when I got to see first hand what they do each and every day, it's easy to see why it is so well supported in our area and why it needs to keep being supported to continue making a difference.

So get on that dress, get your £10 and your registration form (and some extra sponsorship if you can) and get down to Ebrington square on Saturday 27th April and help make a difference.

You can register by contacting the Foyle Hospice-  visit their facebook page

click here to go to the page

Or you can call in and pick up a form in our shop.  You can also register on the day if you came along a bit earlier.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

When should I order my wedding dress?

At recent wedding exhibitions, I have been asked the following question by loads of brides.  'When should I order my dress?'   As a rule, we tell our customers that they should have orders for wedding dresses in about 7 months before the wedding (at the very latest!!! order earlier if you possibly can!)  and 5 months for bridesmaids - stick to that rule and you shouldn't go wrong.  
We always allow a ‘cushion’ of at least 6 weeks between the quoted delivery date and the bride’s wedding.   I like all orders to be in a good bit before the wedding to allow adequate time for a relaxed run-up to the big day for getting things like alterations carried out and accessories picked, so whilst the company are not actually quoting us the full 6 or 7 months, this is the guideline which keeps stressful timescales at bay!

If you can , get ordered a good 9 months or more in advance.  The earlier you get in your dresses, the sooner you can relax and get organised.  No bride wants to be be getting anxious over how close to her wedding that her order is going to arrive.  Organising a wedding can be stressful enough without having to worry about how close to your wedding your dress will arrive. And as a busy shop owner, it is a worry that I can do without as I get stressed out over deliveries too!!!!! (especially when they arrive later than what I was expecting and I am getting the 'is it in yet?' phonecalls from frantic brides!)  I often get brides who keep putting off going to try on dresses as they are in the process of losing weight, but don't forget, you can always go out looking a year before, and if you find your dress, you can still put a deposit down to secure it and get measured 7 months before the big day to give you a chance to start on your weight loss regime and get a dress closer in size to the dress size you will be on your big day. The dress can always be taken in if you lose any additional weight.  Better to do that than to leave it a couple of months before the wedding and miss out on the dress that you really wanted. My heart sinks when a bride makes an appointment and tells me her wedding is only a few months away as I know she will be limited in her choice of dress.  Every bride should have the liberty of choosing any dress in any size in any colour that we can get.  The more organised you are, the more choice you will have.  You can still buy off the peg if you leave it too late to order, but you won't have the same selection as you would have had if you had come earlier, and it's not every dress we will part with for a bride who needs a dress in a rush!!
In sum, my advice is 'be prepared and get organised!!'  Get out at least a year before your wedding if you can – the earlier you get out the more relaxed the whole experience will be and you won't be feeling pressure to 'panic buy'   Most brides coming to our shop for the first time have over a year until their big day.  Our average first time bride goes looking about 13 months before her big day.
Our entire Essence of Australia range and some of our Maggie Sottero dresses can also be got on rush cuts (additional fees apply to most of these) so if you have left it a bit late, we won't turn you away - we always have options available including the option of buying off the peg (although your choices will be more limited).   Some of our bridesmaid dresses can also be got on a rush cut so don't fret about that either if you have left that task a bit late.  
And one last tip – only go shopping when you feel you are ready to buy, so don't come out too early either until you are ready to do some serious looking.  Our stock is forever evolving.  New dresses are always coming in… current dresses are forever being discontinued… dresses are being bought off the peg.  So if you do decide to go shopping early, NEVER assume that you will be able to come back and revisit a dress in the future as it may no longer be in the shop or it may be discontinued. This is something I find happens all the time (and I often get grief from brides to be about it!)  so wait until you are ready to go shopping, as opposed to saying ‘Let’s go out for ideas and revisit those ideas in 6 months time or next year’.   That gorgeous dress that you loved may well be gone on your next trip back to the shop.  It's a bit like you saying that you want to buy a house in 18 months time.  You wouldn't go visiting estate agents or arranging house viewings until you were ready to make a move.  You might have a nosy at websites to get ideas, but you wouldn't throw your energy into house-hunting until the time was right to act on making a purchase.
If you do go out early and find ‘the one’, then STOP LOOKING at wedding dresses!! Get it ordered, and when it comes in,  put it away when it arrives in and don’t let it lose its magic by looking at it too much!  I get loads of brides visiting my shop who tell me that they have a dress at home that they have went off.  Wedding dresses are too expensive to buy and not wear, so don't fall into that category and be disciplined to tick the box as 'done' when you decide on the one.
Happy (stress free) shopping.x x   Ciara

The role of a bridesmaid - what's it all about?

Our first blog on our new site...
Hello to everyone who is reading, whether you are a new follower or have joined us from our last blog site.

The topic today is about bridesmaid roles and what your bridesmaids should be doing on the run up to the big day. I was a young bride myself (at the tender age of 22) and my bridesmaids were taking on the role for the very first time and to be fair to them, they didn't really know what it was all about. And I certainly didn't know what they should have been doing either. If I could turn back time myself with the benefit of hindsight, I'd be giving mine a list of things that they are duty bound to to do and it would be a lot easier with well defined roles!!!

The number one thing to point out, is that being a bridesmaid is not just about looking pretty in a nice dress on the day.  If only that was all there was to it!!
If a bridesmaid is the one and only bridesmaid, she will have a combination of duties… if there is more than one bridesmaid, then the job can be shared with one or two maids helping out in some aspects and other bridesmaids helping out with other jobs.  I am going to list a few of these jobs here so that bridesmaids can all read this and know what is expected of them collectively!  Please note that these aren’t in order of importance and I’d love my blog readers to add their own ideas.
1.  Helping  to organising the Hen Party.   Some brides like to be involved as much as they can (most don’t like the surprise element, so it’s not always a good idea to keep her totally in the dark!)  but it’s the bridesmaids that are the cogs on the wheel of getting the big night or the weekend planned and should be organising things, whether it be getting outfits co-ordinated, buses or hotels booked, guest lists drawn up or party games put together.
2. Dressing the bride on the big day.  From my perspective doing the job of a dress fitter in my shop, this is a vital role, and I expect bridesmaids to be well clued up when it comes to how to dress the bride.  A good way to find out is to attend one of the fittings with the bride, preferably the final fitting. They should know exactly how to get her into the dress without ruining her hair and make-up, how to get her underwear and petticoat on, how to fasten her dress, how to make sure it is sitting right on her…. yip.. that’s all in the day’s work of being a bridesmaid! You’ve got to make sure her train is fixed, and that her veil is sitting right for her photos.   And then there’s making sure you know how to tie her train up at night, and being organised with things like an emergency kit for the day.  This could include things like babywipes, a needle and thread, safety pins, hair grips, tissues, breath mints, a comb, hairspray, plasters, paracetamol, anti-perspirant, and anything else that you can think of that would be handy to have in a bag in the car to take with you to the hotel.
3.  Helping  the bride prepare for looking her best on the the big day.  I find that not every bride wants her bridesmaid to take part in every single thing of the lead-up to the wedding.  But most brides will want input into things like the dress, the hair style and the accessories.  Some will want all their bridesmaids to help out, or maybe it will be just the chief bridesmaid.  The advice here to pass onto the bridesmaids is to be honest and for them remember that if their tastes are different to the bride’s tastes, then bear this in mind and don’t be intrusive and try and push personal ideas on her.
4.  Emotional and practical support. It’s a very stressful and emotional time when you’re organising your wedding.  Your bridesmaids should be there for you to help you organise the run up to your wedding.  Delegate jobs to them – whether it’s picking up the wedding dress, helping with centre pieces or collecting her mum’s outfit from the seamstress. You’re not superwoman and no-one expects you to be able to do everything on your own!!  And she will be there to re-assure you when things are getting too much.  You may feel overwhelmed and just need a listening ear and someone to talk to.
5. The bridesmaid dresses…..   this can be a challenging one!  If your bridesmaid really cares for you and what you want for your wedding, then you - the bride - will get the final say on the colour and style of dresses.  She won’t stamp her feet and sulk and put demands on you for your wedding day  (unless you are putting her in a truly hideous ensemble, in which case she has every right to protest!). But let’s face it, 99% of brides want their bridesmaid to look good on the day and a good bridesmaid will be happy to give her input, but will not take over and make final decisions.  It's the bride's big day and she should get the most say.
Here are a few other points (some serious.. some not so serious) to add.
She won’t knowingly get pregnant after ordering her dress  (sorry to my friend Michelle - I'm guilty of this one myself lol!!!!) … she won’t put on weight after ordering her dress… she won’t get any drastic hairstyles before the wedding without consulting the bride… she won’t get any visible tattoos before the wedding… she won’t get drunk at the wedding…
…in return, you must must promise not to turn into a bridezilla!!!!!   I hope your bridesmaids will be worth their weight in gold.   xx Ciara